The Long, Winding Road

When the Badgers travel to Indiana on Wednesday, Wisconsin will have played four of its last six conference games away from the Kohl Center.

MADISON - The Wisconsin men's basketball team has reached the most trying stretch of their schedule. The Badgers are in the middle of the conference season and are playing two or, in the case of last week, sometimes three games in seven days. What's more trying, including this Wednesday's game at Indiana, the Badgers will have played four of their last six contests on the road.

"Some of the transportation issues that our guys have been on tends to not be very good for bumps and bruises," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "They actually did the other day in practice look a little slow."

Perhaps the hardest hit for Wisconsin this year is their backcourt, as only three guards see significant playing time.

To make matters worse, Ryan's defensive philosophy, while undeniably successful, does not help the guards stay fresh. While in other offensive schemes and systems, players are sometimes taught to slide under screens or even switch many screens. Under Ryan, his guards trail offensive players who are getting the screens set for them. This causes Badger defenders to not only do more running, but also to take more bumps fighting through.

"When they're guarding or when they're penetrating because they drive into big guys a lot," Ryan said of his guards. "Not just in games, but in practices. Even though these guys don't have pads on, you take a look at the contact that these guys go through, it's a lot more than people realize."

Flowers' Fouls

With such limited depth in the backcourt, it is imperative that the Badger guards stay out of foul trouble. Flowers has been the one Badger who has probably made the biggest improvement in this part of his game over the course of the season. In the first 15 games of the season, Flowers fouled out twice and was charged with four fouls three times. In the past eight games, the senior guard hasn't ever recorded more than three in a contest while stil keeping his defensive intensity - stealing 15 passes. This has allowed Ryan to keep his senior leader on the floor as much as possible.

Ryan attributed Flowers' early foul trouble to his high energy and risk taking on defense. Flowers has been able to continue to be a defensive presence while avoiding fouls largely due to smarter play.

"And sometimes that burst of energy, thinking you can get a ball and you reach your hand in to maybe make contact with a player somewhat," Ryan said of Flowers' style of play. "Then it's up to the interpretation of the official. So I think he's avoided more of those situations which keeps him out of foul trouble. I think that's just learning how to control the moment."

Bo Knows Basketball

Ryan has always been touted as an old-school coach whose teams pride themselves in giving the best effort and outworking their opponents. Monday, he shed some more light on his coaching philosophy and how he approaches the game of basketball.

"If we competed out of revenge, I can't say it would be the game that I know and love," Ryan said when asked about playing teams twice in a season. "You compete because you want to show what you can do with your team better than what other individuals can do with their team. But it's still a collective effort. I've never coached out of revenge or used that in the locker room or got into that."

Basketball Really Isn't that Hard

The Badgers turned the ball over 18 times in their loss to Purdue last weekend. When asked how he plans to make sure that a similar scenario doesn't play out Wednesday against Indiana, Ryan had a simple solution for his team: "I tell them, ‘Don't turn it over.'"


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