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Competing in the company of NBA all-stars Chris Paul and Deron Williams has its benefits to Jordan Taylor; not unlike Jon Leuer's experience in the LeBron James elite camp the summer of 2010.

June, July and August turned out to be a springboard for a productive senior year for Leuer, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, a third-team All-American and a second-round draft pick of the Bucks.

_PAB7558.jpgLeuer, in particular, benefited from his participation with the USA Select team which exposed him to multiple NBA stars (Kevin Durant, et al) during its training camps in Las Vegas and New York City.

Taylor also has been going to summer "school."

Along with actually taking classes on campus - "To accelerate my graduation program," said Taylor who's scheduled to graduate next spring - he has been "camping out" with the best.

It started with Chris Paul's CP3 Elite Guard camp.

"Chris is really hands-on," Taylor said. "He watched every workout and stepped in and gave pointers. He competed with us, too, and he didn't take it lightly on us. Real nice guy. Very helpful.

"One thing that stands out to me about his game is his change of direction - his change of speeds - and his ability to handle the ball. He's always thinking on the court.

"He's more cerebral than people would give him credit for. He's always thinking the game and pointing out a lot of things you don't think about.

"I wouldn't say he's one of the better athletes in the NBA; obviously he's quick. But he's not going to dunk on anybody, at least not anymore. But he's very skilled, and fun to learn from.

"What I liked most about Chris Paul is seeing someone at that level who's trying to give back."

While Taylor was at the Paul camp, he got to hang out with a couple of North Carolina players: Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall. The Badgers will play the Tar Heels in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

"I played on the same AAU team with him (Barnes) and we talked about that," Taylor said. "We also talked about their atmosphere (in Chapel Hill) and how fun it's going to be to play there."

As a junior, Taylor held his own with all-comers. Besides earning first-team All-Big Ten honors, he was one of five finalists for the Cousy Award and recognized on a number of All-American teams.

His outgoing personality is perfectly suited for the summer camp environment because it has given him a chance to expand his circle of friends to include people like Xavier's Tu Holloway.

"We talked about how we have had similar career paths," Taylor said.

Taylor and Holloway first crossed paths in a second-round game of the 2009 NCAA tournament in Boise, Idaho. Xavier, the No. 4 seed, eliminated the Badgers, the No. 12 seed, 60-49.

Taylor came off the bench and played 17 minutes.

Holloway came off the bench and played 18 minutes.

"We've gone from guys who didn't play a ton (as freshmen)," Taylor said of Holloway, who hails from Hempstead, N.Y., "to guys who got to play a lot on good tournament teams."

Taylor and Holloway are among the top returning point guards in college basketball. Both are going into their senior years. Both took part in Deron Williams' Nike Skills Academy in Chicago.

That was Taylor's second stop on the summer circuit.

"That camp was a little different than Chris Paul's in that there was more playing involved and Deron Williams wasn't as hands-on," Taylor said of the New Jersey Nets' superstar guard.

"He was there, he was around. Mostly, he was giving me grief for being a Wisconsin guard."

Williams played at the University of Illinois.

"I didn't play as well as the Deron Williams Camp," Taylor conceded. "But it was still good to get that experience and to see the type of guys that you're going to be playing against all year long.

"Anytime you get a chance to play against guys at that level (elite college and high school), I think you're going to get better, even if you didn't play that well.

"It's always an opportunity to learn and improve and see what you need to work on. It's a win-win situation at summer camps like these because you can learn your weaknesses and your strengths."

In Madison, he has been scrimmaging two and three times a week with his Badger teammates. "The freshmen have all been playing well," he said, "and everybody seems to have gotten better."

What are Taylor's priorities in advance of the World University Games training camp in late July? "Trying to stay healthy, trying to get better, trying to get quicker," he said.

From this perspective, he plans on "getting in the gym" as much as possible because "I want to keep improving on my shot." He added, "I'm trying to think the game more; trying to watch more film."

One last thing he's trying to do.

"I'm trying to work on my golf game," he said with a chuckle.

