By Jeff Goodman
LINCOLN, Neb. - It just wouldn't have been quite as believable coming from most players. But when Jordan Taylor uttered the words, there was no question that he meant it.
"As long as we're winning, I could care less," Wisconsin's do-everything point guard said. "I'd much rather go to the Final Four and not have any accolades than get knocked out in the first-round and be an All-American."
Just talk to Taylor a while and you'll realize how unique an individual he truly is.
He doesn't make any excuses for his shooting woes this season, only to say that he has -- and needs to -- get in the gym with more frequency.
"It's nothing mechanical," Taylor said. "No secret formula. Just repetition. That's all."
But truth be told, Taylor has had to adjust to life without Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil, two guys who could both stretch the defense last season and two guys that combined to average 28 points per contest.
Instead of going out there to prove that he's the First Team All-American that many projected Taylor to be this season, Taylor did the opposite. He sat back, let the game come to him and tried to make sure that his teammates got their shots and gained confidence in their new roles.
Remember, the team's top five scorers this season not named Jordan Taylor combined to average just 16.4 points last season.
"He's trying to be the guy who makes everyone else better," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said after the 64-40 win at Nebraska on Tuesday night. "He wants to show people we've got more than one player. He's exactly what a great point guard should be."
Ryan admitted that, at times this season, he's told Taylor to be more aggressive in looking for his own shot.
"He didn't worry about getting his own at all," Badgers junior wing Ryan Evans said after going for a career-high 22 in the rout over Nebraska. "He's such a great leader -- and that's why he's different. He knows we're young and inexperienced and wants to instill confidence in the other guys."
"It's what separates him from other All-Americans," Evans added.
It's not as though Taylor and the Badgers have gotten off to some miserable start, either. Other than his shooting and scoring, everything else is basically on par with last season - when he established himself as one of the nation's elite players. His assist-to-turnover ratio remains at more than 3-to-1; he distributes, rebounds well for a point guard and leads his team.
It's a group that has suffered just two slip-ups: the close loss in Chapel Hill to North Carolina and the rare home setback against in-state rival Marquette.
Taylor was impressive in the win against Nebraska, but his stat line once again wasn't eye-popping. He took just a dozen shots, make five and was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc -- with a couple critical makes that helped allow the Badgers to pull away in the second half.
But Taylor was too busy feeding Evans, who had his shot going on Tuesday night. Too busy trying to get Ben Brust and Jared Berggren looks.
"We have some really good players," Taylor said.
Including a special one.Photo: Getty Images