Badgers’ Leuer back at practice
According to Wisconsin’s Web site, Leuer joined his teammates on the court during Monday morning’s practice at the Kohl Center after being cleared medically.
“It feels good to get back out there and mix it up with the guys,” Leuer said after Monday’s practice. “That was the main thing I missed, just the camaraderie with my teammates. It’s fun to get back out there. Henry (Perez-Guerra) and our medical staff did a great job getting me back as soon as possible. I can’t even tell you how pleased I am with what they’ve done.”
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said Monday there is no timetable for Leuer’s return to game action.
“I’ll have to see him on the floor. It’ll be tryouts again when he gets back to practice,” Ryan said. “If he comes back to practice he’s going to have to try to get back into the lineup, I would think.”
Leuer, who began shooting last week, believes he is ready
“I feel like I’m game-ready right now,” Leuer said on the UW’s Web site. “I’ve been able to work out and run and condition, so I feel like I’m in really good shape. Right now I’m just taking it day-by-day and seeing if there is any pain and how much I can tolerate. Today went well, so we’re just looking at tomorrow right now.”
Leuer had surgery on Jan. 12 to repair a fractured left wrist. He started the first 16 games and was Wisconsin’s second-leading scorer (15.4 points per game) when he was injured. He also led the Badgers with 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
Gophers up next
After stumbling at home against Illinois and crushing Indiana, the Badgers fell three notches to No. 14 in Monday’s Associated Press poll and find themselves a game out of first place in the Big Ten.
The Badgers have five games left to make up ground. The final push begins Thursday night against Minnesota in Minneapolis. The interstate rivals haven’t met yet this season.
Wisconsin looks better on paper, with a 19-6 overall record and a 9-4 Big Ten mark compared with Minnesota at 14-10 and 5-7.
But Ryan hasn’t forgotten last year, when the Golden Gophers swept the Badgers, 78-74, in overtime at the Kohl Center and 51-46 at Williams Arena.
“I thought up there we played them pretty tough. I didn’t know if we were going to get to 10 by halftime up there last year,” Ryan said. “Fortunately, they weren’t exactly on fire. They are good defensively.”
This time the Badgers will have to contend with a trio of Gophers averaging in double figures in guards Blake Hoffarber and Lawrence Westbrook and forward Damian Johnson. And then there’s
6-foot-11 forward/center Ralph Sampson III, son of former Houston Rockets star Ralph Sampson. He’s averaging 8.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
“There’s a couple guys on that team you can’t give a step to. They’re still pretty good. They haven’t changed that much ... they still have the players,” Ryan said.
So what’s Wisconsin’s strategy? As usual, Ryan isn’t telling.
“We’ll just have to try to guard them all,” he said.
After Minnesota, Northwestern visits Madison on Sunday. The Badgers then travel to Indiana for a rematch with the Hoosiers, host Iowa and finish against Illinois in Champaign.
Only Illinois has a winning conference record among the Badgers’ remaining opponents.