Bruesewitz chomping at the bit

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For a UW student athlete, the sports calendar is nearly a 12-month commitment. With extra classes and workouts filling most of the summer, it's rare that guys like Mike Bruesewitz are ever off campus.

However, since the school year ended in mid-May, Bruesewitz and his teammates have been scattered to their hometowns and beyond. Most use the time to recharge their batteries and work out with friends and former high school teammates.

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The clock is ticking for their return to Madison as summer classes and workouts resume on Monday, June 13.

For Bruesewitz, that's not soon enough.

"I'm pretty anxious to get back to Madison," Bruesewitz said this week from his home in the St. Paul, Minn. area. "It will be nice to have a gym open any time we need it and not have to drive 30 minutes to work out like I'm doing now."

Since emerging as a media darling during the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Bruesewitz has backed off the workouts a bit to let his knee recover. You'll remember that the soon-to-be junior averaged 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds off the bench during the tournament, but did so on a sprained knee, which he suffered during the Big Ten tournament.

Just recently Bruesewitz has ramped up the training again and has admitted that it's been a lot of work.

"After sitting out the last two months, it's been a struggle to get going again," he admitted. "My knee is completely fine, but my body just isn't used to the workouts yet. There is plenty of motivation for me and for our team, so we're all excited to get back to Madison and get going again."

Dukan to play for U-20 Croatian National Team

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Wisconsin sophomore Duje Dukan is taking his talents to Spain.

Dukan will be spending a few weeks this summer playing for the Croatian National Team in the U-20 European Championships in Bilbao, Spain from July 14-24. Dukan, who was born in Split, Croatia, has dual citizenship in Croatia and the United States.

101106MBB-6091-13.jpg"I'm really excited about getting an opportunity to play for a national team and representing a county should be an unbelievable experience," Dukan said. "I'm going in with an open mind and I know that I'm going to have to learn on the fly."

Dukan will travel to Croatia on Thursday, June 2 and spend the first two weeks in a tryout/training setting.  The Croatian team will then play a few exhibition games before participating in the European Championships. Croatia is paired in Pool B with Latvia, France and Sweden.

The Deerfield, Ill., native was approached last summer about playing with the Croatian National Team, but after talking to head coach Bo Ryan decided to turn down the opportunity, instead enrolling in summer classes at UW and training in Madison with his new teammates.

When the Croatian National Team came calling again this summer, Ryan gave Dukan his blessing to play in the European Championships.

While international competition will be a new experience for Dukan, playing in a European setting won't be.

"My family has spent time in Europe every summer and while we're over there I've trained and practiced with one of the local teams," Dukan explained. "There are some rule changes in international basketball, a different ball and the game in general is just a little different, but being that I've been in that environment a little will hopefully help with the learning curve."

As a freshman, Dukan appeared in just eight games for the Badgers and is looking forward to the chance to get game minutes.

"I think this experience will help me out because I'll get to face the top European competition in my age group," Dukan added. "If I have aspirations of playing professional basketball after college, this will help me gauge my game a little. Also, this will definitely help for next year. I didn't play a lot of minutes last season, so just getting some game situations and play should help."

Bo Ryan reacts to playing UNC in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

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When the Big Ten Conference announced the pairings for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tuesday, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan did not have to go far to hear the Badgers' draw. Ryan and the conference's other 11 head coaches have been in Chicago this week at the Big Ten meetings.

2010_BT.ACC.jpgRyan was pleased to find out that Wisconsin will face North Carolina in the 2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge (Nov. 30 in Chapel Hill, N.C.). In between sessions at the Big Ten meetings, Ryan weighed in on what it means to take one of college basketball's blue bloods.

"Being pitted against North Carolina, one of the more storied programs in all of college basketball, is exciting," Ryan said. "We get a chance to match up against a very good program in a venue that is a great place to play.

"That's why they call it the Big Ten/ACC Challenge because you're always going to be challenged and this will be quite a test. North Carolina could very possibly be the No. 1 team in the nation when we play them."

Ryan's Badgers have won each of their last six games against ACC foes, including "Challenge" wins over Virginia Tech, Duke and NC State in each of the last three seasons.

