MADISON, Wis. — When high school coaches across this state visit Wisconsin to watch practice every winter, the same sequence occurs: They see the Badgers pair up – just two players and a ball – and engage in the most rudimentary activity, monotonously passing and catching a basketball.continue at USAToday
Then the high school coaches find Wisconsin assistant Lamont Paris to say, "You guys don't have to water things down just because we're here."
"We're not," Paris says. "We do things other teams in the middle of the season don't do. Basics."
The oft-told narrative of this college basketball season involves a handful of highlight reel-creating freshmen and new officiating rules intended to increase scoring and improve the game's artistry. Complicating that script are the Wisconsin players here, squatting in defensive stances as their head coach stands in the corner, hands behind his back, whistling at an imperfect box out.
Wisconsin, off to its best start since the 1915-16 season, ranks No. 1 in the RPI and has beaten more top 100 teams (nine) than any team in the country. The sixth-ranked Badgers (12-0) have done it the way they have always done it under 13th-year coach Bo Ryan, highlighting unglamorous skills like precise passing angles, adequate spacing and strong pivots. Ryan's no-frills system is as effective as ever, even if no jump stops will find there way onto YouTube.