Should Wisconsin basketball’s head coach Greg Gard be on the hot seat, if not fired if the team doesn’t make the tournament?
The Wisconsin Basketball team enters this year as a borderline tournament team, and if they don’t make it you should see Greg Gard on the hot seat. I’m of the opinion he should be fired.
Greg Gard has actually done pretty well so far in his early head coaching career since taking over for Bo Ryan early in the 2015-2016 season. He’s already got two Sweet Sixteen appearances as well as an overall record of 57-36. But if you look more closely at why he was winning a lot of those games, it has a lot to with Bo Ryan’s recruiting and development of players.
In the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, Gard made the Sweet Sixteen primarily on the backs of three very good players: Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ.
All of these guys were recruited and developed under Bo Ryan’s watch. Yes, Gard was one of the head recruiters and assistants, but Ryan still had the most influence on these guys. Last year, Gard had to start to depend more on his own players after Koenig and Hayes graduated and it resulted in them not making the tournament for the first time in 20 years.
During the Ryan regime, he had some of the greatest examples of player development in NCAA history. That is not hyperbole. The most obvious example is, of course, Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky. It’s pretty rare that a big, goofy looking, center can go from three-star recruit to National Player of the Year in four seasons.
Now that was the most extreme example but there were many other examples of this as well. Devin Harris, Mike Wilkenson, Jordan Taylor and Alando Tucker are all examples of guys who went from unheralded recruits to All-Big Ten players. Then there are the numerous role players over the years who developed very well and become useful contributors – Clayton Hanson, Mike Brusewitz, Joe Krabbenhoft, Jared Begeren and Zak Showalter all come to mind.
Where are these types of players for Coach Gard? This is now his third year and we should start to see some of these guys improve to help Happ. Khalil Iverson is a great example. He was recruited under the reign of Bo Ryan, but his development has mostly been under the tutelage of Gard. Iverson seems like the guy we would typically see make a significant leap under Ryan and become an All-Big ten type player. But it appears Iverson has hit a plateau as an athletic freak that will give you about eight points per game. D’mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl are two others that we should have seen them become at least nice role players by now and neither has been very consistent thus far in their career.
We have to see the player improvement this year to go along with Pre-Season Big Ten Player of the Year Happ. This team actually does have some highly regarded recruits and young players coming back like Kobe King and Brad Davison. To go along with Iverson, Trice, and Pritzl they have some talent there that should get us to a tournament appearance. Ryan certainly has had tournament teams with less talent than the Badgers do this year.
Lastly, Badgers’ fans have to consider their unprecedented run of 20 straight tournament appearances. This was right in line with some of the nations historically great programs like Kanas and North Carolina. Badgers’ basketball is at the point where the fans have to expect excellence and missing two years in a row is just simply unacceptable.
If we don’t make the tournament, Greg Gard must be fired.