Instead of delivering a lengthy postgame speech to his team after road victories this year, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has often come into the locker room, acted very serious and then said simply, "Let's get on the bus."
He did it again Sunday after Wisconsin's surprising 63-60 victory over Ohio State ... only this time he added a little twist much to the amusement of his players.
In honor of Wisconsin's defensive effort, Ryan pretended to do the program's trademark defensive slide drill, reciting one syllable of his usual "Let's get on the bus" message with every shuffle of his feet. He'd barely made it through two of the words when the Badgers erupted, encircled him and punctuated the victory with a postgame cheer.
"The team played pretty well defensively and he was illustrating that," Wisconsin assistant director of athletic communications Patrick Herb said. "The guys thought it was hilarious. That was his entire postgame speech — that little shuffle."
If Wisconsin's locker room antics seem a little goofy, consider how significant it was for the Badgers (21-8, 10-6) to notch their first road win in 32 years against a Big Ten opponent ranked in the top 10. They were coming off a loss to Iowa, they were hoping to avenge a home loss to Ohio State from earlier this month and they needed a win to avoid falling into a fourth-place tie in the Big Ten with Purdue and Indiana.
What enabled Wisconsin to hold off the Buckeyes was an efficient 18-point performance from point guard Jordan Taylor, accurate perimeter shooting from reserve Rob Wilson and perhaps the best game of forward Jared Berggren's life.
Whereas Jared Sullinger abused Berggren in the first meeting between the Badgers and Buckeyes, Berggren limited the Ohio State star to a quiet eight points on 4-for-10 shooting in 33 minutes on Sunday. Berggren also was huge on offense, scoring 19 points including an open 3-pointer with 31 seconds to go that gave Wisconsin a 61-59 lead it never relinquished.
The win kept Wisconsin in contention for a top four NCAA tournament seed and continued what has been a very un-Badgers like season in at least one respect. While Wisconsin has been unusually susceptible at home in losing four games at the Kohl Center, the Badgers have also amassed a very solid 9-4 record on the road that includes Big Ten victories over Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois.
Wisconsin finishes with home games against Minnesota and Illinois next week, both very winnable matchups if the Badgers play as well as they did Sunday. There won't be any repeats of Ryan's postgame celebration since those are home games, but perhaps he'll bring it back for the Big Ten Tournament the following week.
- Ohio State