Monday, April 7, 2008

T is for Tanner

That's what Will says when matching letters with the names of his day care friends: "T is for Tanner, L is for Laine, M is for Mason, V is for Vanessa," etc. Every time he says that I think not of the 4-year-old who tells my son what the dentist will be like, but instead Tanner Bronson.

Earlier this season, I wrote of some frustration I felt at times when Tanner got in games that were not yet decided (not often). It stems from the time in the 2005-06 season where we were playing at the Barn in Minneapolis. The Gophers were playing terribly, we were playing pretty well and had taken a big lead, but Minnesota started pressing and it looked like we were playing five on seven.

So Bo brings in Tanner. All right, I thought, apparently he's proven himself enough in practice to earn Bo's trust and enter the game to stop the bleeding. Wrong - Tanner was overmatched, we kept calling timeouts and turning the ball over, and even though we held on and won, it didn't feel that way. After that I never felt comfortable with him in during tough moments.

I would rather remember Tanner's more customary on-court appearances: at the end of lopsided Badger wins. These moments were always fun because a. the Badgers were going to win by a lot, b. it's nice to watch the contributors of the future like Nankivil and Jarmusz and try to determine if guys like Morris Cain can ever contribute, and c. because the scrub team's point guard, Tanner, respected the game.

You watch enough basketball, especially at the younger levels, and you see some ragged play at the end of blowouts. End of the bench players like to get in and make things happen, shoot early and often, and it usually ain't pretty. (This didn't apply to me; I was a scrub, but when I got in with the other benchwarmers in high school our coach shouted to pass the ball to the German foreign exchange student, Christoph Schmidt, who would chuck up an air ball).

Lord knows the Kohl Center crowd wanted Tanner to shoot it. He had arguably the longest run of being that guy - four years of tentative cheers and encouragement every time he caught the ball. He had his opportunities, too, but more often than not passed them up and kept the Swing running until a Gullikson or a Gavinski shot. Every once in awhile he'd shoot and miss, and Matt LePay would say something like "He's lights-out in practice, you should see him." He probably was - but so was David Burkemper.

So when Tanner did score - three field goals, 10 points this season - it was almost as joyous an occasion as a Landry dunk or Bohannon 3-pointer.

The best thing about Tanner is that we can be relatively sure that he's going to make the university proud to have him as an alumnus. It's been well-documented that he wants to be a coach, and had a good run learning from one of the best. Five years from now, when you see the updated Badgercentric coaching tree, it's a good bet Tanner Bronson will be on it, moving his way up the coaching ranks.

Just like the last four years, we'll all be pulling for him.


Hammer said...

Tanner played 1 minute in that game, and that was only because of foul trouble.
JS recap:
Wisconsin shot almost 60% (13 for 22) in the second half. . . . Joe Krabbenhoft grabbed a collegiate-high eight rebounds, four off the offensive glass, and had a personal-high four assists. . . . Taylor's seven turnovers were a collegiate high. His five assists fell one short of tying his collegiate best in that category. . . . Tanner Bronson's 1 minute of action came near the end of the first half when Michael Flowers was on the bench in foul trouble.

Frank Schwab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
frank said...

I've never been a huge fan of the "that guy"s UW has had, back to when Booker Coleman would throw layups off the backboard, and never really got all mushy about Tanner Bronson. But without a doubt, when he hit that 3 in the last minute of senior night when they won the share of the BT title, and everyone went nuts -- one of the top highlights of a damn good season.

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