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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Carroll’s chance of a lifetime

[media-credit name=’BEN WORGULL/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]carroll1_BW[/media-credit]Since 1998, the Kohl Center has been a house of horrors for visiting college basketball teams. In eight seasons in the 17,000-seat arena, 108 opponents have visited and only 17 have walked away successful. Under Bo Ryan, the Badgers' record at home is even better, with the University of Wisconsin going 72-5 against the competition, including exhibition games. Needless to say, the Kohl Center is one the most ominous places to play in the Big Ten, if not the whole country.

So when tiny Division-III Carroll College came to Madison, fans were expecting a similar result. But fans didn't know that Carroll College head coach David Schultz, who turned the Pioneer program from a two-win doormat to a 20-plus-win NCAA tournament team, is well-respected for being able to find opponent's tendencies and getting the most out of his players. In Schultz's 400-plus games on the bench, however, he's never had to prepare his team to play in a venue quite like the Kohl Center.

Carroll's charter bus arrives in the Kohl Center's loading dock with coaches and players quickly getting to work. While the athletes get comfortable in their new locker room, the coaching staff gets a quick rundown from a Kohl Center manager on the pre-game introductions, where the Badgers stand for the national anthem and the media timeouts in place during the game. When asked if there's anything else they need, Schultz is quick on the draw with a witty response.


"Do you have any 7-footers we can borrow?" Schultz joked. "That's all we asked for before we came."

Carroll's 18 players take the floor for a light one-hour workout to get used to their surroundings. Playing in small, high school gyms in Division III, the vast arena causes some wide-eyes among the young team. Schultz tries to keep the first half of the practice light, playing perimeter-shooting games with the squad, forcing the losers to do some easy conditioning.

The last 20 minutes of Carroll's practice is spent on the Badgers and five set plays Wisconsin likes to run. Since this will be Carroll's first exhibition game of the season, Schultz wants to keep the defense's mentality simple: Force Wisconsin into the middle of the floor, extend the defense to the free throw line and locate an offensive player before locating the ball.

"Maintain your [defensive] triangles so you can come in and help your teammates but be able to kick out and contest the [perimeter] shot," assistant coach Krayton Nash instructs.

After practice, Schultz gives his team the message he will preach the entire evening.

"Go out and play your game and whatever happens, happens," Schultz said. "Most importantly, enjoy this moment and have fun out there."

While the women's basketball team takes the court for their practice, Carroll's players get time to relax. Some choose to stay and watch the women's team practice, while others make for the food tent to enjoy a lunch of subs, chips and Gatorade. However, not all the Carroll staff gets to enjoy the free time.

One of the many miscellaneous things Schultz has to do is take ticket requests to the basketball offices, located on the second floor of the Kohl Center. Every visiting team gets 30 complementary tickets and the ability to purchase 70 more. Being only an hour east of Madison, Carroll has used up all their ticket requests, as people seem to come out of hiding quickly to ask Schultz for tickets or directions.

"Everybody and their Uncle Charlie is calling the week before to get tickets," Schultz jokes. "We can only help so many, and the rest are on their own."

The coaches and players huddle into the tiny locker room with Schultz positioning himself at the board. After going over Wisconsin's lineup, Schultz moves into his seven defensive points and seven offensive points: emphasizing communications, contesting shots, running the floor and valuing the basketball.

"Make them play, [and] make them earn it," Schultz said. "There are 10 guys and one ball."

Then Schultz, like a crafty general, reveals his plan to his troops: break the game into four-minute segments. Because Carroll isn't used to having two-minute media timeouts, Schultz doesn't want his players to pace themselves on the court, since they get extra time to recoup on the bench.

"Win those first four minutes," Schultz instructs. "Don't play tired or to pace yourself, play hard for the first four minutes, and then we'll go from there. Let's see how many of those four-minutes blocks we can win."

After a team prayer and huddle, the players hit the floor running. Meanwhile, Schultz hits the coaches' locker room for a pre-game shower and goes over final notes.

Schultz is ready, the players are ready and pre-game introductions begin. Before going out on the court, Schultz tries to calm the players and downplay the situation.

"Take a deep breath, enjoy the moment and focus in on the moment when you're out there and worry about the game you've been playing since you started playing," Schultz said. "[If you can do that], we can live with the results."

First half
On the fourth possession of the game, Carroll scores the first points of the contest.

"Should we call a timeout and have someone take a picture of the scoreboard?" Schultz jokes, drawing a laugh from his assistant coaches.

