MADISON – Entering his 41st year of coaching, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said he doesn't get nervous, alarmed or excited when people use the word ‘replace' around him when referring to his basketball team.
"It is amazing how young men step up," said Ryan during Tuesday's Wisconsin media day. "I have all the faith in the world that that is going to happen with this group."
Although Wisconsin has to replace senior All-American point guard Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin returns 70.6 percent of its scoring, 84.4 percent of its rebounding and 60.5 percent of its assists from last year's Sweet 16 team.
Most of that production comes from the frontcourt, as UW's three senior forwards – Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans – have played in 285 career games (122 starts) and junior Josh Gasser has grown into the role of leader and point guard over the summer.
The Badgers will need that production early, as Wisconsin's nonconference schedule will feature five games against teams who qualified for the 2012 NCAA Tournament field. Overall, UW's schedule will have 18 games team that compete in the 2012 postseason.
"We are going to need to play better than we played earlier last year," said Ryan. "It sure would be nice if we can get our rotation and get some things established a little earlier but against some of the teams that we are playing we're going to need that."
In addition to being without Taylor, Wisconsin is expecting to be without Bruesewitz at the beginning of the season due to a serious skin laceration suffered Oct.9 in practice. Coming in contact with an exposed screw securing the basket, Bruesewitz received 50 stitches and has been limited to the exercise bike by Wisconsin's medical staff.
"Certain things had to happen in a sequence and it happened," said Ryan. "Mike has handled it well … He'll be on the floor. It's just a matter of how many weeks."
With Bruesewitz out, Wisconsin will look at forwards like junior Zach Bohannon, sophomore Frank Kaminsky and freshman Sam Dekker to contribute while Bruesewitz eyes an early November return. Dekker was the prized recruit of Wisconsin's 2012 recruiting class, averaged a state-best 32.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while leading Sheboygan Lutheran to the school's first WIAA state title.
"Sam wants to come here to be a complete player," said Ryan. "The nice part is he knows he has a lot to learn. He hasn't come in here with the idea that he has got all the answers. He is a talented basketball, as are the rest of our guys who participate here."