Ryan had the opportunity to empty the bench and spread minutes around. Ten Badgers played double-digit minutes, 12 of 15 played at least eight minutes and guard Kammron Taylor led the team with a mere 23 minutes.
Juniors Alando Tucker, Taylor and Jason Chappell, senior Ray Nixon and sophomore Brian Butch formed the season's first starting five, while freshmen Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry and sophomore Michael Flowers received the most minutes off the bench.
As the Badgers prepare for their final exhibition and the season to come, however, playing time is still very much in flux.
"Substitution patterns, things like that, we don't have those," Ryan said.
What UW did receive in its first game was a teaching aide.
"I'm one of those guys that will turn a teaching point out of anything," Ryan said after the game. "There's just so many things, but I don't want to give it all away here."
Look for Ryan to hammer out some more interesting rotations when the Badgers take on another in-state college, Lawrence, Monday night at the Kohl Center in their second and final exhibition game, before they travel to the warm confines of the U.S Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam tournament Nov. 18-21.
Wisconsin starts big, gets bigger
Opening Saturday's game against River Falls with a big lineup worked as the Badgers opened the first ten minutes with a 24-4 lead and no turnovers. Ryan's line got a bit taller when Chappell was replaced by 6-11 center Greg Stiemsma and the sophomore ran the floor alongside Butch. Stiemsma, Butch and Chappell covered the paint well, towering over their smaller opponent.
Butch led the three big men, with 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting in less than 20 minutes on the court. Stiemsma produced off the bench with an assist, four points and an offensive rebound in his first two minutes of play. Starting Chappell paid off early for Ryan as the junior won the tip-off, gathered an offensive board and scored the team's first bucket of the season. He drew a foul and finished the three-point play at the line. The opening sequence set a tone of Badger domination that lasted most of the first half.
Ryan started the second half the same as the first, with Butch and Chappell at the 4 and the 5. Stiemsma came in for Chappell and the three Wisconsin bigs had no trouble boxing out and battling for boards.
Let the freshmen play
It did not take long before Ryan reached into his bench of freshmen, letting all seven of them take the floor. Marcus Landry, DeAaron Williams and Joe Krabbenhoft made their highly anticipated debuts and propelled the Badgers to a 36-6 lead with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Landry showed his jumping skills with two highflying dunk attempts — one he made but the other sailed off the rim and into the stands. The forward led the freshmen with 11 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes of play.
Ryan said after the game he was impressed with Landry's game. "Marcus did a great job," he said. "If that was a learning experience that netted results in that short period of time, then he's going to be all right." Landry appeared focused on Saturday as he battled for rebounds and ran the floor, making a notable impression on both ends of the court.
Williams redshirted last year, but he only had to wait four minutes before entering the game to spell Tucker. He became the first Badger freshman to play this season. Williams had the highlight of the night during the second half when Taylor threw the ball off the glass during a fast break and the high-jumping freshman slammed it down with a two-handed dunk.
Krabbenhoft came in off the bench and played the most of any of Ryan's reserves with 17 minutes. He finished the game with two points, six rebounds, two assists and no turnovers.
Testing the waters
Sophomore guard Michael Flowers showed he could give Taylor some quality help as he played 14 minutes, filling in at the 1 and 2 positions, with just one turnover. Ryan may also get some quality minutes from freshman guard Mickey Perry this season. Perry played six minutes and had two turnovers.