Ryan won't let Badgers get caught up in hoopla of playing at Duke

DURHAM, N.C. -- The topic turned to road games and Bo Ryan immediately launched into his latest parable about playing ball back in Philly at a playground called "the Cage" with his buddy Bugsy.

DURHAM, N.C. -- The topic turned to road games and Bo Ryan immediately launched into his latest parable about playing ball back in Philly at a playground called "the Cage" with his buddy Bugsy.

"That was always pretty neat. We'd get all jacked up in the drive up there," said the University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Pa.

"The problem was I thought we were too jacked up at times when we took our show on the road," Ryan continued. "Instead of just playing like we would normally play in Chester, it was, 'We've got to prove that our guys are better than their guys.'"

Ryan went on to point out that the game should never change, whether it's a kid playing on his driveway, at "the Cage" or Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the 20th-ranked Badgers (5-0) take on No. 7 Duke (6-0) tonight in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge game.

It won't matter to Wisconsin's players tonight that they will be playing their first road game of the season against Duke, which has won 54 nonconference games in a row at Cameron.


They know they will be competitive in every game against any team and win their share on the road when nobody gives them a chance if they follow simple rules.

"We never try to trick anybody, we've never talked about any hocus-pocus in this game. It's sweat, hard work, play the percentages and then you always have a chance," said Ryan. "I've been saying it since 1972. Give your team a chance to compete. Then it's amazing what players can do when given the opportunity."

Keep it simple

Sometimes Ryan has to remind his players to keep it simple. Sophomore point guard Trevon Hughes had a horrible first half Saturday against Georgia that included five points on 2-of-11 shooting overall and 1-of-7 from 3-point range. He also had just one assist and four turnovers.

He recovered to finish with 18 points after making 4-of-8 shots in the second half. He also had two assists and one turnover as the Badgers outscored Georgia 45-17 in the final 20 minutes.

Asked what Hughes did differently, Ryan scoffed at the question and said, "It's so simple that I'm embarrassed to even answer. He just made better decisions. It's that simple in this game."

Of course, Hughes had help. Ryan also instructed the Badgers without the ball to move better to give Hughes the opportunity to make better decisions. Hughes also was at home, where it's vastly easier to focus on correcting mistakes than in the din of Cameron's craziness.

"That's why our first road game will be a tough place to play. We realize that," said senior forward Brian Butch. "It's keeping a level head and making sure you play hard."


Impose their will

Expect Duke to try and disrupt Hughes much like Georgia did with its pressure defense. And expect Duke to try and disrupt the Badgers' inside game with 6-11 seniors Butch and Greg Stiemsma, as well as 6-7 junior forward Marcus Landry.

Everyone knows one of the keys for the Badgers tonight is to own the glass against the smaller Blue Devils. The Badgers know if they are to prevail and impose their will, they have to be more fundamentally sound.

That's why Ryan has refused to be satisfied with the Badgers' rebounding so far this year despite the fact they own a 217-134 edge over opponents that included a 46-34 advantage over a big Georgia team on Saturday.

"We still have a lot of work to do on the glass," Ryan said before remembering an old Borden's commercial to continue with his point. "I'm not Elsie the cow," he added. "I'm not contented."

Expect Ryan to milk that statement for all he can get. The Badgers won't mind because it reinforces what they must always remember, particularly in hostile environments like Cameron Indoor Stadium, Breslin Sports Center or either of the Assembly Halls.

-- Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune

Information Services

What To Read Next
Get Local