Bo Ryan’s abrupt retirement puts a new coach at the head of the Badger bench.
After 14 and a half seasons, two Final Four appearances, four Big Ten championships, and a school-record 364 victories, UW men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan hung up his sneakers in December. He passed his whistle to long-time assistant Greg Gard, and though the interim head coach has been a fixture on the bench for Ryan’s entire run, he remains a bit of a mystery to Badger fans.
Who’s the new guy who will try to lead the team against UW-Green Bay and then into Big Ten conference play? Here are a few facts to know about the new coach:
- Ball Hog: A native of Cobb, Wisconsin (it’s 53 miles west of Madison, on Highway 18), Gard grew up on his family’s hog farm.
- Pioneer Pride: Gard is a graduate of UW-Platteville (class of ’94), where he majored in physical education and health. He also earned a master’s there in 2007.
- Understudy: Gard has spent more than half his life working for Bo Ryan. The 44-year-old has spent 23 years as a Ryan assistant. He followed his mentor from UWPlatteville (1993–99) to UW-Milwaukee (1999–2001) and then to UW-Madison.
- Tourney Tested: Except for the two years in Milwaukee, every season of Gard’s coaching career has ended in an NCAA tournament berth. That includes three Division III championships at UW-Platteville and 14 consecutive tourney bids with UW-Madison.
- Elle King Fan: According to coachstat.net, Gard is ranked as the nation’s fourth-best assistant when it comes to Xs & Os. (Ryan ranked number two among head coaches in the same category.)