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Wisconsin seasons not lost

first_imgCheer up, Badger fans.I know these past few days have been a tough time for thefaithful of the Cardinal and White. The men’s basketball team bowed out in theNCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 to the hot-shooting Stephen Curry and Davidson. Andthe men’s hockey team fell at home in a tough overtime loss to North Dakota,costing them a trip to the Frozen Four in Denver.In fact, after the hockey team lost Sunday, head coach MikeEaves compared his emotions to those of his coaching counterpart, Bo Ryan.“I think as Bo Ryan talked about, when you lose and you’reso close, it stings,” Eaves said. “It stings deeply, and one of the things wetalked about after the game is that you’ve got to use that for next year.”While the losses for both Badger teams may sting for quitesome time — maybe perhaps until their new seasons begin, as Eaves mentioned — theycan both hold their heads high for the way things played out this year.Looking back to the fall, neither was predicted to make muchnoise in their respective conferences. For Bo’s bunch, they had to make up forthe loss of stars Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor. As a team without a truego-to threat, they were projected to finish behind Michigan State and OhioState.Eaves and his crew were in the same boat. The team came inwith a lot of youth — just four seniors graced the roster, and the majority ofthe key players were either freshmen or sophomores — and weren’t seen as a clubthat could compete with some of the top teams in the WCHA, arguably thetoughest conference in college hockey.But here we are now, as both seasons have drawn to a closein the same weekend, reflecting on the year that was. And for all of you whodoubted these two Badger programs before play began, by now you are likely tohave rethought your early assumptions.Bo led his team to not only a regular season Big Ten title,but the conference tournament crown as well. With a more balanced roster thanthe one in 2006-07 — a team that could be shut down if Tucker was contained — Wisconsinmanaged to gain a No. 3 seed in the Big Dance. Once there, they topped CalState Fullerton in the opening round and dispensed of freshman phenom MichaelBeasley and Kansas State in the second.Eaves and his young team–despite finishing with aless-than-ideal regular season record — found themselves in the field of 16 forthe NCAA Tournament as well, getting to play on their home ice. And while mostin the hockey business didn’t think Wisconsin belonged in the postseason, a 6-2win in the first round against Denver made a statement that they could contend.“We came in here with something to prove,” UW goalie ShaneConnelly said in the locker room after Sunday’s loss. “We beat a very good Denverteam, and we went wire-to-wire with the No. 1 overall seed in our division.”“A lot of people picked Denver to come out of this (region),but I think by beating them pretty handily, we proved something,” assistantcaptain Ben Street said. “It’s frustrating at the same time because we felt wewere good enough to win this game.”The sense of frustration felt by Street is one that waslikely felt by everyone from Brian Butch to Kyle Turris, and by the thousandsof fans that stuck with both teams through thick and thin. Losses are tough,and they often make it hard for teams to look back and take pride in what hasbeen accomplished.But neither season could be counted as a lost year.Obviously, both fell short of the ultimate goal of a national championship. Butproving naysayers wrong and getting farther than anyone anticipated has tocount for something, right?For all of you still nursing the wounds from this weekend’splayoff losses, hopefully this helps. If you’re like me and have been receivingcalls and messages from friends who want to rub in the games, just tune themout.And if they’re Gopher fans, ask them how their football teamis doing.?Tyler is a junior majoring in journalism. If you disagreewith him and think either team was a disappointment this season, let him [email protected]last_img

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