"I think being paired with North Carolina shows respect for our players and our program and what we've accomplished," Ryan added. "Having this game on our schedule stays in line with what we try to do in putting together a competitive non-conference schedule and prepares us for the always difficult Big Ten."

UW's trip to the Dean Dome rounds out a 2011-12 non-conference schedule that is also highlighted by playing in the Chicago Invitational Tournament and hosting both Marquette and UNLV.

Badger hockey still playing

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We're on the cusp of May and the college hockey season is a memory, but you can still catch Badgers playing hockey on television these days.

There are five alumni left playing in the NHL playoffs and all in the Western Conference. You can catch them live on Versus and NBC over the next couple of weeks.Beginning tonight (Thursday), the Nashville Predators Ryan Suter and Blake Geoffrion take on Vancouver with hopes of advancing to the conference finals. Nashville just won its first-ever playoff series.

Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley and the San Jose Sharks take on Brian Rafalski and the Detroit Red Wings in the second round beginning Friday. Wisconsin's head coach Mike Eaves will have an added interest in the series as his son Patrick skates for the Red Wings.

Also Friday, the 2011 IIHF World Championships begin in Kosice, Slovakia. The current roster is just shy of one-quarter Badgers, with five of the 23 having skated for Wisconsin. Current Badger forward Craig Smith (Madison, Wis.), is joined by 2011 Second-Team All-American defenseman Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka, Minn.), as well as 2006 NCAA West Regional hero Jack Skille (Madison, Wis.), and New York Ranger teammates Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn.) and Ryan McDonagh (Arden Hills, Minn.).

The U.S. will face Austria, Norway and Sweden in preliminary-round play April 30 - May 4 before advancing to either the Qualification or Relegation Round. Team USA's first six games will be aired live on Versus, which will also broadcast both of the tournament's semifinal games on May 13 and the gold-medal tilt on May 15.

Badger alum Jim Johannson serves as USA Hockey's Assistant Executive Director, Hockey Operations and is part of the team's staff.

Three Badgers remain in the AHL playoffs, as the league reaches the second round. Ben Street's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins take on the Charlotte Checkers, Kyle Klubertanz' Hamilton Bulldogs face the Manitoba Moose and Robbie Earl's Houston Aeros will battle the Milwaukee Admirals.

The ECHL has reached the conference finals in the Kelly Cup playoffs and one Badger remains. The Victoria Salmon Kings Ryan MacMurchy is the sole survivor.

Field of 16: Tweeting 16 observations until tip-off

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NEW ORLEANS, La. -- In honor of the Badgers' appearance in the 2011 NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, @BadgerMBBall sent out 16 Tweets with observations and commentary leading up to the fourth-round match-up between No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 8 Butler.

Patrick Herb was with the team in New Orleans and you can follow him here.

If you're not a follower, why not? But here's what you've missed...

16. One of the loosest teams you'll find, jokes begin upon landing. Whose lonely shoes arrived early? #Fieldof16 http://twitpic.com/4c8ews

15. Badgers doing 2-a-days in March? Yup, practiced at home this AM then at Tulane in PM. Did same in Tucson. #stickwithwhatworks #Fieldof16

14. Incredible seafood gumbo at the team meals. They're bringing the flavor of NOLA to us (9 bowl limit boys). #Fieldof16

13. ESPN's Rick Reilly was re-creating Bo Ryan's golf swing for Jordan, Jon & Keaton. He might have used the word Barkley. #Fieldof16

12. Bo Ryan to his good buddy and redhead Pete Gillen "Mike Bruesewitz is the first red-haired guy I've known with talent." #Fieldof16

11. UW always ends shoot-around with half-court shooting contests, bigs vs smalls. Gavinski & Leuer both made 1 for the win. #Fieldof16

10. Guys may take cable car tour of French Qtr. Nankivil: "it's like Jurassic Park, fun to look but u don't wanna touch anything" #Fieldof16

9. It's Gameday! Lots of down time with late start. That means sleeping in, breakfast & study table: http://twitpic.com/4ctjmg #Fieldof16

8. Open container laws in New Orleans. Just spotted Keaton Nankivil walking thru French Qtr with an open bottle... of Pedialyte. #Fieldof16

