In posting a 9-4 record in 2013, head coach Gary Andersen and his squad did a tremendous job of improving some of Wisconsin's most notable units. The front seven was a catalyst in vaulting the defense to one of the best in the conference, and the country, for that matter. Despite having thin depth going into fall camp, the offensive line paved the way for James White and Melvin Gordon to run wild.
But 2014 will be an entirely different story. Offensive stars Ryan Groy, James White, Jacob Pedersen and Jared Abbdrederis are gone, while Chris Borland, Beau Allen and Ethan Armstrong, among others, have departed on the defensive side of the ball. That leaves plenty of holes and an innate sense of disbelief regarding who will step into their shoes, writes ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg. If the 2013 late-season lapses are any indication of the Badgers' 2014 success, it could be a long year. Describe it in any matter that you please, but it's a reset for the program, which lends me to think we will see the true mettle of Andersen-coached teams this fall.
Personal backgrounds of soon-to-be-NFL talent aren't always revealed, but occasionally there are the tales that make you respect these student-athletes more and more. Jared Abbrederis emulated this wonderfully in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne.
Phil salutes another senior member of the basketball team, this time in Evan Anderson. As we all know, Anderson never panned out like everyone had hoped, but that's OK. No, really, it is. We obviously want every UW basketball player to succeed at the highest level, but we shouldn't be quick to demean. It was always good to get some laughs in about Andersen when it seemed he completed more three-point shots and recorded more fouls than total minutes logged, but I always got the impression that Anderson was just happy to be a part of the Badger family. That sounds like a boring ambition, but EA fit it perfectly. He filled his role adequately on the practice squad, he was a good teammate and he's going to graduate from UW in May. I don't know about you, but that is a damn good four years of college.
Let's address the white elephant in the room: Bo's boys are going to be pretty good next year, possibly boasting a nine-man rotation. On paper, any and every pundit may denote Wisconsin as the run-away favorite to claim the program's first Big Ten regular season championship since 2007, including ESPN's Fran Fraschilla (Insider). As Fraschilla points out, which I wholeheartedly agree with, don't forgot about the mighty Michigan Wolverines. Yes, I know they lose a lot, either with graduation or guys darting to the NBA, but the same was said last year and that turned out just fine, as the Wolverines won the regular-season title and reached their second-consecutive Elite Eight. Ultimately, it's the Badgers' conference championship ring to lose in 2014. Big Ten Network analyst Shon Morris, who was the master of ceremony speaker for the team's awards banquet, is also high on the Wisconsin program.
"They cannot ignore the outstanding level of excellence. They can't ignore the type of young men wearing the jersey and they can't ignore the fact that you can play the game the right way with guys that actually can find their way to the classroom and still win."
There are a total of 17 former UW skaters in the NHL, and some notable ones are showing off their skill set for a national audience in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. Andy has got you covered with all of the Badgers who are lighting up to the scoreboard to playing stout defense and everything in between. Of course, Brendan Smith isn't afraid of the overpowering Zdeno Chara, with Chara finding some comic relief during the two's tussle.
2013 women's volleyball super freshman Lauren Carlini will represent our country this summer, training with the U.S. national team in California.
Given the team's Final Four run in head coach Kelly Sheffield's first season in Madison, it seems natural recruiting will begin to ramp up on the national level. It certainly did with the commitment of freshman setter Sydney Hilley (Minnesota) for the class of 2017. John Tawa of PrepVolleyball.com told Wisconsin State Journal's Dennis Punzel this about the signing and how it affects the class as a whole.
"It's a fine class that will certainly be in the top 10, perhaps the top five nationally."
Video of the Day
We've got back-to-back buzzer-beaters with No. 22 Michael Flowers nailing a three pointer against Texas in December 2007 to sneak out of Austin with a 67-66 victory. To no one's surprise, Flowers made an even better play after the fact, chucking the ball into the air when he got a hand on the inbounds play. Let's also remember: the Longhorns were ranked No. 9 while the Badgers played this game without Trevon Hughes, who sat out with a sprained ankle.