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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.


Is Taylor still in the running for Big Ten Player of the Year?

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MBB_POY_sm.jpgAs 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.

Badgers arrive in Champaign

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After a four-hour bus ride filled with movies Columbiana and Orange County and Jimmy John's subs, the Badgers rolled into Champaign, Ill. Saturday afternoon in advance of Sunday's showdown with the No. 22 Fighting Illini.

Wisconsin practiced for about an hour and a half at Assembly Hall. Visit the Wisconsin Men's Basketball Team's page on Facebook for a photo gallery from practice.

Be sure to "Like" the page to get exclusive photos and updates sent to your Facebook wall.


Badgers in the Pros Update

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The college basketball season has reached the midpoint of the season and the professional ranks are ramping up. Seems as good a time as any for an update on how former Badgers are doing.

Harris_Devin_Home_3.jpgThree former Wisconsin players call the NBA home right now: Devin Harris is in his seventh season in the NBA and second season with the Utah Jazz, while Jon Leuer (Milwaukee Bucks) and Greg Stiemsma (Boston Celtics) are in their rookie season.

Harris has started all nine games for the Jazz, who are 6-3 and currently riding a five-game winning streak. Harris is averaging 9.3 points and 4.4 assists per game.

Stiemsma has appeared in six games (one start) for the 4-4 Celtics. He made a splash with six blocks in his first-career game and followed it up with 13 points and seven rebounds in his first career start. The 6-11 center is averaging 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds and ranks sixth in the NBA with 2.2 blocks per game.

Leuer has found a comfortable home in Milwaukee, appearing in all nine games for the Bucks. He averages 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes off the bench. He is scheduled to make his first career start Thursday night against Detroit.

20111227_Wolves_Bucks_0180_web.jpgSeveral other Badgers names that will ring a bell are playing professionally overseas.

Marcus Landry recently signed with the Shanghai Sharks and is promptly making big shots.

Keaton Nankivil has a new hairdo in Germany, but still has his sweet stroke. Check out video of this game-winning shot.

Tim Jarmusz is also playing in Germany (Gotha) for the first-place BIG Oettinger Rockets (hope you speak German).

Badgers in the NBA
                        NBA Team           UW Yrs
Devin Harris       Utah Jazz            2002-04
Jon Leuer          Milwaukee Bucks 2008-11
Greg Stiemsma  Boston Celtics     2005-08

Current Badgers Overseas
                              UW Years    Country         Team
Jason Chappell        2003-07       Austria          Xion Dukes Klosterneuburg
Tim Jarmusz            2008-11      Germany        Gotha Rockets
Joe Krabbenhoft       2006-09      Greece          Panellinios G.S.
Marcus Landry         2006-09      China            Shanghai Sharks
Zach Morley            2004-05      Ukraine          Budivelnyk Kyiv
Keaton Nankivil       2008-11       Germany        Ratiopharm Ulm
Ray Nixon               2003-06      Japan            Hamamatsu-Higashi Mikawa
Kirk Penney            2000-03      Spain            Baloncesto Fuenlabrada
Kammron Taylor      2004-07       Cyprus          Keravnos
Alando Tucker        2003-07        Spain            Gran Canaria
Mike Wilkinson       2002-05        Russia          Lokomotiv Kuban

NBA All-Stars Finley, Harris jump into UW's practice

Finley_Harris_Ryan2b.jpgThere just might be a silver lining to the NBA lockout.

With the NBA season on hold while players and owners negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, unexpected free time has become available for league employees and players. Some players have participated in Pro Am or exhibition games, others (like Jon Leuer) have chosen to play in Europe.

In the case of former Badgers Devin Harris and Michael Finley, they have used the NBA lockout to re-connect with their alma mater. Harris is taking classes this semester to get closer to obtaining his UW degree. Finley has established an endowed scholarship at Wisconsin.

With both NBA All-Stars on campus last weekend, Bo Ryan invited them to stop by the Kohl Center and practice with the team.

Finley, Harris practice with the Badgers:  VIDEO  |  PHOTOS

"It was fun to play against these young guys at Wisconsin," Finley said. "Coach Ryan opened the doors for me, not only here at the University, but as his house as well. So I'm going to keep him to that when I need a place to stay out here."

"It was good to get back and see the coaches and see the players," Harris added. "It's good to actually get some running and some practice in with the fellow Badgers."

Dressed in team-issued practice gear, Finley and Harris went through practice just like every other member of the team, participating in passing drills, situational work and 5-on-5 full court games.

Treated like every member of the team, Finley and Harris were not exempt from doing sit-ups with the team after a missed a free throw at the end of practice.

