Editor's Note: Longtime Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan stepped down Dec. 15 after the Badgers beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi Dec. 15 at the Kohl Center. UW was 7-5 at the time. Since then, it has gone 13-6 under Greg Gard, who until Monday, was the head coach on an interim basis only. Let's take a look at Gard's transition into the head coaching role he has undoubtedly earned.
"After nearly four decades as a coach at the collegiate level, Bo Ryan has finally decided to hang up the whistle for good."
Ryan's retirement had been on the horizon for some time, but the timing took many people by surprise. Greg Gard was immediately named interim head coach.
Bo Ryan: “I’ll see you down the road."— DailyCardinal Sports (@Cardinal_Sports) December 16, 2015
After nearly four decades as a coach at the collegiate level, Bo Ryan has finally decided to hang up the whistle for good. Ryan, who turns 68 next week, announced his immediate retirement during an emotional postgame press conference following Wisconsin's 64-49 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Tuesday night.
Dec. 15 - Jan. 12 - A rough transition
After winning the first game with Gard in control of the reigns against Green Bay Dec. 23 at the Kohl Center, the Badgers went 1-4, including an ugly 65-70 loss to Northwestern Jan. 12 that even riled Frank Kaminsky.
FINAL: Indiana 59, Wisconsin 58. Rough night offensively for both teams, but a late rally by the Badgers comes up short.— DailyCardinal Sports (@Cardinal_Sports) January 6, 2016
Final: TRIMBLE hits a 3-pointer right before the buzzer, and @TerrapinHoops wins 63-60. Huge game for the PG.— DailyCardinal Sports (@Cardinal_Sports) January 9, 2016
FINAL: Northwestern 70, Wisconsin 65. The Badgers were lackluster down the stretch and have now lost three in a row.— DailyCardinal Sports (@Cardinal_Sports) January 13, 2016
Jan. 13 - Feb. 17 - The turning point
It's amazing what a loss in Evanston, Ill. can do for a team. The Badgers bounced back five days later, beating Michigan State 77-76 Dec. 17 in front of a raucous home crowd in Madison. The Badgers went on to win seven-straight games over the next month.
DOWN GOES SPARTA. #Badgers win against No. 4 Michigan State thanks to a career-high 27. Hayes with 25.— DailyCardinal Sports (@Cardinal_Sports) January 17, 2016
From the moment he took over as interim head coach, Greg Gard has been fighting an uphill battle. Taking over for a coach as iconic as Bo Ryan was always going to be tough, but replacing him in the midst of the Badgers' worst start in 14 years made his task all the more difficult.
After Wisconsin's home upset against No. 4 Michigan State last Sunday, junior forward Nigel Hayes opined that "if you hit more free throws than the other team, then you usually win." This mentality proved to be right Tuesday night, as Hayes and the Badgers (4-4 Big Ten, 12-9 overall) got to the free-throw line frequently and defeated No.
Following the departure of two all-time Wisconsin greats in Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky, the fate of the program was expected to fall squarely on the shoulders of juniors Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig. Redshirt freshman Ethan Happ was considered nothing more than a solid prospect.
Every time the Maryland Terrapins made a run and got within striking distance Saturday night, Wisconsin seemed to have an answer. As a result, the Badgers picked up their seventh win in a row and the biggest boost yet to their blossoming NCAA Tournament résumé. Wisconsin (8-4 Big Ten, 16-9 overall) upended No.
Feb. 18 - March 6 - Slow and steady
The Badgers came back to Earth following a stellar month that not only brought them back into the Big Ten race, but earned them a spot in the NCAA Tournament this spring. Michigan State proved to be too much to handle Feb. 18 in East Lansing, but Wisconsin responded with wins against Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. UW dropped its final game of the regular season to Purdue.
In one month, Michigan State altered the Badgers' season in two very distinct ways. 31 days ago, Wisconsin defeated the Spartans at the Kohl Center, the beginning of a seven-game win streak that enabled them to get back into the NCAA Tournament picture. On Thursday, however, No.
With a 67-59 win on the road against No. 8 Iowa Wednesday night, the Badgers all but locked up their spot in the NCAA Tournament for an 18th consecutive year. To do so, they relied on major contributions from their supporting cast and a barrage of 3-pointers to get the job done.
March 7 - The job is his
Gard finally received the news he, and many fans, had been waiting for after the Board of Regents approved his new contract.