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Lucas at Large: Group effort guides Badgers to 8-0 start

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CANCUN, Mexico -- Wisconsin's Sam Dekker took the question in an all-encompassing vein after the Badgers held off West Virginia, 70-63, Wednesday night to capture the Cancun Challenge in Rivera Maya, Mexico.

What was the difference tonight, Sam?

"Us staying solid," he said. "We started playing our game and that got us the early lead. We went up 30-13 and they battled back. They (the Mountaineers) are a good shooting team.

"We just had to weather the storm and that's what we've been doing so far this season (during a 8-0 start) and if we continue to do that it will  be the difference in a lot of ball games."

 But what was the difference tonight, Sam - in Sam - what was the difference in your game?

"Me playing confident," he said. "I came out early kind of looking for my shot. On my first touch I hit that turnaround jumper and that felt good, so I kept attacking."

West Virginia started a frontline of 6-9 Devin Williams, 6-9 Nathan Adrian and 6-10 Kevin Noreen. The Mountaineers opened in a man-to-man defense and Williams, a freshman, drew Dekker.

"They put a big guy on me and I just wanted to keep taking him in the hole," Dekker said, "and that kind of propelled me to stay active. I waited for my moments and when I saw openings, I attacked."

Dekker, at times, was dominant. In the first half, he had 10 points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes. That matched his career high in rebounds. Dekker had eight against Marquette last season.

For more context, he had nine rebounds in the previous three games combined. His previous high this season had been seven, which he collected twice - against St. John's and Green Bay.

"They're always on me about how I've got to rebound more," Dekker acknowledged. "I have to be more active and more aggressive and use my length to get those boards and I was able to do that."

Dekker finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, his first career double-double. It was more in line with the lofty expectations for Dekker who had stellar high school and AAU resumes.

On what made the difference in Dekker's game against West Virginia, UW point guard Traevon Jackson said, "He had the instinct on when to take over the game."

In this case, it was from the on-set - and then again - over the last five minutes.

"He didn't care about messing up, he didn't care about what he did wrong," said Jackson, adding that everything was predicated on focusing "on the next play" or the next possession.

"That's what we need Sam to do for us to be the team that we want to be. He's such a competitor and he's hard on himself a lot."

Did Dekker feel like he had been putting too much pressure on himself, maybe pressing?

"Pressing? No, I don't think so," Dekker said. "I just think teams were playing some good 'D' on me and I wasn't hitting the open shot.

"But you can't get down on yourself. You have to come out and play every possession. Our coaches preach that and I know they have confidence in me."

The confidence was rewarded after West Virginia came roaring back in the second half on the strength of a quicker three-guard line-up and a zone defense that caused problems for the Badgers.

Dekker responded with some 3-point daggers. When the Mountaineers closed within five points, 56-51, he hit a triple with 4:51 left. He got another at 2:54 and yet another at 1:23.

"I was working the baseline and the high post area against their zone," Dekker said, "but Trae (Jackson) was doing a great job of driving and kicking and I was able to hit those '3s."

Jackson ended up with seven assists against West Virginia.

"When we moved the ball," Jackson said, "we got wide open shots."

His shot wasn't falling, though. Jackson was 1-of-9 from the field.

"At the end of the day, I've got to hit shots," he said. "True shooters shoot the same way every time, no matter where they're at. I got away from that when I missed a couple.

"Luckily my teammates were hitting and I was able to find them."

Jackson, like Dekker, has a tendency to be too hard on himself. Not only did Jackson have seven assists and just one turnover in 35 minutes, he had a career-high 10 rebounds.

"Look at his stat line," Dekker said. "That's a true point guard right there. He didn't shoot the ball very well, but he did things when we needed him and he was a difference-maker on the court."

Jackson couldn't remember the last time that he reached double-digits in rebounds. But he rationalized his board work by saying, "I can't be a liability on the floor, I've got to do something."

Jackson and Dekker were named to the All-Tournament team in Cancun after the Badgers knocked off St. Louis and West Virginia. Dekker was selected as the Most Valuable player.

"It's cool," said Dekker. "But I've said it before: when your team does well, individual accolades will come. We worked together as a team and I was blessed to be this situation and get this award."

From game to game, Dekker and Jackson agreed, it seems like someone different is doing something positive to help this team win. It speaks to the unselfishness of the players, young and old.

