Junior Zach Bohannon (Marion, Iowa) will be a season-long guest contributor for CBSSports.com. Here is his first blog entry.
By Zach Bohannon
There are seven letters, two words, and one phrase that no athlete, but more specifically, no basketball player, ever wants to hear over his entire career: Torn ACL.
It can bring that player to immediate tears. But as I found out on Saturday, it can bring many of his teammates to tears as well. This is my story from the perspective of a teammate who witnessed the knee of Josh Gasser, the starting point guard for the Wisconsin Badgers, buckle right before his eyes.
The scariest part of the whole play was how routine and seemingly innocent it really was. We were scrimmaging during a typical Saturday morning practice. Josh was on a fast break and planted his left foot. His knee gave out. It was that simple.
Athletes hear all the time, "Play every play like it's your last," but this was one of the moments that made me take a step back and understand what that statement truly meant. I was less than 10 feet behind him trailing the play. I heard the piercing scream come out of his mouth as he crumbled to the ground. I tried to keep him calm and said, "You're fine, take some deep breaths." However, Josh knew, and shot back sharply, "No, I'm not fine!"
Everyone in the gym fell quiet. Nothing could be said. We all saw our athletic trainer and team doctor immediately test out his left knee on the court. We all prayed for the best, though we knew we had no choice but to expect the worst.
As we saw Josh get helped off the floor, none of it seemed real. Josh was the last person you expected this to happen to. Josh seemingly had no kryptonite; he was indestructible to us. Our team tried to put the shock of what we had just seen behind us. After about an hour of more practicing, Coach [Bo] Ryan called us in and told us before we did our final shooting drill we would all have a chance to see Josh before he left for the hospital. As we filed in one by one to the training room, each one of us had a moment to spend with Josh. Many of us hardly said a word; it was a quick good luck with a handshake or a hug for most. It was a very somber moment because we all knew the magnitude of the earthquake that had just shaken our team.
As practice ended and my teammates went their separate ways, we all had a day of grieving for Josh. Not because of the basketball player he is, but more importantly, for who he is as a person and what he represents for our program and for the state of Wisconsin. He truly is, and always will be, the face of our program. I personally was sick to my stomach the rest of the day because Josh is the last kid you would ever want something so devastating to happen to. However, as Josh tweeted (@JPGasser21) on that night, "Wow thanks for the support everyone. Really tough time but I will be okay.. Our team won't skip a beat, trust me. #OnWisconsin."
Throughout the mystery of life, you can think all you want about what could have, should have, or would have been? However, the greatest success stories in sports are of teams and individuals who use adversity to their advantage and come roaring back unified like never before.
Our team started the process of unification on Sunday.
Of course we were all upset and it was hard to imagine playing without Josh, but at that moment, we all realized the past is now behind us and we, as a team, had no choice but to play the ball where it lies. I will be the first to admit that our ball is in the deep rough, but all it takes is one shot to knock us back onto the green. As long as we can keep this hole under control and the damage to a minimum, we will be rewarded on the next drive with the addition of Mike Bruesewitz. Mike, who most fans recall him as "carrot top," was another player lost a few weeks ago when he suffered a seven-inch laceration during practice. At the time of his injury, our team had no idea the severity of it. We are fortunate enough to know that he will be back on the floor battling with us soon.
Our success on the court as a team will not be dictated by a few minor setbacks this season. Josh, the floor general, might be out for the year, but Josh, the leader, will be with us every step of the way on our journey toward success. And I promise you, we will have success.
For all Badger fans out there, do not let your support falter or downgrade the season due to a couple of injuries. As Josh himself said, he will be "OK." He will be back next year, stronger than ever. But the moment is now for Wisconsin basketball. There are five seniors in our locker room who must be sent out the right way.
Yes, we have had a few bumps in the road thus far that have damaged us physically. But the heart and soul of our team will not be touched, regardless of whatever adversity that is thrown our way. Our team has no choice but to continue to get better and stronger each day as one. Our focus is on the present, as shall everyone else's be in their own lives. On, Wisconsin!
