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Student-athletes shine at Buckinghams

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-- Buckinghams Photo Gallery

Anyone who attends the Buckinghams, the "Student-Athlete Annual Showcase of Excellence," has come to expect the unexpected. Student-athletes who excel on the field will surprise you with varied talents, whether it's playing the piano, singing and opera or twirling a rifle. All of those things happened Monday night at the sixth annual event.

However, one moment stole the show and provided a great cap to an incredible evening. The final performer of the evening was Brett Hochstaetter, a redshirt sophomore on the wrestling team. He began his rendition of Brett Eldredge's 'Mean to Me' by saying, "This is for someone special in the crowd."

That drew a response from the 650 people in attendance at the Overture Center, but not quite as large as the one he elicited after he put his guitar down and addressed his girlfriend, Erica, on stage. "I'd like to, in front of my family, my brothers and coaches on the wrestling team and all my fellow Badgers," was how Hochstaetter started. He then dropped to one knee and proposed. As Erica nodded yes, the crowd erupted, collectively standing on its feet and applauding.

It's the kind of thing that you can only see at the Buckinghams. The night began with Vitto Brown, an accomplished singer on the men's basketball team, and three of his teammates performing 'La, La, Means I Love You' by the Delfonics. Other performances included a salsa/samba dance by Lavinia Jurkiewicz of women's cross country, a musical medley from quarterback Joel Stave and his brother, Bryan (with some help from Jake Keefer) and William Ottow from men's cross country performing 'Oh Is There Not One Maiden Breast' from Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Pirates of Penzance' (it's an opera, Google it).

In between the incredible performances, a number of Badgers were honored for their performance in the classroom and in the community. A complete list of award winners is below. Among the impressive accomplishments: 260 student-athletes were recognized as 3.5 GPA award winners with three of those, Nicholas Caldwell (men's swimming), Taylor Zimprich (women's cross country) and Kimberly Dinh (women's golf) holding down perfect 4.0 cumulative GPAs. The teams with the highest cume GPAs were women's cross country and men's tennis.

The women's rowing and football teams were honored as the "Badger Challenge" winners. Those awards went to the men's and women's teams that exemplify commitment to developing the whole student-athlete. "Badger Challenge" components include academic achievement, athletic achievement, personal enhancement, on-campus learning, community outreach and SAAC and SAESO participation. Between the women's rowing and football teams, those student-athletes combined for more than 3,200 community service hours.

Individually, linebacker Chris Borland and women's hockey goalie Alex Rigsby were named male and female Buckinghams Student-Athletes of the Year as voted on by their peers. Both were multiple-time All-Americans who also excelled away from athletics. Borland graduated last December while Rigsby, a two-time Academic All-WCHA selection, is on pace to graduate this December. Borland led all UW student-athletes with an astonishing 125 hours of community service and Rigsby's 23 placed her near the top.

The night was a celebration of the true student-athlete and showed off many talents.  And for one couple, it was literally a life-changing event.

