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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why Success?


Barry Alvarez as AD spends a lot of time observing teams and coaches. His perspective on Bo Ryan and the men's basketball team at Wisconsin gives great insight into what makes a team successful. 
“Our program is what college basketball — college athletics — is all about. It’s about the development of players. It’s about building a .
team
“You travel with them, you watch them, those guys know each other, they care about one another and they do what (Ryan) wants, what he expects.”
“People say, ‘When are you going to take it to the next level?’ ” Alvarez said. “Well, I think we’re at that next level.


For those who pledge allegiance to the University of Wisconsin, the two game-ending scripts were eerily similar.
The underdog Badgers are on a national stage, playing a wildly entertaining game.
Their best player has the ball in his hands with time winding down.
A monumental victory is there for the taking.
A crushing finish results in heartache and a lot of second-guessing.
The men’s basketball team lost to Syracuse 64-63 in the NCAA East regional semifinal on Thursday night in Boston in much the same way the football team fell to Oregon 45-38 in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.
No one was stung by the losses more than UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, who nonetheless offered some soothing sentiment.
“A lot of people would like to swap where we are,” he said.
The men’s basketball team, coached by Bo Ryan, has been to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, the third-longest streak in Big Ten Conference history. The football team, guided by Bret Bielema, has won consecutive league titles, including the inaugural Big Ten championship game, and played in back-to-back Rose Bowls for the second time in program history.
When Alvarez speaks to alumni groups these days, his theme is constant.
“Do not take this for granted, because it’s hard,” he said. “Take a look at some schools that have a bigger stick than we do — that have tradition and history and won championships — who have taken a three-, four-, five-year dip. I’ve seen it all around basketball and football.”
Indiana basketball. Michigan football. There are cautionary tales everywhere.
Something to think about instead of UW point guard Jordan Taylor missing a 3-point attempt with a timeout available and top scorer Jared Berggren waiting to sub into the game, or quarterback Russell Wilson trying unsuccessfully to stop the clock instead of running a final play from the Oregon 25-yard line.
A couple of days before the Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse, Alvarez took stock of the work done by Ryan.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with our basketball program because I know how hard it is to sustain the level,” he said, referring to his 16 seasons as Badgers football coach.
“Our program is what college basketball — college athletics — is all about. It’s about the development of players. It’s about building a team.
“You travel with them, you watch them, those guys know each other, they care about one another and they do what (Ryan) wants, what he expects.”
Like Alvarez, Ryan has won three Big Ten regular-season titles. Like Alvarez, Ryan has heard fans wonder about winning a national championship.
“People say, ‘When are you going to take it to the next level?’ ” Alvarez said. “Well, I think we’re at that next level.
“A national championship? Never even crosses my mind. Now, (if) we get to the Final Four, it will. If we play in a BCS game and we’re ranked No. 2, it would.
“That’s where people get out of whack. Every coach you talk to worries about the next game. You’re not sitting around worrying about a championship.
“That’s how coaches think. If you have nothing invested, you can think other ways.”
For UW fans, the basketball season ended with the same sense of “What if?” as the football season.
But for Alvarez, the latest ending doesn’t diminish a simple reality.
“We’re doing things the right way,” he said of the basketball program. “Bo isn’t worried about it. I’m not worried about perception or someone else’s expectations because they don’t know the day to day. They don’t know the grind.



Read more: http://host.madison.com/sports/columnists/andy_baggot/alvarez-badgers-are-at-that-next-level/article_a13fdfb4-752d-11e1-8111-001871e3ce6c.html#ixzz1q2f68HI9

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