"We jell, we get along off the court really well, we're all best friends," observed junior guard Josh Gasser who missed all of last season after undergoing ACL surgery.

"When we're on the court, it's just fun for. We're playing together and when you've got a group of unselfish guys who really want to win - and have common goals - good things can happen."

What is their team strength?

"Our versatility at both ends of the court," said Gasser. "We've got guys who can play inside and out on offense and defense. That poses matchup problems for other teams.

"We can put together a lot of different combinations on the court. It's definitely a positive. And that's where the unselfishness comes in."

To the extent, Gasser suggested, that no one cares who scores.

"One night Frank (Kaminsky) will go off; another night it will be Sam or someone else," he said. "We have a different guy every night who can really carry the load.

"It all starts with Traevon (as the point guard) and the leadership and energy that a lot of us bring to the game. If you try to stop one guy, others will step up and pick him up."

The winning formula will be put to the test with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Virginia on Wednesday followed by Saturday's always intense intra-state rivalry with Marquette at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers are 8-0 for the first time in 20 years. Dekker won't turn 20 until May. Maybe it's the youth in the locker room. But nobody is satisfied.

"We can always get better," Jackson said.

Landry, Butch fall in Elite Eight of tournament play

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Following the Orlando Summer League (July 7-12), which featured recent graduates Ryan Evans (Detroit Pistons) and Jared Berggren (Orlando Magic), the focus of GMs, scouts and fans shifts to Las Vegas where the 2013 NBA Summer League continues play from July 12-22. 

Former Badgers Jordan Taylor (Toronto Raptors), Marcus Landry (LA Lakers), Brian Butch (NBA D-League Select), Mike Bruesewitz (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jon Leuer (Memphis Grizzlies) are all looking to earn their stripes in the Vegas summer league and solidify a spot in a teams' rotation or in the case of some, an invite to an NBA squad's fall camp. The Las Vegas Summer League, held at the Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion, will tip off July 12 and concludes with the first-ever summer league championship game on Monday, July 22. 


Brian Butch (2004-08) - NBA D-League Select Team
Butch displayed a bevy of solid performances during his time with the D-League select team, including a double-double (18 pts, 11 reb) in a tournament play win over the Minnesota T'Wolves. Despite a quiet outing in the D-League's Elite Eight loss to Charlotte, Butch finished with averages of 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game it will be tough for GMs and scouts not to take a second and third look at Butch when evaluating and deciding on bigs to invite to fall camp this upcoming season.

Schedule (All times CT)
Saturday, July 13: NBA D-League 83, Minnesota 81 - 18 mins, 4 pts, 3 ast, 3 stl
Sunday, July 14: NBA D-League 81, LA Clippers 77 - 23 mins, 8 pts (2-6 FG, 4-4 FT), 2 reb 
Tuesday, July 16: NBA D-League 82, Dallas 75 - 16 mins, 8 pts (3-4 FG, 2-2 FT), 6 reb

Tournament Play (All times CT)
Thursday, July 18: NBA D-League 83, Minnesota 75 - 28 mins, 18 pts (6-9 FG, 2-4 3FG, 4-6 FT), 11 reb
Saturday, July 20: Charlotte 85, NBA D-League 75 - 17 mins, 3 pts (1-4 FG, 1-3 3FG), 4 reb
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Mike Bruesewitz (2010-13) - Milwaukee Bucks
Bruesewitz's summer league experience concluded on Friday with a 90-80 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Despite only playing five minutes combined in the previous four games, Bruesewitz was a spark off the bench for the Bucks in their finale, earning 16 minutes and scoring five points on 2-for-3 shooting.

After a career in which he earned the label of the "Ultimate Glue Guy", Bruesewitz will take that same mindset and persona and attempt to turn it into a professional basketball career. That journey begins in the NBA Summer League for the St. Paul, Minn., native who is teaming up with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he will look to impress coaches, scouts and GMs alike, with his tenacity and passion, along with his fearlessness around the basket and his defensive intensity. 

Schedule (All times CT):
Saturday, July 13: Milwaukee 88, Denver 74 - DNP
Sunday, July 14: Milwaukee 69, New Orleans 61 - DNP
Tuesday, July 16: Golden State 84, Milwaukee 72 - 5 mins, 6 pts (2-2 3FG), 1 reb, 1 stl

Tournament Play (All times CT)
Thursday, July 18: LA Lakers 72, Milwaukee 68 - DNP
Friday, July 19: San Antonio 90, Milwaukee 80 - 16 mins, 5 pts (2-3 FG, 1-2 3FG), 1 reb, 1 ast

Related Links:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bruesewitz holds court after on-court session 
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Marcus Landry (2006-09) - LA Lakers 
Due to his old school personality and experienced mentality both on and off the court, Landry has and always will be known as an elder statesman, regardless of where he plays. His play in the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League was on par with that persona as his numbers mirrored that of an experienced NBA role player. 

