MADISON - If one thing is evident during UW's current four-game winning streak, especially in comparison to UW's first 17 games, it's the fact that senior All-American Jordan Taylor is starting to play, well, like an All-American.
Tabbed the Big Ten's player of the week for his performances in wins over Northwestern and Illinois, UW's best player is averaging more than 16 points, four assists and more than five rebounds per game during UW's current winning streak.
If you include Taylor's play against Big Ten opponents, including his season-best 28-point effort in a loss to Michigan State, the senior is averaging more than 17 points per game. That's compared to a rather quizzical and somewhat stupefying 12 points per game average during the non-conference portion of the season, with his best output (18 points) coming in a win over BYU and a loss at North Carolina.
"It's just him being a player," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "Sometimes your shot is going to be there and you're going to get more looks. Other times you're in transition. Every team plays a little differently.
"Teams have different makeups, taller, quicker or shorter. Each game is an entity of itself, but Jordan is going to try to find a way to make his team successful. That's the way all players should be."
Gasser continues playing well:
About a month ago, following his 25-point output against UNLV, Ryan made a point about all the media members asking about Ben Brust's offensive output. To Ryan's credit, he made mention of how well Brust had been playing on the defensive side. And that only offensive production seems to warrant any sort of discussion coming from anybody covering the team.
The same could probably be said about Josh Gasser. He's not averaging as many points as Brust on a game-by-game basis, but he's shooting better than 50 percent from downtown and seemingly becoming more aggressive attacking the lane.
More importantly, his defense seems to becoming more and more of a factor as this Badger squad continues to find it's identity. During UW's most recent win at Illinois, Gasser defended the Illini's most explosive scorer Brandon Paul - - a player that dropped 43 points against Ohio State - - and he held him to just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
"I never try to overreact to any performance," Ryan said. "I've always said that's the kiss of death. Somebody does something well and then everybody writes about it, reports it, talks about it and tweets it. Then the next game it's like the guy wasn't even there. You're up and you're down.
"The thing I'm always trying to do as a coach and as a teacher is trying to get players as consistent as possible in a good way. We're always trying to get guys to play with a purpose so that you're building on something."
He may not be scoring a lot or receiving a lot of minutes, for that matter, but senior guard Rob Wilson continues to make a positive impact seemingly every time he enters a game. He knocked down a pretty key 3-pointer in the win at Illinois and he continues to play good, hard and assertive basketball on both sides of the court when he's in there.
His head coach has taken notice.
"He's another one of those guys that's trying to take advantage of the minutes he gets," Ryan said. "It's all part of a process, whether you're a freshman, a senior or whether you've had injuries. You're still a student-athlete trying to compete at a high level. The more consistent players are with doing all the things we ask, that's how people get minutes.
"When we get a guy on the floor we're not putting him out there and saying go hide. We put guys on the floor to go out there and make something happen in a positive way. That's what's expected and the teammates things the same of him."
-UW moved back into the top 25 after wins over Northwestern and at Illinois last week. The Badgers dipped out of the top 25 after its humbling loss at Michigan a couple weeks back. Wisconsin checks in at No. 25 in both the Coaches and AP polls.
-Jordan Taylor was named Big Ten Player of the Week for his performances against Northwestern and Illinois.