How fitting that the performance No.11 Wisconsin delivered in the second game of the Chicago Invitational Challenge was not only a nod to Meanwell, but allowed Ryan to have his name put right next to the Hall of Fame head coach for at least 72 hours.
With solid perimeter shooting, ball movement and a career-high 21 points from junior forward Jared Berggren, Ryan equaled Meanwell for No.2 on UW's all-time wins list with a 77-31 blowout over UMKC Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.
"I thanked them for being a part of something that's bigger than any individual," Ryan said he told his team afterwards. "That's team play. They happen to put numbers up and they have records. Let's cut right to the chase. Doc Meanwell was a hell of a coach, great teacher, a doctor … Just to be in a sentence with Doc Meanwell, that's pretty neat."
Ryan, 246-91 (.730 winning percentage) in 11 seasons at Wisconsin, will go for No.247 Friday night in Hoffman Estates, Ill., against Bradley. Ryan needs 19 more wins to tie Harold "Bud" Foster, who went 265-267 in 25 seasons (1934-59) after taking over for Meanwell 77 years ago, for first place in program history.
The earliest Ryan could tie Foster would be January 31 at Penn State and at the rate Wisconsin (4-0) is going with its perimeter shooting and defense, it might not be that impossible.
For the first time since the 1940-41 season, Wisconsin held its first four opponents under 40 points, outscoring the competition 299-to-136 (an average of 74.8-to-34.0), shooting 50.9 percent from the floor and allowing opponents to shoot just 20.8 percent from the field.
"We'll play bigger teams, we'll play faster teams, we'll play teams that can do some things," Ryan said. "Teams take on certain personalities and you still search for your strengths. That's what we are still doing but so far … our guys are doing a pretty good job.
"It's all about what we are trying to do. It's still about the game. It's still about developing the players."
The defensive numbers are stifling due in part to the level of competition UW has faced and the principles that Ryan preaches, but the offensive numbers are gaudy because of the Badgers' continue hot shooting from the perimeter.
Wisconsin shot 51.7 percent (30-for-58) overall - 16-for-24 (64 percent) in the opening 20 minutes - and overwhelmed the Kangeroos (1-4)with crisp, clean ball movement, play that no doubt Meanwell would have approved of, that led to wide-open 3-pointers.
Of Wisconsin's first 16 buckets, nine had an assist to them, eight of which were 3-pointers.
"They move the ball extremely well," UMKC coach Matt Brown said of UW, which finished with 18 assists. "Coming into the game, they had a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, shooting the ball (47) percent from three and 50 percent from the field. I think they're really underrated in their efficiency in the half-court offense."
The hot shooting from the perimeter was continued by Josh Gasser and UW. Hitting two of his three 3-pointers, Gasser has made 11-for-13 3-pointers on the season and the shooting was contagious, as six different players made at least one 3-pointer.
"When they go in, it's a thing of beauty, isn't it?" Ryan said of the 3-point shooting. "Those were the open shots. Again, you have to take what the defense gives you."
Entering the game, Wisconsin was shooting a Big Ten-best 47.9 percent from 3-point range and averaging 11.3 made 3-points per game. At halftime, Wisconsin hit eight of its 13 threes and jump started key sequences.
Taylor hit a wide-open shot from the top of the key to open the scoring, Berggren's second first-half 3-pointer ignited a 13-0 run that included three 3-pointers and Ben Brust (12 points) responded shortly after with a three that started a 9-3 run.
"It makes it very hard when they have five guys on the floor that can shoot it consistently," Brown said.
A week after lambasting himself for not finishing around the bucket in a 4-for-13 performance against Colgate, Berggren showed the vast array of post and perimeter moves that made him such a highly-recruited forward out of Princeton (Minn) HS.
Berggren took advantage of the Kangeroos being without 6-8 senior center Bernard Kamwa due to injury by scoring in every which way. He was 4-for-4 from 3-point range, 1-for-1 from the free throw line and 8-for-9 from the field overall, helping contribute to 30 points in the paint.
He also showed a couple flashed with his defense, too, blocking center Brad Reid and forward Thomas Staton on back-to-back shots when the score was 70-27.
"My teammates were giving me open looks and I was just knocking them down today," said Berggren, who had three blocks and curiously no rebounds. "It felt good."
After their longest homes stand since 2007-08 and off to its best start record since 2008-09, the Badgers are expected to face better competition … eventually. After playing Bradley, which lost its first of the season at home to Wofford Tuesday, and the winner of BYU (3-1) and Nevada (3-2) Saturday, the Badgers will travel to No.1 North Carolina next Wednesday and host No.16 Marquette next Saturday.
When that time comes, expect them to be prepared.
"We're coming together as a team," said junior Mike Bruesewitz (10 points). "We've had a ton of assists every game we've played. We're playing good team basketball and defensively we're implementing the younger guys.
"Defensively we're getting there and offensively we're sharing the ball and being a solid team. We have a lot of guys are scoring. It's easy when a lot of guys are able to put the ball in the basket. It makes (us) harder to guard."