By: Mark Chalifoux
March Madness is about big players rising on the biggest stage in college basketball. After the first day of action, there were plenty that didn’t live up to their hype. And then there were players who came off the bench to spark comebacks and upsets. But one of the more important performances belonged to Wisconsin’s All-American point guard Jordan Taylor.
There’s no question the guard had a better campaign statistically in 2010-2011, scoring more (18.1 ppg) and dishing out more assists (4.7 apg). This year, Taylor averaged 14.7 points and 4 assists per game but against No. 13-seeded Montana, Taylor was at his best.
Taylor shot the ball very well, scoring 17 points while shooting 60 percent. He also had eight rebounds and a pair of steals. Most importantly for Wisconsin is how he managed the game. He had six assists and no turnovers in the 73-49 rout of Montana. He was aggressive but also got his teammates in good positions to score, three other Badgers scored in double digits.
The story for Taylor this season has been his leadership. As Wisconsin worked to replace it’s starting forwards, Taylor had to be more patient with the offense and get the more inexperienced players more involved in the offense. Now, with forwards that can finish in the post (Ryan Evans led all scorers with 18 points and added 8 rebounds in the win over Montana), Taylor is an even more potent point guard. Teams can’t just focus on stopping the All-American and when the games are big, Taylor steps up.
What makes this tournament even more intriguing when watching Wisconsin is the fact that this may be Taylor’s last starring role. He has been knocked by scouts for not having an NBA-caliber shot or the physical tools to succeed at the next level, so he’s not just biding his time until becoming a pro.
Taylor is still one of the best point guards in America and leads the team with the best defense in the nation. And with his strong leadership and his savvy point guard skills, he can take over games and make his teammates better.
His story as a star still has a final chapter to be written and if Wisconsin is going to make a run, it will be because Taylor brings his play to an even higher level.
Jordan Taylor Highlight reel:
Wisconsin v. Montana highlights
Mark Chalifoux is a contributing writer to CBS Digital. He can be reached at email@example.com and @markchalifoux on twitter.