Greg Gard Talks Belmont

MADISON – With No.4 Wisconsin heading to Tucson, Ariz., to take on No.13 Belmont in the NCAA Tournament second round, Badger Nation talks with associate head coach Greg Gard, who is breaking down film for the Bruins' scouting report.

Badger Nation: Stating the obvious, Belmont appears to be a good basketball team that used a lot of players, shoots the 3-point shot well and have solid presences in the post and the perimeter. I am curious as to what your impressions were as you started breaking down film?

Greg Gard: First off, you try to figure out who is who as they come in in waves. Cameras angles aren't always great to see numbers. With only three days to prepare, you can't get so caught up in them that you forget about worrying about yourself and what we need to do. Our rules will stay the same. It's still five against five. They shoot a lot of 3s and when you let them, they shoot very well. They also have two big guys inside in Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders that are very good with their back to the basket and are very efficient in there. They do a great job in moving without the ball and setting up early in terms of their post position. Then the other four guys can shoot the three. They do a good job of stretching you pretty far and end up with a lot of one on one situations in the post.

Ian Clark leads them in scoring when you look at the box score, but you watch different games throughout the year, they have a bunch of guys that have stepped up and given them boosts when they've needed it.

Badger Nation: They sound a lot like Cornell the way you are describing them with their M.O. that they shoot the three very well and they have some guys inside that can create some problems.

Greg Gard: They do. I don't know if they are as old as Cornell was in terms of years of experience, but they are similar to that. I think most teams at that mid-major level, so to speak, you see a lot of guys that are a really good shooters. It's like playing in Division III. A lot of big guys end up in a BCS conference, so you end up with guys on the perimeter that can shoot it and you play with a smaller lineup at times. They remind me a lot of Michigan in that they can put four guys around a post player and stretch you out. It's hard to help. They do a great job of skipping the ball, cutting and moving without the ball, screening, have some misdirection going, so they do a good job of spacing, cutting and reading each other. You can tell they've played a lot together. You can't zero in on one or two guys, because nobody plays more than 24 minutes and nobody plays less than 10. They go with who is hot and who is playing well together.

Badger Nation: How many games do you try to watch before you'll tip off on Thursday?

Greg Gard: I've watched three (as of Monday afternoon). You take your time Thursday and as we work toward Thursday, hopefully watch a dozen or more. My in-flight movie will be Belmont Bruin basketball.

Badger Nation: Do you think this team needs a deep tournament run to justify what you did in the regular season? A lot of people philosophy is what have you done for me lately and the tournament hasn't been super kind to this team the last couple years.

Greg Gard: I don't know if it's so much as justify as you want to keep playing. You want to play as long as you can and try to win six in a row. You want to cut down the nets in Houston and that's everybody's goal when you start this. Three hundred some teams had that goal of getting in this tournament when we started back in October. Now, there are 68 of us left. Everybody has that goal of playing long as possible, but I think you are doing yourself an injustice if you look at it that way because at this point, everybody is good. Outside from maybe the No.1 vs. No.16 and some of the No.2 vs. No.15, the parity across college basketball is pretty even. I look No.2 Notre Dame vs. No.15 Akron. Akron is pretty good for a No.15 seed and No.14 Indiana State is pretty good. We saw how good No.14 Wofford was last year.

Maybe Joe Fan doesn't understand some of those No.12, No.13 and No.14s are, but if you've seen them up close and played against some of them in the past, you realize that the parity is greater than 10 years ago. Unless you wrap up a No.1, your first game is a little easier and the rest is a dogfight. Match-ups have to be good, you have to play well and you have to make shots, which is the biggest thing. You can't have cold stretches and you have to put the ball in the basket. You have to stick to what you have done.

Badger Nation: Has that been one of themes the last couple seasons, running into a little cold spell against a hot shooting team in the national tournament?

Greg Gard: We've run into very good teams and at times, haven't played exceptionally well. You don't get any ‘do-overs.' It's not double elimination. If you don't play well for that 40 minutes, you're home. You play over 30 games during the regular season and you're judged whether you get in or not based on the body of work. Once you get there, it doesn't matter what you've done before. It's all about what you do in that 40 minutes and to be able to play as long as possible is everybody's goal.

Badger Nation: You confident that this group can shake two ugly performances and focus on the next game?

Greg Gard: We're going to have to. I think we weren't terrible against Ohio State. I don't think anybody was going to beat them that day, but we made enough mistakes early to give them some confidence. With Penn State, we need to be more aggressive and on the attack from the start. We need to go after people and make a statement real early that we're going to be the aggressive and not wait for something to happen. The players need to take that upon themselves. They all know how they can play and have enough confidence in what they've done in the past against very good teams. It's a matter of them stepping up and getting it done and playing how they've played all year.

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