Wisconsin coach doesn’t know if Leuer will start
Leuer started for the first time this season in the win against No. 23 Illinois last week that ended Wisconsin’s six-game losing streak. He scored 15 in that game and started again on Sunday when he scored 12 in the win over Penn State.
Leuer got the starting job due to Keaton Nankivil’s ankle injury.
Ryan tried to downplay the significance of being a starter when asked Monday at his weekly news conference whether Leuer would be out there for a third game in a row.
“He’ll play but I don’t know whether he’ll be starting or not,” Ryan said.
The fixation on the importance of starting goes all the way back to elementary school when parents would ask their children whether they were starting, Ryan said.
He said he’s never put much stock in it.
“When you look at teams across the country there are guys coming in off the bench in a lot of programs getting more minutes than guys who start,” Ryan said. “It happens.”
Despite only starting two games, Leuer has played in all 23. He is fifth in playing time and averages 9.5 points per game. That is fourth highest on the team.
The past two wins helped improve Wisconsin to 14-9 overall and 5-6 in the Big Ten. The Badgers are home for two games this week against Iowa (13-11, 3-8) on Wednesday and No. 24 Ohio State (17-5, 7-4) on Saturday.
Ryan’s team played with a stifling defense on Sunday in a 54-44 win over Penn State. It was the kind of defense missing in the six losses that stretched from Jan. 11 through 31 and severely hurt the Badgers’ chances of making the NCAA tournament.
The season’s been particularly disappointing given that Wisconsin won the Big Ten title and tournament last season. Most of the losses were close, with the Badgers having the lead in the final 3 minutes of regulation in five of their last seven losses.
The losing streak was the longest winless streak in Ryan’s tenure and the most in the regular season since 1998 when the team lost eight in a row under then-head coach Dick Bennett.
Notes: Senior forward Marcus Landry is just seven points away from scoring 1,000 in his career. He would be the 33rd player in Wisconsin history to reach the mark and with 66 points he will be among the top 30 all-time scorers for the Badgers.
-- Trevon Hughes had four steals against Illinois, giving him 101 for his career and putting him just 12 away from cracking Wisconsin’s top 10 list.