The Wisconsin men's basketball team didn't end up playing basketball with President Barack Obama Thursday (they still might down the road), but it wasn't for lack of effort by junior Zach Bohannon.
The Badgers did end up getting a private meet-and-greet with the president before Obama addressed a crowd on campus.
While connections from freshman George Marshall sealed the deal to meet Obama, Bohannon's full-court press via Twitter got the ball rolling. Here is a sampling of some of Bohannon's nearly 100 Tweets aimed at Obama and his staff.
@barackobama, Sir, the Wisconsin bball team extends an offer 2 play open gym on Thursday before or after ur talk. Badgers RETWEET 4 support!
As the calender gets set to turn to October, official preseason basketball polls will start to roll in. The Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook gets the prize for being first.
Wisconsin checks in at No. 23 in the Blue Ribbon poll, one of four Big Ten teams in the top 25. Indiana is their preseason favorite, followed by Michigan at No. 5, Michigan State at No. 7, Ohio State at No. 17.
In all, the Badgers are scheduled to play eight games against teams in the Blue Ribbon Top 25, including six games against top-10 teams - Indiana (1), Michigan (5), two vs. Michigan State (7), Florida (8) and Creighton (10).
Blue Ribbon preseason Top 25: 1. Indiana 2. Louisville 3. Kentucky 4. NC State 5. Michigan 6. Duke
7. Michigan State 8. Florida 9. North Carolina 10. Creighton 11. Saint Louis 12. UCLA 13. Kansas 14. Syracuse 15. UNLV 16. Arizona 17. Ohio State 18. Memphis 19. Baylor 20. Gonzaga 21. Notre Dame 22. Tennessee 23. Wisconsin 24. Miami 25. Texas
The U.S. men's basketball team is well on its way to gold in the 2012 Summer Olympics and has sparked debate about how it would stack up with the 'Dream Team' from the 1992 games.
UWBadgers.com writer Mike Lucas took a whack at putting together what a Badgers 'Dream Team' would look like from the Bo Ryan era (2001-2012, current players excluded). His task was to come up with a 12-man "team," not necessarily the best 12 players from the last decade.
After spending last month with the Atlanta Hawks Summer League team, Jordan Taylor will officially begin his professional career overseas after signing a contract with Virtus Roma of the Italian League.
Taylor, who earned his degree from UW in May, told the Wisconsin State Journal that he sees this move to Italy as a stepping stone to his ultimate goal of reaching the NBA.
"I'm looking forward to it," Taylor said. "It's a new experience. All I can do is keep working and keep trying to reach my goals and make some money in the meantime. I'm definitely not giving up on trying to get to the NBA."
Taylor hopes to join a long list of Virtus Roma alumni that have seen NBA duty, including George Gervin, Michael Cooper, Anthony Parker, Dino Radja, Brian Shaw, Rick Mahorn and Danny Ferry among others. Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings spent the 2008-09 season playing for Virtus Roma prior to being drafted by the Bucks.
Four Badgers will compete in the 2012 NBA Summer League, with the hopes of earning an invitation to an NBA training camp this coming fall. Brian Butch, Marcus Landry, Kammron Taylor and recent graduate Jordan Taylor will look to showcase their talents in front of numerous NBA scouts and GMs during the five-game, two-week slate, which is set to begin Friday, July 13th at the Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
NBA TV will televise all 60 games, including 39 live from both the
Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion in Las Vegas. Games will also be available
online at NBA.com.
Brian Butch (2004-08) - Milwaukee Bucks If there is one thing for certain regarding Butch and his NBA career, it is that he is persistent. After ending his last two NBA Summer League experiences earlier than expected due to injury, Butch returns looking to make up for time lost. Following graduation, the Appleton, Wis., native began his professional career in China before leaving for the Greek League later that season.
Butch eventually landed with the NBDL's Bakersfield Jam, serving as the team's starting center and earning a spot on the D-League Western Conference All-Star team. The 7-footer also spent time with the Denver Nuggets before returning to the Jam in 2010.
