Much like the football team's offensive coordinator, Paul Chryst, Gard is a lousy self-promoter. No one would describe either as some slick, back-slapping type who works the room of some coaches convention looking for the next big gig. But just like Chryst, Greg Gard simply is a really good coach who has had a lot to do with the Badgers' success. Ryan thought it was time for a national TV audience to know what he has known for years.
Now about that scout team. A couple of times a season, Ryan makes sure to offer some public praise for that group of players you rarely see during a game. It isn't just lip service. That group goes a long way in preparing the likes of Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon, Keaton Nankivil and the rest of the players you always see in a game.
For some, being on the scout team is paying your dues. Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren were exclusively scout team members last season. This season those two players, and others such as Rob Wilson and Mike Bruesewitz, will bounce back and forth from the scouts to the regular playing rotation. For others, being on the scout team is a role a player might have throughout his career. It is a role of little glory, but the responsibility is anything but minor.
In the last several years, Bo Ryan has talked about some of his favorite scout team players, such as Tanner Bronson. Bronson and some others might have some physical limitations, but they are smart, tough-minded student-athletes who understand and accept their positions in the program. Among those on the team now, Wquinton Smith is a scout team player who might very well make that all-time favorite list. Physically, he is the strongest guard on the team. In practice, he does an excellent job of running the opposing team's offense. Recently, Smith told me he especially likes playing the role of Penn State's Talor Battle and Michigan State's Kailin Lucas. Why? Because they get to shoot early and often.
Smith understands the value of his position. He also knows there could be a window of opportunity next season to get into the playing rotation. With that in mind, Smith goes to practice each day with two objectives--helping his team get ready for the next game, and continuing to state his case for getting into the mix for minutes next season.
Given the hotly contested Big Ten race, Badger fans might not see Smith, Brett Valentyn, Dan Fahey and the other scout team members on the floor very much the rest of this season, but I hope fans appreciate the work they put in everyday. Bo Ryan sure does. He isn't one to just throw out a compliment to be a nice guy. If he offers praise, assume he means it.