The Voice: Don't start looking for the lifeboats just yet

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The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgBack in October, I wrote about what a great time it was to be a sports fan in Wisconsin. The Brewers were rolling into the playoffs. After pounding Nebraska in the much-anticipated Big Ten opener, the unbeaten Badger football team was enjoying a bye week. The Packers, with Aaron Rodgers and company, were putting on a show each week.

Hopefully, that show in Green Bay will continue for a few more weeks.

However, given the fragile nature of sports, we witnessed the Brewers' season end to rival and eventual World Series champion St. Louis. Later, we learned that Ryan Braun might be in line for a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test. Brewers fans nervously await the final word from MLB officials.

As for the Badger football team, a thrilling victory in the first-ever conference title game was followed by a heart-breaking Rose Bowl loss to Oregon.

To be sure, there is no shame in losing to the Ducks. It was a wildly entertaining game featuring two prolific offenses, but Wisconsin fell just short.

In the days following the Rose Bowl, Bret Bielema finds himself needing to replace five assistants. Paul Chryst, Bob Bostad, Dave Huxtable and Joe Rudolph are moving to Pittsburgh, while DelVaughn Alexander will join the Arizona State staff.

While assistants will move on, this is an unusually large hit. In some corners of Badger Nation, there exists a state of panic. Badgers fans nervously await word from Bielema regarding the new hires.

At the risk of sounding like the uptight guy in the movie "Animal House" who, during the parade scene, desperately shrieks "All is well. All is well!" let me suggest that it is too early to press the panic button. Perhaps it makes sense to sit back and allow Bielema the chance to reassemble his staff. In six years as the head coach, he has demonstrated the ability to follow a living legend, and his program has bounced back quite well after the 7-6 season of 2008.  

Just consider it another example of the head coach's favorite saying, "It's not what happens, it is how you respond."

We move onto basketball, where Bo Ryan's team is going through an awful shooting slump that has resulted in three straight losses, two coming on the home court. This is the same Badger squad that thumped 12th-ranked UNLV, a team that has not lost since. It also is the same Badger group that took North Carolina to the final minute.

It is fair to be concerned, but I would think it is a bit early to jump off the ship.

On Thursday night, the Badgers have another tough road test at Purdue, followed by a home game with Nebraska on Sunday afternoon.

Yes, Sunday afternoon, while the Packers are playing the New York Giants. Tough timing for a Wisconsin basketball game, but the NFL has other scheduling matters to worry about.  

It makes me wonder what kind of atmosphere there will be at the Kohl Center. It is no secret that the reputation is slipping.

When it comes to noise level, a writer from Las Vegas compared it to a library.

Look, I have little if any right to tell folks who pay very good money to support the Badgers to get off their butts and cheer louder. So please allow me to suggest that the team might need a little more help these days.  

If nothing else, the past week-and-a-half should remind everyone that winning is not a given.  

Yes, the Badgers can do their part to create more excitement, specifically by making more shots.

But let's be real -- it is easy to get behind a team when it is smooth sailing. Now that the waters are a tad choppy, it will be interesting to see how everyone responds, players and fans alike.

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I think we'll all feel better when we see Coach Bielema start to fill in those vacancies.