"We've had some great years and we have established great things, but records are made to be broken and that's what we're trying to do," senior Marcus Landry said. "I am trying to be better than we were last year and it motivates me to try and get things accomplished here."
Make no mistake that the 17 Badgers on this year's squad want to repeat the triumphs they experienced a season ago. Just like the year before, however, Wisconsin will have plenty of obstacles to iron out before the conference opener December 31.
For instance, Wisconsin has to replace first-team All-Big Ten center Brian Butch, defensive-wizard Michael Flowers, an exceptional shot blocker in Greg Stiemsma and vocal-leader Tanner Bronson. The Badgers do return senior starters Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft along with junior point guard Trevon Hughes, but they are among only four Badgers than averaged only 10 minutes per game.
"They are definitely young because there's guys that haven't been through the tough times," head coach Bo Ryan said. "I measure a veteran team on guys that, with the game on the line, who was out there on the floor. When you have six, seven, eight guys back, that to me is a veteran team. I would say we're young when you have 11 guys that are in their first or second year of competition, but I don't want them to play young."
Including the five incoming freshmen, the largest recruiting class at Wisconsin under Ryan, 11 players are either first-year players or sophomores. Dive deep into the numbers though and the Badgers are actually more experienced that last season.
UW returns players who accounted for 65.8 percent of its minutes played and 62.2 people of its scoring. At this time last year, UW was returning 59.9 percent of the minutes played and 48.6 percent of the scoring, which only gives the guys more motivation.
"We have some good senior leadership and a nice mix of some returning players and some young faces that I don't feel like we're a young team," freshman Jared Berggren said. "Guys are going to learn quickly from the senior leadership and it's a goal for me to help the team as much as I can. I am going to work hard every day to try to earn that time."
With only three practices in thus far, Ryan said he was more concerned about whether players had their jerseys tucked in than where the production comes from. With the Badgers season opener against Long Beach State still three weeks away, worrying where the production comes from is not yet on Ryan's radar.
"When it comes to points, guys will hunt those down and be eager for those," Ryan said. "You never had to worry about players worrying about points. (You just have to make they) are not pushing it to a point where they're taking bad shots."
One of the big changes to the rules landscape of college basketball is moving the three-point back a full foot to 20 feet, 9 inches, as the change is said to affect post play, the caliber of player who take the shots and potentially lead to an increase in mid-range shot attempts.
The change, according to the veterans, is not one to be concerned about.
"Last year I was shooting them pretty deep that it makes me wonder how long I'll be shooting them from this year," joked Hughes, who made 31 percent of his three-point shots last year. "I don't think it will bother me because it will definitely open up the throw a little bit, which benefits us."
In addition to returning three-point shooters Jason Bohannon (39 percent) and Landry (35 percent), one surprise contributor this season to perimeter field goals is Krabbenhoft, who won the three-point shootout during Wisconsin's ‘Night of the Grateful Red' event, much to the surprise of his coach.
"Surprised? How about five calls to the EMS to resuscitate people," Ryan joked. "I would say that's a surprise, but that's OK. He knows his limitations."
Quote of the Day
"We tried dance school. I recommended to the guys Arthur Murray. I had one parent call me, ‘My son came home and told me that you recommended?' I said, ‘Yes I did. I don't know if financially you can, but I just recommended it to him.' If you got a rich uncle, have him spring for it, give it as a birthday gift."
- Ryan on getting his players to have better football in high school