February 18, 2009

UW cannot afford to overlook Indiana

MADISON, Wis. - For as long as current Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has been the man in charge of Badger basketball, it has been a staple to take the next opponent on the schedule one at a time.

During that time his team's never get too high after a win and never too low after a loss.

That will again be put into play as the Badgers prepare for a classic trap game Thursday night at Indiana.

The Hoosiers have only one league win and six overall under new head coach Tom Crean, but have shown flashes throughout the season that they are capable of upending a team on any given night, especially at home.

"They're a good team," UW junior Jason Bohannon said following Tuesday's practice. "Every game they've been in at home, it's been a close game. Every single one has been down to the wire there and we're expecting a hard fought battle there.

"We've got to bring our 'A' game each and every night in the Big Ten."

Since rattling off six-straight losses, the Badgers have responded with a four-game, and counting, winning streak that has gotten them back into NCAA tournament contention. Needless to say, a loss to the Big Ten's worst team would be devastating for any post-season chances.

"We don't think about that at all," UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft said. "That's not the way we think about this game. We just think about it as any other game. Going into Indiana is as tough as going into any place. I think any player in the Big Ten would say that Assembly Hall, those fans are all over you."

With so many underclassmen on this season's roster, it could be understandable that going into a place as storied or potentially intimidating as Assembly Hall would be a difficult task.

However, with February more than half over, this season's young team has started to mature to the point where tough environments do not have as much of an effect on them as far as actually playing the game.

"I don't find myself preaching a whole lot," Krabbenhoft said in regards to talking to the younger players, "These guys have caught on pretty quick. We're in February now and they know how things work around here and we don't overlook anybody. In February, not much really needs to be said.

"They've picked up quick and they know that we got to bring it. Especially in the Big Ten, anybody can beat anybody on any given night."

So far this season, the Badgers have been somewhat shaky on the road. Other than the loss to Connecticut on a neutral court, UW has dropped five of their nine losses on the road.

While none of those losses (at Marquette, at Purdue, at Iowa, at Illinois and at Northwestern) look as bad as a loss to the Hoosiers would, UW cannot overlook the fact that Indiana is a dangerous team.

"I think more than anything I have to go into practice showing them (younger guys) that I'm going to practice regardless of who we're playing," UW senior Marcus Landry said. So I'm giving it my all regardless of who we're playing, regardless of their record.

"If I go into practice all lazy thinking this team is blah, blah, blah because of their record, then I'm not being a great leader. I have to go out to practice and I have to go hard because the team we are getting ready to play is a very dangerous team."

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