Schedule (All time CT): Monday, July 16: Milwaukee vs. New Orleans (9:30 p.m.) Wednesday, July 18: Milwaukee vs. Washington (3 p.m.) Thursday, July 19: Milwaukee vs. NBA D-League (9 p.m.) Saturday, July 21: Milwaukee vs. Boston (9:30 p.m.) Sunday, July 22: Milwaukee vs. Chicago (3 p.m.)
Marcus Landry (2006-09) - Phoenix Suns Landry began his NBA career as an undrafted free agent, earning an invite to the New York Knicks training camp and a spot on their 15-man roster at the beginning of the 2009-10 season. After being traded to Boston later in the season, the Celtics assigned Landry to the Maine Red Claws of the NBDL for the remainder of the season. Landry later spent time with the D-League's Reno Bighorns, teaming up with current New York Knick, Jeremy Lin. The Milwaukee, Wis., native spent last season playing in France for the BCM Gravelines.
Schedule (All time CT): Sunday, July 15: Phoenix vs. New York (3 p.m.) Tuesday, July 17: Phoenix vs. Cleveland (7:30 p.m.) Wednesday, July 18: Phoenix vs. New Orleans (7:30 p.m.) Friday, July 20: Phoenix vs. NBA D-League (9 p.m.) Saturday, July 21: Phoenix vs. Memphis (9 p.m.)
Jordan Taylor (2009-2012) - Atlanta Hawks After concluding a polished career with the Badgers that included earning All-America mention in consecutive years, Taylor begins his pro career with the Atlanta Hawks summer league organization. An undrafted free agent, Taylor earned numerous summer league offers, choosing to sign with the Hawks. Taylor will try to impress GMs at this week's summer league in the hopes of beginning his professional career at the highest level of basketball.
Schedule (All time CT): Friday, July 13: Atlanta vs. Washington (3 p.m.) Sunday, July 15: Atlanta vs. San Antonio (7 p.m.) Monday, May 16: Atlanta vs. Boston (3 p.m.) Wednesday, July 18: Atlanta vs. Dallas (7 p.m.) Thursday, July 19: Atlanta vs. Portland (5 p.m.)
Kammron Taylor (2004-07) - Minnesota Timberwolves Taylor returns to the U.S. after spending this past season in Ukraine where he averaged 14.6 points and 3.6 assists. The former second-team All-Big Ten honoree enjoyed stints in France, Hungary, Turkey and Spain following his UW career and now the Minneapolis native will look to build his NBA stock while playing for his hometown team.
Schedule (All times CT): Monday, July 16: Minnesota vs. LA Clippers (9 p.m.) Tuesday, July 17: Minnesota vs. Charlotte (9:30 p.m.) Thursday, July 19: Minnesota vs. Cleveland (7 p.m.) Saturday, July 21: Minnesota vs. NBA D-League (7 p.m.) Sunday, July 22: Minnesota vs. Memphis (7 p.m.)
When the strikingly bright new FieldTurf was installed in early June, it signaled just the first stage of cosmetic and functional upgrades happening to Camp Randall Stadium this summer.
The next phase, which is currently underway, includes installation of LED ribbon boards on both the East and West facades as well as in the Southeast and Southwest corners above the tunnel entrances.
According to Associate Athletic Director for External Relations Justin Doherty, the digital boards will be used in a similar fashion to Kohl Center, providing information to spectators as well as new display opportunities for sponsors.
With the LED board consuming much of the west facade, the lettering which used to reside in that location needed a new home. A move to the east side of the stadium is part of a larger project to honor Wisconsin's football legacy. In addition to saying "Camp Randall Stadium," the East fascia will now feature commemorate the Badgers':
6 retired names and numbers
13 Big Ten Championship seasons
8 Rose Bowl appearances
"We have a strong football tradition at Wisconsin and prior to this summer's project, you could walk into Camp Randall Stadium and not know if we have ever won anything. If we've ever won a championship or been in the Rose Bowl," Doherty explained. "Particularly with winning the Big Ten championship in the last two years, we felt this was a great way to celebrate and honor those achievements."