All eyes were trained on the entertaining match-up of UW's past All-American, Harris, against this year's version, Jordan Taylor. Another noteworthy head-to-head battle featured the 38-year old Finley facing 18-year old Traevon Jackson. Finley was teammates with Jackson's father, Jimmy, on the Dallas Mavericks.

"I played with Jimmy. For as much as Jimmy took at me in practice, I'm taking it at Trae as much as I can," Finley joked.

Harris, who was traded to the Utah Jazz in the middle of last season, said he's anxious to get back to Utah and start up the season. Finley, who most recently spent time with the Boston Celtics during the 2009-10 season, said he still has an interest in playing and if a team calls, he'll be ready.

For now though, both Finley and Harris are enjoying their productive down time and being back in the Cardinal and White.

"This University will always have a special place in my heart, and it helped me become what I am today," Finley said. "I like this year's team, too. I've watched them throughout the last couple years and it's fun to get out here and compete. It's good to be home."

Varsity Magazine: Badgering Jared Berggren

The popular Varsity Magazine feature "Badgering..." focused on Badger big-man Jared Berggren this week. The weekly Q&A piece can be found here.

111030MBB-8458-40.jpgA redshirt junior from Princeton, Minn., center Jared Berggren appeared in 29 games in 2010-11. Berggren possesses some of UW's best interior post moves, but also has the ability to step outside and knock down shots, hitting 7 of 22 from 3-point range as a sophomore. He scored 18 points in a winning effort at Sunday's Red/White Scrimmage.

What is your earliest basketball memory?
"I remember early on going to Timberwolves games. We had a big group that went every year beginning when I was in about third grade. I got a Kevin Garnett jersey when I was a kid, but it's kind of a funny story. The KG jersey was my third choice. I really wanted a Tom Gugliotta jersey, but if I couldn't get that I wanted a Stephon Marbury jersey. And if I couldn't get either of those I'd get a Garnett one. We went to the store and all they had was Garnett jerseys. He turned out to be my favorite player and the jersey was one of my favorite things."

What was the non-basketball highlight of your off-season?
"In the spring I went up to a friend's cabin near Brainerd, Minn. for four or five days. We just hung out and fished and relaxed. We caught mostly pan fish, but a few bass too. We didn't feel like cleaning them, so it was just catch-and-release."

Do you guys take notes when you're scouting an opponent?
"Yeah, we all maintain a notebook throughout the season. When we're watching film of our next opponent we'll write notes on things we learn and we want to emphasize like, certain player tendencies or defensive principles we want to use against teams. So we'll take notes during film and look back at it again before the game. Then after the game we'll pull them out again while breaking down the previous game and write down any mistakes we made. That really helps during conference play when we play teams multiple times. We can go back and look at the keys we used and maybe the ones we didn't use from the last time we played them."

Do you feel pressure stepping into the roles vacated by Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil?
"I wouldn't say that I feel pressure, I feel more excitement than anything. More is expected of me now. I put a little pressure on myself because I know I'm ready for the opportunity. I feel confident that I can step into an increased role."

Butch and Stiemsma make Team USA roster for Pan Am Games

The official 12-man USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team was announced this week and former Badgers Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma both made the cut.

Butch_USA-300x400.jpgThe U.S. squad, comprised for the first time in Pan American Games history of NBA Development League players who are under contract to play in the NBA D-League in 2011-12, will continue training in Tulsa through Oct. 22 and will compete Oct. 26-30 in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Butch will be playing in his first competition since suffering a brutal knee injury 15 months ago. USA Basketball chronicled his comeback story here.

Since playing at UW, Stiemsma has spent time playing professionally in both the NBA-Development League and overseas.

The USA men were drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m. CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27 (8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m. CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 30.

Training camp for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team will held Oct. 14-22 at the Tulsa Convention Center. The 12-member USA Men's Pan American Games Team will be announced before the team departs for the Pan American Games competition in Mexico on Oct. 23.

Butch and Stiemsma reunite at USA Pan Am Games Training Camp

MADISON, Wis. -- Former Wisconsin big men Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma are two of 21 players that have accepted invitations to participate in the Oct. 14-22 USA Pan American Games Team training camp. The training camp will be utilized to select the USA's 12-man roster that will compete in the 2011 Pan American Games that are being held from Oct. 26-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Since leaving Wisconsin, Butch has played professionally overseas and enjoyed a successful stint in the NBA Developmental League that earned him a spot on the Denver Nuggets roster late in the 2010 season.

The Appleton, Wis., native missed all of last season after dislocating his knee in an NBA Summer League game in July of 2010. An All-Big Ten selection as a senior, Butch scored 1,115 career points and finished sixth in UW history for career rebounds.

