The discussion around Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball head coach Greg Gard has always been level-headed and reasonable on the internet, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he was recently named to the Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year Late Season Watch List.
Gard is one of 15 coaches, that includes Big Ten compatriot Brad Underwood of Illinois and in-state rival Shaka Smart of Marquette, named to the finalist list that was released on Friday morning.
To say Gard has earned this honor would be a bit of an understatement to be honest. He has taken a Badgers team that people optimistically predicted to finish No. 8 in the Big Ten and turned them into a top-15 team nationally. The Badgers sit at 20-5 overall and 11-4 in conference, a half game out of a tie for first place with Purdue.
This season the Badgers have won the Maui Invitational (beating Houston, Saint Mary’s and Texas A&M in the process), won at Purdue, won at Michigan State and won at Indiana. They have a serious national player of the year candidate in standout sophomore Johnny Davis, a freshman point guard who is getting better as the season goes on in Chucky Hepburn and two massively improved big men in Tyler Wahl and “Big” Steven Crowl.
While Gard might now win this award, although he should win the Big Ten Coach of the Year award handily, he has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt among Wisconsin fans for the foreseeable future which, in this humble blogger’s opinion, is an even higher honor.