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Bo gets into the swing of things

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Associated Press
November 2, 2007
— You probably know Bo Ryan as the slicked-back, ultra-serious tough guy who usually has the Wisconsin Badgers in the thick of the Big Ten men’s basketball title race.

But Ryan’s two teenage daughters know him as someone who won’t back from a challenge—even if it involves a 59-year-old man trying to replicate the “Soulja Boy” dance that has been sweeping everything from nightclub dance floors to end zones lately.


Go to YouTube and do a search for “Bo Ryan Soulja,” and see what pops up. Ryan’s buddies back in his hometown of Chester, Pa., certainly did.


“I’m surprised it got out like that because I never signed a release form,” Ryan joked. “I got my lawyer on it because all my guys back in Chester got a hold of it, and it’s going around.”


Ryan’s surprisingly smooth moves are sweeping the Internet, adding some levity to what would otherwise be a discouraging situation on the court—trying to replace the Badgers’ two biggest offensive threats from last year’s team, star forward Alando Tucker and guard Kammron Taylor.


If the Badgers don’t find a few new scorers, the Soulja Boy might be the only big dance they’ll be doing come March.


Wisconsin, which opens the season with an exhibition game against Edgewood on Sunday, won a school-record 30 games last season and were ranked No. 1 in the country for the first time in school history in mid-February.


But the Badgers lost forward Brian Butch—a critical cog, it turns out, in Ryan’s swing offense—after he dislocated his elbow in a late-season, one-point loss to Ohio State. The Badgers never really recovered, losing to UNLV in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.


Ryan said it was a tough end to a great season.


“It was disappointing,” he said. “We were going after a Big Ten championship.”


Now Butch is back and close to 100 percent, and he insists that taking a “by-committee approach” to replacing Tucker and Taylor’s combined 32.5 points per game will work.


“We’re losing about 30 points a game, and everyone knows about that,” Butch said. “But not one player on this team is going to be able to go out and score 30 a game.


“It’s tough to do—you look at the nation, there’s rarely a 30-point scorer a game. So it’s going to be done by committee, and we’re going to be able to do it as a team.”


Beyond Butch, the Badgers will be counting on improvement from their most experienced returning players, a group that includes junior forward Marcus Landry, junior guard/forward Joe Krabbenhoft, senior center Greg Stiemsma, junior forward Kevin Gullikson and senior guard Michael Flowers, who just returned from a brief and unexplained leave of absence from the team.


“Our guys aren’t rudderless,” Ryan said. “There’s guys out there that are setting the tone at drills.”


Landry is an athletic offensive player and versatile on defense—even defending center Greg Oden in games against Ohio State last year. Landry said Ryan seems to be more concerned about defense than offense in preseason practices.


“I think that’s more his focus,” Landry said. “He knows we can score, knows we can play. It’s just focusing on defense right now.”


Flowers will likely be joined in the backcourt by sophomore Trevon Hughes. Sophomore Jason Bohannon also is expected to play frequently.


Ryan has been impressed with Hughes, even if he expects a certain level of inconsistency from a young player.


“He can beat people off the dribble,” Ryan said. “His outside shot has improved. But he’ll have some nights where I’m sure he’ll look like a world-beater and other nights, when you’re a sophomore and you’ve only played X number of minutes—it’s going to be, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. But hopefully it’s more good.”


Hughes is hoping to play more up-tempo this year, something not usually seen in Ryan’s offense.


“He never tells us to slow it down,” Hughes said. “So until he tells us to slow it down, I guess the sky’s the limit.”


The Badgers have been bonding in the offseason, often playing the war-themed video game Halo 3 at Bohannon’s apartment.


But with a game controller in hand, team bonding only goes so far.


“When we get bored, we just start killing each other, even if we’re on the same team,” Hughes said.



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