A Unique Challenge

Hosting the America's Youth Classic this weekend at the Kohl Center, the Wisconsin Badgers face a unique challenge that usually only comes around in the month of March.

MADISON – In his illustrious 23 years of coaching, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has never done anything remotely close to what he'll have to do this weekend.

"A three day tournament with no breaks in between and we know the three opponents we're going to face," Ryan stated. "I've never coached in a scenario like this."

With a lot of new faces seeing playing time and barely a month into the season, Ryan is going to get a good gauge of what his team is and isn't going to be capable of when Wisconsin hosts the America's Youth Classic tournament today through Saturday.

A four-team round-robin tournament at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin (1-0) plays Savannah State (0-1) in the opening round tonight at 8 p.m., followed by the Badgers taking on Florida A&M (1-0) Friday at 7 p.m. and Colorado (0-1) Saturday at 7 p.m.

The last time UW hosted a tournament was in 2002 when the Badgers defeated Eastern Washington and N. Illinois to claim the NABC Classic title.

"This (format) is a little different (and) not something you do very often," Ryan said.

The biggest challenge in the format for the Badgers will be the schedule; playing three games in back-to-back-to-back days. While Wisconsin teams potentially tackle the same challenge in the Big Ten's conference tournament in March, the Badgers have never played as many games in as many days so early in the season.

"It'll definitely be a challenge," junior forward Joe Krabbenhoft said. "It's going to test our conditioning but the coaches program in the off season, hopefully, will have us ready to handle these three days."

Wisconsin will also be preparing for three schools that they don't know a lot about.

Wisconsin will be playing both Colorado and Savannah State for the first time and the Badgers beat Florida A&M by 44 points 24 years ago. With the Badgers, according to Ryan, struggling to get film on the schools, the two smaller ones in particular, Bo knows that the other schools will have plenty of film on Wisconsin.

"With the Big Ten Network, everybody has everything on us," Ryan said. "They don't have to worry about scrambling around for video. These three schools are going to know everything we're going to do."

With Savannah State starting three guards, a 6-6, 195-pound forward and a 6-8, 200-pound center in its season opener and Florida A&M and Colorado not starting anyone above 6-foot-6, the Badgers will have to rely heavily on point guard Trevon Hughes to set the tempo.

In his first start as a Badger, Hughes scored 25 points, also recording six steals, five assists and five rebounds while turning the ball over just twice.

Wisconsin will also need big men Brian Butch (24 points, 13 rebounds in opener) and Krabbenhoft (8 points) to log quality minutes despite guarding quicker guards.

"We'll need one through 15 to step up because it's going to take a total team effort this weekend," Krabbenhoft said.

Although the tournament provides the Badgers with an early-season measuring stick, Krabbenhoft hopes that this won't be the last time where Wisconsin will play multiple games in a short time frame.

"It feels like March and tournament time," Krabbenhoft said with a big grin. "It's my favorite time of the year."


Wisconsin has won 23 consecutive home games, tied for the fifth-longest active streak in the country. That is also the fourth-longest streak in school history. In six seasons under Bo Ryan, the Badgers are 92-5 in the Kohl Center, the third-best home record in the country.

Wisconsin is 73-26 (.737) in non-conference games under head coach Bo Ryan, including 46-3 at the Kohl Center. Over the last four years, UW owns a 21-3 (.875) record in November.

UW fell behind 27-16 in the first 13 minutes of its game on Sunday. Over the last 27 minutes, the Badgers outscored IPFW 66-28. The Mastadons made 10 of their first 19 shots (.526) but shot just 9-of-36 (.250) over the final 32 minutes of the game. Conversely, the Badgers missed 12 of their first 18 shots (.333) but shot .553 (26-of-47) from the field the rest of the way.

Despite losing three starters from last year, UW returns 59.9 percent of its minutes, 70.1 percent of its rebounds, 62.3 percent of its assists and 48.6 percent of its scoring from last year's squad.

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