MADISON - When it comes to Wisconsin basketball media day, it seems the same question is asked on yearly basis. After losing both Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes -two, 1,000-point scorers- from the team the Badgers are going to need to find replacements.
That wasn't the exact, question, though. Instead, the reporter opted to phrase his question in regards to whether any player on the roster is going to jump out and surprise people?
"A coach is out there everyday," Bielema said. "You're looking at a young man in drills when they're going on and then you take the practice tapes home and you look at it again. I'm just so close to the situation it's just difficult to say.
"Maybe you guys can say that when you start coming to practice but I can't say it now because I'm too close to it."
Ryan did indicate that he hasn't quite set his guard rotation and that a number of players are still vying for a role as a regular contributor alongside Jordan Taylor.
"Those guys are competing like they're trying to get a spot in the starting lineup," Ryan said. "If they're not starting, they'll be preparing themselves to come in off the bench and contribute. We're still looking. We're all eyes and ears right now, watching and observing, to see who developed during the off-season and maybe who's a surprise as a freshman and who's maybe a surprise as a junior or senior.
"We're pleased with a lot of things."
When asked about his two young guard newcomers Josh Gasser and Ben Brust, Ryan said those two could potentially play a role this season, particularly Gasser.
"We expect him to be in the mix," Ryan said. "He can see the floor, he's been playing in AAU for a former young man that I had recruited and had at Platteville. His knowledge of the game and his core sense is really good. So he's ahead of a lot of freshmen. And he's tough physically.
"He already had a run in with Jordan Taylor. It was to guys diving for a loose ball in a drill and they hit pretty hard. He got banged up a little bit. But that's a good sign."
Brust, who was a relatively high profile recruit that was formerly committed to Iowa, is another guy Ryan was asked about.
"Ben is a shooter," Ryan said. "The position that he played in high school might not have had as much decision making as the point guard. You've got to remember, Josh was a quarterback, too. So those guys, not because I tried to be one once, there are people that see the floor a little bit better than others.
"So they're not just good shooters but they also can find people. That's where Josh is right now. He's in a position where he's multi-tasking and doing it very well. Ben is learning some of those skills right now at his size and he's also learning some things defensively."
When Jon Leuer received an invitation to be a part of the national team's practice squad in preparation for the FIBA tournament, Leuer was one of a handful of guys that were granted an opportunity to play against some of the better players in the world.
Now, entering his senior season, the forward has that experience in his back pocket and seems to have taken a lot out of the event.
"Jon was smart in that he went there with the idea that he could learn something and get better," Ryan said. "Some guys go to those things and say, 'Okay, I'm going to prove I can beat the world. I'm going to get a potential contract…' Jon went in there with the idea that he knew he was going to try to help those guys get better. And he did.
"Then he was there to listen to coach Jay Wright and coach Lorenzo Romar. They just loved him for that."
After missing out on half of the Big Ten schedule a season ago with a wrist injury, the Badgers were able to pick him up and finish only one game out of first place. Now, with him back in the fold and as healthy as he's been, Leuer will play a major role in UW's success in 2010-11.
The role that he played over the summer, virtually a scout teamer, will help him produce at a high level yet again.
"He knows how important scout team's are because he's been a part of that here," Ryan said. "So that's why he was so impressive to the individual who were there. He got better as it went along and he really took the experience as something to where he's going to bring something away from it and he's going to help when he can and do what he's supposed to do."
The Badgers debuted at No. 24 in the official coaches poll released Thursday afternoon. That didn't seem to phase Ryan one way or the other.
"Is this team No. 1?," Ryan said. "Is this team No. 8? It's only so that we can talk about it. That's okay."
Ryan, in fact, was actually flattered with the amount of attention his team is getting this season, particularly considering what the team lost from a season ago at the guard position.
"In the Big Ten, who lost more than we did in minutes, points, W's?," Ryan asked. "You could say that Robbie Hummel is hurt now so they lost Hummel and Kramer. Ohio State is losing Evan Turner. Think about it. I don't know if anybody else lost what we lost.
"So to rank them 24th when they've never ranked our recruiting classes so you know we don't have any real good players coming in, you never see that. How did they pick us 24th?
"That's just a testament to the guys that have played before and what they've accomplished."
During the season tip-off event at the UW Fieldhosue, Tim Jarmusz, Dan Fahey and J.P. Gavinski did not participate with their various injuries. Now that a couple of days have passed, only Jarmusz is back in practice at this point.
"Jarmusz is back," Ryan said. "But not J.P. and not Dan."
That hasn't slowed the intensity of practice as the team is participating in possession drills already.
"There are certain reasons why you're running possessions," Ryan said. "You're looking at certain screening situations on the offensive end and defensive end. The hedges and the recoveries and whether you're going to flat heads or lure a guy into a tough two-point jump shot. While we're doing that, we're also finding out who offensively can read coming off the screens, the staggers, a back screen or curl.
"Nothing will ever replace our drills. Today was 90 percent drills with some possessions."
The following are audio files from Thursday's media day:
UW will host it's annual Red-White scrimmage inside the Kohl Center at 1:00 Sunday afternoon.