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.
As 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.
Both 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.
There just might be a silver lining to the NBA lockout.
With the NBA season on hold while players and owners negotiate a new
collective bargaining agreement, unexpected free time has become
available for league employees and players. Some players have
participated in Pro Am or exhibition games, others (like Jon Leuer) have
chosen to play in Europe.
In the case of former Badgers Devin Harris and Michael Finley, they have
used the NBA lockout to re-connect with their alma mater. Harris is
taking classes this semester to get closer to obtaining his UW degree.
Finley has established an endowed scholarship at Wisconsin.
With both NBA All-Stars on campus last weekend, Bo Ryan invited them to stop by the Kohl Center and practice with the team.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Finley, Harris practice with the Badgers: VIDEO | PHOTOS
"It was fun to play against these young guys at Wisconsin," Finley said.
"Coach Ryan opened the doors for me, not only here at the University,
but as his house as well. So I'm going to keep him to that when I need a
place to stay out here."
"It was good to get back and see the coaches and see the players,"
Harris added. "It's good to actually get some running and some practice
in with the fellow Badgers."
Dressed in team-issued practice gear, Finley and Harris went through
practice just like every other member of the team, participating in
passing drills, situational work and 5-on-5 full court games.
Treated like every member of the team, Finley and Harris were not exempt
from doing sit-ups with the team after a missed a free throw at the end
All eyes were trained on the entertaining match-up of UW's past
All-American, Harris, against this year's version, Jordan Taylor.
Another noteworthy head-to-head battle featured the 38-year old Finley
facing 18-year old Traevon Jackson. Finley was teammates with Jackson's
father, Jimmy, on the Dallas Mavericks.
"I played with Jimmy. For as much as Jimmy took at me in practice, I'm taking it at Trae as much as I can," Finley joked.
Harris, who was traded to the Utah Jazz in the middle of last season,
said he's anxious to get back to Utah and start up the season. Finley,
who most recently spent time with the Boston Celtics during the 2009-10
season, said he still has an interest in playing and if a team calls,
he'll be ready.
For now though, both Finley and Harris are enjoying their productive down time and being back in the Cardinal and White.
"This University will always have a special place in my heart, and it
helped me become what I am today," Finley said. "I like this year's
team, too. I've watched them throughout the last couple years and it's
fun to get out here and compete. It's good to be home."
A redshirt junior from Princeton, Minn., center Jared Berggren appeared in 29 games in 2010-11. Berggren possesses some of UW's best interior post moves, but also has the ability to step outside and knock down shots, hitting 7 of 22 from 3-point range as a sophomore. He scored 18 points in a winning effort at Sunday's Red/White Scrimmage.
What is your earliest basketball memory? "I remember early on going to Timberwolves games. We had a big group that went every year beginning when I was in about third grade. I got a Kevin Garnett jersey when I was a kid, but it's kind of a funny story. The KG jersey was my third choice. I really wanted a Tom Gugliotta jersey, but if I couldn't get that I wanted a Stephon Marbury jersey. And if I couldn't get either of those I'd get a Garnett one. We went to the store and all they had was Garnett jerseys. He turned out to be my favorite player and the jersey was one of my favorite things."
What was the non-basketball highlight of your off-season? "In the spring I went up to a friend's cabin near Brainerd, Minn. for four or five days. We just hung out and fished and relaxed. We caught mostly pan fish, but a few bass too. We didn't feel like cleaning them, so it was just catch-and-release."
Do you guys take notes when you're scouting an opponent? "Yeah, we all maintain a notebook throughout the season. When we're watching film of our next opponent we'll write notes on things we learn and we want to emphasize like, certain player tendencies or defensive principles we want to use against teams. So we'll take notes during film and look back at it again before the game. Then after the game we'll pull them out again while breaking down the previous game and write down any mistakes we made. That really helps during conference play when we play teams multiple times. We can go back and look at the keys we used and maybe the ones we didn't use from the last time we played them."
Do you feel pressure stepping into the roles vacated by Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil? "I wouldn't say that I feel pressure, I feel more excitement than anything. More is expected of me now. I put a little pressure on myself because I know I'm ready for the opportunity. I feel confident that I can step into an increased role."
Bo Ryan is not prone to hyperbole when discussing freshmen. So his words tend to carry more weight when the UW basketball coach does single out a first-year player as a potential contributor.
That was the case during last season's media day when Ryan volunteered a thumbnail sketch on the strengths of guard Josh Gasser, which clearly indicated that he had a chance to play right away.
"His knowledge of the game and court sense are really good; he's ahead of a lot of freshmen," he said at the time. "Josh can play. Josh is smart. Nothing seems to rattle him. That's what I like about him."
As it turned out, there was plenty to like about Gasser who scored 21 points in the season opener, started 30 of 34 games and produced the first triple-double in school history.
