At the end of summer workout earlier this week, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan gathered his players together and launched into what appeared to be a typical lecture on the importance of giving maximum effort.
"You guys have to understand that in order to get anything, you have to put something into it," Ryan said. "I don't know how you felt about last year, whether you put enough into it or not, but personally I don't think we did. But for some reason, the university did, so they got you rings."
The smiles on the faces of the Wisconsin players only grew wider once Ryan removed the towel covering their 2014 Final Four rings and allowed the Badgers to try them on for the first time. Wisconsin made its first Final Four appearance under Ryan this past April after vanquishing American University, Oregon, Baylor and top-seeded Arizona to win the West Regional.
Of course, the only thing that would have made the ring presentation sweeter for Wisconsin is if the Badgers had won two more games and captured the national championship.
Wisconsin lost to eventual runner-up Kentucky in a classic Final Four game when Aaron Harrison buried a game-winning three over Josh Gasser's outstretched arms to give the Wildcats a 74-73 victory. The Badgers will have a chance to avenge that setback next spring as they return every key player from last season besides shooting guard Ben Brust.
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