2012-13 Remington Scholars (Highest cume GPA who complete their eligibility, graduating letterwinner)
Megan Beers (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field)
Cody Rissman (Men's Rowing)
2014 Athletic Board Scholars (Highest cume GPA for previous year, above sophomore standing, letterwinner, non grad student)
Zachary Showalter (Men's Basketball)
Michael Brice (Men's Cross Country)
Michael Trotter (Football)
Robert Jacobsen (Men's Golf)
Adam Miller (Men's Hockey)
Kyle Anderson (Men's Rowing)
Adam Lauko (Men's Soccer)
Drew Teduits (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Oskar Wikberg (Men's Tennis)
Reed Connor (Men's Track & Field)
Connor Medbery (Wrestling)
AnnMarie Brown (Women's Basketball)
Dana Steffen (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Kathryn Josephs (Women's Hockey)
Nicole Hettmann (Women's Rowing)
Alessandra Ruenger (Women's Lightweight Rowing)
Nicole La Petina (Women's Soccer)
Taylor Stewart (Softball)
Ivy Martin (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Lauren Chypyha (Women's Tennis)
Taylor Kirby (Women's Track & Field)
Crystal Graff (Volleyball)
Performance Awards (Nominated for their academic work and constant improvement)
Morgan Paige (Women's Basketball)
Madison Packer (Women's Hockey)
Kelly Jaminski (Women's Hockey)
Genevieve Richard (Women's Soccer)
Yolanda Hayes-Barnes (Women's Track & Field)
Deme Morales (Volleyball)
Evan Anderson (Men's Basketball)
Duje Dukan (Men's Basketball)
Michael Caputo (Football)
Kenzel Doe (Football)
Robert Jacobsen (Men's Golf)
Sean Little (Men's Hockey)
Tyler Graff (Wrestling)
President's Award (SAAC & SAESO Presidents honored for their leadership)
Abbie Weigel (Women's Track & Cross Country)
Kodee Williams (Women's Soccer)
Academic Momentum (To recognize student-athletes who have demonstrated significant academic improvement throughout their collegiate careers and celebrate them for having the ability to balance textbooks with playbooks)
Mohammed Ahmed (Men's Track & Cross Country)
4.0 Recognition Award
Nicholas Caldwell (Men's Swimming)
Taylor Zimprich (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Impact Award (Highest number of community service hours per team)
Duje Dukan (Men's Basketball)
Drew Shields (Men's Cross Country)
Chris Borland (Football)
Thomas O'Bryan (Men's Golf)
Jake McCabe (Men's Hockey)
Beau Batty (Men's Rowing)
Nick Janus (Men's Soccer)
Alexander DeLakis (Men's Swimming & Diving)
John Zordani (Men's Tennis)
Sawyer Smith (Men's Track & Field)
Connor Medbery (Wrestling)
Michala Johnson (Women's Basketball)
Taylor Zimprich (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Ilana Friedman (Women's Hockey)
Kelsey Kramer (Women's Rowing)
Kodee Williams (Women's Soccer)
Taylor Berry (Softball)
Katie Delaney (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Lauren Chypyha (Women's Tennis)
Erin Rosewicz (Women's Track & Field)
Julie Mikaelsen (Volleyball)
Unsung Hero Award Nominees (Displays hard work, positive attitude and determination in athletics, the classroom, as well as the community)
Josh Gasser (Men's Basketball)
Jacob Naylor (Men's Cross Country)
Michael Caputo (Football)
John Gullberg (Men's Golf)
Joe Faust (Men's Hockey)
Jonathan Smaglick (Men's Rowing)
Jameson Kronser (Men's Soccer)
Nick Caldwell (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Oskar Wikberg (Men's Tennis)
Tyler Woloszyk (Men's Track & Field)