Landry ended his summer league experience in the top-20 among all NBA summer league participants in scoring (15.2 ppg), while grabbing 4.7 rebounds per game for a LA Lakers squad that fell to top-seeded Golden State in the Elite Eight. Landry has already been tabbed by some as a definite to be invited to the Lakers' fall camp and the relationship between LA head coach Mike D'Antoni and Landry, dating back to their time in New York, only improves those chances.

Schedule (All times CT):
Friday, July 12: Cleveland 70, LA Lakers 62 - 18 mins, 14 pts (3-8 FG, 5-7 FT), 2 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk
Sunday, July 14: LA Lakers 81, Portland 63 - 25 mins, 14 pts (5-14 FG, 2-7 3FG), 5 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl 
Monday, July 15: LA Lakers 77, LA Clippers 65 - 29 mins, 16 pts (6-12 FG, 2-8 3FG), 6 reb, 2 blk, 1 stl

Tournament Play (All times CT)
Thursday, July 18: LA Lakers 72, Milwaukee 68 - 28 mins, 18 pts (5-13 FG, 3-7 3FG, 5-7 FT), 6 reb
Saturday, July 20: Golden State 83, LA Lakers 77 - 32 mins, 14 pts (5-10 FG, 3-5 3FG, 1-2 FT), 2 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl

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Jordan Taylor (2009-12) - Toronto Raptors
Taylor garnered starts in two of Toronto's three summer league contests, but his minutes took a hit with the addition of former Marquette grad Dwight Buycks, who inked a deal with Toronto as a back-up PG for the 2013-14 season following the Orlando Summer League. 

Schedule (All times CT):
Saturday, July 13: Miami 81, Toronto 72 - 21 mins, 5 pts, 2 ast, 1 reb
Sunday, July 14: Toronto 82, San Antonio 76 - 18 mins, 0 pts, 1 reb, 1 stl
Tuesday, July 16: Toronto 81, Sacramento 70 - 4 mins, 0 pts, 1 stl

Tournament Play (All times CT)
Thursday, July 18: Toronto 95, Denver 78 - 8 mins, 0 pts, 1 reb
Saturday, July 20: Phoenix 103, Toronto 98 - 2 mins, 0 pts
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Jared Berggren (2009-13) - Cleveland Cavaliers/Orlando Magic
Berggren played sparingly for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the Las Vegas summer league. He tallied a rebound in nine minutes of action during the Cavs' final summer league contest, an 82-76 loss at the hands of the Miami Heat.

Garnering the start in his 2013 NBA Orlando Summer League finale, Berggren chipped in five points and four rebounds. The Princeton, Minn., native saw action in just two games for the Magic, earning the starting nod in his finale.

Although it wasn't enough to garner the win or go a long way in solidifying him a roster spot come fall, his final showing will hopefully give the former second-team All-Big Ten honoree something to build on heading into the latter part of the summer.

Schedule (All times CT):
Sunday, July 7: Orlando 95, Boston 88 - 2 mins, 0 pts, 0 rebs
Monday, July 8: OKC 79, Orlando 78 - DNP
Tuesday, July 9: Miami 94, Orlando 80 - DNP
Thursday, July 11: Orlando 90, Philadelphia 89 - DNP
Friday, July 12: Boston 102, Orlando 83 - 20 mins, 5 pts, 4 reb, 1 blk, 1 ast

Tournament Play (All times CT)
Las Vegas
Thursday, July 18: Cleveland 72, San Antonio 66 - 4 mins, 2 pts, 1 reb
Saturday, July 20: Miami 82, Cleveland 76 - 9 mins, 0 pts, 1 reb

Related Links:
Wisconsin State Journal: Berggren got sound advice 
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Ryan Evans (2009-13) - Detroit Pistons
In his 2013 NBA Summer League finale, Evans not only garnered the start at shooting guard, but he also exploded for 19 points on 7-for-15 (.460) shooting from the field and a 3-for-4 (.750) performance from the free throw stripe. Unfortunately, his efforts weren't enough as Detroit fell to the Miami Heat in tournament play.

