Head coach Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin men's basketball team kicked off the season Saturday with its first official practice of the season.
"I can always sleep the night before a game," Ryan said. "I tossed last night because this is the first day of practice. This is harder for me as a coach to relax for, and this is my 33rd year of beginning practice in the fall as a coach."
With the beginning of the season came plenty of questions.
"Are they really going to be ready? Physically, I know some guys have made some strides and the conditioning looks good, and I just want to see where they are [now] as far as … execution," Ryan said.
Despite those quandaries, Ryan was not worried about the way his team would practice.
"Oh yeah, I wasn't tossing to be nervous about not performing well," Ryan said. "It was anxious to get started to drop certain hints to certain players again. To get to where there's everybody out there so that a guy like Mike Wilkinson can help a Greg Stiemsma."
Ryan noted that even more impressive than the Badgers' play was the leadership that his veterans showed.
"There's coaches, and then there's players, and then there's players who help with the advice that they offer, and you could see it," Ryan said. "You could see it here at practice. The older guys getting a guy over on the side if it was two other guys that were out on the drill, and they use that time to help one another. That's a great sign, I'm impressed with that. That's kind of been a staple of our teams and it looks like it's even stronger this year."
A piece of good news for Badger fans is the fact that both Alando Tucker and Sharif Chambliss, who both suffered injuries last season, took part in the practice. Redshirt sophomore forward Jason Chappell left practice early with trainer Henry Perez-Guerra.
"I don't know if he had a wedding or got mad at me…I have no idea," Ryan joked. "He went down with Henry, and I haven't gotten any report yet, so I hope it wasn't something I said."
According to Ryan, this season's first practice began just like every other year.
"We start right off, historically, with a passing drill that's real fundamental and I've been doing it ever since I've been coaching, and it didn't change today," Ryan said. "They handled it well, they understand how important the fundamentals are, and it sends the message the very first day and then we try never to get away from it until the last day."
Ryan also stressed the importance of the lesson plan that he and the UW coaching staff have developed as a key for building toward the season.
"The drills that we do, you can't get too far ahead of yourself," Ryan said. "That tames the roving mind of the coach. We don't allow ourselves to get too far ahead and that's because of lesson plans that have been effective in the past, and we've tweaked some. But, that's why you do the lesson plan, that's why we do it the way we do it."
After an off-season full of workouts and plenty of hill-running, the Badgers still need to get in game shape, but will have plenty of time to do that between now and Nov. 20, when they start regular season play against Pennsylvania.
"You don't peak in October," Ryan said. "You're building some stamina, you're building the base, so to speak and the hill will do that and our agility drills will do that, our weight training does that. We still have a little ways to go on basketball wind. It's very hard to simulate that until you play, and until you get into the drills. But you know with all the other things that we do use in our preseason conditioning process, they're in the kind of shape that we certainly, we're happy to see."
Ryan, Badgers officially begin practice
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