Wisconsin Not Satisfied with One Victory

A glimpse into Wisconsin's locker room Saturday night proved that beating Kentucky was merely a stepping stone to achieving the ultimate goal.

INDIANAPOLIS - Wisconsin's locker room Saturday night did not feature the heart-warming atmosphere of an intimate and joyous celebration among teammates that is so prevalent in college athletics, especially during the NCAA tournament when "survive and advance" is a common theme.

Despite the Badgers' upset against the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, 38-0 Kentucky, on the year's biggest weekend in college basketball, the post-game environment was subdued and the players' responses were matter-of-fact.

"We're fine," Wisconsin senior guard Josh Gasser said. "We barely celebrated. We're happy we won and it was a great game, but we have another one coming up."

"It's a pretty surreal feeling, but it's a goal we set last June," sophomore guard Bronson Koenig added. "We have one more to go, and we're not satisfied."

After the buzzer sounded and a brief celebration was had on the court, attention was immediately turned to a different team in blue.

"We came in (the locker room), high-fived each other, sat down and waited for Coach," Gasser explained. "Coach came in and told us good job and started talking about Duke. That's what we've been doing all year long, and we're not changing it."

Regardless if fans and media expected Kentucky to make history this weekend with a 40-0 record and a national championship, Wisconsin expected differently. And it did from the start.

"We expected to be in that position," Koenig said. "We all kind of felt that we were going to win that game beforehand. Our ultimate goal is to win a national championship, so weren't trying to make it more than it was. We're just looking forward to actually being able to fulfill our goal."

But don't mistake Wisconsin's collected post-game demeanor and non-giddish locker room as disinterest.

"It is cool to be in the situation we are right now," forward Sam Dekker said. "We think it's super cool what we were able to do. We're not too cool for this stage. We're not trying to be bigger than what this is. As a team, I think we've really embraced that this is bigger than ourselves and something we should cherish, soak in and take advantage of. We know these are the the memories we are going to remember for forever. That's something that's pretty cool about this team, we allow ourselves to bask in it and realize what we've done to this point, but once we step onto the basketball court (Sunday), it's going to be back to business. We aren't going to be thinking about past wins or losses. We're going to be thinking about the game ahead."

The team's mindset starts at the top. In this case, it starts with Ryan, who is in his 14th season at Wisconsin. Earlier this week, he recalled his first ever press conference as the Badgers head coach in 2001.

"One thing I said in the press conference, when asked, 'What do you expect to do here as a head coach,' is I said compete for the upper half of the Big Ten every year, finish towards the top, and have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament," Ryan said. "Okay, I got lucky in that statement. It's been a lot of fun and it's due to a lot of people."

After playing lights out on its way to taking care of business against Kentucky, it's fair to question if Wisconsin will have sufficient energy left to expend tomorrow night. But this isn't Wisconsin's first go-around in playing tough games in a short stretch.

"We had three straight games in the Big Ten tournament," Ryan said. "We had to win at Minnesota, at Ohio State at the end of the year, and (against) Michigan State at home to lock up the Big Ten championship regular season. Then, of course, the three games in Battle 4 Atlantis. They've had some experience at this."

Wisconsin isn't the only team that expected to be playing on Monday night. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is well-versed in national title appearances with this being his ninth since becoming head coach of the Blue Devils in 1980.

"When you win a Final Four game, no matter who you beat, it's huge," Krzyzewski said. "And we're all human beings. You have to fight human nature of wanting to stay in that moment for a little bit longer before moving on to the next moment. I think for both teams, the team that moves on the best and the quickest will have a little bit of an advantage."

And a little bit of an advantage will go a long ways on Monday night.


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