Cole Tobin (Wrestling)
AnnMarie Brown (Women's Basketball)
Erin Cawley (Women's Cross Country)
Kris Yoo (Women's Golf)
Kelly Jaminski (Women's Hockey)
Charlotte Keleske (Women's Rowing)
Mackenzie Whiteside (Women's Lightweight Rowing)
Genevieve Richard (Women's Soccer)
Michelle Mueller (Softball)
Aja Van Hout (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Rebecca Bailey (Women's Tennis)
Brianna Bower (Women's Track & Field)
Dominique Thompson (Volleyball)
Unsung Hero Award Winners
Jonathan Smaglick (Men's Rowing)
Genevieve Richard (Women's Soccer)
Chi Alpha Sigma (National Student-Athlete Honor Society)
Beau Batty (Men's Rowing)
William Bleifuss (Men's Rowing)
Travis Breunig (Men's Rowing)
Charles Clapp IV (Men's Rowing)
Logan Hietpas (Men's Rowing)
Marcus Trotter (Football)
Dan Voltz (Football)
Jacob Brindle (Men's Soccer)
Michael Sinha (Men's Tennis)
Andrew Brekke (Men's Track & Field)
Reed Connor (Men's Track & Field)
William Ottow (Men's Track & Field)
Brett Hochstaetter (Wrestling)
Conor Medbery (Wrestling)
AnnMarie Brown (Women's Basketball)
Rachel Gendreau (Women's Rowing)
Nicole Hettmann (Women's Rowing)
Kristine Kammers (Women's Rowing)
Gretchen Miron (Women's Rowing)
Brianna Murphy (Women's Rowing)
Paige Resch (Women's Rowing)
Alessandra Ruenger (Women's Rowing)
Elizabeth Schoenfeldt (Women's Rowing)
Gabrielle Anzalone (Women's Cross Country)
Anne Gregory (Women's Cross Country)
Rachel McNally (Women's Cross Country)
Erin Rosewicz (Women's Cross Country)
Elizabeth Sequin (Women's Cross Country)
Dana Steffen (Women's Cross Country)
Rebecca Stoebe (Women's Cross Country)
Abby Busler (Women's Golf)
Kathryn Josephs (Women's Hockey)
Jaclyn Gellings (Women's Soccer)
Megan Tancill (Softball)
Maria Van Abel (Softball)
Ivy Martin (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Rebecka Palm (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Brianna Bower (Women's Track & Field)
Taylor Kirby (Women's Track & Field
Katelyn Malcore (Women's Track & Field)
Emmon Rogers (Women's Track & Field)
Marissa Savitch (Women's Track & Field)
Abbie Weigel (Women's Track & Field)
Team Impact Award
(Greatest number of community service hours divided by the number of student-athletes on the roster)
Women's Golf   
Team Highest Cumulative GPA Award
Women's Cross Country   
Men's Tennis   
Badger Challenge winners (teams that exemplify commitment to developing the whole student-athlete)
Women's Rowing   
Buckinghams Student-Athlete of the Year Nominees
(Nominees are all the SAAC student-athletes of the month winners)
Josh Gasser (Men's Basketball)
Michael Van Voorhis (Men's Cross Country)
Chris Borland (Football)
Rob Jacobsen (Men's Golf)
Michael Mersch (Men's Hockey)
Logan Hietpas (Men's Rowing)
Nick Janus (Men's Soccer)
Drew TeDuits (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Elliot Sprecher (Men's Tennis)
Michael Lihrman (Men's Track & Field)
Connor Medbury (Wrestling)
Morgan Paige (Women's Basketball)
Anne Gregory (Women's Cross Country)
Kimberly Dinh (Women's Golf)
Alex Rigsby (Women's Hockey)
Pam Schommer (Women's Rowing)
Briana Murphy (Women's Lightweight Rowing)
McKenna Meuer (Women's Soccer)
Maria Van Abel (Softball)
Ivy Martin (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Lauren Chypyha (Women's Tennis)
Deanna Latham (Women's Track & Field)
Crystal Graff (Volleyball)
Buckinghams Student-Athlete of the Year Winners