Butch_Brian_PURDUE_07-08.jpgStiemsma has taken a similar path since his days in Madison, playing professionally in Europe, the NBA D-League as well as a call-up to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010 and later a contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A native of Randolph, Wis., Stiemsma appeared in 95 games for the Badgers and currently ranks sixth in UW history for career blocks.

In addition to Butch and Stiemsma, the USA Pan American Games Team training camp is excepted to include:
Blake Ahearn (Missouri State '07)
Chris Daniels (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi '08)
Justin Dentmon (Washington '09)
Jerome Dyson (Connecticut '10)
Moses Ehambe (Oral Roberts '08)
Anthony Goods (Stanford '09)
Ron Howard (Valparaiso '06)
Marcus Lewis (Oral Roberts '09)
Leo Lyons (Missouri '09)
Renaldo Major (Fresno State '04)
Anthony Mason, Jr. (St. Johns '10)
Matt Rogers (Southwest Baptist '10)
Walker Russell (Jacksonville State '06)
Donald Sloan (Texas A&M '10)
Curtis Sumpter (Villanova '07)
Lance Thomas (Duke '10)
Curtis Withers (Charlotte '06)
Chris Wright (Dayton '11)
Luke Zeller (Notre Dame '09).

The Pan American Games, held every four years in the year prior to the Olympics, are being held Oct. 13-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The men's basketball competition, which features eight teams, is being conducted Oct. 26-30.

The USA men were drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m. CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27 (8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m. CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 30.

Training camp for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team will held Oct. 14-22 at the Tulsa Convention Center (Okla.). The 12-member USA Men's Pan American Games Team will be announced before the team departs Oct. 23.

Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts will serve as head coach for Team USA. The player and coaching staff selections were made by the USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Committee, approved by USA Basketball's Board of Directors and are subject to final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer.

The USA Basketball Pan American Games Committee is chaired by USA Basketball Men's National Team Director Sean Ford, and also comprised of 2000 Olympic gold medalist Steve Smith, NBA Development League Vice President of Basketball Operations & Player Personnel Chris Alpert, and NBA Development League consultant Gordon Chiesa.

Now an author, former Badger Andy Kilbride in Madison for book signing

Andy Kilbride was never cut from the Wisconsin men's basketball team. But if he was, he might have been prepared to handle the rejection.

KILBRIDE2.jpgAfter a couple firings and a lay-off in the turbulent investment world, the former UW shooting guard has penned a humorous, yet insightful advice book titled, "A Man's Guide to Getting Fired."

Kilbride will be in Madison on Friday, Sept. 30, to promote his new book. He will appear at Underground Printing (521 State Street) to sign books from 5-7 p.m.

A three-year starter for the Badgers, Kilbride (1992-95) still ranks seventh in UW history for career 3-point shooting (41.8 percent). He is now the founder of Foster Bridge Partners, LLC, a management and consulting firm, but has recently added author to his resume. Kilbride is using his new book to inspire readers to create a life centered on their passions. "A Man's Guide to Getting Fired" reveals the process he developed to push his own life and career forward.

"I stopped climbing the corporate ladder and made my own way," Kilbride said. "Now I can look back on my former miserable life with clarity and objectivity. I want to share with you what I have learned from my experiences - what I did right and what I did wrong."

book_cover.jpgAccording to Kilbride, there is a lack of available information on what to do after you lose your job and before you find a new one. With this in mind, he offers witty anecdotes and liberating advice intended to help men understand what they're going through, look within to recalibrate their professional goals and move on with their lives.

"A Man's Guide to Getting Fired" is available for sale online at www.andrewkilbride.com or Amazon.com.

Blue Ribbon Yearbook names Taylor preseason first-team All-American

Last season Jordan Taylor burst onto the college basketball scene with a monster year and a few signature games. For his efforts, Taylor was widely rewarded with second-team All-America honors.

Blue Ribbon 2011-12 Cover.jpgCount Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as the first to think Taylor can make the leap to first-team All-American in 2011-12.

The annual preview magazine has included Taylor on its preseason first-team All-American list, joining Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), Terrance Jones (Kentucky), Kris Joseph (Syracuse) and Jared Sullinger (Ohio State).

Taylor enters his senior season after averaging 18.1 points per game (5th in Big Ten) and 20.1 ppg during conference play last year. A lethal shooter, Taylor shot 43% from 3-point range (7th in Big Ten) and 85% from the free throw line (4th in Big Ten). Taylor also led the nation with a 3.83 assist-to-turnover ratio.

In its 31st year of publication, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook is one of the most comprehensive college basketball publications in the world. On newsstands in October, Blue Ribbon gives readers thorough, up-to-date and timely evaluations of every Division I team in the country.

To pre-order your copy today, visit www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 877-807-4857.