Lucas at Large: Evans looks for fresh start in second season

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Before watching tape of the Ohio State loss, UW sophomore Ryan Evans realized that the 14 minutes he played against the Buckeyes were a microcosm of his season; a mix of good and bad.

"I had a turnover and bad shot selection,'' said Evans, who also had four rebounds and two blocked shots. "The good things at the defensive end kind of evened it out with the offensive end.''

If nothing else, he has been consistently inconsistent. "That's being consistent in the wrong way,'' said Evans. "I need to be able to contribute both offensively and defensively.''

Evans has had his shining moments. Early in the season, he scored 11 points against North Dakota and UNLV in back-to-back games. More recently, he scored 10 and 11 points against Purdue.

But here's the kicker. Take away the 21 points in those two combined outings against the Boilermakers and Evans has accounted for a total of 18 points in the other 16 Big Ten games.

Why has Evans been so effective against Purdue?

"I go into those games knowing that my defensive assignment is E'Twaun Moore and the offense just comes,'' he said. "Whereas in other games, I'm focusing too much on the offense.''

That fits his favorite lyric - "The same thing that will make you laugh will make you cry.''

Evans sees the postseason as a fresh start; an opportunity to be a positive factor coming off the bench for the Badgers in the Big Ten tournament and beyond - the Big Dance.

"It's been a tough year me but I have to throw everything behind me,'' he said. "It's tournament time and I know that I'm going to have to contribute for us to keep moving on.''

Evans credited his family for providing a strong foundation and support system. "I'm constantly in contact with my parents and they keep me motivated,'' he said, "and going in the right direction.''

Truth is, Evans has already traveled a long distance in a short time.

He was cut as a sophomore from his high school basketball team in Phoenix, Ariz.

"Once I got cut, I started going to the gym and played in pick-up games more seriously,'' Evans said. "I had a real motivation that I was going to be somebody and I still have that mentality.''

Basketball was important to Evans. "I found that I had a love for the sport,'' he said. "I found a place or refuge on the court whether it was with my teammates or at nighttime alone.''

It brought him a peace of mind, he said. But there's nothing like repetitions. And he's still raw.

"That's why I have to work that much harder,'' Evans confided, "and stay that more focused with the things that I do on the court because I haven't had the experience playing that others have.''

Does he feel like he's getting closer to being the player that he wants to be? "You feel like you're getting closer after a game like I had against Purdue here,'' he said. "Then you take two steps back.''

But he has tried to keep everything in perspective.

"We've all been through trials and tribulations,'' he said. "I know what I can do and it's just a matter of going out there and showing everyone. I'm staying positive every day.''

Evans is confident that he can still play an integral role in helping the Badgers advance in the postseason, whether it's the Big Ten or the NCAA tournament.

 "It bothers you when you know what you can do but you're not showing it,'' he said. "But it will come out for me, and I'll be just fine. I'm just going to keep pushing forward.''

He smiled and reiterated, "It's tournament time.''

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I appreciate Ryan's effort on the court. He is a physical and capable defender, and offensively, he just needs to gain some confidence. He should not doubt that he is an important contributor to the Badgers, and appreciated by the fans.

Keep it going!

ON WISCONSIN