Chris Borland (Football)
Alex Rigsby (Women's Hockey)

Achievements of the Year: Badgers are NCAA runner-up


While losing in the national championship game usually ends the season on a bitter note, the Wisconsin women's hockey team had one of its strongest seasons to date.

The Badgers posted a 23-3-2-1 record in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, claiming their fourth conference title in program history.

After nearly duplicating last year's success in the WCHA regular season, Wisconsin advanced to the 2012 national collegiate title game, but fell to Minnesota by a score of 4-2.

The Badgers and Gophers scored a combined five goals in the first period to open the game. Wisconsin was on the short end of the opening frame and started the second period with a 3-2 deficit. Both team's defenses buckled-down in the second as neither team could find the back of the net. In the third period the Badgers out-shot the Gophers 20-9. However, Minnesota would be the one to tally a goal, as the Gophers went on to win.

The day before the national championship game, junior forward Brianna Decker was named the recipient of the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given annually to the best player in women's hockey. Decker was also named the WCHA's Player of the Year and earned first-team All-America honors after leading the nation with 37 goals.

Senior Hilary Knight capped off a remarkable career at UW, setting nearly every offensive record in program history. She owns eight separate career records in: points (262), goals (161), game-winning goals (30), power-play goals (37), short-handed goals (8), shots (986), plus/minus (+167) and hat tricks (9).

Sophomore netminder Alex Rigsby also had a fantastic season. Playing in all 40 games, Rigsby broke the school record for most saves in a season, stopping 1044 of 1100 shots on net. Her 1,044 saves was the most made by a single netminder in the nation during the season. Her .949 save percentage was second-best in the nation and ranked third all-time at UW for highest single-season save percentage.

As a team the Badgers had the best penalty-kill unit and fourth-best power play in the nation.

Wisconsin also lead the nation in attendance, averaging 1,856 fans per game in 40 games and boasted the best home attendance in the nation with 2,689 fans per game.

Upgrades continue at Camp Randall

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_MG_0434_sm.jpgWhen 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.

Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.

In just three years, Justin Schultz has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, cementing his spot among the best defensemen ever to play hockey for Wisconsin.

Atop the list of "firsts" for the junior is becoming the first player in UW history to be named a two-time Hobey Baker Memorial Award top-10 finalist. The Hobey Baker Award is given annually to the top player in collegiate hockey.

The West Kelowna, British Columbia, native is the only defenseman in team history to lead his team in goals, scoring 16 in 2011-12. Schultz also not only led his team, but he also ranked No. 1 nationally among defenseman in goals and points in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

He was recognized by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, becoming the school's first and conference's third player to be named a two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year.

Schultz also led the Badgers this season with 110 shots, a plus-11 rating (on a team that scored three more goals than its opponents), and one game-tying goal. He shared the team lead with seven power-play tallies and two game-winning scores.

A 2008 second-round NHL draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks (43rd overall), he has totaled 40 goals, 73 assists and 113 points, including 21 power-play goals and five game-winning scores, in his career. Schultz has also collected 28 multi-point games across three years with the Badgers.

Achievements of the Year: Ahmed runs Olympic qualifying time


Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.

Mohammed Ahmed's return to the track turned out to be an introduction to the world stage.

After redshirting the indoor season following an outstanding cross country campaign that saw him win the Big Ten title and earn All-America honors with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA championship, Ahmed had set his sights on taking a run at the automatic qualifying standard for the Olympic Games in the 10,000 meters.

He planned on giving himself one chance to hit that mark, at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on April 29 in Palo Alto, Calif. Turns out, all Ahmed needed was that one shot.

The St. Catharines, Ontario, native clocked in at 27 minutes, 34.64 seconds to not only achieve the Olympic "A" standard but also smash the 36-year-old Big Ten record in the event.

Ahmed's time stood as the No. 6 mark in the world for several weeks.

The performance also helped propel Ahmed to a Big Ten title in the 5000 meters two weeks later as he boosted the Badgers to the conference team title. He also scored All-America honors in the 5000 with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA outdoor championships.

Now, all that stands between Ahmed and a spot on his native Canada's team for the Olympics in London is a top-three finish at next week's 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in Calgary.

- Full story: Ahmed qualifies for Olympics with school-record run

Achievements of the Year: Decker wins Patty Kazmaier award

Over the next two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.

WHKY_120618_Decker_Brianna.jpgFor the third time in four years, a Badger walked away with the top prize in women's collegiate hockey.

Junior forward Brianna Decker became the fourth member of the Wisconsin women's hockey team to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award when she was presented the trophy on March 17.

That presentation came on the eve of the Badgers' appearance in the championship game of the 2012 NCAA Women's Frozen Four, the culmination of a postseason run fueled by Decker's play.

The Dousman, Wis., native joined former Badgers Sara Bauer (2006), Jessie Vetter (2009) and Meghan Duggan (2011) as a Kazmaier Award winner.

The 2012 WCHA Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection, Decker led the nation with 37 goals and tied for the national scoring lead with 82 points. During a school-record scoring streak of 32 consecutive games that ended 22 games into the season, Decker totaled 33 goals and 44 assists.

