Ryan: Wisconsin's balanced attack is key to success
Ryan said Monday his players know they must play hard and contribute every game. But he said none of them go in thinking they must have their best games in terms of scoring, rebounding or defense to win.
The Badgers have used a balanced scoring attack to start off 2-0 in Big Ten conference play for the third straight season after victories over Iowa and Michigan last week.
Six different players for Wisconsin (12-2, 2-0 Big Ten) scored in double figures in those games. The team moved up four spots to No. 21 in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll on Monday.
“They know if they contribute, and if they all contribute together, then good things can happen. They don’t put any extra pressure on themselves as individuals,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly news conference on Monday. “The unwritten rule is just come, practice hard, play hard and we can make something happen. It might not always be the best every night but at least our strength is together.”
And that attitude has helped Wisconsin during a six-game winning streak.
Freshman Jon Leuer came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points last week in Wisconsin’s 70-54 win at Michigan. Then senior Brian Butch scored 22 points to lead Wisconsin to a 64-51 home victory over Iowa after a somewhat sloppy first half on Saturday. It was senior guard Michael Flowers who hit the game-winning shot last month in a 67-66 victory at Texas.
“This group has just found so many different ways of getting things done,” Ryan said. “That’s got to give them confidence, to say, ’Let’s just keep doing what we’re doing and keep trying to pick each other up.’ But it’s early.”
Wisconsin hosts Illinois at the Kohl Center on Thursday night.
The Illini (8-7, 0-2) are coming off a home loss to Penn State on Saturday but Ryan said Illinois was a talented team led by a great coach, Bruce Weber. And they are the only team to win at Wisconsin during Ryan’s seven years as coach.
“They’ve got some very good younger players they are trying to mix with their very good experienced players,” he said. “We expect a very tough contest.”