Wisconsin spent the majority of its open practice on three-point shooting, one of the areas of weakness in opponent Syracuse's famed 2-3 zone. The Badgers ended practice firing half court shots until freshman guard Traevon Jackson connected, sending teammates into a frenzy of celebration and bringing the practice to a close on a lighter note.
It's that kind of shooting that will help Wisconsin against a Syracuse defense that is so tough to attack is that it plays mind games with the opponent.
"If you're not hitting shots it gets into your head sometimes" said UW coach Bo Ryan. "Then it's kind of a multiplier affect on, oh am I going to make this next one?"
Junior center Jared Berggren knows it will take an under control Badgers squad to beat the Orange's zone.
"Their length and athleticism makes it difficult for anyone to be successful," said Berggren. "So we're going to have to stick to our principles, move the ball well and try to find some open shots."
Ryan said senior first-team All-Big Ten guard Jordan Taylor will again be the key to the Badgers' success in program's second Sweet 16 appearance in as many seasons. No surprise there, but Ryan, in keeping with the calm demeanor the Badgers showed in practice, also said he doesn't expect to see anything from Syracuse he hasn't already experience as a coach.
"I've been around it a lot, even though our league is known for man to man in the Big Ten," said Ryan. "The great experience was coaching Division III for 15 years and going against all these chess players that – there isn't anything we didn't see in Division III."
Following practice, Ryan was asked everything from whether the potential Syracuse-friendly crowd could be a factor or the effects of playing so far away from Wisconsin. None seemed to faze the coach. "We've been OK on the road," deadpanned Ryan, referring to UW's impressive 12-5 record away from the Kohl Center this season.
When asked about his good friend, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, and how he's handled multiple distractions at Syracuse, Ryan said he knew very little about the details of Syracuse's distractions.
"I don't know all the things that go on because I'm so challenged," said Ryan. "No Facebook, no Twitter, Twatter, whatever the other thing is, and I don't go on the computer to look at things."
The focus displayed by Ryan trickles down to his players. Berggren continued coach's message saying, "There's no secrets really…We just have to stick to our system."
The Bo Ryan system at first seems so simple - managing the ball, taking good shots - but Boeheim said he's not overlooking how much of a task it will be to beat Bo's Badgers.
"It's a great challenge to play against his teams because they're so solid on both ends of the court and don't make any mistakes," Boeheim said. "This will be a great challenge for our team."