Uncharacteristic Bo Ryan team starts season 4-0

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by Andrew Coughlin

Madison, WI - What in Dick Bennett has gotten into the Wisconsin Badgers?  Either Bo Ryan is no longer in charge of game planning or he has completely changed his philosophy and style of coaching.

The Badgers look like a high powered offensive machine.  Instead of passing the ball around the perimeter and eating up 90% of the shot clock in a mind-numbing swing offense, they're penetrating and kicking, attacking the basket and having transition success to the tune of Sam Dekker thunder dunks.  

In four games, the Badgers are averaging 79.25 points per game.  Granted, they haven't started Big Ten play, but this may very well be the identity of this very young team.  I can't imagine they will try and outgun opponents on a nightly basis while sacrificing on the defensive end, but they certainly have the weapons to do so.

And don't even get me started on the apparent disregard for ball security.  The Badgers have looked careless with the ball so many times in four games that I can visualize Ryan internally raging while chewing off his upper lip.  Something he may have to master if he's to move forward with this style of play.  In the past, if a turnover or quick shot happened, the player who did it was coming out of the game. Now, he's letting them play.

Since taking the reins of the Wisconsin basketball team back in 2001, coach Ryan has relied on good shot selection and ball protection from his teams for tenured success throughout the years in the Big Ten.  That has led to NCAA tournament births every year he's been head coach at Wisconsin and five Big Ten titles. In short: his conservative style of coaching has worked in the past.  But he also hasn't seen a lot of talent pass through his program.

We're starting to see the talent of this year's recruiting class.  This perhaps could be his best group of freshmen he's ever gotten; as evidenced by the amount of playing time he's given to some of them. Traditionally, Ryan will not sacrifice youthful talent for veteran smart play.  He has only started four freshmen the entire time he's coached at Wisconsin.  

However, Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes have both received significant minutes and both have played surprisingly well.  Jordan Hill and Vitto Brown have also seen the court, albeit for just a minute in garbage time. 

We may be witnessing coach Ryan changing his ways to suit the talent that is growing around him.  As a result, Badger games may be very exciting to watch this season.

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