7. Scouting report at 3:50 but ALL 15 guys were there watching Butler film 30 minutes early. #Focus #Fieldof16 http://twitpic.com/4cwggl

6. Long lines outside New Orleans Arena. Saw lots of you in the French Qtr today, Badger fans. Now get here early and turn it red #Fieldof16

5. Badger cheerleaders sitting among Butler cheer squad watching Florida-BYU. Not much conversation, though. #whycan'twebefriends #Fieldof16

4. Badgers are in the house. Game on in NOLA at 8:57 on TBS. #Fieldof16 http://twitpic.com/4cxkfx

3. Bo Ryan: "It takes contributions from every source to get where u are going." UW bench avg 16.5 pts in AZ (9.7 pts in Big Ten) #Fieldof16 

2. Jon Leuer gave his pregame speech. Message was, this is what we've done all the hard work for. EARN the right to play again! #Fieldof16

1. Time to tip it off in New Orleans. Follow Badgers-Bulldogs live with the Gameday Blog: http://bit.ly/dKPjMh #Fieldof16

Field of 32: Tweeting 32 observations until tip-off

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Badgers advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament Round of 32, and that meant @BadgerMBBall sent out 32 Tweets with observations and commentary leading up to the second round NCAA tournament game between No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 5 Kansas State.

Patrick Herb was with the team in Tucson and you can follow him here.

If you're not a follower, why not? But here's what you've missed...

32. Bo Ryan postgame: "I'm not happy to just be here & I don't want to be around people who are. We're here for a reason."

31. Watching games in the locker rm before practice, Brett Valentyn deadpanned "George Mason could be this year's George Mason."

30. Q Smith doing his best Jacob Pullen imitation at practice (minus the beard) http://twitpic.com/4as8bx

29. We just found out the team is scheduled to arrive back in Madison on Sunday at 4:15 a.m. Prepare the welcome party.

28. Best UW hoops behind the scenes access video I've seen. Amazing access to the team: http://ow.ly/4hADJ

27. A member of the Wis. media just tripped over a giant light standard in the press conference causing near chaos & Hi comedy

26. When asked if there are any roads in WI that he doesn't know, Bo said "I don't think so cuz otherwise I'd know about them."

25. Tremendous food at hotel. Eating Margherita flatbread pizza Bo Ryan: "I don't even know what this is but I can't get enough"

24. Remember the near chaos in tweet 27? Jordan Taylor gets to the bottom of it with the perpetrator http://twitvid.com/G7KQG

23. Wake up call was at 9:15, then breakfast, watch a little ball, scouting report, eat again, get taped and tangle with K-State.

22. I'm not sure if K-State scout Gary Close has slept either of last 2 nights... Still cutting film http://twitpic.com/4b3tz3

21. Redshirt freshman Evan Anderson: "I could never live here. You could never mow your lawn."

20. CBS reporter Sam Ryan moved to tears by strength of @BValentyn15's family & sister Kenzi. Cross those fingers tonite Kenzi!

19. Jordan Taylor was rebuffed at the hotel spa upon learning the cheapest massage was $150. Per diem only goes so far.

18. Going over the scouting report on K-State, Keaton Nankivil learning his assignments: http://twitpic.com/4b5e52

17. Wis Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is in AZ supporting the team and getting a little pool time.

16. Gotta love police escorts at the NCAA tournament: http://twitpic.com/4b76fr

15. Focused look as the team boards the buses, but they can't help but smile as they exit hotel and hear On Wisconsin! Playing

14. Badgers are welcomed back to the McKale Center and sitting in stands watching SDSU vs Temple

13. Bo Ryan just said the work Big Ten teams beating each other up this year is paying dividends in tourney. BT is 5-2 in NCAA

12. Team looks loose groovin in the locker room to Method Man's Da Rockwilder and Kanye's All of the Lights. Tradition.

11. Badgers getting anxious in locker room as SDSU and Temple game goes overtime. They have a game clock but no tv in there.