Evans ended his 2013 NBA Summer League experience with averages of 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game and although his numbers aren't eye-popping, he definitely left NBA scouts and GMs in attendance at the Amway Center on Friday morning with something to salivate over.

Schedule (All times CT):
Sunday, July 7: Detroit 76, Brooklyn 67 - DNP 
Monday, July 8: Boston 93, Detroit 63 - 19 mins, 6 pts (2-7 FG, 1-4 3FG), 3 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk
Tuesday, July 9: OKC 79, Detroit 75 - 11 mins, 2 pts (1-3 FG), 2 reb, 1 ast
Thursday, July 11: Detroit 78, Miami 77 - 6 mins, 2 pts (1-2 FG), 2 reb
Friday, July 12: Miami 90, Detroit 85 - 30 mins, 19 pts (7-15 FG, 2-7 3FG, 3-4 FT), 5 reb, 2 stl, 1 ast

Related Links:
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Jon Leuer (2008-11) - Memphis Grizzlies
Leuer, who recently signed a three-year contract to rejoin the Grizzlies beginning in 2013-14, was expected to compete for valuable minutes off of the bench next season. After spraining an ankle during the first practice in Las Vegas, it is doubtful Leuer will have an opportunity to begin that quest during the NBA Summer League.

Leuer did not appear in any of the Grizzlies' six summer league games due to the injury.

Schedule (All times CT)
Saturday, July 13: Chicago 81, Memphis 67 - DNP 
Sunday, July 14: Cleveland 69, Memphis 58 - DNP
Tuesday, July 16: Phoenix 100, Memphis 88 - DNP

Tournament Play (All times CT)
Wednesday, July 17: Memphis 90 vs. Washington 83 - DNP
Thursday, July 18: Charlotte 92, Memphis 84 - DNP
Friday, July 19: Memphis 91, Denver 84 - DNP

Related Links:

Lucas at Large: Brust gets NASCAR job for a day

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Ben Brust was shown a map of the Road America track at Elkhart Lake and prodded to pinpoint his location during last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the Johnsonville Sausage 200.

Using a pen to identify where he was standing on the winding 14-turn, 4-mile circuit that winds through scenic Kettle Moraine, he jabbed at the map and said, "I'm near a hamburger stand right here."

X marked the spot -- or in this case -- the spotter, who just happened to be the leading scorer on last season's Wisconsin basketball team. That would be Brust, a passionate NASCAR devotee.

Brust was spotting for Brendan Gaughan, a 37-year-old driver for Richard Childress Racing and a former walk-on basketball player at Georgetown University.

"Boom, right there," said Brust, pointing to the Road America map, "I had him (Gaughan) coming out of (turn) 6, the slight right at 7 and then I had a really good view of 8 from my angle."

If necessary, he could also partially follow the No. 26 car (Gaughan's car) through turns 9 and 10, otherwise known as the "Carousel" -- a lengthy tight-turning stretch that curves into a straightaway.

Whereas one full-time spotter is standard for oval racing, multiple spotters are necessary on a road course to see everything. Brust, a volunteer, was one of Gaughan's three spotters at Elkhart Lake.

Armed with a two-way radio, he might alert Gaughan to a driver that had spun out ahead of him by merely saying, "Spin in front, spin in front. Check up, check up. All clear, no pressure."

Short is sweet for Brust who has had some experience as a race fan monitoring scanners. "It's got to be precise and to the point," he said, "to make sure he (Gaughan) knows what's going on."

Less can be more. As such, there were some situations where Brust had to use his best judgment on what to say or not say. "Brendan trusted me," he said. "He knew I'd be able to handle it."

Brust and Gaughan were brought together by fate, resolve and racing.

A couple of years ago, ESPN basketball analyst Steven Bardo alerted Brust to Gaughan.

"He (Bardo) said, 'Hey, I heard you're into NASCAR, if you get a chance, you should check out Brendan,'" Brust recounted. "He put the name into my head and I went on Twitter and looked him up."

Brust learned that Gaughan, a Las Vegas native, was a 5-foot-9 walk-on guard at Georgetown; a practice player that wound up befriending Allen Iverson and seeing action in 25 career games.

Gaughan was also a placekicker on the Hoyas' football team, which competes within the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). In 1994, he converted on 39 of 40 extra points.

