Senior day is always a bittersweet moment, no matter the team or the players involved. Four years of memories, hard work and effort is all coming to an end. For the Wisconsin Badgers, Sundayâ€™s senior day has all of that and a lot more at stake too.
Thanks to a road loss to No. 14 Maryland on Tuesday the Badgers need a win on Sunday afternoon to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten title. You can bet head coach Bo Ryan is more focused on that than anything to do with the careerâ€™s of four unheralded but unequaled seniors.
It may be the key to Wisconsinâ€™s four seniors heading out on top instead of coming out flat as well.
So is the chance to erase an ugly legacy against the opponent on Saturday â€” Michigan State. For the trio of seniors who came in the 2011 class (Josh Gasser was a member of the 2010 class), the Spartans havenâ€™t been fun to play against.
The duo of Traevon Jackson and Frank Kaminsky witnessed and participated in a 5-loss streak to start their careers in Madison. UW got back to some winning ways with a 60-58 barnburner against No. 8 MSU last season, but then were done in again by the Spartans in the Big Ten tournament.
Overall Jackson and Kaminsky own a 1-6 record against the Spartans. Add in Dukan and Gasserâ€™s freshman season and UW is 2-7 against the Spartans over the last five years.
So, as the Badgers enter Senior Day you know Dukan, Gasser, Jackson and Kaminsky will want this win in the worst way possible.
Despite the bad overall record against MSU over the last five years, Dukan and Gasser are accustomed to winning basketball games. The duo have been a part of 106 victories during their careers.
Motivation shouldnâ€™t be an issue for anyone in this matchup. Between proving something against an opponent whom UW struggles against and leaving a Big Ten championship legacy, the Badgers still have plenty left to play for this season and for all-timeâ€™s sake.
After all, UW hasnâ€™t won the Big Ten regular season since the 2007-08 season.
There is also the fact that the group of Dukan, Jackson and Kaminsky were about as unheralded a class as possible. Jarrod Uthoff was the highest rated player in the 2011 class, but after his freshman season he left and paid his own way back home in Iowa for a year.
Still, the three unheralded recruits have turned in to a group who have a chance to be arguably the best team in Wisconsin Badgers basketball history.
Thereâ€™s also Gasserâ€™s situation, as he earned his scholarship thanks to the de-commitment of Vander Blue. Some initially saw him as the ‘Plan Bâ€™ option for UW and Bo Ryanâ€™s crew.
All that the so-called ‘Plan Bâ€™ has done is join Michael Finley in the 1,000-point, 500-rebound, 250-assist club.
Not too shabby for an afterthought, huh? You can bet he used the feeling of being the secondary option as motivation all career long too.
“You could tell people around Wisconsin thought I wasnâ€™t good enough to play for the Badgers,” Gasser said, via Badger247. “But it was my dream school. This was the place I wanted to be, this is where I wanted to play.”
Gasser has undoubtedly left his personal legacy on Badger basketball lore, but this team has plenty left to still write in its own legacy.
“I think the legacy is still unwritten, itâ€™s still in the works,” Gasser said, via Badger247. “We obviously have a lot of wins. The Final Four last year stands out, first team for Coach Ryan to get there. But we have a long ways to go.
“Weâ€™ve come so close. Coach Ryan has proven that, finishing in the top four every single year in the Big Ten. The list goes on and on of the achievements for this program and weâ€™d love to take that to the next level.”
Everything the Badgers senior class would like to accomplish is still in front of them, and if they can accomplish it there will be no doubting the legacy this group will leave behind.
Still, the Badgers canâ€™t lose sight of the game right in front of them. Writing that great legacy canâ€™t happen if UW doesnâ€™t take care of business on Senior Day against Michigan State.