Bo Ryan enters his eighth season as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers looking to have yet another successful year.
Ryan will have nine freshmen and sophomores on the team, mixed in with seven upperclassmen, five of which will start for the Badgers.
Ryan has an overall record of 173-60 (.742) and is 84-30 in the Big Ten. The Badgers have made the postseason in all seven previous years under Ryan. Wisconsin has made two Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight but has failed on numerous occasions to get over the hump.
Last year, the Badgers were 31-5 with an amazing 16-2 record in conference. Wisconsin was both the regular season and tournament champion in the Big Ten.
They reeled off 12 straight victories at the end of the season (including tournaments), before being upset by the Cinderella of the 2007-08 season, Davidson.
The Badgers have lost several key players from a season ago due to graduation, most notably their own "Twin Towers" in Brian Butch, who led the team in scoring and rebounding, and Greg Stiemsma. The leading defender in Michael Flowers (9.6 ppg, 2.7 apg) is also gone, along with campus favorite Tanner Bronson.
Ryan, however, returns many key players from last year, including three of the top five scorers from 2007-08. Trevon Hughes, Marcus Landry, Joe Krabbenhoft, and Jason Bohanon are the headliners of the returning stars.
Here's what Bo Ryan is going to deal with this year.
G - Trevon Hughes (6'0", Jr., Queens, NY)
Played his high school ball at a military academy in Southeastern Wisconsin. 11.2 points per game last year, with 2.8 assists. Will have to be a true leader on the floor as he looks to be the Badgers' best ball handler. Plays solid defense, but will have to step it up a notch, trying to fill the hole left by Flowers.
G - Jason Bohanon (6'2", Jr., Marion, Iowa)
"J-Bone" is the sharpshooter of this team. Will jack it up from anywhere on the floor...and drain it. Defenders will need to be in tip-top shape trying to guard Bohanon, as he never stops moving until he touches the ball.
G/F - Joe Krabbenhoft (6'7", Sr., Sioux Falls, SD)
One of two senior starters, and four on the entire team. The epitome of Wisconsin basketball, a hard-nosed player who won't stop fighting until the whistle blows. I expect nothing less from the South Dakota native this year.
F - Marcus Landry (6'7", Sr., Milwaukee, WI)
Should be the team's leading scorer this year and maybe the best defender. If Wisconsin wants to make yet another postseason run, they can only go as far as Landry is willing to take them.
C - J.P. Gavinski (6'11", Soph., Wisconsin Dells, WI)
Gavinski looks to be the best bet at this position, as the only other experienced player is sophomore Keaton Nankivil. Someone needs to replace the low-post prowess of Butch and Stiemsma.
F - Kevin Gullickson (6'7", Sr., Stillwater, MN)
Began as a walk-on who was Academic All-Conference the last two years. Nicknamed "Captain America" because he will put it all on the line for this team.
G/F - Morris Cain (6'5", Sr., Milwaukee, WI)
The lone senior, who was a walk-on, his intensity and nose for the ball on defense should log him plenty of minutes in his final year. Academic All-Conference the last two years.
G - Brett Valentyn (6'4", Jr., Verona, WI)
Valentyn is in his third year as a walk-on and was an Academic All-Conference selection last year.
G - Wquinton Smith (5'10", Soph., Milwaukee, WI)
A walk-on from a year ago who got very little playing time. Played both football and basketball in high school, so at least we know he's athletic.
G/F - Tim Jarmusz (6'6", Soph., Oshkosh, WI)
A good outside shooter, but also has a long wingspan to defend players at both the guard and forward positions.
F - Jon Leuer (6'10", Soph., Long Lake, MN)
Don't let his height fool you—he's an excellent outside shooter. Grew 10 inches in high school but never lost his touch. If ever Bo puts him and "J-Bone" on the wings, points will be scored in a flurry.
F - Keaton Nankivil (6'8", Soph., Madison, WI)
A former Wisconsin Mr. Basketball who is the lone Mad-Town representative on the team. Plays bigger than his size and should split the minutes with Gavinski.
G/F - Ryan Evans (6'6", Fr., Phoenix, AZ)
Cut from his high school team in Phoenix as a sophomore, then transferred to another one and led them to the state semifinals. The last recruit to sign with Wisconsin.
G - Jordan Taylor (6'1", Fr., Bloomington, MN)
A former Minnesota Mr. Basketball who knows when to pass and when to shoot. Look for him to get some good minutes this year.
G - Rob Wilson (6'4", Fr., Cleveland, OH)
His style, shooting ability, and athleticism make him a perfect fit in the Badgers' system.
F/C - Jared Berggren (6'10", Fr., Princeton, MN)
A Minnesota Mr. Basketball finalist whose height will help Wisconsin down the stretch.
C - Ian Markolf (7'0", Fr., San Antonio, TX)
Somehow, someway, the Badgers got Markolf away from all the Big 12 and some of the SEC schools and brought him to Madison. Said to be advanced for a freshman, and at seven feet, should get a chance early.
Nov. 16 vs. Long Beach State: The season opener, and all teams know that if you don't get off to a good start, it's going to be a long season.
Dec. 6 @ Marquette: The annual battle for basketball bragging rights throughout the state of Wisconsin. Historically, the visiting team usually comes out on top.
Dec. 23 vs. Texas: The rematch of the frantic finish from a year ago in Austin. The Longhorns, like the Badgers, are a little lighter on the roster, but the Horns are out for revenge.
Dec. 31 @ Michigan: The Big Ten opener on New Year's Eve. This is where the Badgers begin their quest to defend the conference title.
Jan. 3 vs. Penn State: The Big Ten home opener is always a big deal in Madison. Can the Badgers go 16-2 again? Only time will tell.
Bo Ryan and the Badgers have always had the talent to go very deep into March, but they need to forget about the past and focus on the task at hand: that is, defending their Big Ten title and making Bo 8-for-8 in postseason appearances.