10. NOBODY better at keeping a pressure situation loose than UW strength coach Scott Hettenbach. He or Evan Anderson's dancing

9. "Saddle up"... Badgers take the floor here in in Tucson.

8. Official tip time is now 8:06 pm for Wisconsin vs. Kansas State on TNT.

7. NCAA didn't have to clear the arena before tonight's game so the atmosphere is much better as the team's warm up. Fans buzzing

6. Starting lineup for the Badgers (this should look familiar): Taylor, Gasser, Jarmusz, Leuer, Nankivil

5. For the Wildcats: Jacob Pullen, Shane Southweell, Rodney MaGruder, Jamar Samuels, Curtis Kelly

4. Have you seen KSU's mascot? I'd take Bucky any day. He has a full body. Willie Wildcat is a cat head with a man's body

3. Red out-numbers Purple at the McKale Center... of course it does!

2. Lineups time! http://twitpic.com/4b8vdr #Fieldof32

1. The Gameday Blog is live from courtside at the McKale Center. Time to toss it up. http://bit.ly/gSU5YC

Badgers start NHL playoffs with a bang

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Two days into the NHL playoffs and the impact of Wisconsin men's hockey alumni is being felt. Big time.

To start, 11 former Badgers are skating in the playoffs, the most of any college team in the nation.

There have been eight games played and 27 goals scored thus far. Badgers account for 14.8 percent of the goals, 20 percent of the first goals and 20 percent of the game-winning goals, including 50 percent of the overtime game-winning goals. Granted there isn't a large sample of yet, but former Badger names can be heard in five of the eight series and on eight of the 16 teams involved in the playoffs.

BLOG: Media boards the Badger Bandwagon

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NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Reaching the Sweet 16 can do many things for a college basketball program. Energize the fan-base, boost recruiting, sell tickets for the following season and of course set up a chance to bring home a trophy.

Reaching the second weekend of the NCAA tournament also means a lot of attention from the national media. The Wisconsin Badgers are realizing that here in New Orleans.

110323MBB-6980-Media.jpegA quick roll call of the national media assembled here in the Crescent City reveals: Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn and Kelly Anderson, ESPN's Andy Katz and Rick Reilly, Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman, Marlen Garcia of USA Today, the New York Times' Pete Thamel and Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News, among others.

Between beignets on Bourbon Street and jazz joint sojourns, the media have taken a liking to Bo Ryan and his Badgers. While not all journalists may agree on the beauty of "Wisconsin's style" there is certainly a consensus that "Wisconsin wins."

And winning is beautiful.

Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn has Wisconsin No. 4 on his Sweet 16 Power Rankings and features a great video of Mike Bruesewitz discussing his rust-colored coif.

Winn also examines the unique hand-shake that Jordan Taylor and Tim Jarmusz employ (with video) in his NCAA Tournament Style Archive.

ESPN Andy Katz knows that the other three teams in New Orleans may have interesting storylines, but the Badgers are no afterthought.

Katz's ESPN.com colleague Ted Miller explains how there's nothing complicated about winning the "Wisconsin way."

A USA Today column thinks Keaton Nankivil's black eye is a perfect symbol for Wisconsin basketball.

The Sporting News has recognized UW's effectiveness and has recognized it all the way to the Final Four.

Chicago Tribune writer Chris Hine reminds us to 'Slow down and enjoy the pace of Wisconsin basketball.'

Colin Fly of the Associated Press has seen the success of the swing.

Bo Ryan dropped by ESPN's Rome is Burning recently to give his 'take.'

On break from covering Gopher basketball, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Myron P. Medcalf is following UW's Minnesota natives, beginning with Jordan Taylor and his inner toughness.

Looking back, Mike Bruesewitz was a "4" playing like a "3" which added up to a "2."

Two rebounds in three games.

What wasn't he doing? "I wasn't beating people up inside," he said.

Moving forward, Jared Berggren wants to play like a starter as a backup.

Despite coming off his first career start.

Berggren_2011_MSU.jpgWhat does he need to be doing? "I need to be more consistent," he said.

Bruesewitz and Berggren have identified their roles and what they have to do to earn more minutes for the Badgers. Now they have to go out and do it starting Thursday night against Indiana at the Kohl Center. They both know that has to be the blue print whether they're starting or not.

