Field of 68: Tweeting 68 observations leading up to tip-off

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- It's March Madness once again and that can only mean one thing: another edition of #Fieldof68. Follow along as we chronicle the Badgers journey through the 2014 NCAA Tournament, leading up to Wisconsin's first-round match-up against the American Eagles at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Sixty-eight teams in the tournament, that means 68 inside-access tweets about Wisconsin from @BadgerMBB all the way up to Thursday morning's tip between the Badgers and Eagles.

Overheard at Badgers media day

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Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Frank Kaminsky and head coach Bo Ryan met with the media on Wednesday in advance of the Badgers' game Thursday morning against American. The complete transcript from their sessions can be found here: ASAP Sports.

Here are some of the highlights:

Josh Gasser on playing in Milwaukee: "It's awesome. It just means that you did something special during the year to get rewarded to play close to home. And it's great for my family, these guy's family, to be semi close. Just to be able to experience NCAA Tournament atmosphere is awesome for my family and friends and other people as well. It's kind of a home-court advantage in a way, but, at the same time, once the clock starts, once you get between the lines, it's all what we do and we control that."

Frank Kaminsky on his high growth spurt in high school: "I got into high school at 6' 2" and left high school at 6' 10". I had a lot of growing to do both physically and mentally. Sometimes I would just be running down the court and trip over my own feet because I was just getting awkward. And I think just growing into my body took a little bit of time because I did kind of have a later growth spurt than most people."

Ben Brust on Coach Ryan winning 700 games and earning national respect:
"It's very special to be a part of that, and I think the number 700 just shows if you're getting that many wins, you're doing a lot of things right. As players we'd be smart to listen to a guy who has won that many games because he's successful for a reason. You don't get 700 wins with luck. He's doing something right, and, you know, Coach doesn't care what other people think. He's the type of guy who wants to get stuff done and get it done the right way, and we're just looking to continue what we can do."

Coach Ryan on his philosophy: "I always tell young coaches when they're asking for advice, 'take a job at a place where you can coach for five years or 50 years.' Because if you take a job and you're always looking left, right, behind you, in front of you, if you're always looking in different directions, you're not going to do as good a job with the people who believed you in the first place and hired you. So, if you're hired to do a job, for a nickel, give them a dime's worth. That's been my philosophy that I learned from my parents. I'm sure they learned from their parents."

Coach Ryan on Nigel Hayes' humor: "I got a guy that beats me, and old line is obviously 'the early bird catches the worm.' As we're done with our video session, Nigel always tries to beat me to the court. I said, "good, Nigel, the early bird catches the worm."
"Coach, the second mouse always gets the cheese."

Big crowds greet the Badgers in Milwaukee

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The day before the first game of the NCAA tournament has become sort of old hat for the Wisconsin Badgers. For 16 straight years, UW has been taking part in press conferences, open locker rooms and public practices. Today was a little different though.

-- Photo Gallery

With the Badgers stationed in Milwaukee, the fan and media interest is at an all-time high. As shown in the picture above, even the Marquette locker room wasn't quite spacious enough to contain all the media hoping to get a word with the Badgers. And what is normally just a handful of fans on on a weekday afternoon, turned into a couple hundred in the stands as the Badgers took the floor at 1:30 p.m.

The fans that did come out were treated to an inside look at pretty much what happens every day at a normal Badgers practice. Start off with some full court passing, then some shooting drills. The highlight, as always, was the half-court shooting contest to end practice. Bronson Koenig made the first, Evan Anderson tied it up and Zak Showalter won it at the end. A Sam Dekker dunk sent the crowd home happy. Thanks to everyone who came out today!
 

Packer's Perspective: Frozen Four Bound

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Hey Badger Fans!

A big thank you to all those who came out and supported us this past weekend as we battled Harvard in the NCAA quarter finals. The team was blown away when we hit the ice for the start of the game and the crowd erupted. The atmosphere and energy in the building was amazing and unlike anything we have experienced yet in our new home and we are very grateful to all those who helped us from the other side of the glass.

The team was very pleased with our effort Saturday night and it was a special moment for the seniors to get a win in our final game on home ice. This week is sure to fly by quickly as we will practice the next few days and then head out early Wednesday for the Frozen Four. The team plans to prepare for the upcoming weekend the same way we have all season, and is excited for the opportunity to face off against Minnesota Friday night.