As a driver, Gaughan has steadily evolved from off-road to NASCAR. There had been some Twitter dialogue between Brust and Gaughan before meeting at the Chicagoland Speedway last year.

"I got a chance to talk with him," Brust said, "and hang out with him a little bit."

Following the UW's elimination from the NCAA tournament, Brust and two of his teammates, Jared Berggren and Dan Fahey, headed to Las Vegas, where Brust again crossed paths with Gaughan.

The Gaughan family has strong Vegas roots and resources, including the South Point Hotel and Casino, a sponsor for Brendan Gaughan, a veteran of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.

When Brust was at Road America last year, he was talking with one of Elliott Sadler's spotters, who suggested that if he had the time next year that he might look into spotting for a driver.

"It was kind of joking, kind of serious," Brust said. "But it gave me the idea."

Brust ran it past Gaughan during spring break in Las Vegas.

"When it came up," Brust related, "he said, 'Do you want to do it?' I said, 'Of course.' As it got closer (to the Elkhart Lake event), he texted, 'Still want to do it?' And I replied, 'Yeah, of course.'"

Gaughan made it happen. "Spotting isn't athletic," Gaughan told The Sporting News, "but you have to use your brain, you have to make decisions on the fly, which he (Brust) is used to (doing)."

Brust admitted to having some pre-race anxiety, not unlike the feeling prior to an opening tipoff.

"I was a little nervous," he said. "A nervous excitement, because I knew that I could do it. It's the same type of thing (in basketball); I'm there to help the team be successful.

"So I wanted to do my job and do it right."

As part of his pre-race preparation, Brust viewed a YouTube video featuring a road course driver, Ron Fellows, whose on-board camera taped laps 13-34 during a Road America event.

"I used it to memorize the track -- it's braking points and what are good passing zones -- just to give me some familiarity," said Brust, who had previously watched the race as a spectator from turn 5.

"That's where a lot of the action was, but I didn't know the whole track."

Brust arrived over an hour before the race to get his spotting directions from Team Gaughan and stake out his territory. He estimated that there were nearly 30 spotters in the same area.

"Everybody minds their own business and does their job," said Brust, who was originally scheduled to work out of the "Canada Corner" before a change in assignments.

Late in the race, when Gaughan encountered some difficulty in that corner, Brust fielded some disparaging tweets on Twitter from fans who mistakenly thought that he was responsible.

It was nothing that he couldn't handle; after all, he has played in Big Ten road venues.

Although none of the Childress cars were exceptional last Saturday -- Gaughan finished 11th -- Brust sounded like he was truly in his element. "I would do it again in a heartbeat," he said.

But that will have to wait.

"Right now, I have to focus on what's ahead," said Brust, whose eyes are fixed on his senior year at Wisconsin and the summer training phase in Madison. "I'm here to lift, get stronger and get better.

"Getting better in every category possible is one of my goals every year. We have a lot of young guys (six freshmen) so it's my job to set a good example for them and help them get better each day."

The thought of another Big Ten season, his final one, had his heart racing, as you might expect.

Tough Ticket: 2013-14 schedule taking shape

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Although next year's slate is far from complete, the Badgers have many of the pieces in place for the 2013-14 season. That schedule will feature one of the toughest home slates in school history. According to ESPN.com's preseason Top-25, Wisconsin will host seven of the top-25 teams in the nation.

No. 3 Michigan State, No. 7 Florida, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 10 Michigan, No. 16 Marquette, No. 20 Indiana and No. 25 Iowa are all scheduled to visit the Kohl Center next winter.

Wisconsin opens the season with a pair of big-time showdowns against St. John's and Florida. The season tips off in Sioux Falls, S.D., with a neutral-site game against the Red Storm on Nov. 8. The contest will be the first-ever Division I college basketball game played in the new Sanford Pentagon, a $19 million complex which is scheduled to open this fall. 

The Badgers then open the Kohl Center with a Nov. 12 appointment with the Gators.

The league schedule is also beginning to take shape as the Big Ten announced which conference rivals will face off only one time next season. Among Wisconsin's single-plays in 2013-14 will be trips to Penn State and Nebraska, as well as home dates with Michigan State and Ohio State.

As a result, UW will play twice against Purdue, Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern, its four single-plays from last season. 

The Badgers and Buckeyes split their series last season, with the host team protecting home court on both occasions. The Badgers will not have to visit Michigan State in 2013-14, a site where they have not won since 2003-04.

