The Wisconsin Badgers lost again over the weekend, dropping a home game to Northwestern 54-52. For the first time since the mid-90s, Northwestern has swept the Badgers. This season, Wisconsin has lost both games by a combined five points. The loss erased any positive feelings that fans had after the Badgers won in Ohio State last week. As has been the case for a great portion of this season, many fans want head coach Greg Gard fired. Once again, however, former Badgers basketball star Brian Butch used his platform on “Nine 2 Noon” with John Kuhn on 97.3 The Game to defend the Wisconsin coach.
Greg Gard Is the Right Coach for the Wisconsin Badgers
On Monday, former Wisconsin Badgers player Brian Butch opened “Nine 2 Noon” with the following:
“I’m going to start here. Shouldn’t surprise anybody, but I’m going to start here. I’m not going to get loud, I’m not going to get obnoxious. But I want to have a serious conversation because I’ve seen it all over social media. I’ve said it is irresponsible. But we’re going to start with the Wisconsin Badgers.:
Butch then goes on to detail how Northwestern was able to take Wisconsin’s stars out of the game with their defense. He also reminded listeners that any coach would have given the ball to their best player towards the end of the game. That is what Coach Gard did, giving the ball to sophomore guard Chucky Hepburn. Unfortunately, Hepburn made some poor decisions and settled for bad shots. He is young; that will will happen.
“Now, as far as the coaching and the state of the program, I think that is bigger than this game. I see a lot of people out there that say Greg Gard gotta go. And I’m really confused by that. Two of the last three years you got a Big Ten Championship. And I also think, I truly believe it’s a ‘look at your own and not look at all.’ When you look at Wisconsin, I don’t think they’re looking at the entire Big Ten conference.
“When you look at the Big Ten conference right now, if you were to ask an average fan who is the second best team in the Big Ten in 2022-23, what do you think they’d say?”
The co-hosts of the show answered Michigan State.
“Do you know what Michigan State’s record is in the last four years of Big Ten play? .500!”
The other co-hosts then told Butch that fans that he is addressing do not care. Butch responded:
“And that’s fine. Then they’re naïve. Then they are ignorant. When you evaluate teams, you evaluate all. You evaluate everything. Two of the last three years, when you look at what’s happened over Big Ten conference in general, they have had two Big Ten titles. To me, you are doing your job. This was going to be a year of questions. I’m sorry, but it was always going to be a year of questions.”
The co-hosts and Butch then discuss how disappointing it is that fans want Greg Gard fired less than 12 months after he won a conference championship.
“The fans you’re talking about don’t have clue,” Butch said.
Hopefully it is just a vocal minority.
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Some fans who want Gard fired don’t have a clue. Others realize what Butch said if true, but still see a lack of postseason success (conference and NCAA tournaments), inability or unwillingness to make in-game adjustments, and lack of soundness in fundamentals that were a hallmark of Bo Ryan’s teams. I’m not lobbying for Gard’s firing, but I’d welcome it, IF they were able to make a home run hire like they did in football. Gard is a very good recruiter, but his X’s and O’s are not good. Bo Ryan’s greatest teams got away from the stereotypical stagnant Wisconsin offense and became dynamic teams that could score a well as defend. Now that stagnant offense is back. And the free throw shooting is abysmal, and apparently Gard doesn’t care! How a protégé of Bo can beer on with such embarrassment at the free throw line is beyond me. Even a rec league coach would add hours of shooting free throws to practice if their team missed so many. Seems like Gard is apathetic about it.
Gard isn’t a great recruiter. He’s a better coach than recruiter. He recruits Minnesota better than Wisconsin. Maybe he should be coaching the Gophers. His best teams were when he had Ryan’s recruits. His record in the transfer portal is very unimpressive too.
agree on the bad luck regarding good portal players coming to UW. No knock on Klesmit, he’s a scrappy defender and all around decent player. Also, losing a couple of bigs to the portal hurt this team alot. Next year should/could be somewhat better with the Gus bus coming along with two others guys. ON WI.