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MADISON - Despite having players playing out of position and going through scoring woes, Wisconsin finds itself alone in fifth place in the Big Ten standings at the midway point of the season and only two games back of No.1 Indiana and one game out of a three-way tie for second.
Coach Bo Ryan only worries about the ‘precious present,’ but the fact that Wisconsin, again, is as close to full strength as it’s going to get is a blessing with five of its next seven at home.
“When you don't have the rotation the way you would like it … there's no question that this year there's been the most (adjustments) we've ever had,” said Ryan. “We've had to make adjustments. So to be sitting where we are, you take it and get ready for the next.”
While unranked for the 12th straight week, Wisconsin (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten) continues to make a push for its 12th straight finish in the top four finish in the conference because of its success winning on the road.
Improving to 3-2 record on the road in the Big Ten this season after a 74-68 at Illinois Sunday, Wisconsin’s 9-5 record (.643) is the best in conference over the past two seasons. In 12 years as coach, Ryan’s Badgers are 65-64 (.504) on the road, the most wins and best winning percentage of any team in the Big Ten.
“In order to win on the road, you definitely have to be able to tune certain things out,” said Ryan. “You have to be able to stick to your principles. It's the same in any sport.
“I never tried to analyze winning on the road, winning at home, any of that, because there's so many different things that you can say about why, why, why, because it would fit, and as soon as you think you have an answer, then next game, it's like, ‘well, wait a minute. That didn't happen.’”
Ryan’s philosophy was proven true just over two weeks ago. After upsetting No.2 Indiana in Bloomington by limiting the Hoosiers to a season-low 59 points and just 37 percent from the field, Wisconsin gave up 70 points to Iowa in a four-point setback in Iowa City four days later.
And while the Hawkeyes have dropped three of four since (all on the road) coming into Wednesday’s game at the Kohl Center, Iowa has lost two games by three points, including a62-59 loss at Minnesota Sunday after a late Austin Hollins three-pointer.
“They certainly can play,” said Ryan of Iowa. “They have the guys with experience. They have depth. That's what you need in this league, and then you can compete with anybody if you have that. They're another team trying to make a move, like some of the teams projected to do so well this year. Iowa was given a lot of credible backing by a lot of people because of the way they play.”
What did Frank Kaminsky's presence give to you guys this last game, and what can it do for you in the next game?
“Did you ever look for Waldo? You put that hat and sweater on him, and I tell you what, it might happen, but we've been looking for him. I think we found him yesterday. Did you ever see him with those glasses on? Not the goggles, but when he had his glasses on?
“He's big. He's got a good touch. He's got good hands. He reacts defensively fairly well. By the time I'm done with the teaching clips from the last -- from the Illinois game, he might not believe that I said that in here because there were several times that he did not make the proper rotation from the chest up and take a charge. So he can get better. He's got a ways to go.”
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan - Listen to Audio