The Badgers swept both Nebraska and Penn State last year.

Tentative non-conference schedule:
Nov. 8: St. John's (Sioux Falls, S.D.)
Nov. 12: Florida (Kohl Center)
Nov. 26: vs. St. Louis (Cancun)
Nov. 27: vs. West Virginia/Old Dominion (Cancun)
Dec. 4: at Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.)

*BOLD indicates home game (Nov. 8 neutral site showdown vs. St. John's will serve as home game for Badgers)

Three keys for Wisconsin vs. Florida

Defending the 3-point line
Wednesday night's top-25 match-up between Wisconsin and Florida is a case of strength vs. strength. Last season the Gators led the NCAA in made 3-pointers per game with an average of 9.5 per outing and shooting at rate of 38 percent. Florida's backcourt of Kenny Boyton (266) and Mike Rosario (187) have made a combined 453 3-pointers in their careers. To put that into perspective, UW's active leader in made triples is Ben Brust... with 62.

The good news is, Wisconsin ranked second in all of the NCAA in fewest 3-pointers allowed a year ago, surrendering just 3.6 per game and allowing opponents to made just 29 percent (11th in the country). In fact, only once did a UW opponent make at least nine 3-pointers in a game last season, and that was Iowa with 10.

Putting up a fence along the perimeter is pivotal vs. the Gators.

Two of the best BIG shooters
A one-on-one match-up to keep an eye on in this game is the battle between Florida's 6-foot-10 forward Erik Murphy and the Badgers' 6-foot-10 forward Jared Berggren. What you'll be watching is two of the best big-man shooters in all of college basketball.

Among players 6-foot-10 or taller, Murphy and Berggren finished first and third, respectively in made 3-pointers last season. Murphy knocked down 59-of-140 shots from downtown and Berggren connected on 42-of-121.

Bombs away.

Tempo, tempo, tempo
Wednesday night's game figures to be a baptism by fire for Wisconsin's young backcourt. Florida is a team conditioned on pressure defense and forcing turnovers. And after seeing the cramped nature of the O'Connell Center (the O-Dome), I can understand why. The sidelines are so close to the court, they feel like extra defenders.

The Gators - who forced 19 turnovers in their season opener - forced 10 or more turnovers in 29 of their 37 games a year ago. In recent memory, protecting the ball has been a major strength of the Wisconsin program. In fact, over the last three seasons, the Badgers have finished No. 1, No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game.

But that was the Jordan Taylor era.

Now, redshirt freshman George Marshall and sophomore Treavon Jackson are thrust into the spotlight, and into the blender. How the young guys handle it will be of great interest.

When thinking about the tempo of this game, think about UW's game at North Carolina early in the season a year ago. The Tarheels wanted to play fast and loose and turn it into a high-possession game (at least 140 total possessions). Florida will have similar ambitions.

In Chapel Hill, the Badgers dictated the tempo and kept the game to just 123 total possessions. That kept Wisconsin in it until the end, when UNC pulled out the 60-57 win.

Look for a similar recipe in Gainesville if the Badgers are going to pull off the early-season upset.

Zach Bohannon's Twitter crusade to reach Obama

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VIP_waiting_room_blog2.jpgThe 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.


Lucas at Large: Drewiske's day with the Cup a revelation?

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Former Wisconsin hockey defenseman Davis Drewiske resisted the temptation to read the handwriting on the wall Sunday; especially since it pertained to the "handwriting'' on the Cup, the Stanley Cup, which was scheduled for a public showing Monday in Drewiske's hometown of Hudson.

As a member of the National Hockey League champions, the Los Angeles Kings, the 27-year-old Drewiske was looking forward to having the Stanley Cup in his possession even though he was unsure if his name was going to be actually engraved on the Cup along with the names of his teammates.

That's because Drewiske appeared in only nine games for the Kings. By NHL rule, he needed to appear in either 41 regular season games or dress for at least one game in the finals against the New Jersey Devils to meet the qualifying standards for getting his name on the Cup, and he did neither.

But the league has been known to make some exceptions.

Drewiske will have to wait until Monday to find out officially.

The Cup won't be in his hands until then. (On Sunday, he said, it was somewhere in Ontario.)

All things considered, he was relatively confident that he could be a name-dropper, so to speak.

