In many walks of life, such as business, relationships, and, of course, sports, something unexpectedly happening once is regarded as a fluke. Twice? Well, that is simply a coincidence. But if it happens three times, that becomes a trend. Greg Gard, head basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin, is well on his way to proving his detractors wrong for the third time. No one in the Big 10 has done more with less, and it is about time those critics realize one important concept: Greg Gard can flat-out coach.
GREG GARD CONTINUES TO OVERACHIEVE
Entering his 8th year as the Badgers’ head coach, Gard amassed a 144-78 record between 2015-16 and 2021-22. During that span, Gard earned Big 10 Coach of the year honors twice, winning in 2019-20 and again last year. Each of those times his squad was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference, yet Gard led them to the league title. In 2019, si.com picked the Badgers to finish 6th, but UW finished league play at 14-6, sharing the conference title with Michigan State and Maryland, accomplishing that with no NBA players on the roster.
Last year in 2021-2022, Wisconsin was picked to finish either 9th or 10th (depending on which “experts” you believed), and, again, Gard led his group to a conference co-championship, going 15-5 and sharing first place with Illinois. This team did have lottery-pick Johnny Davis, but even he has not found his stride at the next level. After Davis, Gard’s roster consisted of players without much of a chance to one day enjoy the bright lights of the NBA.
A PROMISING START IN 2022-23
This year, the consensus among writers had UW finishing 9th, but lo and behold, the Badgers have started Big 10 play with two impressive conference wins and have cracked the AP Top 25 this week. Veterans Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl have provided leadership and grit, but no one will confuse this roster for UNLV’s Runnin’ Rebels group with future pros Larry Johnson, Stacy Augmon, and Greg Anthony back in the early 1990s. Gard is using 9 or 10 guys nightly, pushing those chess pieces around the board expertly and efficiently. And after an unexpected 11-2 start to the season, UW is primed to confirm his coaching prowess, this time to those fooled for the third time.