January 6, 2011

Bench comes through in victory

MADISON - Shortly after his team dispatched what was at times a hot-shooting Michigan squad, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan was asked about his role players.

Only, he didn't necessarily like the verbiage.

"We have a team," Ryan said. "All the individuals from that team are all the same. They're all trying to contribute. So first of all, I don't put them in that classification. There are so many things during the course of a game that you have to be cognizant of that involves all five players at the same time.

Wednesday night, as the Badgers were pulling away from Michigan - UW's ninth straight victory in the series - Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer were in the midst of their familiar routine.

Taylor was scoring 17 second half points en route to a game high 20-point effort and Leuer was working the paint for 17 points and eight rebounds. But though they were once again the duo carrying the Badger scoring load, other guys stepped up.

Keaton Nankivil, who's shooting over 60 percent from downtown over UW's past six games, continued to stay hot. The senior forward dropped 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown. He also ripped down four boards, dished an assist, swatted a shot and recorded a steal.

He wasn't alone.

Mike Bruesewitz didn't miss any of his three shots from the field and finished with six points. Tim Jarmusz just missed a couple of shots from downtown and didn't score many points, but his defense was phenomenal from the start.

Literally.

During UW's first possession, Leuer made a pass intended for Taylor but it skipped away. As a typical Bo Ryan coached player does, Jarmusz sprinted towards midcourt, dove on the floor and slid for 15 feet. He corralled the ball, dished it to Taylor who found Leuer for an easy six-foot jumper.

It's what Ryan's supporting cast, as much as he hates that moniker, does.

"Everybody kind of sticks together and helps one another out," Taylor said. "Little things like the play Brett Valentyn made falling out of bounds. I messed up on defense and Brett bailed me out on defense and helped me out. It's just little things like that. We've got a great team and we all love each other and support each other."

It's become evident, too.

Holding an eight-point lead with five minutes to play, Taylor swung the ball to Valentyn in the corner with the shot clock running down. Instead of panicking like a player without much experience likely would, Valentyn calmly stroked the perimeter jumper and gave his team an 11-point lead.

"When opportunities arise and when you have guys that are always ready to help, you will always have guys come off the bench and make an impact," Ryan said. "In practice, everybody goes hard after each other. It's nice to see guys get noticed, because I always think they are contributing, even if it's in ways other people might not recognize.

"There are a lot of contributions out there from everyone."




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