February 24, 2010

Gard discusses team dynamics

MADISON - With Jon Leuer back in the lineup and seemingly inching closer to playing to his full capability, the Badger offense has taken a couple of strides towards becoming more balanced. As Jason Bohannon continues to play some of the best basketball of his career, and other players like Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor continually contribute, UW looks to be rounding into form.

After a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with lead assistant coach Greg Gard. The following is a question and answer with Gard.

With Leuer out, did you see Bohannon kind of elevate his game a little bit? Is he playing the best ball that he's played over this last six or seven game stretch?

Gard: Well I think you're seeing a senior who has developed obviously very well as he's come through his career. He is playing with a lot of confidence right now and knows for him to be good he needs to continue to be aggressive. That's the one thing. It's the normal path that you hope a senior takes. As you turn the corner here and you head down the stretch of your final year, you (hope) that you're playing at your highest level.

You'd hate to have it be the other way around where you play at your highest level as a freshman and a sophomore and you went downhill from there. I think he has definitely elevated his game and he's helped. Whether it's because Jon has been out or just here he comes down the stretch with the last 10 games, I'd like to think it's the latter rather than the prior.

But he's definitely done a good job and we'll have him continue to do a good job. He's definitely helped us with what he's been able to do offensively and he's become a much better defensive player, too. He's not a liability out there. We're not worried about who he's matched up with much because he's evolved and developed as a defensive player as well.

Injuries tend to do that don't they? When a guy is going to be out for a certain amount of time, other people just realize that they have to step up. That's what you see on the court.

Gard: Well the dynamics of a team change. You have different guys. Not only Jason, but Rob Wilson and Ryan Evans did some things and Mike Bruesewitz did some things. You're roles change a little bit and like I said, the dynamic changes. Our lineup changed obviously, we went from a bigger lineup to a three-guard lineup.

Wherever it comes from, wherever the production comes from, we'll gladly take it. It obviously makes sense for a senior to be able to step up and be able to help and bump production up during that time. I think we also got some key contributions from other guys. And other guys, I think, found parts of their game that maybe they didn't know they had or were as good at or they were forced to develop a little faster than what they anticipated.

With Jon back now, the timing is pretty good isn't it? I mean, you get him back for five games before postseason stuff.

Gard: Well, the timing could have been better had we never lost him. But, I mean anytime you can get somebody back of his caliber and the level he was playing at before he got hurt you'd like to get him back sooner than later. So when they gave us the okay that he was good to go, obviously he's not going to be at that level right away.

Obviously if you take six weeks off from anything there are going to be some bumps and some hiccups at times. You have to work your way through it and get your timing back and get a feel back. I think it's starting to come. It's not to where it was before, but you see more of a comfort level or more confidence growing everyday with him on the floor.

Is the team dynamic kind of getting back to what it was before Jon went out? Are you seeing that?

Gard: I think you hope that we'll end up being better than we were in January or whenever it was when he got hurt. Teams either get worse or they get better. There's usually no staying the same. So hopefully we'll continue to improve here and be able to take what some of those other guys learned and how they developed and apply that and add it to what Jon brings.

When Jon gets back up to speed hopefully we can keep going and get back into that rhythm and get really rolling the last three games of league play and then in the Big Ten tournament.

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