UW Health Sports Medicine 

The Voice: Win proves Badgers deserve benefit of the doubt

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgSince there is way too much season remaining, I will try to spare you the "I told you so" mumbo jumbo. But for the 5,000th time, I will say in regard to the Wisconsin basketball program -- the team you see in November and December isn't necessarily what you see in January, February and March.

In the last two games, Bo Ryan's group has given us prime examples of why the Badgers have been able to sustain such a high level of success.

The non-conference schedule included those humbling trips to Gainesville and Milwaukee, not to mention a pair of tough games in Las Vegas, which Wisconsin managed to split. Throw in a close loss to Virginia at the Kohl Center, and many were left wondering whether the Badgers' NCAA tournament streak would end. Who knows? But doesn't Wisconsin deserve the benefit of the doubt?

History tells us it does.

Overreaction is common, and most of us are guilty of it. The good news is Ryan stresses the opposite. That would seem to be one of the many keys to his success. The players and coaches simply keep working. No panic. No gimmicks. Just keep striving to get better.

The younger players continue to grow, and the veterans are playing like veterans. It helps to get healthier,  and that is happening with Mike Bruesewitz, who embraced the eardrum-bursting noise at Assembly Hall with a joy that should remind us that sports really can be kind of fun.

Put it all together, and you have national attention-grabbing victories against Illinois and Indiana that has the rest of the Big Ten looking up at Wisconsin in the league standings.

I would imagine excitement is building for this team, but if you think the flight home from Bloomington was a rowdy ride, think again. Sure, there was a nice locker room celebration, and understandably the boys got a charge out of watching Jared Berggren bulldoze down the lane for his high-flying, rim-rattling, posterizing dunk.

Yet by the time the wheels were up (on the plane, not Berggren -- did you know he had "ups" like that?), it was time to relax and appreciate the night, with the understanding there is much more work to be done.

They refuse to overreact.

That is a good idea because Iowa is waiting. You know, the team that swept Wisconsin a year ago, and has the entire week to get ready for Saturday night's game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

They'll just keep trying to get better. Never too high. Never too low.

Before I wrap up this week's blog, it is time to give a little shout out to the scout team. Players such as Dan Fahey, Jordan Smith, Duje Dukan, J.D. Wise, Evan Anderson, as well as Zak Showalter and Zach Bohannon, who will run with the scouts as well as the regular rotation players.

Especially in these last two games, it has been a formidable challenge to mimic athletic teams such as the Illini and the Hoosiers. The scouts continue to do their jobs extremely well.

There is a long way to go, and this figures to be an extremely close Big Ten race, but on Tuesday night the Badgers served notice that they have every intention of being a serious player -- again. They have dealt with a few bumps, and realistically, there will be some more along the way.

That's OK. The Badgers are demonstrating that they know how to absorb a punch, and deliver a few counterpunches of their own.