On the face of things, Wisconsin doesn't lose that much off of the basketball team. Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson made up 28.6 percent of Wisconsin's scoring, and 15.6 percent of the team's rebounding. While those numbers aren't insignificant, they aren't catastrophic either.
Simple metrics may not be able to quantify how much Taylor meant to the team, however. Taylor sucked up 25 percent of Wisconsin's possessions and notably never turned the ball over ... like ever. He shot poorly but he was also too often the last man left with a hot basketball potato and an expiring shot clock. He was also the only player consistently comfortable penetrating from the perimeter, and made the offense run with an incredibly high assist rate. In short, he was important.
Replacing him now apparently falls on the shoulders of two men. The first is Josh Gasser, who played the second-most minutes on the team last year and filled in at point guard whenever Taylor needed a spell. He did not have Taylor's ridiculously high assist-turnover ratio (1.58-1), and was often criticized for passing up open shots despite technically being the team's best shooter (46.4 FG, 45.2 3-point percent).
The second option is George Marshall, an unknown entity but one that has received enough positive rumblings over the past year to warrant some hopeful hype over the offseason. All that we know about Marshall as a Badger comes from Jim Polzin's profile last January, in which high praise is heaped on the freshman for his job on the scout team, some of it from Gasser himself.
"George is a great player," Gasser said. "It's unbelievable what he's been doing. He can score in so many ways. I've covered him many practices, and truthfully he's probably one of the hardest guys I've had to cover all year."
Marshall came out of Brooks Prep in Chicago with the Class of 2011, earning a mid-major grade from the scouting services and mid-major offers from the likes of Baylor, DePaul, Illinois State, Ohio and Xavier. His size isn't ideal. At 5'11 and a generous 180 pounds, he doesn't approach Taylor's round mound of point guard figure. What he does have is great quickness and passing ability, and a quick release mid-range jumper that could be lethal at the college level. At least, we better hope so because judging from his highlight film he uses it a lot.
An effective Marshall could pay off huge dividends for the Badgers next season. Wisconsin's offense could even improve despite the loss of Taylor, with Sam Dekker giving Wisconsin another great scoring option at any spot of the floor. That all depends on just how stock we can put in rumblings, however. If true, Wisconsin could be in line for a hump-busting run in the NCAA Tournament. Finally.
Not sure if I'm behind the times on this, but whatever. Here's a look at some play-by-play data from three weeks ago demonstrating how effective Wisconsin's defense was. You should note that it was compiled by the guy who won stat geek idol.
Frank Kaminsky isn't the ugliest man in basketball, and I'm not sure whether I feel better that he lost or not.
Andy Katz' preseason Top 25. Because who needs time to breathe. The Badgers come in at No. 21 and the loss of Jordan Taylor is predictably lamented. Michigan and Ohio State come in too high, especially with Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke apparently on the outs.
Speaking of which: Sullinger is gone for sure, while Burke's situation is a little murkier.
Dave Heller has full round-up of other way-too-early predictions, with one ranking the Badgers as high as No. 6.
Jim Polzin puts the Badgers in context statistically within the history of the program. Overall, things shake out pretty well.
Now for something completely different: Jim Delaney proposes the wackiest of wack-a-doodle college football playoff ideas. While it has clear advantages for the Big Ten, good luck convincing anyone beyond a 2nd grade level of math that having three semifinals to determine who goes to a two-team national championship is a good idea.
Peter Konz made up for his weak Combine performance this past Wednesday, putting up 25 reps in the bench.
Long story short, Danny O'Brien is a totally smart dude.
Casey Dehn's return to the team has apparently been met with nothing but enthusiasm from players and coaches.
Bradie Ewing talks wedding prep and getting ready for the 2012 NFL Draft, and which is more nerve-wracking.
Barry Alvarez isn't concerned at all about the hockey team.