January 18, 2009

UW faces key conference stretch

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin men's basketball team, losers of two straight conference games, have an opportunity to get back on track this week. And with its 3-2-conference mark, that opportunity will need to be maximized if UW hopes to stay in the title race.

After a disastrous collapse and disappointing loss to rival Minnesota at the Kohl Center last Thursday, the Badgers have suddenly slipped to a tie for fourth place in the league standings. While only one team, Michigan State, remains undefeated, UW cannot afford to let this losing streak continue when it takes the floor at Iowa and at Illinois later this week.

"You definitely have to learn from this game (Minnesota) and then put it behind you," UW senior and leading scorer Marcus Landry said following his teams recent loss. "You have to. If you focus to much on this game then you can continue losing focus in the future."

While the Hawkeyes, the first on the schedule this week, are not the class of the Big Ten by any means, they are not the doormat either. I

Iowa's 11-6 overall record and 1-3 mark in conference play is somewhat deceiving as three of those losses were decided by three points or less. Needless to say, if UW does not figure out what went wrong over the past week, Iowa is a team capable of continuing the Badgers losing streak.

"Looking at the game clips, we'll see all the mistakes we made and we'll be able to learn from them," UW guard Jason Bohannon said following the loss to Minnesota. "That's the best way for us to forget. This one is going to stick with us, but we have to come off ready to play.

"We got a tough game, game-in and game-out and our competition doesn't go down at all."

Under head coach Bo Ryan, the Badgers never get too high after a win or too low after a loss and that has been a staple of Wisconsin's run of success over the past seven seasons. It always maintains its focus and takes the schedule one game at a time.

And over the past three seasons, UW has become one of the better teams in the country as far as winning on the road. Only Memphis, North Carolina and Butler have the Badgers 19-7 mark on the road beat.

But, winning on the road, especially in a league as improved as the Big Ten, UW will need to find its winning ways away from home

Overall, UW's next three opponents, (at Iowa, at Illinois and Purdue) those three teams compile a 39-13 combined record, but a losing 6-7 combined conference tally. While the games will be tough, all in their own way, they are all winnable if UW corrects its mistakes.

"You're always anxious to get on the court," Landry said. "Especially after a loss to redeem yourself and get the next one."

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