When: Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6:02 p.m. Central
Site: Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Broadcasts: ESPN will televise the game live; the 42-city Wisconsin Radio Network will carry the game live.
Series notes: Wake Forest holds a 2-0 series advantage, having defeated the Badgers 67-48 on Nov. 30, 1999 and 90-80 on Dec. 4, 2002… Wisconsin is 2-4 all-time in Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
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Coach, could you talk about what you saw in Tanner Bronson and why you were willing to give him a scholarship this year?
"Well, I see in him a young man that's always wanted to be a Badger, works hard, listens, makes the other guys better in practice, just does all the things a coaching staff likes to see a player do, which is the reason why the other guys have scholarships too. You know, he's earned it. He works extremely hard. And he certainly in practice presents a quick little guard that we have to handle. He can shoot it and he can pass it, and he's made some good attacks, breaking down the defense. Try guarding him sometime… He's got a little scoot to him."
After looking at the tape on Saturday, coach, where even though Alando (Tucker) didn't have the big numbers, you wanted to look at the little things, were you still satisfied with what he did? "Oh, yeah. When he touched the ball he got a lot of attention and…. that's going to happen, which is why — we've had other players that were in that same situation.
"And, you know, our bigs played extremely well. They passed the ball well.
"Defensively we did a great job on their—sometimes I have to get information out because I don't see it anywhere else—there one player there that we held to 2-for-16 (Jack Leasure). I know there were a lot of different things written about the game, but, that kid has scored on a lot of people. He's pretty good. He can shoot it. Give credit where credit is due. Our guys did a good job on him.
"And then the other young man, (Pele) Paelay, if that's how he pronounces it, he's a pretty good scorer too. One guy was freshman of the year in the conference and the other one is picked to be player of the year. And I thought defensively our guys did a pretty good job. And Tuck, Alando had at times one of those two guys.
"So defensively he did a real good job and, again, didn't force anything. And that's why it's so much fun coaching guys that don't have to feel that each game they have to do this, this or this in order to be a good player. I just like guys that play and do all the little things, and he certainly did all the little things."
Bo, can you talk a little bit, I know you were reluctant to set expectations for the trip to the Virgin Islands, but just having been able to reflect now and being back for a week, how you thought the team maybe gelled or handled that trip?
"I think fun was one of the expectations. Did I not say we were trying to have fun?"
Well, you said you didn't want to compare it to past trips.
"Oh, yeah, well, it is what it is and was. And we knew, you play some of those teams on neutral courts and all you have to do is look around at scores throughout the country in those kind of tournaments, and if you've ever played or if you've ever been in that kind of environment, you understand. Sometimes it's very difficult to get other people to see that, but that's part of the education process, what we do.
"And you go into those tournaments and you've got Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion, Norfolk State sitting there going, ‘Man, we've got a chance to play a Big Ten team or a Southeast Conference team in Georgia,' I mean, you know you're going to get the best. And that's okay too. But they're hard-fought games. I think our inexperience showed in some areas. But also our size and our tenacity showed in some areas where we really needed it and that helped us get the crown."
Coach, how do you expect to handle the strong Wake Forest front court, and do you see Greg Stiemsma getting some more time in tomorrow's game?
"Well, I don't predict minutes before a game, so if a guy is doing certain things.
"(Eric) Williams can displace the best of them in the post. He can move people. He can post up anybody. We've seen him over the years do that, including his freshman year here. He's just a good solid post player who's extremely strong, uses his body well, and we're going to have to make him work for every shot he gets and not let him get second and third shots.
"But the thing is Wake Forest has outside shooters. They've got scorers. They really don't have a weakness. I know somebody will bring up, yeah, but they're turning the ball over. Yeah, but they get some real high-percentage shots and they seem to be equalizing the turnovers with getting some pretty good looks and some scorers that have gone in streaks. And that's what they present, inside, outside, good high-low tandem with (Kyle) Visser and Williams, (Chris) Ellis.
"I had to do a scouting report for his dad's team when we played them. Wasn't a very good scouting report I guess because Tennessee beat us out in Portland, Ore. What was that tournament out there? It was a tournament in the Northwest. But his, do you know who Ellis's dad is? Dale Ellis. He was a heck of a player, scorer for Tennessee. But Ellis is bigger, stronger, but yet he can still shoot the three. So he presents a problem as a big. So, yeah, we know we've got our hands full, but that's, this is what we need right now. This is, this will teach us one way or the other."
Going into this ACC-Big Ten Challenge this year, the Big Ten is yet to get one of these. This will be the eighth season. Is there a sense of conference pride that the coaches have though? Do they take this as serious as some of the players might, that they've talked about?
