UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Finding the 'Old Rob'

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - UW associate head coach Greg Gard doesn't like to dwell on the past. But he felt it was important to remind Rob Wilson of the positive history that he had with Marquette two years ago in the Bradley Center.

As a true freshman, Wilson came off the bench and accounted for seven points and five rebounds in 20 productive minutes against the Golden Eagles.

"The TV announcers talked about Rob and the words that they used to describe him were 'aggressive' and 'fearless,''' Gard said. "I told Rob if I was broadcasting a game right now, I would not use those two adjectives.''

Wilson_vs_Marquette.jpgThat's because Wilson has been tentative with his play since the beginning of the season when he was slowed by a hamstring injury. That cost him valuable practice time and minutes in the two exhibitions and first two games.

So instead of getting an opportunity to build some confidence against the likes of UW-La Crosse, Minnesota State, Prairie View A&M and North Dakota, he missed all four games and didn't see his first action until Nov. 20 at UNLV.

"It's all about me getting back into the routine now and sticking to the rules (on defense),'' said Wilson, a 6-foot-4 junior guard from Cleveland. "Once I get back on the same page with the guys, I feel like everything will be good.''

Wilson may have taken the first step towards becoming what Gard described as the "old Rob'' during Saturday's 69-64 win at Marquette. Wilson played 16 minutes and had three points, four rebounds and a steal.

"It always feels good to be out there - doing something to help the team win,'' Wilson said afterward. "I didn't want to take a step backward.''

Gard acknowledged that over the last few days of practice the "old Rob'' had begun emerging again. "He's a soft-spoken kid,'' Gard said. "And we're trying to get him to be more aggressive and play without thinking. It's a process.''

To earn more minutes - and earn is the operative word - the Badgers would like to see Wilson apply himself more consistently on the defensive end.

"He needs to be consistently aggressive,'' Gard said. "What put him behind some other guys defensively was that he got real tentative at times. And when he paused on how we guard certain actions or certain players, people were able to get open shots. We have to have guys who can get things done every possession.''

Message received. Wilson understands where he needs to take his game. "Coach Gard is always in my ear because he sees that I'm not playing the way they know I can play,'' Wilson said. "It's always good to have someone pushing.''

UW coach Bo Ryan used 12 players against Marquette and everybody contributed to one degree or another - underlining this team's bench strength.

"That's what we've been hoping for while we've been developing the bench,'' Ryan said. "They might not have seen a whole lot of minutes in some of the games. But Rob (Wilson) has been working his way back in practice.

"Jared (Berggren) has been doing some really good things in practice, too. So the fact we used those two plus Ben (Brust) - and everyone else off the bench - they were able to keep believing in each other. And that was contagious.''

Berggren had eight points in nine minutes against the Golden Eagles.

"I think that can be a strength of our team this year,'' Berggren said of the UW bench. "We have a lot of guys who can play. As long as we stay ready and step up when our name is called, I think we can do some good things.''

Asked about Wilson's contributions, Berggren said, "He was hurt early in the year and missed some time in practice. But he's catching up. We're going to need him down the stretch. It's good to see him playing well.''

After Saturday's win, Wilson sounded and looked confident - another adjective that may restore the Old Rob.