Something to Play For

After finishing one game out of the Big Ten regular season championship, No.13 Wisconsin has something to play for again. Feeling slightly disrespected by the way they aren't recognized, the Badgers open Friday's competition hungry and with a chip on their shoulder.

INDIANAPOLIS - The first thing Trevon Hughes is going to do when he arrives at Conseco Fieldhouse is go into the locker room and make sure it has a large bulletin board.

Why? Because the senior guard has a lot of issues he needs to tack up for motivation.

Picked to finish as low as ninth in the preseason Big Ten standings, Wisconsin (23-7, 13-5 Big Ten) ended the year one game out of first, defeated three AP top 10 teams and did so without post player Jon Leuer for nine games, but still went 6-3 in his absence.

When the post season awards came out Monday, there were no Badgers on the first team and Head Coach Bo Ryan was not named the coach of the year by either the media panel or by his peers.

"We predicted ninth, tenth this year and finish fourth," said Hughes, who was selected to the second team. "We just don't get recognized. I guess people don't like the way we play, but each year we get it done. Each year, we're supposed to (be) bad because players leave, but he finds a way to get the best out of his players. That's what a coach should do.

"That always makes us a little more hungry. If you don't get recognized, you want to show people up. We are going to try and show people up."

The Badgers – up two spots to No.13 in the AP but curiously down one spot to No.18 in the coaches poll – recognize that the way to get credit is to win a championship. Although a lock for its 12th straight NCAA Tournament next week, the fourth longest current streak in the nation, fourth-seed Wisconsin will start focus on winning the school's third tournament championship on Friday when it takes on fifth-seed Illinois (18-13, 10-8) at approximately 1:30 p.m.

"It's not individual awards at the end of the year, it's who is going to win the national championship or their conference tournaments," sophomore Jordan Taylor said. "Down the road, people aren't going to remember who was on which team."

Although devoid from the first team, Wisconsin saw Hughes get on the second team, Jason Bohannon the third team and Leuer selected as an honorable mention. Hughes, who was also selected to the All-Defensive Team, leads the Badgers in scoring (15.4 ppg) and steals (49); Bohannon leads the team in 3-point field goal percentage (.411) and most minutes per game (36.5); Leuer is averaging a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game while contributing a second-best 14.9 points per game.

All were appreciated of the recognition, and all were in agreement that there's more work needed to be done.

"It's a good accomplishment," said Bohannon, "but there are other goals that we have, team goals, and we still want to do a lot of things in the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament."

In order to accomplish those goals, the Badgers must get through a Fighting Illini squad fighting for their NCAA Tournament life for the second time in six days. Wisconsin can also see if it can frustrate junior Demetri McCamey, a first-team All-Big Ten pick and the catalyst of the Illini offense, to another frustrating performance.

After hit 11 of 17 shots and finished with 27 points and seven assists in Illinois' 63-56 victory over the Badgers in Madison on Feb. 9, McCamey was held to 2-for-8 shooting and finished with only 11 points and four assists Sunday, and was seen getting frustrated with Head Coach Bruce Weber on the sideline.

"Every team in the Big Ten knows each other very well," Bohannon said. "We play teams twice all the time, it just happens to be two games in a row against the same team. We're not going to change anything we do and I am sure they won't do the same either."

Added Hughes: "They came in here and stole something from us, we did the same to them and we want to find out who is the better team."

Hughes' main focus as a team captain is to make sure his teammates stay focused and hungry, two needed ingredients to win three games in three days to earn that trophy. His main focus as a senior is to get at least one ring, something he missed out on in the regular season.

"We feel we didn't have anything to play for at the end of the season because we were out of the title race," Hughes said. "At the same time, we can (now) win a trophy and a ring. That's the beauty of things. We've got something to play for.

"I listen to a lot of rap and they always say ‘men lie, women lie, numbers don't lie.' I have nothing to prove. I am out there to win a trophy. If we get some wins, that would look better than the individual accolades, especially cutting down the nets in the Final Four."

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