Despite being a finalist for virtually every "player of the year" award available, Wisconsin senior forward Alando Tucker evidently still needs to be reminded he's good.
"There was a point in the game where Kam [Taylor] was shooting his free throws," Tucker recalled after Saturday's 52-50 win over Michigan State. "Mike [Flowers] came to me and said, ‘You're a big-time player, and this is where you need to step up.'"
Suitably advised of his ability, Tucker went on to score 12 points and grab two rebounds in the game's final 10 minutes. And he executed a textbook ball screen to give Taylor just enough room to nail the game-winning three-pointer.
Ever since Tucker became the second player in Badger history (after Michael Finley) to score over 2,000 career points, observers have been trying to figure out where he fits in the list of great players at Wisconsin. Consensus puts him in at least the top three, along with Finley and Devin Harris, both currently playing in the NBA.
Tucker has the chance to pull away, depending on how the Badgers fare over the next few weeks. He needs just 22 points to surpass Finley and become the program's all-time leading scorer, a feat he will likely accomplish at the Big Ten tournament in Chicago this weekend.
Finley's teams never made it beyond the second round of the NCAA tournament, and the farthest Harris advanced was the Sweet Sixteen in 2003. Tucker was on the team that nearly upset North Carolina in the 2005 Elite Eight. If he's able to lead this year's team to that point or beyond, it will be hard to argue that any other player has been more valuable to the program.