Badgers poised to win with consistency


There is no secret formula to Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan’s success. His style is consistent, just like his players. Since beginning his career as head coach in 2002, Ryan has won five Big 10 championships, and amassed a winning percentage of .720. The Badgers know how to win, and in the NCAA tournament, that sometimes means more than anything.

Wisconsin’s approach is simple, but in the generation of AAU basketball, where fundamentals are at a premium, it is effective. Most kids don’t do the little things, because the little things don’t get you on ESPN. With Wisconsin, if you overlook the little things, you don’t play, simple as that. The Badgers hit three pointers with great efficiency (38 percent), rarely turn the ball over (eight turnovers per game), make free throws (74 percent) and score with balance (six players average eight points per game or more). This is Bo Ryan’s philosophy, and his players have all adopted it. His players value the basketball, pass with precision, make open shots and let the other team beat themselves. It isn’t exciting, but it wins games.

Perhaps the best representation of Wisconsin basketball is Ben Brust. The senior guard averaged just one point per game as a freshman, and failed to earn many minutes. Now, after four years under Ryan’s tutelage, Brust averages 13 points per game, shoots 89 percent from the free throw line and almost never makes mistakes. He is a perfect player in Ryan’s system, and a big reason why Wisconsin is battling for the National Championship. Bo Ryan and his staff recruit tough kids who play the right way and let them mature within the system. Another great example of this is junior Frank Kaminsky. The Illinois native stands at 6 feet 10 inches, and has developed into one of the toughest players to guard in the country. Kaminsky has shown the ability to stretch the floor with his jumper, but can also score on the block. He is versatile, smart and efficient, evidenced by Kaminsky’s other collegiate offers: DePaul, Bradley, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Northwestern. He was overlooked and unheralded, and now he is making a huge impact on one of the best teams in the county. He is Wisconsin basketball.

Most experts would probably agree that Wisconsin is the least talented team of the four headed to North Texas. Kentucky, Florida, and UConn all have prized recruits, superior athleticism and NBA-ready players. But the Badgers are used to that. Bo Ryan and his players are accustomed to being outmatched and coming out on top. It has been the storyline all season, and will likely continue during the Final Four. Everyone will pick against Wisconsin, and that will be just fine. The Badgers will go about their business, paying attention to things like defensive rotations and boxing out. They won’t posterize anyone or break any ankles. They will leave the highlights for other teams and play the way Bo Ryan taught them. They won’t be the favorite to win it all, but in this tournament, where consistency is paramount, they will likely prevail.