"I don't have confirmation on that yet, but I think I do (have his name on the Cup), I'm just not sure,'' Drewiske said. "I did have confirmation on the spelling of my name from someone within the team. But I don't want to get too excited until I know for sure.

"It's just an honor to have the Stanley Cup for a day and I want to share that with some people who have helped me along the way; family especially. I'm just excited for that. I would have liked to have played more and been a bigger part of everything. Sometimes things work out in funny ways.''

Drewiske was the seventh defenseman on a Kings team that regularly played six.

"I didn't play very much because we basically had no injuries the entire year which was the good news for our team and maybe not such a good thing for me personally,'' said Drewiske who was stacked behind Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Matt Greene in the blue line rotation.

"The guys (defensemen) played really well and stayed healthy. I played well when I got to play and it was my job to stay ready in case anyone got hurt, work hard and take warm-ups every night. It was not an easy thing to do, but I'll be better for it in the long running.

"I know I can play; I've played very well at times for the organization. I've tried to take it one day at a time. I'll be ready for the opportunity, whether that opportunity is going to come with Los Angeles or someone else. We'll see. I'm trying to stay confident in getting ready for next year.''

After the Kings, an improbable No. 8 seed, ended a 45-year drought by winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup, Drewiske, wearing his No. 44 jersey, celebrated on the ice following Game 6. Along with everyone else, he got a chance to hoist the Cup and take part in one of the great rituals in sports.

"I was really excited for my teammates,'' said Drewiske, who was signed by the Kings as an undrafted free agent after his senior year in 2008. "We have great guys in that locker room who have been really good to me. The best part for me was seeing the genuine excitement from everybody.''

Drewiske is no stranger to such on-ice celebrations. In 2006, he celebrated with his Wisconsin teammates after winning the NCCA championship. Three late-round draft picks from that team have since overcome the odds and made their mark as pros: Brian Elliott, Adam Burish and Joe Pavelski.

Asked when he first began having visions of playing someday in the NHL - maybe even winning the Cup - Drewiske said, "When I was in college, I was more worried about being able to play for the Badgers than thinking too far ahead. During my junior year, I thought I might have a chance.

"I had a lot of good coaching along the way. I just tried to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities that I got. My dad went to grad school at UW, and that's where I was born, so it was definitely a dream-come-true for me to play college hockey for the Badgers.''

His mom and dad, Karen and Dave Drewiske, will be in the Stanley Cup loop Monday. The plan was to pick up the Cup at the airport and make a few stops in Minneapolis - where Davis and his wife live - before making the trip to Hudson. It will be on display at the Civic Center that evening.

"There might be a few beverages in the Cup throughout the day,'' Davis Drewiske said.

There may even be a toast or two to the Hudson Hockey Association which is one of the more prominent youth organizations in the state.  "My parents were a big part of that when I was growing up,'' Drewiske said. "Hockey is a big part of the culture in Hudson. It's a special community.''

That's why he was anxious to see how the Stanley Cup would be received Monday.

"Obviously, the Cup, itself, is a cool thing; there's a lot of history there,'' Drewiske said. "I'm just as excited or more excited to see all those people in Hudson and be able to say thanks in a small way for everything they've done for me and my family.''

As of Sunday, though, there was still that uncertainty on whether his name will be engraved on the Stanley Cup. What will be the first thing that he does when the Cup arrives? "I don't know if it will be the first thing,'' he said, "but I'm sure I'll take a peek not too long after we get it.''

He's hoping for the best; a priceless moment.  "Your name is there forever on the Stanley Cup,'' he said. "It would be an honor to be on there with all the guys who have been honored before.''

Bo Ryan era 'Dream Team'

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Thumbnail image for BoRyan_USA.jpgThe 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.

Here is what he came up with. Who would you pick?

Taylor signs with Italian League team

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Taylor_Jordan_Indiana_BTT_2011-12 (8).jpgAfter 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.

Mike Eaves used two words - "emotional energizer'' to punctuate his thoughts on the topic. Was the UW men's hockey coach addressing A) the 13-year, $98 million contracts that Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed with the Minnesota Wild; B) the Hockey City Classic pitting the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Gophers at Chicago's historic Soldier Field in February; C) his anticipation level for the 2012-2013 season; the school's final one in the WCHA; or D) the completion of the La Bahn Arena.

