Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - December 5, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Page 13 of 58

K BEHIND THE DESK Headline 14 BY BARRY ALVAREZ // UW DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS elly Sheffield has done an unbelievable job in getting our volleyball program back into the NCAA tournament, especially after all the injuries that they've had. When I interviewed Kelly, I really liked his plan and the way that everything was layed out. He went through it all with me and it was an all-encompassing plan. You can tell when you're talking with somebody and there's a total, 100 percent commitment. You could see why he had so much success elsewhere. Everything about him was impressive. He's going to sell his program in the community and he's not going to compromise on what he's asking of his players. The women have really responded to him. Like I said earlier, they've had injury after injury, but he patched them together and they just kept competing and winning. It's great for our fans that we're hosting the first and second round of tournament games. It's really good for our players, too, that they're playing at home. You're sleeping in your own bed and you know the surroundings. Plus, you know that you're going to be in a friendly environment, and that can be an advantage. Playing a Big Ten schedule should also be an advantage. As I interviewed coaching candidates last year, I talked with some highly-qualified people, some that are established in other very highprofile programs in the tournament. And they all said the same thing: // VARSITY December 5, 2013 they wanted to come to the Big Ten because of the competition in this conference, that the best volleyball in the country is played right here. So is some of the best basketball. It's encouraging to see how well Bo Ryan's team has been playing. I really like the way they play; they have a lot of scorers. From what I've seen when I've been over to practice, they have great chemistry and the players like each other. Bo is the first to say they've still got a lot of things to improve on. EVERYTHING ABOUT [SHEFFIELD] WAS IMPRESSIVE. HE'S GOING TO SELL HIS PROGRAM IN THE COMMUNITY AND HE'S NOT GOING TO COMPROMISE ON WHAT HE'S ASKING OF HIS PLAYERS. But I think he really likes this team, too. They're fun to watch. • • • • Last week, we held our first meeting of our Fan Advisory Board. I made the opening comments and the feedback that I got was very positive. Everyone was engaged, and they had some very good suggestions. Beyond that, everyone felt comfortable enough to offer suggestions and we got some good ideas. I don't see any negatives that can come out of this. I see only positives. I think the people who attended felt good about it. They came in ready and with open minds. • • • • There has been a lot of talk this week about whether an unbeaten Ohio State team is more worthy of playing for the national championship than a one-loss team from the SEC. If they beat Michigan State, I do think they're deserving. I don't want to hear about how the SEC has been cannibalizing itself or how they've won all these other national titles. I've watched some of their games and I don't see anybody who looks superior to Ohio State. I think people would be shocked by their speed. People just don't give our league enough credit, especially the physical nature of our games. Play some of these teams back to back and see how banged up you are afterward. But you still have to come back the next week and, sometimes, you don't have your team ready to practice until maybe Wednesday, sometimes Thursday. The Big Ten doesn't have to apologize to anybody. We have two teams in the top 10 with Ohio State and Michigan State, and we were right on the cusp. We didn't get the job done against Penn State but we will have a chance for redemption in a very good bowl game against a very good opponent from the SEC. Our guys played too well throughout the year to end the season on a game like last Saturday's, and I know Gary will have the team ready for the bowl.

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