With one season of eligibility remaining, she already ranks No. 4 all-time at UW with 189 career points.

Badgers begin summer conditioning in new environment

As the Wisconsin football team opens summer conditioning this week, they are doing so in an entirely new environment. While Camp Randall Stadium was built in 1917, the headquarters of the Badger football players for the next year are brand new.

Construction has begun on the Student Athlete Performance Center at the north end of the stadium, the McClain Center is being remodeled, and new turf is being installed at Camp Randall. A temporary locker room, weight room and auxiliary areas will be used by players and staff for the next 14 months as every Badger student-athlete gets upgraded spaces.


On the second floor of the stadium's northeast end are new locker rooms for players and coaches. The area previously housed women's soccer, softball, staff locker rooms and athletic training offices. The space also housed the football locker rooms before the McClain Center was built in 1988.

IMG_5059.JPGAfter several months of renovations, the new space is the temporary home for the Badgers until the McClain Center renovations are complete. The locker room area is separated into four smaller spaces, which after the football team leaves will be converted into isolated areas for several other teams.

The Badgers also have a new weight room, located under the stands in sections M-P. That area also houses an athletic training room and equipment room. All three departments were displaced with the renovation of the McClain Center. When construction is complete, the athletic training and equipment staff will move back to McClain, while the weight room will expand into the Student Athlete Performance Center.

weight room double.jpg 
In the McClain Center, a new roof is being installed in addition to new turf. Outside the facility, a new exterior will greet fans along an improved pedestrian walkway spanning from the Camp Randall Arch to Breese Terrace.

The soccer, track and softball teams lost their locker rooms temporarily. They all have taken up residence in auxiliary locker rooms under Camp Randall's south stands, where there are several locker rooms used for events at the UW Field House and WIAA state championship football. After construction is complete, they will move back to new locker rooms either in the McClain Center or the second floor of Camp Randall.

The final piece of the relocation puzzle is the Student Athlete Performance Center, which will be the new home to the Academic Services. Every student-athlete will benefit from expanded space and meeting rooms within a new Fetzer Academic Center.

Construction is scheduled to be completed on the entire project in late 2013.

Thumbnail image for IMG_5088.JPG
UW freshman George Marshall lived every shooter's dream during Friday's practice at The Pit. Marshall got the "green light" to shoot just about every time that he touched the basketball while playing the role of Vanderbilt's John Jenkins on the scout team.

Now in all fairness, the Commodores are not a One Man Gang. They have more scoring options than the 21-year-old Jenkins, who's averaging 20 points. His tag team partner is Jeffery Taylor, who's averaging 16. Three other starters are averaging nine points.

That being said, Jenkins has to be focal point, and he was for Marshall.

UW vs Indiana-0225_sm.jpgSince arriving on campus, Marshall has gotten stronger while adding some muscle weight to his frame. At 5-foot-11, 187-pounds, though, he still falls short of measuring up physically to Jenkins (6-4, 215), the leader scorer in the Southeast Conference.

Size aside, Marshall tried to give the rotation a good picture of Jenkins, who sparked Vandy to a 79-70 win over Harvard here Thursday night. Eight of Jenkins' 12 field goal attempts were from beyond the 3-point arc and 10 of his game-high 27 points from the line.

Wisconsin's Bo Ryan cut to the "chase" on Jenkins.

Chase is the operative word. More on that later.

"He can score from the 3-point line about any way possible - step backs, fades," Ryan said. "If you know of any way to stop him, please feel free... I can get you my number. What a prolific scorer. When they use that term, I've heard them use it about a lot of guys.

"But for him (Jenkins), if you looked it up (in a dictionary), you'd see his picture."

This season,  the Badgers have enacted the "Marshall Plan" in preparation for opponents whereby Marshall, who's redshirting, has tried to simulate some of the top guards in college basketball for Jordan Taylor, Josh Gasser, Rob Wilson and Ben Brust.

"He's got the fastest release in America," Marshall said of Jenkins. "With our defensive guys already knowing what he's going to do, it was kind of tough for me to emulate what he does with our defense right there in my face.

