January 24, 2011

Ryan reflects on triple-double

MADISON - Given one day to let the first triple-double in school history to sink in, Wisconsin head basketball coach Bo Ryan put his quick wit on full display.

"I got a call from the Big Ten office," Ryan said. "On that last pass that Josh Gasser made to Brett Valentyn he charged into the player afterwards. Evidently Ed Hightower had called the Big Ten office and had a delayed charge call. So he only had nine assists.

"I take it you guys did not get that yet."

Ryan, normally willing to crack a joke or two during a given press conference, was clearly kidding. Just one day after his team recorded a 78-46 win over Northwestern - in Evanston of all places - Ryan spent time breaking down the film and came across what he thought could have been called an offensive foul.

"I'm like, 'Oh my goodness Josh, that could have been a charge," Ryan quipped. "But it wasn't and the fact that he got a triple-double is something that was really special, especially since half the town of Port Washington was there.

"They brought down a few busses and they had a chance to celebrate that performance and the team's win of course."

Gasser became the first freshman in country, first player in the Big Ten and only the 11th overall to post a triple-double this season.

"It's hard to do," Ryan said. "Patrick Herb (UW basketball SID) went over all the statistics of all the people that have had them. You think of all the players that never had a chance to get one in Big Ten play and to think that we had two guys - we're one shot short of a make of getting another guy with one, Jordan Taylor - so we're happy for him.

"I'm sure he's happy that the performance of the team far and away outweighs any of the individual stats."

Stealing the spotlight:

Because Gasser's triple-double had such historical significance it's easy to overlook one of the more proficient offensive performances UW's had in a while.

Including Gasser, five Badgers finished the game with double-digit scoring. Seniors Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil paved the way with 19 and 16 points respectively. Taylor chipped in 14 while Mike Bruesewitz and Gasser added 10 of their own.

Collectively, UW scored 1.5 points per possession in the rout. What does it mean to have so many guys that are so capable of sharing the spotlight on any given night?

"It keeps enforcing how we've been successful here," Ryan said. "And how I think success should be gauged is by how well the group does, not by individual accolades or performances. Those are all good and fine because people play to play well. But people, in a team sport, play to play well so that the team does well.

"So his performance, Jordan's performance, Jon's, Mike Bruesewitz, Keaton and anybody right on down the line…when you have guys that are contributing, sometimes in more of an eye opening way, that's fine. The other guys have been there so they understand that they're going to have some nights like that too."

Then there are the nights when it seems like a team couldn't hit water if it jumped out of a boat in the middle of a lake. Take UW's game at Illinois for instance, when the Badgers shot a collective 35 percent from the floor.

That's a far cry of the Badgers 55 percent tally from Sunday afternoon in Evanston.

"Everyone knows that they're going to have some nights when they can't make a shot," Ryan said. "Where they can't stop anybody or it seems like you can't stop anybody. You just have to keep picking each other up. So it works both ways.

"If you have guys that are proactive, disciplined and in it for each other and not just for themselves, you tend to get over the rough spots."

Poll position:

Following a 2-0 week, one where the Badgers knocked off Indiana at home and crushed Northwestern on the road, UW moved up a number of spots in each national poll. With a 15-4 record, including a 5-2 spot in league play, Wisconsin is ranked No. 15 in the Coaches Poll and No. 17 in the AP Poll.

Ohio State (No. 1), Purdue (No. 12), Minnesota (No. 16), Illinois (No. 20) and Michigan State (No. 25) join UW in the AP poll.

Up next:

UW will play at Penn State Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. (ct). The game can be seen live on the Big Ten Network.

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