Wisconsin looking for a win, not revenge


Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) celebrates during the NCAA Final Four vs. Wisconsin at the AT&T in Arlington, Tx., on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Photo by Emily Wuetcher

By Kevin Erpenbeck

Walking off the court in AT&T Stadium last April stung Wisconsin. The Badgers finished the year with 30 wins and made it to the program’s first Final Four in 14 years, but they were hoping for so much more considering how close they came to winning the game.

But one Aaron Harrison clutch three later, and Wisconsin was sent home. From that moment on, the Badgers made it their goal in getting back to the semifinals. They used last’s year loss as a motivation tool, not as a means for redemption or revenge. The fact they’re playing UK for a second straight time is pure coincidence, said head coach Bo Ryan.

“Like any other young man, they went to work and said, ‘All right, let’s see what we can do next year,’” Ryan said of his players’ mindset after last year’s loss to UK. “Our last game of the season was a loss in Dallas (and it) happened to be Kentucky.”

Senior forward and AP Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky agreed with his coach, saying the team isn’t looking for anything else but a chance to advance further than it did last year.

“Last year’s loss was obviously very difficult. To lose in the way we did on a last second shot left a sour taste,” Kaminsky said. “Just luck of the draw we get to play Kentucky again. Obviously, we’re going to do whatever we can to come out on top.”

UK freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns added that the respect he has for Wisconsin is high considering how it was able to duplicate, and even improve on, the season it had before.

“Just a great team. They have a great coach also. A great program,” Towns said. “I think all together you just have to respect the whole program as a general to make a team like that come together.”

But no matter what kind of taste last year’s loss left them, or even if it still affects them, the Badgers aren’t looking to repay the Cats for beating them.

Achieving their goal means much more than that.

“We’re blessed to be back in this position,” junior forward Sam Dekker said. “We’re not going to use last year’s game as what you guys like to call revenge or the rematch. We want to play whoever we got to play and get a win and go on for another game.”