Nov. 8, 2012
BY MIKE LUCAS
MADISON, Wis. -- Craning his neck to view the scoreboard hanging above center court, Ben Brust was mesmerized by the images on the giant video screen Wednesday night at the Kohl Center.
He was not alone.
His teammates had the same bemused or Bo-mused expression during a pregame ceremony recognizing Bo Ryan’s induction into the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
Ryan won four Division III national championships at UW-Platteville.
“You think about all the different teams that he’s had,” marveled Brust, a junior guard, “and all the players that have come through his programs over the years. He’s just been doing this for so long.”
Ryan is entering his 29th season as a head coach, 12th at Wisconsin. And there were a number of photo images of Ryan that stood out to Brust during the slide presentation on the video board.
“I did not know that he had a court named after him,” he said innocently. “I did not.”
In 2007, Platteville dedicated “Bo Ryan Court” at Williams Fieldhouse. That ceremony was depicted along with a vintage picture of Ryan breaking down tape with a pointer.
“He was pointing to a TV with what looked like an antenna,” said Brust, chuckling at the generation gap. “Times have definitely changed. We have laser pointers now.”
There’s a very good chance that Ryan will use the opening minutes of Wednesday’s game to point out the defensive breakdowns that allowed Oshkosh to get off to a 7-0 lead.
Then again, the undermanned Titans just hit some tough shots; their first four attempts.
Consider it a wake-up call.
“Definitely,” Brust said. “It was right in our face. They came out attacking and you have to give them credit for that. They didn’t come here shying away from anything. They attacked right away.”
It didn’t take long for Wisconsin to gain control of the exhibition mismatch. Brust knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 14-12 lead and UW coasted from there to a 96-44 victory.
“We just want to use our strengths to the best of our ability,” said Brust, who finished with 12 points, one of five players, all starters, in double-figures. Jared Berggren led the way with 16.
“We settled down,” Brust went on, “and got it inside to Jared and we started controlling the glass a lot more. We got a lot of offensive rebounds and second chance points.”
Physically, the Titans simply couldn’t measure up. The Badgers outrebounded them 46-18 – 18-4 on the offensive glass – and outscored them, 21-1, in second chance points. Not much was proved.
“But it was definitely good to get out there under the lights,” Brust said. “There was adrenaline flowing for some of the younger guys. It’s just good to get your feet wet.”
Oshkosh was the equivalent of sitting pool side and dangling your feet in the water compared to next Wednesday night when the Badgers jump off the deep end with a road game at Florida.
Brust refused to look that far ahead, though.
“We have to worry about preparing for the next game right now,” he said, eyeing Sunday’s season opener against Southeast Louisiana. “When the time comes, we’ll prepare for Florida.”
Spoken like a true Ryan-coached and programmed player.
“Florida?” Brust pondered when asked for his first thoughts. “Yeah, sunshine.”
So much for the advance scouting report on the Gators.
That aside, given Josh Gasser’s season-ending injury, Brust is a key component in the backcourt.
While conceding that his role has changed a little bit because of Gasser’s absence, Brust said, “You have to stay true to yourself and what you know you can do for the team.”
However, he admitted, “You also have to raise your level of play to pick up for a guy like Josh.”
Brust does not have just one focal point when it comes to developing his skills from last season when he averaged seven points and 21 minutes coming off the bench in a sixth-man role.
“I’m trying to do a little bit of everything (better) and just expand every part of the game,” he said, “whether it be offense or defense, whatever it is. I’m just trying to get better everywhere.”
That also holds true for the team – regardless of the level of competition.
“All you can do is play,” Brust said, noting that it still boils down to possessions and “making the right reads, taking care of the ball, making the right passes and playing hard on defense.”
For someone who attacks the rim as aggressively as Brust, there’s one other element.
“Finishing,” he said with a wry grin. “Putting the ball in the hoop is kind of important.”
The balanced scoring that the Badgers got Wednesday could go a long way in defining this team.
Florida will be one of the early tests. Yeah, sunshine, right?