It’s pretty easy to spot the motion W these days. On flags, hats, T-shirts, sweat shirts, license plates and baked goods, the University of Wisconsin logo has become a ubiquitous presence in a nation obsessed with sports and sporting personalities.
For a team that hasn’t won a national title since 1941, the Badger men’s basketball team has responded to this increasingly bright spotlight with impressive poise and refreshing joy.
From Vitto Brown’s voice, to Frank Kaminsky’s dance moves, to Sam Dekker’s mentor, to Nigel Haye’s vocabulary, the team’s off-court personalities have added a brand of genuine entertainment that sometimes eludes the high stakes world of Division I collegiate championships.
You can credit Coach Bo Ryan with allowing his players to express themselves creatively. The veteran and well-respected coach has achieved the perfect balance of on-court discipline and off-court silliness among his delightful band of talented goofballs.
In case you haven’t yet put your thumbs together and extended your pointed fingers to symbolize your support, or tweeted #MakeEmBelieve to your followers, or jumped around, here are 10 reasons you want to be a Badger basketball fan.
1. The talent. These boys can play the game and that’s how they reached the final. Transcending all of these big personalities is pure, athletic ability.
2. The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious press conferences. With all the pressure on these young athletes to represent their schools and the NCAA with dignity, the press conferences can be giant, scripted yawns. Enter the Badgers and their stenographer fascination. If nothing else, Nigel Hayes’ attempts to trip up the stenographers with creative words of the day have increased our collective vocabulary.
3. This tweet:
4. Our hot mic gaffes are adorable.
5. Among his many honors, Frank Kaminsky recently was named the 2015 USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year.
6. “Everyone has their one sauce. Mine is syrup.” Kaminsky said it during the dance off video with Fundamentally Sound seen here. Syrup as a sauce may be debatable, but Frank’s goofy and relatable charm is not.
7. Vitto Brown’s national anthem. The sophomore forward (featured in this Fundamentally Sound video) has sung the national anthem on several occasions. Saturday night he represented the University of Wisconsin in a very cool version of the national anthem that featured athletes from each of the Final Four schools. As the only basketball player, Vitto sang suited up in his game warm-ups. It’s nice to see well-rounded athletes, even at the elite level of the sport.
8. Bo Ryan. Before Coach Ryan came to Madison, the team had never won more than 22 games in a season. In his 13 seasons as the Badger’s head coach, his teams have averaged 24.7 wins as season. It’s an amazing turnaround and no one is more grateful to him, or respectful of him, than his players.
9. Jump Around. A little aerobic exercise never hurt anyone, and this Wisconsin tradition is just plain fun.
10. Matt Ferris. The freshman player from our home town has been hosting a well-written blog that gives us all a little behind-the-scenes look at the team. Seven of the 16 players on the team were raised in Wisconsin, including Sheboygan’s pride, Sam Dekker.
You’re probably already suited up in your Badger gear, ready for tonight’s game. But, in case you aren’t, these tips should help you get in the big game spirit. On Wisconsin!
At first we were the only Badger fans in this Chicago bar Saturday night. But, by the end of the game, we were high-fiving strangers and spreading the Badger joy.
Vinnie and his friends stopped in Tennessee to watch the game before continuing their road trip back to Madison. They ran into these Badger fans and, by the end of the game Saturday night, that whole bar was cheering for Bucky as well.