Application is scheduled to be finished in time for the opening of football practice in August.
Additionally, as part of the Student Athlete Performance Center project at the north end of Camp Randall, both of the stadium's scoreboards are scheduled to be replaced prior to the start of the 2013 season.
Two days after Wisconsin's season-ending loss to Syracuse in the "Sweet 16," an email from junior Zach Bohannon showed up in my inbox.
Bohannon, who redshirted in 2011-12 after transferring to Wisconsin from Air Force, was unable to travel with the team due to NCAA transfer rules. Instead he holed up in the UW men's basketball office at the Kohl Center and watched the season come to an end just like the rest of us.
However, unlike the rest of us, Zach's therapy to deal with the loss was to write about it. This is what he sent me.
The Longest 15 Seconds of My Life By Zach Bohannon
Just over 15 seconds remained on the clock...
Wisconsin just got the ball back, down 63-64, and it was in none other than Jordan Taylor's hands. As I sat watching the game from the basketball offices back at the Kohl Center, I could not help but think about what a picturesque scene this truly was. Wisconsin was in the Sweet 16, playing against a team that was ranked #1 in the nation for a good majority of the year and we had the final shot to win it. Coach Ryan, who strategically chose not to use his final timeout after we regained possession, more importantly trusted that Jordan would be able to make a play and send us into the next round. Who better would you want with the ball in that situation anyways?
Less than 13 seconds remained on the clock...
Jordan dribbled the ball up across the half court line and the top two defenders in Syracuse's ferocious 2-3 zone defense played a game of cat and mouse with him. Wisconsin had the play "Horns" called, which is two high ball screens at each side of the lane. This action was made famous by two-time NBA champion coach Chuck Daly, who coined the term in the 1980's. The play was exploited by Syracuse due to their great length and athleticism. However, Jordan tried to make a play anyways, something that Wisconsin fans saw countless times throughout his stellar career, but nothing was there. He retreat dribbled back to half court, a maneuver that has been drilled into his head religiously the past four seasons by Coach Ryan when you are under pressure. Time was running out and Jordan knew it, but still somehow kept his cool.
Less than 10 seconds remained on the clock...
Jordan took a look up at the clock and saw it was now or never to make something happen. He dialed in and dribbled right back at the two Syracuse guards, putting both of them on their heels. He drew a double team and whipped a right-handed pass around the left side of the top defender. The pass landed in Jordan's senior teammate hands of Rob Wilson. This was typical Jordan, knowing when to give up the ball when he had to. He became famous for this throughout his marvelous career as well, while along the way, shattering the NCAA's assist to turnover record. This was the action that made Jordan such a great player at Wisconsin, he knew when to take over a game but more importantly, he knew when it was time to make his teammates better. This was one of those.
Less than 7 seconds remained on the clock...
As the ball bounced to the floor and Rob caught a perfect pass from Jordan, he as well was immediately double teamed. Rob tried to pump fake to shake one of the defenders off of him, but it was to no avail. He was in a similar situation as Jordan was just in and knew nothing was there, so he kicked it back out to the point guard.
Less than 5 seconds remained on the clock...
Jordan received the bounce pass and took one right handed dribble in order to gather some momentum to get up a decent look from three. He found an opening and it was a miracle that he even got up a decent look. The infinitesimal gap he found to shoot was closed with not one, but two Syracuse defenders. However, Jordan still got the shot off cleanly with 3.3 seconds left, a smart play because he gave our team just enough time to have an opportunity for an offensive rebound and a put back to win. No one was thinking about that at the time though. As the shot was released, for that one second the ball was in the air, the world stopped spinning and everyone was focused on the spinning orange leather globe. Everyone was on their feet praying for two different outcomes. As I use to say when I was younger, the "good guys" (Badgers) were praying for only one more basket. The "bad guys" (Syracuse) were praying for one final miss. With exactly two seconds left, the shot fell inches short. But the season was not quite over yet.
