Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Who’s No. 1? UW, OSU to find out

[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]Notebook_JS[/media-credit]Wisconsin's victory over Penn State, coupled with No. 1 Florida losing at Vanderbilt 83-70 later that afternoon, very likely sets up a No.1 versus No. 2 battle Sunday when the Badgers travel to Columbus to face Ohio State. The contest could very well be the deciding factor as to who wins the Big Ten conference and who will have the nation's No. 1 ranking heading into conference tournaments.

While UW is aware that the huge matchup looms, they are also quick to remember that before it can play for the conference and national No. 1 spot on Sunday, there is a trip to Michigan State Tuesday, where the Badgers will have to deal with a very hostile Breslin Center crowd.

"Our destiny is in our own hands. That's what I thrive off of," Tucker said. "It's going to be tough. We don't want to jump too far ahead and say we have Michigan State and Ohio State. We want to take care of Michigan State, get that done, and then knock down Ohio State."


Tucker said that for all Wisconsin has done thus far, how it handles the tough three-game stretch to end the conference regular season — at Michigan State, at Ohio State and Michigan State again at home — will define UW's season.

"This will tell the tale of this Wisconsin team this year," Tucker said. "Everything we do from here will add to our legacy. I'm accepting the challenge and … the rest of my teammates are, too. We aren't putting too much pressure on ourselves. We don't want to lose again."

Although the challenge is harrowing, Tucker and the Badgers are still very self-assured about their chances with the league title on the line.

"I feel very confident. There's no doubt in my mind that we can go in there and win," Tucker said of the two road trips. "We aren't worried. We just have to make sure we hold our end of the bargain and we need to take care of what we do best."

Bench brigade

Wisconsin's depth has been an advantage over opponents all season long, as the Badgers have eight players who average 14 or more minutes and commonly play 10 players as part of the regular rotation. That depth was on display yet again Saturday, as UW's bench outscored Penn State's 25-2.

"That's what we have to do to be a great team," Tucker said. "We have to have contributions from everyone and that's good because we are getting it from different people."

Leading the way for bench scorers was freshman point guard Jason Bohannon, who scored a career-high 11 points. Bohannon credited the encouragement from head coach Bo Ryan to take advantage from the view from the bench.

"Coming off the bench you get a kind of feel for the game," Bohannon said. "We get to see what they like to do."

Bohannon pointed out that while the scoring might not always be so prodigious from the Badger reserves, the effort and other contributions will always be consistent.

"Some days [the scoring] will be there, some days it won't, but we just have to go out there and play the way we know how to and have to play hard," Bohannon said.

He's a Stiems-maniac

While Wisconsin reserve Greg Stiemsma only tallied two points on the day, he was another facet of UW's bench production Saturday. In only 12 minutes of work Stiemsma dished out a team-high five assists and blocked two shots.

"Those are pretty good numbers, aren't they?" Ryan said.

Stiemsma was the perfect example of the Wisconsin inside-outside game, as passes that went into the post often were quickly bounced back to wide-open Badgers on the perimeter. Ryan was hardly surprised by Stiemsma's productivity in finding open jump shooters.

"He can pass. He works at it," Ryan said. "He just needs to keep gaining the confidence and get comfortable."

The only downside to Stiemsma's performance? A turnover in the first half, when the 6-foot-10 center tried to thread the needle and, from the free-throw line, attempted to zip a pass to Marcus Landry standing under the basket. The pass was intercepted by Penn State's Geary Claxton.

"The Penn State guy kind of set him up," Ryan sympathized, with a wry smile. "You see there are nice people at Randolph that wouldn't do that to him, but what he doesn't realize is that there are guys out there that are trying to sucker him into making that pass. Can you imagine that?"

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