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December 8, 2010MADISON - Minutes after Jordan Taylor fell one assist shy of Wisconsin's first ever triple-double, the junior point guard was quick to point out how he had missed a couple open teammates throughout the course of the game.
Everybody wants to point to Mike Bruesewitz's missed shot nearing the end of regulation in UW's win over South Dakota, but that's not what Taylor was focused on.
"I think I missed Mike under the basket one or two times, too," Taylor, who finished that game with 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, said. "I probably could have got there. But, I mean, whatever."
It's such a passive word, one that when used by Taylor deflects a great amount of attention away from him. Like a dish that sets up one of his teammates for a score, Taylor is happier helping his team win than he is taking any credit for the way it came to fruition.
He's a point guard. That's how they are supposed to be.
He takes care of the ball (Taylor has a nasty 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio), hits shots when he needs to (just shy of 45 percent for the season) and plays incredible defense. He's a guy that any team would want, and a guy the Badgers are more than pleased to have.
"Jordan could do everything for us," senior forward Keaton Nankivil said. "He's really making shots for five guys out there on the floor. It's not just one or two guys. He does it better than almost anybody that I've seen. Just having him on our team opens up so many parts of the game for everybody."
When the Badgers suffered a championship loss to Notre Dame a week and a half ago in the Old Spice classic, some of the players, particularly guys playing down low, took it upon themselves to make a more concerted effort to score the rock from the paint.
Having endured one shaky offensive output after another in Orlando, both Bo Ryan and his team knew they needed to shy away from shooting as many three's and get back to touching the post.
"We're always trying to establish the post," Ryan said. "That's something we say all the time. The players hear it from the coaches. Other players tell current players, or when players play pickup games and things like that, touching the post is still a big part of the game of basketball. Some teams are successful without it, but I've never coached a team that hasn't been effective from the post as well as the outside.
"We're like every other team in the country right now. We're trying to get a feel for what we have, where our strengths are and how we can maximize our strengths. It's still evolving."
It may still be evolving, but over the course of the past week, it seems as though the Badgers saw their offense start from inside and work out.
UW averaged 24 points per game in the paint against NC State and South Dakota, but when you look at the assist and three-point shooting numbers of some of the key players, Taylor included, it becomes evident there was an emphasis in working from the inside out.
Especially with the way Taylor attacked the lane.
"We knew that about Jordan and that he has that ability," senior Jon Leuer said. "When he does that, it just opens up the floor for everybody else. It just makes it easier to play and we get better looks when he's doing that."
Teams don't accidentally lead the nation with a stellar 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. That comes with a dedicated effort to take care of the basketball and to make the correct reads and passes.
Taylor blamed himself for missing out on the school's first-ever triple double, but with the way he's playing and with the way he can read a defense, whatever.
"I always know he sees me," Nankivil said. "First of all I see him with his eyes up. Second of all, he'll tell you. If he misses you he'll let you know. That's just the kind of player he is. He's going to get you involved if it takes every ounce of his energy."