The 2014-15 Wisconsin Badgers menâ€™s basketball team will go down as the winningest team in school history regardless of what happens in the Final Four. It just so happens that this team may also go down as one of the quirkiest and most interesting in school history as well.
As all four teams and coaches stepped to the podium to speak to the gathered media in Indianapolis on Thursday, something strange happened to this team…they were the focus of attention for just about everyone involved.
Sitting next to blue-blood programs like Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State one wouldâ€™ve thought the attention was going elsewhere ahead of the Final Four matchups on Saturday. Instead, both Bo Ryan and All-American center Frank Kaminsky took center stage at both press conferences.
It was a strange occurrence, as Duke guard Quinn Cook sat at the podium silent as question after question was lobbed the way of Kaminsky.
Even stranger? Kaminsky and the Wisconsin Badgers seem to enjoy the spotlight and are embracing the national attention they are getting more than ever before.
Could the Badgers lose focus because of the attention and the ability to embrace what is happening around them? Itâ€™s a tempting thought, but that would be to not know the personality of this team and the players on it.
“You can either try to stifle certain things or you can feed the certain things, you can enjoy certain things,” said Bo Ryan at Thursdayâ€™s press conference. “But the fun that our guys have is all about their relationships and the things that theyâ€™re interested in, the things theyâ€™re competitive about.
“So they have their fun. Believe me, when they get on the practice court, theyâ€™re looking at film, theyâ€™re playing in the games, they understand what competition is about.”
If Bo Ryan isnâ€™t worried about a lack of focus on the court, neither should Badger fans.
Kaminsky isnâ€™t worried about it either, as he sees the team having an ability to turn on the focus when they hit the court for practice, let alone game time.
“I mean, we played Super Smash Bros in our hospitality room for a while last night while the barber was in there, hanging out, chilling out, having fun,” Kaminsky said. “When we got on the court today for practice, all seriousness. We know how to flip it when we need to.”
Just how loose are Kaminsky and others at this Final Four? How about repeated questions about Smash Bros. and serious answers to the game from both Kaminsky and Kentuckyâ€™s Willie Cauley-Stein.
“Iâ€™ve been trying Captain Falcon. Heâ€™s really slow, so I think Iâ€™m going to go back to Kirby,” said Kaminsky.
“I play with Kirby just because he can change,” said Cualey-Stein. “He can change into anybody heâ€™s playing against. And he flies around, so when you get knocked off the little stage, you can just fly back and you donâ€™t have to worry about jumping.”
So, while Smash Bros. video game play and quirky stories were the rage on Thursday afternoon, you can bet the Badgers and Wildcats arenâ€™t going to forget the classic game from last season nor the business right in front of them either.
“At the end of the day thereâ€™s still a lot of work left. I think I can still improve on my game and improve on the season,” said Kaminsky.