MADISON - Although it was just 12 days ago and only two games removed, the personnel for both the Wisconsin Badgers and the Indiana Hoosiers has changed.
For No.17 Wisconsin, the Badgers have their best post player – Jon Leuer – back in the lineup, bringing an offensive and defensive presence in the paint that have been sorely missing in the nine games he was missing.
Indiana, on the other hand, hasn't scored above 60 points in the last four games, but the Hoosiers will have a healthy Verdell Jones III back in the fold, after the sophomore managed only 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting the last time these teams played after being stricken by the flu and dropping plenty of weight.
The scouting report may be tweaked, but Wisconsin and Head Coach Bo Ryan never change.
"I wouldn't know how to change," Ryan said Wednesday. "They have gotten better after they left here. We know what we are going up against."
What they will see Thursday when the Badgers (20-7, 10-5 Big Ten) travel to Assembly Hall to take on Indiana is a team desperate for a win. The Hoosiers (9-17, 3-11) have lost eight straight since winning at Penn State Jan.21, the latest being an 81-58 blowout in Minneapolis.
Tom Crean isn't giving up, however, far from it, as the Hoosiers Coach tweaked his lineup Saturday, throwing out four guards to start the second half. The results yielded some production - Devan Dumes scored a season-high 20 points – and added another potential wrinkle to a team Wisconsin saw only 12 days previously.
Does the quick turnaround help with the scouting reports and familiarity for the Badgers? If it does, Ryan isn't admitting it.
"We are always prepared, especially when we have assistant coaches like (we do)," Ryan said. "Maybe you guys can do a study on quick turnarounds? I couldn't tell you (if it helps)."
Fair enough. In nine years under Ryan, the Badgers have played five games in which they have played an opponent twice in less than a two week window. The results – perfection, as the Badgers have yet to lose that second game, stats that include two neutral site wins over Michigan State and one road win, at Indiana in January 2008.
As tough as it is to win on the road in the conference, Ryan's teams have made a habit of being competitive on the road, winning 36 true road conference games.
"It's tough enough when you are (playing) at home," Ryan said. "It doesn't matter where you play, it's how you play.
"If you can come anywhere close to .500 on the road over a long period of time, anybody will tell you that is hard to do. So you're not going to be as consistent on the road ... You can't take a five-year period and think that people are going to be better on the road than they are at home."
The results speak for itself, as Wisconsin in 78-69 in Ryan's tenure away from the Kohl Center.
After beating Northwestern Sunday, the duo has 101 career victories on their resume, four short of tying the Class of 2008 (Brian Butch, Michael Flowers, Greg Stiemsma and Tanner Bronson), and both are playing their best basketball this season.
Bohannon has scored 15 points or more in each of the last six outings, leading UW in five of those games, including a career-high 30 points against Indiana while Hughes leads the Badgers and ranks 10th in the Big Ten with 15.4 points per game, also leading UW in steals (45), second in assists (2.8 avg) and third in rebounds (4.6 avg).
"What they did was take a national snub, so to speak, for a team that wasn't supposed to do this or that, there leadership has helped propel us," Ryan said. "They've done a great job helping to get us where we are and hopefully take us a lot further."
While Hughes' progression has been steady, Bohannon has made a jump, shooting 60.3 percent (44-for-73) from the field over his last six games, including 52.2 percent (24-for-46) from three-point range. After years of practicing the step-back shot in practice, Bohannon has used it to his advantage in games.
"I think JBo realized if he didn't have one of those, he'd be in trouble as an offensive player," Ryan said. "When was the last time you saw him blow by somebody? He knows I am not being critical, I am being a realist. You can make that move, you can retreat dribble, set the guy up. Good players keep working on the next move."
Being a Bruiser
Mike Bruesewitz started off slow, two turnovers in two minutes, but the true freshman has been hard to ignore in Big Ten play. Bringing energy off the bench, Bruesewitz has grabbed 30 rebounds in 99 minutes of Big Ten action.
"He's so far ahead of some guys on our team at this stage because of his feel, his moxie and his basketball IQ," Ryan said.
In the last three games, Bruesewitz has averaged 17.3 minutes, grabbing 14 rebounds (11 offensive) over that span.
"Just keep developing," Ryan said. "Just keep working. The fact that Jon is back makes it a little more difficult for him to get some of those minutes, but that's not saying he can't. Jon and Keaton (Nankivil) could get into foul trouble and different things could happen.
"Mike is doing the right thing. He just practices hard every day and gets the little things done. He loves to play, too. He loves to practice. He loves to be around the game. He's one of those grinders."
Superstitious? Not Hardly
When it comes to superstitions or traditions, nobody has more than the competitive athlete, whether it is changing their socks or shoes or putting the jersey on a certain way. The closest thing Ryan has to one of those is being driven to the arena by his wife, Kelly, or an assistant, and making sure his tie is nice and loose.
"There are some things you like to keep into a routine, but nothing unusual," Ryan said. "I always make sure I loosen my tie right before tip off because I found out that if I didn't, it messes up my neck … If Kelly couldn't (drive me), one of the assistants would pick me up. In Platteville it took a minute and a half to get from my house to the arena, and I lived on the edge of town."