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Tue, June 30, 2015

Bo Ryan and Wisconsin's Next Head Basketball Coach

For the longest time I, like many fans of Badger basketball, seemed to think the Bo Ryan era would just go on forever. Oh sure, I had openly had conversations with friends about when he might hang it up, but it always felt like Ryan had several seasons left in the tank ... that was not the case. After my initial sense of shock wore off on Monday, I slowly began thinking about the future of Badger basketball ... a future without its most successful coach of all-time. Since Bo took over in 2001, the program has yet to miss and NCAA Tournament and has never finished worse than fourth in the Big Ten. Of course, Ryan was building on the foundation laid by the great Dick Bennett, but prior to these two coaching giants, Wisconsin basketball was rarely anything more than the Big Ten doormat. So where should Wisconsin turn for its next head coach? Ryan has suggested his longtime assistant Greg Gard and I tend to believe this will be the direction Wisconsin ultimately goes. Of course, a lot can change over the course of a year but as of right now, Gard gives the program its best shot at continuity through transition. He understands the Wisconsin way of doing things and would undoubtedly give the Badgers their best chance to continue winning in the manner they've become accustomed to. Of course, fans will wonder aloud whether Barry Alvarez should strive for big name ... someone that can take this program to the "next level," whatever that may be. I tend to believe this would be a mistake. Wisconsin often time wins with kids that aren't necessarily recruited to some of the Blue Blood programs. While this isn't always the case, by changing styles and attempting to play more of an up-tempo style, Wisconsin would effectively be thrusting itself into recruiting battles with more established teams like Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky. Tony Bennett's name will undoubtedly come up over the next year, and rightfully so. Bennett may be the one candidate from outside the program that makes a lot of sense. But while I have no inside information (and don't know Tony Bennett personally), I would question why he'd consider leaving a program in Virginia that he has quickly established as one of the best in the always-difficult ACC. At Wisconsin, he'd be following in the footsteps of Ryan and his father Dick. At Virginia, Tony is the revered figure. At the end of the day, there will be a number of names that emerge over the course of the next year as we watch Ryan play out his final season as coach. Circumstances can change, but as of this writing I would ask, why look any further than Ryan's top assistant.

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Marques Pfaff's Bio
As someone who grew up in Holmen, Wisconsin, I – like most people in this state – have spent a good portion of my life rooting for every team that calls the Badger State home. As a kid, I would make the weekly, fall pilgrimage from Holmen to Madison to take in Badger football games with my dad at Camp Randall Stadium. I was there when Jump Around debuted, I was there when Jamar Fletcher picked off Joey Harrington three times in a win over Oregon, and I was there when Ron Dayne broke college football’s all-time rushing record. They were some of the most exciting experiences of my youth and may likely contributed to my choosing UW-Madison for college. While there, I was given the opportunity to walk on to the football team. I didn’t stay long but I did have a chance to put the pads on and run out of the Camp Randall Stadium tunnel. It’s something I’ll never forget.

It was during my college days that a passion for radio would also develop. After spending three years working for WIBA and WTSO in Madison, I took my first full-time job with WSSP radio in Milwaukee. This was a tremendous experience as I had a chance to cover virtually every team I loved watching. That said – despite my love for all things radio – I was offered a great opportunity in Las Vegas to work in public relations for many of the major sporting events that came to town. I took it and would wind up spending the next six-and-a-half-year in the desert. Many of those years saw me working in college athletics at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV). It was a tremendous experience and one that will always lead to me referring to Las Vegas as my second home.

All of these experiences have contributed to my perspective on sports and I look forward to sharing that with you every day from 2 to 5 p.m.
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