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5 takeaways from Wisconsin basketball media day

A confident group of Badgers, led by their tireless coach, met the media Tuesday. This is our roundup of the Twitter conversation and themes of the day.

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No groundbreaking developments, injuries, lineup shuffles or roster decisions were revealed at Wisconsin's Basketball Media Day, but there was a healthy dose of those vintage Bo Ryan press conference riffs. Fast forwarding past Ryan's reason for missing Woodstock and stories about betting the horses, here are the five most important things to take away from Tuesday.

1. The swagger is back

At this time last season, a new attitude was percolating among the Badgers. Young leaders like Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson ruffled a few feathers by verbalizing the team's desire to go after a national championship and belief that they had the ability to do so. Having lofty goals is nothing new, but Bo Ryan-coached players going public with the sentiment was a bit of a surprise. Even so, personally, I thought it was refreshing.

No games have been played, but that same attitude that served Wisconsin well in its run to the Final Four is still around. While the entire team has been vocal about returning to the Final Four and taking an even bigger step (#MakeEmBelieve), the young guys are once again leading the way in terms of bravado. Specifically, sophomore guard Bronson Koenig and redshirt sophomore Zak Showalter.

The Badgers know they have a target on their backs this season and they are choosing to embrace it. I think it's a good move.

2. Bo loves his coaching staff

One of my favorite quotes of the day came from Bo Ryan in a response to a question about player conditioning. He was asked whether players being in great shape year-round leaves more time for the teaching aspect of coaching.

"I've got guys that can teach and work with players and get 'em better." -Bo Ryan on his coaching staff

"Without a doubt, having a couple of hours and having a little more access with our players, across the country, definitely helps the teachers of the game," Ryan said. "I'm very fortunate, they are a very, very good teaching staff. They're not just here because of their looks, because they can just recruit, because they can bring me two or three AAU players from a team they used to work on ... I've got guys that can teach and work with players and get 'em better. So it's definitely an advantage for a Wisconsin."

3. Happ pressing Brown for playing time

The practice battles between freshman Ethan Happ and sophomore Vitto Brown have drawn a lot of attention. Happ has flashed nice potential and a willingness to mix it up inside, while Brown has been working back into game shape after missing time with foot issues this fall. As a result, Happ was a hot topic among the local media. The 6'9, 230-pound freshman has been receptive to the idea of redshirting all along, but regardless of his decision, you can tell he's earned the respect of his peers.

Both players have good length to patrol the interior and will continue to battle it out for the fifth forward's minutes behind Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes and Duje Dukan. As Zach Heilprin reports, Happ and Brown have become good friends off the court and are in fact roommates this year.

Regarding Brown, he learned a lot about the importance of consistency last year, especially on the offensive end. As for his progress being stunted by the foot trouble, Ryan bluntly said: "Vitto in basketball, because he is behind, it's a wait-and-see. But he's trying to catch up. Boy, his energy out there ... he's doing some good things. Again, another one of the guys that we're not trading." It's too early to tell if this is a "shades of Rob Wilson" situation or just a blip on the radar.

4. This is Traevon's team

For all the talent on the roster, one gets the feeling that this team will go only as far as Traevon Jackson takes them. That statement was terrifying two seasons ago, but much less so as we approach 2015. Jackson puts in the work needed to improve each season and continues to improve as a point guard, despite the criticism hurled at him from outsiders.

Yet Jackson has the full confidence of his coach, which is why Ryan allowed him to miss some of the off-season work with the team to partake in a unique experiences with an Athletes in Action trip and Chris Paul camp this summer. Ryan never worried that Jackson would be lagging behind when he returned, as Jesse Temple explained. Zack Miller added an interesting angle on Jackson's relationship with Michigan State's Travis Trice.

Jackson's spiritual grounding has provided him a quiet confidence to survive the naysayers' chatter, something teammate Sam Dekker said is unwarranted. In Dekker's eyes, fans will see the best Traevon this season.

"Trae is one of the most confident players I've ever played with, one of the most mentally tough guys and a guy I look up to overall. He's looked great this offseason. He's looking stronger than I've seen him even in the past, and he's always been a strong guy."

5. The fifth starter and bench potential

No, we don't know who the fifth starter will be for sure, but according to Wisconsin's head coach, it could be Koenig. Or Hayes. Or Dukan.

"They will be the key to this season," Ryan said.

Hayes has been impressing onlookers with his three-point range during early practices, which is the result of a ton of good old fashioned practice.


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