There are a number of banquets set to take place along with a few other events, but the sole focus of our team is the game Saturday night and working harder than we have all season to achieve our ultimate goal. I am proud of my teammates for all the hard work that has been put in this season. There were a lot of people who were skeptical about us being placed so highly along the way, but we battled hard Saturday night, earning the right to play this weekend and gaining confidence along the way.

The game Friday night is something we have looked forward too all year, now the time has come to prepare and go to work. We are proud of ourselves for reaching the tournament, but also recognize simply making the trip is not the goal we set for ourselves last September.

I encourage all those who cannot make the trip to tune in to the various outlets that will be available to act the action this weekend. It is set to be some of the best collegiate hockey this season and will be something hockey fans do not want to miss.

Again, my teammates and I want to thank all our fans and the community for being supportive throughout the season, and on behalf of the senior class, thank you to all those who have come out to cheer us on throughout our Badger career. We have traveled all across the United States, and there are no fans louder or more loyal than those who come out in Madison. Thank you also to our families who have been supportive not only throughout this season, but since day one, we share this journey with you! Be sure to check back in throughout the week as I will have a few more posts and some special interviews with teammates as we head out in search of our ultimate goal at the 2014 Frozen Four! Until next time, thanks for reading, and ON WISCONSIN!! 

- Madison


Badger Blog: Timing is everything

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After an impressive showing in Fullerton, Calif., at the Judi Garman Classic last weekend, head coach Yvette Healy praises assistant coach Randy Schneider's offensive leadership so far and previews the keys for continued success as the season moves forward.


Be on time: That's been the quote of the week from our offensive coordinator, assistant coach Randy Schneider. Timing is everything going into our final seven games before Big Ten play opens against Northwestern next weekend in Chicago. Our spring schedule has really challenged and prepared us to return to the Midwest and face some of the best competition in our region. We played our best softball of the season last weekend in California, with a big upset of #6/7 Arizona. That momentum is starting to build just in time, as we ramp up for the most competitive Big Ten field to date.


With our pitching staff, we're focusing on keeping hitters off balance, not letting them get comfortable. We have a lot of big offenses on the schedule in the weeks ahead. Our goal is to contain those hitters and teams. We know they'll get their hits yet we'll work to spread out the hits, not give teams extra base runners and pressure our opponents by eliminating the leadoff hitter each inning.

 

From an offensive standpoint, coach Schneider is emphasizing quality over quantity. It's about pressuring teams and getting key hits when it counts. I've been so impressed with Randy's offensive strategy and philosophy this season. It's not about getting more hits than our competition, it's about getting runners on base and creating pressure every inning. If you can do that, and come through with some timely hits when it counts, you have a chance to win games--even against the best opponents.


We still have some young players who have yet to emerge. Our message to those athletes is simple: work hard, study the game, continue to improve, believe in your skills and preparation and the success will come. That relentless optimism, focus and work ethic is what separates not only players, but people. If you can continue to work, train and believe, even when you're struggling, you'll be successful in life. We know there are three or four athletes on our team who have battled injuries and slow starts who could still be major factors in our team's success in the Big Ten and throughout this year. A slow start doesn't mean that success is impossible, it simply means we have more work to put in. Timing is everything.

Packer's Perspective: Ready for Harvard

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Spring Forward '14: Practice #5 Photo of the Day

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The Badgers were up and at it early on Wednesday, hitting the field inside the McClain Center for a practice session that got underway just before 6 a.m. in order to accommodate pre-spring break exams for a number of players. Darius Hillary and the defense spent a good portion of the session backed up against the end zone working to defend the Badgers' receivers.

- Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #5

Spring Forward '14: Andersen updates Badgers' progress



Head coach Gary Andersen met with members of the media following the Badgers' early-morning practice session Wednesday inside the McClain Center.

Among the highlights of Andersen's update:
- Assistant coach Chris Beatty has taken over as the Badgers' recruiting coordinator, replacing Thomas Hammock, who is now the running backs coach with the Baltimore Ravens

- Leon Jacobs has moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker, with Andersen noting the play of Jesse Hayes at OLB this spring as a reason for shifting Jacobs inside

Spring Forward '14: An inside look at the 'first quarter'



Spring football is underway, but it's hardly the first time the Badgers have been on the field since returning from the Capital One Bowl. How did they get to this point? Check out a behind-the-scenes look at winter conditioning for the Badgers, which was designed by the UW strength and conditioning staff to be a highly-competitive lead-in to spring ball.

- Wisconsin Football: First Quarter

Packer's Perspective: Time for NCAAs

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ON WISCONSIN