In spirit alone, Eaves was speaking to "all of the above'' upon returning to his Kohl Center office Monday following his annual summer pilgrimage to Montana. While he was vacationing, two of his former pupils - Parise and Suter - scored huge NHL free agent contracts. Eaves coached Parise and Suter, who skated one season at Wisconsin before turning pro with the Nashville Predators, to gold medals in the World Under-18 Championships in 2002 and the World Junior Championship in 2004.

"I guess that I was a little surprised that they both went to the same team,'' said Eaves, a member of the Minnesota North Stars during his NHL playing days in the early '80s. "There was a little bit of a rumor about that (happening) but there were a lot of teams that had their foot in the door and really wanted them. I think it's great for Minnesota. They (the Wild) are now starting to put some fundamental pieces together and getting closer to being a championship team.''

Reflecting on Suter's growth, Eaves cited his comfort level on the ice and said "It was like, 'This is what he was meant to do.' It's like when you watch someone and right away you're drawn to him because they have this special presence. It's their control, their skill, their ability. It's like watching Celine Dion on stage. They talk about having a stage presence. Ryan Suter has this ice presence, if you will.''

The special players share many of the same defining characteristics, Eaves added. That would include another notable free agent defenseman with an "ice presence'' - Justin Schultz, who skipped his final year of eligibility at Wisconsin and recently signed with the Edmonton Oilers. "It's a young team and he can grow up with them,'' Eaves said. "He's going to have a chance to play right away.''

It has been a busy and profitable off-season free agent market for former UW players. Adam Burish has been reunited with his old teammate and roommate, Joe Pavelski, with the San Jose Sharks. Burish signed a four-year, $7.2 million deal.  "He's a piece of the puzzle that people recognize they need to have,'' Eaves said. "He's a winner. You need that type of person to accept his role and excel in it.''

So what has been Wisconsin's role in grooming so many NHL-ready players?

"People ask about that, 'What are you doing (right) there?''' Eaves said. "First of all, we've gotten top-notch young men and they have a lot of things that we don't teach. Secondly, the coaches we've had here are good teachers and played at that (pro) level and can give them insight. And we have a total program with the things we do off-ice with the strength coaches that we've had like Jim Snider.

"There are some real good things here that are being combined with their natural abilities. There are about four or five programs that have quite a few of their former players in the NHL. And we're one of them, so it does get noticed ... our formula or ideal to win at this level is about excellence. The Navy Seals have a great saying, 'The way you do anything is the way you do everything.'''

That quest for excellence extends to all corners of a successful hockey program and beyond. That quest drives Eaves, too, particularly coming off a season in which the Badgers failed to make the NCAA tournament. "We didn't get in, because we ran out of games,'' he said. "At the end of the year, we could beat anybody and nobody wanted to play us because we were coming into our own.''

Youth was served. Growing pains were plentiful. But Eaves is confident that the returning core of players learned their lessons and benefited from the orientation, however rude at times. "We knew that we were going to be young,'' Eaves said. "Then you get on the ice and you go, 'Whoa.' That's when reality hits ... (but) we started something at the end of the year and morphed into a team that believed.
   
"We're moving in the right direction.''
   
One of the highlights of the upcoming season will be Wisconsin's appearance in the Hockey City Classic that will be staged Feb. 17 at Chicago's Soldier Field. The Badgers will play Minnesota in one half of the doubleheader with Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio) matching up in the other game.
   
"It's an emotional energizer,'' Eaves said Monday.
   
Especially for two of his players who are Chicago-area products.
   
Frankie Simonelli is from Bensenville and Michael Mersch is from Park Ridge.
   
"I'm sure they're already talking to their teammates about getting extra tickets,'' Eaves said.

This will mark the third time that the Badgers have taken part in an outdoor game.

"People ask me all the time, 'Why are you doing that?''' Eaves said. "We have one of the longest seasons in college athletics. At that time of year - kind of the dog days of February - we get to do something that is unique and special to bring the energy back into the season.''
   
That energy manifests itself whenever Eaves looks out his office window at the adjacent La Bahn Arena, which will house a practice facility for the men's program and serve as home ice for the Badger women. The project has many other amenities, like new locker rooms.
 
"There's nothing like it in the country,'' he said proudly.
   
Jumping out of his chair, Eaves all but pressed his nose against the glass.

"From the very first day (of the construction), we've found ourselves doing this in the morning; just watching like a little kid might,'' he said. "Wait 'til you walk into that arena. You'll go, 'Wow. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?' This is the final jewel in the crown that we call this hockey program.''