Looking for a Swish

From getting emails from psychics to jokes from his athletic director, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is doing his best to keep an even head as the Badgers - who travel to No.11 Ohio State Tuesday - work through a shooting funk.

MADISON - Being technologically challenged, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan doesn't pay a lot of attention to social media and keeps text messaging and emailing simple. But with his team causing his hair to go grayer with its prolonged shooting slump, technology has allowed Ryan to get a laugh.

"I have received a lot more e-mails from unknown sources about people that can do these mind things with players," said Ryan.

He even got permission from Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez that the University found some extra funds in case, "we wanted to burn a few nets."

"I don't know if he meant just burn the ones that we aren't hitting on," said Ryan. "I wasn't sure."

Wisconsin – which unranked in the Associated Press poll for the 11th straight week - shot 40 percent or better in 10 of its 14 nonconference games, averaging 73.2 points per game and scoring over 70 points nine times. Since entering Big Ten play, the Badgers have shot over 40 percent just three times, averaging 57.6 points and haven't broke the 70-point once.

"What are you going to do? You got to stay sane, and you got to keep encouraging your players," said Ryan. "I play baseball with these guys that got into this thing who couldn't throw the ball to third base after fielding the ground ball. The ball would go over the first base's head, into the grass, wide right, wide left … What causes that? I don't know."

Senior forward Jared Berggren doesn't know either. After shooting 46 percent (6-for-13) in back-to-back wins at Nebraska and against Illinois, Berggren is 10 for his last 34 (29.4 percent), including 1-for-14 (7.1 percent) from three-point range and 3-for-10 (30 percent) from the free-throw line.

Ryan said Berggren is a threat inside and outside for Wisconsin's offense, but he would prefer to see the ball "go through the net" when he watches him play.

"I think he's a little tight right now," said Ryan. "He needs to get a game here or a flourish of hitting some free throws, getting to the glass, getting a putback or two, hitting a three because he is a good pick and pop guy for a big man. He just needs to get something positive going.

"And he works so hard defensively, especially with Frank out the last three games. He hasn't had pretty much the same substitution pattern, rest periods that he was getting used to."

Berggren and the rest of the front court may get some reprieve when it plays No.11 Ohio State at Value City Arena night if sophomore forward Frank Kaminsky is cleared to play. Missing the last seven halves after getting poked in the eye in the first half at Indiana, Kaminsky returned to practice on a limited basis Sunday and will travel with the team.

"We'll find out tonight if the (medical staff will) let him run up and down with us a little bit," said Ryan. "Then if he doesn't have any problems or any issues, then maybe we can get him back in there.

"Frank has missed a lot here because he hasn't done very much. So I'm not sure. We'll definitely know tomorrow something."

Even with the offensive woes, Wisconsin has won three games shooting less than 40 percent, including its one-point victory over No.12 Minnesota Saturday, by relying on its defense. Allowing just 54.8 points per game (52.1 in Big Ten play), Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in scoring defense and ranks eighth in the nation.

The Badgers have held 9 of their last 10 opponents under 60 points. In their two meetings last season, the Buckeyes were held to 60 points or less, two of only four times last year Ohio State didn't score over 60.

"They're really hustling and working so doggone hard to limit looks and to not give teams second shots," said Ryan. "Night in, night out, if you look across the country, it's very difficult to stay consistent with that. You're going to have to have some nights where you're hot offensively to offset somebody getting hot from another team or a couple guys getting hot from another team.

"Positioning-wise, they're working at it. The bench has been shortened for several games this year, meaning you don't have the same substitution patterns that you would like to have, and you just say, hey, suck it up. Here's what we have. Here's what we're going with. And just trying to get contributions from everybody.

"Defensively, we've got to stay as solid as we can be because I don't think there's any team, when they do their scouting report, shudders and shakes when they look at us offensively. I don't think we're intimidating anybody."

Only Penn State (46.2 percent) and Iowa (43.1 percent) have shot over 39 percent against Wisconsin in conference play.


How's Josh Gasser holding up? Has he added anything from the bench?

"He's there every day. He's always getting a workout in. He told me yesterday he was tired of seeing (the trainers) because he has to see them every day and spend a lot of time with them with the rehab, but I think he's okay with seeing him again every day.

"When you're a competitor like him and you're watching guys out there on the court in practice and in games, it's hard, but he's not the first guy, and he won't be the last that has to deal with a season-ending injury.

"So he'll say some things to the players. He's not one of those guys that stands there and barks things out. He knows there's another guy out there who does that, not sure who. But he's a quiet voice in the background type guy.

"His presence, especially to guys that have played with him, they know how tough he is. They know what he was doing this summer. They know what he was doing in the fall. So there's not too many guys that have had the respect that Josh Gasser's had."

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