At a January press conference approximately two years ago, a young and inexperienced reporter had the audacity to ask Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan if he thought Marcus Landry had a little more motivation than usual playing against his older brother—then Purdue forward and current Houston Rocket, Carl Landry.
Ryan glared into the eyes of the reporter and replied, "If he did, I don’t want him on my team. What is that? I’ve never understood that… a guy playing harder against one team or one player than another."
If you take Ryan at his word, every game has the same importance. Whether his team is playing the Idaho State Fightin’ Taters or a rival like
Likewise, Ryan has always hesitated to talk about "statement wins" or "devastating losses" for his program. One win is one win, and one loss is one loss. Nothing more, nothing less, period.
In theory, this mindset is flawless. In reality, it defies all logical explanation.
Ryan and the Badgers didn’t just lose a game to
The swing offense is supposed to grind opponents into the ground, especially when you have a 12-point lead late in the game.
Teams aren’t supposed to be able to come back against the Badgers’ suffocating defense.
The Badgers are supposed to take care of the ball and be mentally tough under pressure.
Badger fans expect those types of losses.
What made Thursday’s defeat so surprising was that the defense and discipline that Ryan’s teams pride themselves on vanished in the final minutes.
I’m sure Ryan would say he, his staff and his players have already forgotten about Thursday night’s back breaker. After all, it only counts for one ‘L’ in the loss column.
The Badgers may have forgotten, but I’m guessing the ten other teams in their conference won’t forget this one for awhile.