Less than 2 seconds remained on the clock...
The one Badger who always found a way to get his hands in on the action throughout the year, found a way to do it again. Mike Bruesewitz "bruised" his way to another rebound and tapped it just enough to keep it alive, a play he had done countless times as well in the season. The ball was knocked to the floor with exactly one and a half seconds left and it was found in the hands of Josh Gasser, a player who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, had done it once again. Realizing that time was about to expire, he threw up a desperation one handed fade away shot as the horn sounded and it hit nothing. Nothing, but air.
No time remained on the clock...
The game was officially over. The scoreboard's red light was on, no more time was left, no fouls had been called, and nothing was reviewable. The final 15 seconds of Wisconsin's year had come to a halt, but more sadly, we witnessed the final game of two more great Badgers, Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson. These excellent ambassadors of not only the basketball program, but of the University of Wisconsin as a whole, just like that had both finished up their careers in this last play. Rob immediately bent down and put his hands on his knees, while Jordan put his jersey over his face. It was all over. The "good guys" did not win. Jordan and Rob did not get their one shining moment like they had dreamed of since they were little kids shooting hoops in their backyard and on the playground. Both of their four year college windows were over. In a blink of an eye, their careers were done.
The clock is ticking...
That is the magical thing about sports. The "good guys" do not always come out on top, even if they played their best and up to their potential. It is a mysterious phenomenon to grasp; that is, hard work does not always lead to success. One works his entire life to have that one golden opportunity, but it still sometimes is not enough. Through all of this however, we are forgetting to mention the hundreds of thousands of seconds that led to those final 15 seconds of their careers. Years down the road, this play will be meaningless. Sure we will remember that Wisconsin lost to Syracuse in the Sweet 16, but more importantly, we will remember the great lessons that these two fine seniors had shown throughout their careers.
Let's start with Rob. I do not think you can come up with a better word for his career than perseverance. Rob exhibited this trait throughout his career, and I am not only talking about on the court, but in the classroom as well. Rob is going to be the first college graduate in his family when he gets his degree this May. He overcame that great barrier, which should be applauded on its own. However, Rob did even more. On the court, Rob struggled throughout his career to get consistent minutes. His career was a roller coaster, with many highs and lows. His senior season in particular, he played sporadic minutes up until the second half of the Big Ten season, until finally he had taken advantage of his opportunity. The great thing that the average fan did not see was the hard work and commitment he showed through the tough times. Rob never pouted or got upset for a long period of time, he would be mad initially, but he moved on. He just prayed for one more opportunity to show what he really could do and what he believed in himself to be able to do. He persevered until finally he solidified his minutes and had a huge role on the team. To the average fan, Rob came out of nowhere and scored 30 points, along with tying a Wisconsin record of 7 three's, in a big win over Indiana in the conference tournament. However, the average fan did not see the thousands of shots and extra sessions in the gym through his difficult times. In regards to his final play, just the fact that Rob was in the game and in a position to make a play against #1 seeded Syracuse was a feat by itself, but showed how much he grew as a person throughout his career. He kept getting better and his hard work was rewarded. In the end, his perseverance paid off.
Now time to talk about Jordan. The one obvious word that defines his career and who he was is leader. As Coach Ryan often jokes, Jordan could possibly be "the future Governor." That's a pretty strong statement coming from your head coach, but I honestly think that is an understatement on just quite how great of a leader he truly is. His leadership skills put him second to none and could easily make him the President if he wanted to! Jordan will be one of the greatest leaders to come out of the University of Wisconsin, ever. He is that great with people, but that is not what makes him special. It is his ability to get people to not only listen to him, but to follow him as well. A lot of people, including most sports writers, said that the year that Jordan had this year was a "down year" compared to what he accomplished last year and he was no longer "a top five point guard in the country." That kind of statement is just mind boggling. He went from a Sweet 16 team, losing three starters, including one to the NBA, came back the following year as a senior, with a bunch of "no names", and accomplished the same, if not more. He turned these "no names" to household names in the mere matter of months. He led the team to not only a point away from an Elite Eight game, but he won a game in the conference tournament, something Wisconsin had not done the previous three years, and he was only one game out of the conference title race. Not bad for a senior point guard that's team was predicted to finish 7th in the Big Ten this year. He single handedly willed his team this year from start to finish, and took more burdens on himself than any single person deserves. But that's what leaders do, they take the blame when the going gets rough, and praises their teammates when their on a high. That's what Jordan did, time and time again throughout the year. It was an honor to be in his locker room and on the court, along with Rob, this season.