"He's a great shooter and I did my best to emulate him. Almost every play was for Jenkins, so I definitely got some shots up. To shoot almost 50 percent (.481) with the amount of times that he shoots (445 field goal attempts) says a lot for him.

"Today, I just worked on getting my shot off as fast as I could."

When asked about Josh Gasser - who will draw the defensive assignment on Jenkins - Marshall said, "Josh is really a great defender, especially off the ball. He's really good at chasing. You can go through a lot of screens and he will still be right there with you."

Gasser stressed the importance of sticking to fundamental rules and concepts. "First, you can't let him get going," he said. "If he gets one or two, he's going to keep knocking them down. You have to chase hard over screens and run him off the 3-point line."

If only it was as easy as it sounds. "Obviously, he's good slashing and he can get to the rim," Gasser went on. "But really his strength is shooting 3's. I think he's averaging almost four per game which is pretty unheard of."

Jenkin's 3.8 made 3-pointers per game is actually unheard of this season, it ranks No. 1 in the NCAA.

Has Gasser faced anyone comparable to Jenkins? "I don't think anyone has the same release; he has about the quickest one around, probably the quickest we've seen," he said. "But (Ohio State's) William Buford and (Iowa's) Matt Gatens come to mind."

Team defense, as always, will be the point of emphasis for the Badgers; especially in containing Jenkins. "Getting a hand up on him is going to be the biggest thing," said Ryan Evans. "We've got to make it difficult for him to shoot."

Rob Wilson brought up the collective awareness of the five players on the floor defensively. "You just have to be aware of where he's at," he said. "You have to take him off the 3-point line. You have to be right on his tail when he's coming off screens."

Cutting to that chase, he said, "Basically you can't let him breathe out there.''

Not allowing Jenkins to catch the ball - or limiting his touches - would be an ideal scenario. In addition, UW associate head coach Greg Gard said, "You try not to make mistakes and not feed his fire, so to speak, and I can use Rob Wilson as an example."

In the Big Ten tournament, Wilson scored a career-high 30 points against Indiana. "He got free a couple of times early, got a couple to go down and then it didn't matter how they guarded him, he had some confidence going, a little Mojo going," Gard said.

Jenkins has gotten off 10 or more shots in 31 of 34 games. Twice, he was "held" to nine attempts. His low was five shots against Mississippi, and he made all five, and finished with 26 points on the strength of going 12-of-15 from the free throw line.

"He's going to hit tough shots, and you know that he's going to get his shots," Gard said. "You just can't give him the freebies that start his fire. He's too proven and too good. The biggest thing is trying to make everything as tough as possible for him.

"Just watching some clips of him, he gets it off so fast, but he gets it off when he's crowded, too. If he gets just sliver of daylight, it's gone and he gets fouled a lot on those shots. He's a savvy veteran; he kicks the leg out, twists and run into you at times."

What's the best advice Gard can give to Gasser? "Chase hard, stick to your rules," he said. "You have to be on high alert; you can't fall asleep or he'll make you pay. We're not going to change much about what we do; it's still about good habits and outworking him."

Gard suggested Gasser "has to be a tough sucker" to handle the screens that are set for a shooter like Jenkins. "You've got 6-11 guys who are trying to knock you into the third row," he said. "Our best defenders have always been mentally and physically tough."

That would be Gasser. Cutting to that aforementioned chase again, Gard concluded, "It's going to come down to a lot of blood and guts plays. When you get to this stage of the season, a lot of times the hustle plays can make the difference."

'Great Times' for the Badger Band and Badger fans in L.A.

It took nearly a year (and a second-consecutive Rose Bowl appearance for the Wisconsin football team) but the wait was certainly worth it for the UW Marching Band -- and the fans that crowded the street outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 1.

Michael Jurkovac, a UW alumnus who is the founder and CEO of New York-based production company cYclops, originally reached out to the Badger Band and spirit squad over a year ago, when the Badgers were poised to make the first of back-to-back trips to Pasadena.

