Ryan upbeat about Badgers
MADISON After 40 years in the business, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan stays calm when people talk about his program rebuilding.
“It is amazing how young men step up,” Ryan said Tuesday during Wisconsin’s media day. “I have all the faith in the world that that is going to happen with this group.”
Wisconsin must replace point guard Jordan Taylor, who was an All-American honorable mention last year. But the Badgers return players who were responsible for the bulk of the scoring (70.6 percent), rebounding (84.4 percent) and assists (60.5 percent) on the team that reached the NCAA regional semifinals last year.
Most of that production comes from the frontcourt. Wisconsin’s three senior forwards—Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans—have played in 285 career games and made 122 starts. Junior Josh Gasser has grown into the role of leader and point guard over the summer.
The Badgers will need that production early, as their nonconference schedule features games against five NCAA tournament teams. Overall, the Badgers play 18 games against teams that made the postseason last year.
“We are going to need to play better than we played earlier last year,” Ryan said. “It sure would be nice if we can get our rotation and get some things established a little earlier. Against some of the teams that we are playing, we’re going to need that.”
In addition to being without Taylor, Wisconsin is expecting to start the season without Bruesewitz, who needed 50 stitches to close a gash in his shin after he scraped an exposed screw securing the basket. Bruesewitz has been limited to the exercise bike by Wisconsin’s medical staff since the freak injury during an Oct. 9 practice. He is eyeing a return in early November.
“Certain things had to happen in a sequence and it happened,” Ryan said. “Mike has handled it well . He’ll be on the floor. It’s just a matter of how many weeks.”
With Bruesewitz out, Wisconsin will look at forwards like junior Zach Bohannon, sophomore Frank Kaminsky and freshman Sam Dekker to contribute. Dekker was the prized recruit of Wisconsin’s 2012 recruiting class, averaging a state-best 32.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while leading Sheboygan Lutheran to the school’s first WIAA state title.
“Sam wants to come here to be a complete player,” said Ryan. “The nice part is he knows he has a lot to learn. He hasn’t come in here with the idea that he has got all the answers. He is a talented basketball player, as are the rest of our guys who participate here.”