Little did Schultz know, his four-minute plan would continue working, as the smaller lineup pestered the Badgers. At the first media timeout, Carroll had forced Wisconsin to take six outside shots and closed down the paint.

"You won that first four minutes, now go out there and win the next one," Schultz urges.

Carroll uses their quicker speed, perimeter shooting and stout defense to overwhelm Wisconsin, going on an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to lead 19-10 and quiet the Kohl Center, something few teams have been able to do.

"Keep bringing the intensity," Schultz encourages during the next media timeout. "Forget about the score. Just play ball and win the next four minutes."

Unfortunately for Schultz, Carroll begins to struggle down the first-half stretch. In their last 10 possessions, Carroll only manages three points, missing eight shots and committing four turnovers. Even so, the Pioneers go into the locker room only trailing by six, thanks to 13 points from Buck Colomy, making Bo Ryan take notice of their scrappy defense.

"Defensively, they really worked hard on not giving up the easy looks," Ryan said. "Didn't help that they shot well over 50 percent in the first seven or eight minutes."

Schultz and his coaching staff are bittersweet as they talk in the hallway outside the locker room. On the positive, Carroll allowed only 10 points in the paint, shut down Wisconsin's big men and limited All-Big Ten forward Alando Tucker to just two points.

What's disappointing to the coaches is the Pioneers' last 10 minutes of the half.

"We had 10 turnovers in the last 10 minutes," Schultz said. "That led to them transitioning and us not getting set [and] committing fouls. Take care of the ball. Some were bad ideas, but obviously, timing wasn't right."

Regardless, the team felt good about the position they had put themselves in and how they'd forced Wisconsin to play to their style of basketball.

"We jumped out to a lead and [Bo Ryan] countered by going small, so that's fine; we have them playing our game now." Schultz said. "Take a deep breath, get some shots in and take it."

Second half
The Badgers jumped out quickly in the second half on Carroll, going on a quick 6-0 run that forced Schultz to call a time out.

"Don't get tight, play ball and play loose," Schultz told his team.

"Just stay focused on what you need to do, guys," Nash said. "Don't let them get into their comfort zone."

With just over 11 minutes left, Carroll makes their move, going on an 8-0 run by drawing foul, fighting for offensive rebounds and using their scrappy defense. Carroll was within six and feeling the upset.

It was all for naught though, as Wisconsin finally started flexing their muscles, going on a 24-10 run over Carroll, who struggled to find the bottom of the net in the last eight minutes, only managing nine shots during that stretch. With the game well out of reach, Schultz used the last media timeout to encourage his team to soak everything in.

"Finish strong guys, and don't go backwards," Schultz said. "Enjoy this experience and finish the game strong."

The end result was an 81-61 Wisconsin victory; a final score that didn't tell the story of the entire game.

A somber locker room is left quiet for a few minutes as the five Carroll coaches huddle outside and write down a couple points. Inside, he keeps his talk brief but direct to the players, as the Pioneers just put a top-ten Division I team through a dogfight.

"We had a few lapses, but it's a good foundation to build on, and we got a sense of what our team is like, what we can do, where we are strong and what we need to continue to work on," Schultz said to his players.

"That's the [No. 9] team in the country, and you gave them game," Nash added. "What else can I say? You played hard and gave them a game."

After calling every player into the center of the room and having a team cheer, Schultz and players Buck Colomy and Nathan Drury make their way to the media room to address the media.

While walking across the Kohl Center floor, Colomy, who led all scores with 25 points on the night, simply said, "This was a lot of fun."

As Carroll was about to walk into media room, a large eruption was heard from the stands, as two-dozen Carroll supporters stayed to continue to show their support for the school. With a wave of the hand and a shout of thanks, Schultz entered the media room.

After going up to the Kohl Center concourse to meet with some parents, Schultz returns to his locker room and gathers his things before heading to his car. With his luggage bag, briefcase and sport coat in his hands, Schultz takes one quick glance around the locker room and walks toward the bus. Once there, Schultz takes a count to make sure everyone is accounted for and tells the bus driver that they're ready to go.

It's been a long day of planning and preaching for Schultz — formulating a game plan for success, walking that plan through with his team, reinforcing the plan in the locker room and executing it on the court.

While the Carroll College Pioneers may have been just another victim to the winning ways of the Kohl Center, Carroll was able to do what most schools can't — play toe-to-toe with the Badgers and show that they are legit.

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