As I sat down to write this the morning after the game, coincidentally the basketball team was just landing in Madison and coming back from Boston. I could not help but think of the greater implications of the picturesque scene that they came back to. Jordan and Rob had started their next stage of their lives, the ending of one thing led to the beginning of another for them. However, someone, somewhere decided to still mourn. The day was overcast with a slight rain that happened throughout the day. We never did see the sun that day, the big orange thing, a metaphor for the mascot of Syracuse, was off hiding. They knew that the career of two great young men had just come to a close. They did not want to be anywhere near Madison, and someone greater than us all decided to mourn as well.
As a sports fan, eventually you will forget about great games, great plays or even great players. However, the one thing you will not forget will be the players who touched your life emotionally, either directly or indirectly. If each one of us could take these lessons and learn from them like we did from these two great seniors, think about how better off we would be. I hope that each one of you prepare for your "one shining moment" with every ounce of energy you have. Don't ever give up on that vision either, because the struggle will be worth it. Now what are you waiting for?! Your time is limited, and the clock is ticking...
Of all the improbable achievements in Wisconsin athletics history, the 2001-02 Badger men's basketball team has to rank among the most remarkable.
With a roster featuring just one returning starter and only eight scholarship players, first-year head coach Bo Ryan watched his squad struggle to a 1-4 start. Incredibly, Ryan's team would spend the next four months battling back to earn a share of the school's first Big Ten championship in 55 years.
At halftime of Sunday's 65-55 win over Penn State, the University of the Wisconsin honored the 10-year anniversary of that 2002 Big Ten Championship team.
As seen in the video above, members of the team and staff were introduced Sunday to a standing ovation from a capacity Kohl Center crowd.
The 2001-02 Badgers won their final six conference games to finish the season with a 19-13 record, including an 11-5 mark in Big Ten play. Wisconsin earned a share of the Big Ten Conference title for the first time since 1947 and earned the league's No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. UW would advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament that year before falling to eventual national champion Maryland.
Ryan became the first-ever Badger coach to earn Big Ten Coach of the Year honors after leading UW to 19 wins, most ever for a first-year coach. He also became just the 10th coach in conference history to win a league title in his first season. RELATED CONTENT
As the regular season winds down, the annual postseason award debates will ramp up all over college basketball. The Big Ten Player of the Year race is coming into focus, but the final six games could go a long way in deciding the winner.
As a preseason All-America and All-Big Ten selection, senior Jordan Taylor's name has been on the conference player of the year short list since November.
However, after seeing a dip in his scoring from last season, Taylor's name probably isn't at the top of anyone's list. But is it close?
Looking at the current player of the year lists from three writers who cover the Big Ten -- Sporting News' Mike DeCourcey, ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf and BTN.com's Tom Dienhart -- each have Taylor third in the running behind Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Michigan State's Draymond Green.
That sounds fair considering the raw numbers during conference play: • Sullinger (18.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg) • Green (14.6 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.5 apg) • Taylor (17.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.3 apg)
Perhaps the overall conference race will play as big of a factor as any in the player of the year voting.
If Wisconsin (which sits 1.0 game out of first place behind the Buckeyes and Spartans) can finish as Big Ten champions, it would be pretty hard to argue that any player is more valuable to his team's success than Taylor.
Taylor and the Badgers have two head-to-head opportunities with MSU and OSU to prove their worth. That starts Thursday in East Lansing.