After beating up on lowly SIU-Edwardsville Tuesday, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team will participate in the Paradise Jam Tournament in the Virgin Islands, starting today against Iona.
The Badgers faced two unranked teams in their first two games, but in the tournament, there is a pair of ranked squads aside from Wisconsin. No. 17 Miami (FL) and No. 2 Connecticut are both possible foes the Badgers could face if all goes well.
“You have to get good at what you do, and you have to try to excel at things you’ve been working on in practice,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “You have to make the other team stop. Obviously there will be weakness down there, and that’s why people get into these types of tournaments — to get better.”
Wisconsin will be following a 30-point rout of SIU-Edwardsville that came after a single-digit scare against Long Beach State. Going into the tournament, senior forward Marcus Landry is pleased the team was able to win like it did on Tuesday.
“A win is a win,” Landry said. “If you win by one point, it’s still a good way to go into a tournament. Hopefully guys are confident and feel good about themselves and are going in to make a statement. … I think it most definitely helped us going into this tournament.”
Even though the tournament takes place several weeks before the Big Ten season begins, Ryan feels the tough competition is a good way to prepare for conference play.
“As the three games play out, we’ll obviously be trying to get in some teaching sessions, but the other teams are trying to do the same thing,” Ryan said. “Everybody’s trying to get ready for their conference.”
Last year, the Badgers won the early season America’s Classic Tournament and went on to win the Big Ten title. However, the field did not possess a single ranked team and took place at the Kohl Center. This year, Ryan expects much more difficult competition.
“Now we’re going down to a tournament where there are just a lot of good teams, period,” Ryan said. “There will be size, there will be quickness, strength — the caliber of teams in this thing just might be the toughest one that they’ve had. We’ve just got to go down there and mix it up with those teams and see what happens.”
Landry feels the Badgers — whose trips have included a visit to Rome — traveling to the Virgin Islands will be a good experience for the team’s younger players who have yet to be on a team trip in their careers at UW.
“It’s obviously a great place to be, in the Virgin Islands,” Landry said. “For the most part though, it’s a business trip, and we’re going down there to have fun. There are some great teams down there.
“Especially for the younger guys, this being their first trip … being away from school for about a week will prepare them for later on in tournament play,” he continued. “It really prepares them for what we’re going to be doing later in the season.”
Though the Badgers have a possible bout with Connecticut in the final round of the tournament, they will first have to get by Iona and either Valparaiso or San Diego first.
“There are a lot of good teams,” Landry said. “Nothing’s going to come easy.”