While the two points if the dunk was completed were important, the more crucial factor was Nankivil finally taking the ball to the hoop.
Everyone knows the Wisconsin senior forward can shoot the ball. Nankivil is averaging 50 percent from long range. He possesses the sweetest looking jumper on the team and has been showing it off much more consistently this season.
But missing from his offensive arsenal has been a willingness to take the ball to the rim. Ryan isn't expecting Nankivil to summon his inner Jordan Taylor, but at least presenting the threat of a drive is important.
Well, practice makes perfect.
"He drove and dunked the ball in practice!" Ryan exclaimed. "If I just could have had [our video guy] zero in on the faces of Evan Anderson and J.P [Gavinski] as he blew by those guys and shocked us all. Practice stopped for about five seconds, and it felt like an hour. Keaton threw one of those down in practice, where he put it on the floor, one dribble and dunked. [someone] needed resuscitation, [someone] had to be picked up off the floor, I was actually speechless for five seconds.
"When you developed a curve ball how much better of a pitcher does that make you. You have a fastball and you got a curve ball. In any sport if you improve in an area, it always makes the other area more effective."
Tim "Turnover Free" Jarmusz
An unfortunate first occurred in Saturday's game against Illinois.
Jarmusz threw the ball away for the first time all season against a Big Ten opponent.
Despite playing at least 20 minutes per game in conference play, Jarmusz had yet to turnover the ball even once for the Badgers. Saturday, he was careless with a pass to the top of the key, which Illini guard Demetri McCamey picked off going the other way.
Later in the game, however, he pump faked to throw the defense off balance, eventually leading to a UW bucket.
"I know you get tired of hearing it, but he cares," Ryan said. "There is a difference. When you watch some players or some teams, it is not that they don't care but there are levels of caring for the basketball. Tim is a guy that knows the value of it."
Lineup In Flux
While it may not be shocking news to those outside of the UW fanbase, Ryan's four different starting lineups this season is an extreme rarity. Unless it is for injury reasons, Ryan will usually stick with one lineup from start to finish.
The glass-half empty view would be to assume he isn't getting the production he needs out of certain positions (cough, Rob Wilson).
Ryan chose to look at it a little more optimistically.
"The one thing that you always want to feel [as a player] is that you have a chance to contribute," Ryan said. "Everybody on the team is important and everybody has a role and everybody can increase their role … practices have been really good and I think guys go into the locker room thinking 'I helped today.' And as long as guys think that you always have a chance."
Badgers, Wildcats Tip-Off Change
Northwestern and Wisconsin, in conjunction with the Big Ten Conference, have announced that the tipoff for Sunday's men's basketball game at Welsh-Ryan Arena has been moved up to 11:30 a.m. The match-up is being televised by Big Ten Network.
The change has been made to accommodate fans and to avoid conflict with the National Football League's NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. That game, which is being played at Soldier Field in Chicago, is set to kick off at 2:05 p.m.