"I've got to do a lot of the little things that kind of got away from me there for a couple of games," said Bruesewitz, a sophomore from St. Paul, Minn. "I was kind of floating on the perimeter a little bit - not being tough and physical inside - which has kind of been my staple.

"Since I've been here, I've been able to get inside and knock a few people around and make bodies fly a little bit and get some offensive rebounds. That's what got me minutes last year - being a tough kid inside, beating people up, stuff like that. I have to get back to that a little bit more."

As a freshman, Bruesewitz had rebounding spurts where he would come off the bench and trigger a run with his energy and tenacity. He had five rebounds in four minutes at Michigan State. He had five rebounds in six minutes against Purdue. He had seven rebounds against Arizona and Indiana.

Through this season's first three Big Ten games - combined - he had two rebounds; both in a loss at Illinois. He was blanked on the glass against Minnesota (16 minutes) and Michigan (13 minutes). He had two rebounds at Michigan State but he played a season-low 12 minutes.

Bruesewitz_2011_Illinois.jpg"I stepped back and looked (at what I was doing) and talked to a couple of the coaches," Bruesewitz said. "My minutes went down and we had conversations. And they said one thing you're really not doing is rebounding the ball as well as you can, and should be. That was an eye-opener."

In the UW's win over Illinois, he had four rebounds in 20 minutes. "I felt like I was getting back to more what I know I'm really good at doing," Bruesewitz said. "I really wasn't getting on the glass as much as I should have and or I'm capable of. That's one big area I've tried to emphasize."

After 13 straight starts, he has been coming off the bench the last three games. That has allowed him to get more of a feel for the tempo or the flow before stepping on the floor. Lately, he also has been utilized more as a "4" (power forward) than a "3" (small forward).

"Because I was playing the "3" so much," he said, "and we were playing some teams that were trying to push the ball more, I was making sure I was getting back on defense for the shooters."

 Bruesewitz added that if he couldn't get a "two-handed" rebound he was sprinting back to the other end because "we're better five-on-five than we are in a transition defense, three-on-two."

Upon further review, he knows what he has to do to be a more consistent and effective contributor. Beyond the staples - beating people up inside and making bodies fly - it revolves around "knocking down an open shot when I have one, getting on the boards and playing defense."

Over the last few weeks, Berggren has learned more about himself, too. After playing just three minutes against Michigan and six minutes against Michigan State, he got his first career start last Saturday against Illinois. He had two points, four rebounds, an assist and a block in 15 minutes.

Berggren didn't make a big deal out of his first start. Not to the degree that his family and friends did. "Obviously, I was happy to be starting," he said. "The thing I liked about it most was I knew when I'd be playing. Sitting on the bench, you have that excitement or anxiety waiting to check in."

Berggren, a redshirt sophomore from Princeton, Minn., has played 10 or more minutes only six times. "When I do get an opportunity to come into the game, I have to make some plays right away," he said. "I have to limit my mistakes and add to what the team has going as soon as I step on the floor."

He has tried to focus on being more consistent and aggressive. "If I come in and I'm tentative early," he said, "Coach may be more hesitant to put me back in the game later. But If I come in and make plays and show that I'm comfortable, I think I'd be more likely to get more playing time."

So much is predicated on the matchups. "Illinois had a lot of bigs and it was a better matchup when we could put Jon (Leuer) at the 3-spot,'" Berggren said. "It's different from game to game."

But he can control one thing from day-to-day - maybe the most important thing in the big picture. And that is? "Coming ready to work every day in practice and trying to improve," he said.

That also applies to Bruesewitz, whether he's being threatened or not by UW coach Bo Ryan to cut his bushy hair if his production doesn't pick up. It's all done in a joking manner. And, for now, he has no plans on getting it cut. "I'm getting it trimmed in a couple of weeks, but nothing too major," he said.

The mop-topped Zach Morley was also given some wiggle room by Ryan who's well aware of the historical ramifications associated with Sampson (Ralph Sr. and Ralph III notwithstanding).
ON WISCONSIN