His connections resulted in a New Year's Eve show for the band and spirit squad at L.A. Live, the multi-billion dollar entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles.

This time around, Jurkovac collaborated with spirit squad director Josette Scheer and assistant band director Dr. Justin Stolarik to pull off something even bigger.

Jurkovac developed a soft spot for the UW Marching Band when taking a class by Dr. Michael Leckrone during his time in Madison and again reached out to the group when the Badgers won the Big Ten championship game to secure a second-straight appearance in the Rose Bowl.

Among Jurkovac's clients is will.i.am, one of the voices of the Grammy award-winning group The Black Eyed Peas, who happened to be interested in having the UW band perform a version of his yet-to-be-released single "Great Times."

With the artist's blessing, Leckrone got to work on a special arrangement of the track, which the band spent nearly three weeks practicing before arriving in L.A.

That's when the surprise came. 

As the band went through a final rehearsal for its latest L.A. Live performance, will.i.am dropped in to pay an unexpected visit to the parking lot adjacent to the J.W. Marriott hotel.

The even bigger surprise came when he took the stage just outside the Staples Center to provide matching vocals to the band's performance of "Great Times" -- something he had not planned to do originally.

It doesn't stop there for the band, however, as will.i.am plans to make use of a recording of the band's take on "Great Times" when the single is released in the coming months.

If one surprise wasn't enough, Jurkovac also helped line up another star for the Badgers' show at L.A. Live. He enlisted Everlast, who fronted House of Pain when the group recorded "Jump Around" in 1992, to perform his signature hit -- and a Camp Randall favorite -- with the band.

Check out video of the L.A. Live performance (above), as well as will.i.am's visit to the band's rehersal (below).

Thansgiving, Badger style

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For much of the country, Thanksgiving means spending time with family, watching NFL games on TV and eating copious amounts of food. For a number of Wisconsin student-athletes, coaches and staff members, Thanksgiving bore a striking resemblance to "Thursday" on their daily schedules.

That's not to say they didn't celebrate the holiday, just that it may have been in a slightly different fashion than most people are used to.

For the second year in a row, the Badger football team is hosting a football game on Thanksgiving weekend with enormous ramifications on the Big Ten race. Last year, UW pounded Northwestern on its way to earning a share of the Big Ten title. This Saturday, Wisconsin and Penn State meet to determine the Leaders Division representative in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship game.

Because of that, the Badgers had a regular practice on Thursday, although a little earlier in the day. The early start time allowed those players who live locally (more than 50 players on the roster from Wisconsin) to get home for a quick Thanksgiving meal. For those not so fortunate or those choosing to spend it with their other "family," the team dined at Samba, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse in downtown Madison. Hopefully they ordered some extra beef for the evening.

MBB_1.JPGAs you can see from the photos, the men's basketball team also ate as a team today. The Badgers are in Hoffman Estates, Ill., getting ready to play Bradley on Friday in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. After practicing at the Sears Centre, UW headed back to the team hotel for a little turkey and stuffing. It may not be as exotic as the Thanksgiving meal we had in South Padre Island in 2006 but I'm sure there was plenty of good food for the guys tonight.

The women's basketball team is also on the road, albeit a little further from Madison than Chicago. After playing at BYU on Wednesday, the Badgers are in Boulder, Colo., as they prepare to take on Montana State on Friday in the Colorado Omni Classic. They also practiced earlier in the day and had a team "feast" at the hotel. As you can see from the photo below, it looks like a good time was had by all. In addition to the video above, check out some other WBB players talking about what they're thankful for.

WBB.JPGBoth UW hockey teams are at home this weekend, as is the volleyball team. Like the football team, the men's hockey team let players who live close enough go home for a quick meal after practice. Some guys tagged along to eat with their buddies while the rest of the squad ate as a team at the Coliseum.

With six UW teams in action this weekend, their Thanksgiving traditions may have been put on hold. However, Badger fans everywhere are hoping to be thankful for some victories once the weekend comes to a close.