During Monday's media day, Ryan was asked about freshman Jarrod Uthoff, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward from Cedar Rapids, who was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Iowa.
"He'll play at the University of Wisconsin and he'll play early," Ryan said. "He's a player; better than expected. But don't tell him I said that. I think the other guys (freshmen) have a chance to play.
"I'm just saying that he's right now, kind of picking up things like Josh (Gasser) did last year. Coaches like good listeners and fast learners and I've never seen a more conscientious guy."
Earlier in the press conference, Ryan fielded a question on his expectations for UW's freshman class - Uthoff, George Marshall, Traevon Jackson, Frank Kaminsky and Jordan Smith - based on what he had seen already.
"Well, if you asked me last Tuesday, I could have given you an answer," Ryan said. "If you asked me yesterday, I could have given you an answer.
"You know what? After eight practices I could have given you eight different answers which is not unusual. But here's what I do like.
"They don't like to lose in the drills. If you come in second, you come in last. There are three teams of four or five guys and you go against each other; red, white and black jerseys.
"There are two teams that have to run, because only one team wins. It's pretty competitive. That's a good sign. If we don't have guys who are competing we're not going to get better."
The faces may change from class to class; the message never does to his freshmen.
"For the 40th time, since this is my 40th year of coaching," Ryan said. "You tell them on the first day that if you don't go hard against me, you are disrespectful to me.
"If I don't go hard at you every possession then I'm being disrespectful of you. We just tell guys, 'If you really want to accomplish something each and every day, try to beat the guy across you.
"Try to make sure you're making him work as hard as he can to get to the rim and to get a good shot and make him move his feet to stop you when you're on offense.'
"If you have those kinds of (competitive) drills, guys will develop."
The mere mention of player development struck a chord with Ryan, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame last weekend along with former Princeton coach Pete Carrill.
"I got goose bumps when Petey told me Saturday night that he doesn't watch a lot of teams on television but he watches us play," related Ryan.
"I said, 'Why, because we're slow?' He goes, 'No, because you move the ball and you play the way the game is supposed to be played.'
"I thought that was pretty nice. Here's a guy who's 81 years old and still working in the NBA and he actually had something nice say about our guys."
Ryan has always had the utmost respect for Carrill because "he was such a good teacher getting guys to understand their roles and how to play off each other."
Who does that sound like? Exactly.
After that brief detour, Ryan got back on point and concluded, "If these freshmen are competing, we have a chance to get better."
The official 12-man USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team was announced this week and former Badgers Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma both made the cut.
The U.S. squad, comprised for the first time in Pan American Games history of NBA Development League players who are under contract to play in the NBA D-League in 2011-12, will continue training in Tulsa through Oct. 22 and will compete Oct. 26-30 in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Since playing at UW, Stiemsma has spent time playing
professionally in both the NBA-Development League and overseas.
The USA men were drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m. CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27 (8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m. CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 30.
Training camp for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team will held Oct. 14-22 at the Tulsa Convention Center. The 12-member USA Men's Pan American Games Team will be announced before the team departs for the Pan American Games competition in Mexico on Oct. 23.
MADISON, Wis. -- Former Wisconsin big men Brian
Butch and Greg Stiemsma are two of 21 players that have accepted
invitations to participate in the Oct. 14-22 USA Pan American Games Team
training camp. The training camp will be utilized to select the USA's
12-man roster that will compete in the 2011 Pan American Games that are
being held from Oct. 26-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Wisconsin, Butch has played professionally overseas and enjoyed a
successful stint in the NBA Developmental League that earned him a spot
on the Denver Nuggets roster late in the 2010 season.
Wis., native missed all of last season after dislocating his knee in an
NBA Summer League game in July of 2010. An All-Big Ten selection as a
senior, Butch scored 1,115 career points and finished sixth in UW
history for career rebounds.
Stiemsma has taken a similar path
since his days in Madison, playing professionally in Europe, the NBA
D-League as well as a call-up to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves
in 2010 and later a contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A native of
Randolph, Wis., Stiemsma appeared in 95 games for the Badgers and
currently ranks sixth in UW history for career blocks.
addition to Butch and Stiemsma, the USA Pan American Games Team training
camp is excepted to include: Blake Ahearn (Missouri State '07) Chris
Daniels (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi '08) Justin Dentmon (Washington
'09) Jerome Dyson (Connecticut '10) Moses Ehambe (Oral Roberts '08) Anthony Goods (Stanford '09) Ron Howard (Valparaiso '06) Marcus Lewis
(Oral Roberts '09) Leo Lyons (Missouri '09) Renaldo Major (Fresno
State '04) Anthony Mason, Jr. (St. Johns '10) Matt Rogers (Southwest
Baptist '10) Walker Russell (Jacksonville State '06) Donald Sloan
(Texas A&M '10) Curtis Sumpter (Villanova '07) Lance Thomas (Duke
'10) Curtis Withers (Charlotte '06) Chris Wright (Dayton '11) Luke Zeller (Notre Dame '09).