"… No, you get into anything, you want to get it done. It doesn't matter. You get into a cribbage game, you want to win, and hope for good cards… The thing is, who has control over it, who sets the teams, who does what, and they do it and you play.
"So some teams get neutral. Some teams get homes against certain teams. I think one of the things that's kind of made it to me kind of a you've-got-to-be-kidding is third time playing Wake Forest, three times Maryland, Georgia Tech, who else has Wisconsin played? Who's the other one? So this is the seventh year of it. I think you'd have to, being an outsider, say, well, why do certain teams play certain teams all the time? That's probably a big question mark.
"So, is it a pure tournament? No. Is anything pure anymore? Is the conference pure with us not playing everybody twice? But, yeah, you get into something, the main thing is each coach worries about their own game. I mean, we love our league, and we know how good our league is, and it's just we're a little quieter than some other leagues.
"We try to have our talking done on the court and that's what I try to remind our players of. But it's, if you're in a game, you're in it for a reason, so pride and everything else, yeah. But it also is late November, early December games, you're trying to figure out where your team is, what strengths, weaknesses, so we're going to find some of that out too."
Do you like that ESPN and the conference tells you who you have to play and makes you play in this event every year instead of letting you have your own scheduling liberties?
"Well, I don't know. Maybe do a draw them out of the hat. If they had started that seven years ago, I don't think you'd have the same teams playing the same teams for obvious reasons. I took a probability class in college, math. I would think that it would not be Wisconsin playing Wake Forest three times, Maryland three times if you were pulling out of a hat. So, yeah, there's powers to be that, like the "Wizard of Oz" type thing, picking these teams, and who knows the reasons. Do you? Do you have theories? Are there theories in here?
"But are there any theories floating around here, around the room here? I don't know. I put it out to you. It's a game, and we're playing a good team, and this is exciting."
Bo, with the 86 that you're averaging, maybe Saturday night you can explain, you know, a little bit of quality of competition, but is that more of a sign of the type of team you think you have this year, the opponents that you're playing…
"It's just the number of possessions. It's the number of possessions in the game. And quality opponents? Check out Old Dominion sometime. They're not bad.
"We go to a tournament and play two NCAA Tournament teams from the year before. Name other schools that have done that. So you can say all you want about quality of opponents. We respect our opponents and that'll never change.
"Wake Forest is our next opponent, and obviously we respect them. So the number of points will happen as a result of the number of possessions. And sometimes games will get you into a higher number and sometimes games will dictate fewer possessions. I'm still looking for over one though every time, one or better, one point."
Coach, Wake Forest has won 20 straight games at home. How important is it to have a tough road test like this this early in the season?
"Well, I have a hard time, okay, you say how important? I don't know, got a scale I'm working on here or . . .
"All I'm saying, and I've said it before, you go in there and if the inexperience shows, you get whacked. If you go in there and your inexperience plays older and plays tougher, we go in there with a chance to get something done that's pretty exciting. That's what you look at it as. And that's good. This is good.
"We've got enough quality teams at home and then go on the road for some here in the non-conference, at least two I know of with, probably the only two true away games. We've had three away games, but not on their court, neutral games. But, yeah, this is exciting. And our guys are excited about making the trip. I think that'll be something that we'll have to make sure they understand. It's still 40 minutes."
I know we tend, especially early in the season, to ask how can you improve this, what's wrong with this area or this player? What are you most pleased with about your team or an area or two you're most pleased about the development of your team early on in the season here so far?
"Just walked by our locker room, we've had some problems with the lights. The lights went out the day of the game, and we've had some issues. So I walk by and the electrician is there, hey, how's it coming in there, you guys doing all right, and he says, ‘Coach, we're working on it.' And I kind of walked down after he said that, I said, gosh, sounds like our team. We're working on getting better. We're working on it in every area.
"There's not an area right now where we're so strong that we can say, okay, we don't need to concentrate in this drill on this, this is what we have to concentrate on. It's every area as you break them down, both sides of the ball, everything in between, in conversion, both offense and defense, even when, you know, only one person has the ball at one time and the four other guys, the spacing, the angles, how they read each other on their cuts, all that timing stuff is a factor, and then defensively how to cover for one another. That's going to come through playing.
"And then showing on videotape the reenactment, only it's the real thing, but just go over it and say, okay, you should have been here on this screen, just the same as I'm sure you do when you analyze your own work. If you write an article or if you do a story, you go over it, you look at it, you say, well, ‘how could I make this better?' ‘how can I tweak this?' You know, we're doing the same things you guys are doing, trying to get better every day."