MADISON – Students walking to and from class around Bascom Hill Tuesday got a view of the new fall conditioning program for the Wisconsin men’s basketball team.
A new regime. A new hill to climb.
After years of running Elver Park on the southwest side of the city, Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard and strength coach Erik Helland decided to move the hill running back to campus, avoiding the hazardous terrain of potholes and worn-down grass that former head coach Bo Ryan’s hill had become.
When surveying Bascom Hill and its cushy grass, it reminded Gard of the hill that was run for preseason conditioning at UW-Platteville.
“There’s a huge difference (here) in terms of the cushion,” Gard said. “It’s safer and healthier in the long run for the players.”
At Elver Park, players would steadily jog up the hill and then use the walk down to catch their breath before going again. At Bascom, Wisconsin did six 30-yard sprints, only getting a short chance to rest in between reps and on the approximate 90-second walk from the top of the hill to the bottom.
After getting rained out last week, Wisconsin did six reps Tuesday and will add to it over the next three weeks. On the final rep, the players sprinted the last 60 yards.
With the exception of guard Brevin Pritzl, everyone ran day one.
“Some guys (were) out here testing it, kind of helping (Helland) adjust what he wants to do,” Gard said. “I know they’ve been out here practicing a little bit, too. Once they heard what we were going to do and where we going to be, you always get a few trial runs in.”
This isn’t the first time Wisconsin has utilized one of campus’ biggest selling points for conditioning. According to assistant coach Howard Moore, Wisconsin would do runs up and down Bascom Hill during team runs during his playing tenure in the 90s, jogs that would start at the UW Fieldhouse and take the team out toward Picnic Point.
The switch to Bascom – located a couple blocks north of the Kohl Center - also saves on roughly 90 minutes of travel time in rush hour traffic.
“It keeps them on campus,” Gard said. “They’ll see their fellow students that they know. We had a few people yell out names as they were running up and down.”
Despite all the changes to help the team be more productive and better physically for the fall, the concept of “team building” hasn’t changed.
“That’s one thing that I wanted to maintain, that there is a mental toughness component to this,” Gard said. “The preparation they have to do mentally knowing it’s coming during the day, how they plan their meals, those type of things. This will build. This is just a start.”