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Sam Dekker on Badgers season: It “may be the wake-up call that the program needs”

The former Badgers forward shared some insight on what the Badgers need to do moving forward.

It’s safe to say that the Wisconsin Badgers didn't have the season they desired in a down year for the program, as the team missed the NCAA tournament for just the second time since 1998.

The Badgers have certainly shown heart during their performances in the NIT Tournament, where they're currently slated to face North Texas in the semifinals next week.

However, Wisconsin did fail to meet their expectations in 2022, which can’t happen again next season for a program of such esteem.

How can the Badgers change the aura around their team?

Former Badgers forward Sam Dekker shared his insight with Betway Insider on the Badgers year, believing the down season to be the wake-up call that the program needed.

“I think experience in a rare down-year may be the wake-up call that the program needs. It hopefully lights a fire in the players that do not want to have this feeling again,” Dekker said.

Where can the Badgers improve next season?

Dekker pointed to the transfer portal, which head coach Greg Gard alluded to utilizing earlier in the year, as an asset that Wisconsin should have at its disposal, given the rich tradition incorporated with the basketball team over the years.

“The transfer portal can certainly be an asset here in bringing some experience. I think Wisconsin should be a destination for a lot of talent. A lot of guys should want to play at Wisconsin. It’s an amazing city and an amazing program with a winning identity and a winning culture,” Dekker said.

Many have clamored for the departure of Gard, but Dekker disagrees, understanding the value that the longtime head coach has brought to the program, rather asserting that Wisconsin needs to improve its personnel.

“Greg Gard can get them playing the right way, but they need to bring in the guys to do that. They need the talent. They need to be deeper. There’s not enough depth there, not enough talent across the board to compete with the Purdue and the Michigan State’s year in and year out. So, I think Coach Gard needs to get out in the portal,” Dekker argued.

The Badgers have already compiled a solid recruiting class for the 2023 season with forwards Nolan Winter and Gus Yalden, as well as guard John Blackwell, which should be the baseline for how this team improves next year.

“I know [Gard] is on the recruiting trail really heavily and has got some good freshmen coming in this year, but creating a balanced and deep roster is paramount for this team,” Dekker said. “If they do that, Wisconsin will be in a really good place.”

The offseason will certainly be an important inflection point for the Badgers off a down year, but first, their efforts are focused on the NIT Tournament, where a win over North Texas places them in the finals.