The Pan American Games, held every
four years in the year prior to the Olympics, are being held Oct. 13-30
in Guadalajara, Mexico. The men's basketball competition, which features
eight teams, is being conducted Oct. 26-30.
The USA men were
drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national
teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A
are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open
preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m.
CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27
(8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m.
CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the
finals will be contested on Oct. 30.
Training camp for the 2011
USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team will held Oct. 14-22 at the
Tulsa Convention Center (Okla.). The 12-member USA Men's Pan American
Games Team will be announced before the team departs Oct. 23.
66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts will serve as head coach for Team USA.
The player and coaching staff selections were made by the USA Basketball
Men's Pan American Games Committee, approved by USA Basketball's Board
of Directors and are subject to final approval by the U.S. Olympic
Committee Chief Executive Officer.
The USA Basketball Pan
American Games Committee is chaired by USA Basketball Men's National
Team Director Sean Ford, and also comprised of 2000 Olympic gold
medalist Steve Smith, NBA Development League Vice President of
Basketball Operations & Player Personnel Chris Alpert, and NBA
Development League consultant Gordon Chiesa.
Andy Kilbride was never cut from the Wisconsin men's basketball team. But if he was, he might have been prepared to handle the rejection.
After a couple firings and a lay-off in the turbulent investment world, the former UW shooting guard has penned a humorous, yet insightful advice book titled, "A Man's Guide to Getting Fired."
Kilbride will be in Madison on Friday, Sept. 30, to promote his new book. He will appear at Underground Printing (521 State Street) to sign books from 5-7 p.m.
A three-year starter for the Badgers, Kilbride (1992-95) still ranks seventh in UW history for career 3-point shooting (41.8 percent). He is now the founder of Foster Bridge Partners, LLC, a management and consulting firm, but has recently added author to his resume. Kilbride is using his new book to inspire readers to create a life centered on their passions. "A Man's Guide to Getting Fired" reveals the process he developed to push his own life and career forward.
"I stopped climbing the corporate ladder and made my own way," Kilbride said. "Now I can look back on my former miserable life with clarity and objectivity. I want to share with you what I have learned from my experiences - what I did right and what I did wrong."
According to Kilbride, there is a lack of available information on what to do after you lose your job and before you find a new one. With this in mind, he offers witty anecdotes and liberating advice intended to help men understand what they're going through, look within to recalibrate their professional goals and move on with their lives.
Last season Jordan Taylor burst onto the college basketball scene with a monster year and a few signature games. For his efforts, Taylor was widely rewarded with second-team All-America honors.
Count Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as the first to think Taylor can make the leap to first-team All-American in 2011-12.
The annual preview magazine has included Taylor on its preseason first-team All-American list, joining Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), Terrance Jones (Kentucky), Kris Joseph (Syracuse) and Jared Sullinger (Ohio State).
Taylor enters his senior season after averaging 18.1 points per game (5th in Big Ten) and 20.1 ppg during conference play last year. A lethal shooter, Taylor shot 43% from 3-point range (7th in Big Ten) and 85% from the free throw line (4th in Big Ten). Taylor also led the nation with a 3.83 assist-to-turnover ratio.
In its 31st year of publication, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook is one of the most comprehensive college basketball publications in the world. On newsstands in October, Blue Ribbon gives readers thorough, up-to-date and timely evaluations of every Division I team in the country.
The Wisconsin men's basketball team has announced preliminary details for the annual Red-White Scrimmage sponsored by the University Bookstore. Fans can get their first look at the 2011-12 Badgers on Sunday, Oct. 30, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Kohl Center.
Admission, as always, is free to the public and the UW coaches and players will be available following the scrimmage for a one-hour autograph signing.
Former Badger Keaton Nankivil, who is now playing professional in Germany, was the leading scorer in each of the last three Red-White Scrimmages. Who will steal the headlines this year?
Wisconsin returns a pair of starters from last season's Sweet 16 team in second-team All-American Jordan Taylor and backcourt mate Josh Gasser. Junior Mike Bruesewitz, who averaged nearly 20 minutes per game and made 13 starts a year ago, returns in 2011-12, albeit with much less hair.
The Red-White Scrimmage will also offer fans their first look at the six newcomers on the Badgers' roster. Bo Ryan's staff welcomes five freshmen and transfer Zach Bohannon into the fray in 2011-12.
Mark your calendars now for the Red-White Scrimmage on October 30 and stay tuned to UWBadgers.com for more details as the event draws near.