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February 23, 2011

Gameday notebook: Michigan

Jordan Taylor knew the question was coming after what happened during the latter stages of Sunday's win over Penn State. Simply because it doesn't happen that often, whenever a Wisconsin basketball player gets whistled for a technical foul it's going to be a trending topic.

So, Jordan Taylor, what did you say to provoke the quick trigger and did it involve some expletives?

"I don't think any that he heard," Taylor told reporters earlier this week. "I'm sure you saw it (on TV), but I don't think he heard anything because I think I turned away from him."

Talor Battle hit both free throws awarded to him following the mass confusion that involved an errant player number and subsequent technical foul. It was obvious as the play developed that the charge foul should have been called on Jon Leuer.

Instead, the officials wrongly informed the scorer's table that the foul was indeed on Taylor. So the junior guard reacted accordingly, though now he wishes he would have handled it a bit better.

"It was something where I kind of let my temper get the best of me," Taylor said. "That probably shouldn't happen and I should never wave my hand at the official. It was probably warranted. I think I was just trying to get them to kind of think about the call. Not that it was a big deal, but I went over and I said I wasn't even in the play. He told me to just play. I said whatever.

"I just kind of waved my hand and I don't think he liked the wave that much. I wouldn't either if I was a ref. In hindsight I probably wouldn't wave my hand at him. That's probably what got it."

The tech on Sunday was Taylor's first as a member of the UW basketball team, but it was not his first ever. The other happened when he was a senior in high school when his Benilde-St. Margaret's squad played "up in one of those towns in Minnesota where I don't think they like metro kids too much. It was one of those smaller towns."

"There was a like a kid guarding me who was 5-foot-4 and he jumped in front of me and they called a charge," Taylor said. "I didn't even touch the kid and I jumped up in the air and turned around. They called a technical on me for jumping up in the air and turning around."

STAYING FRESH:

If you've noticed in recent games, head coach Bo Ryan has been doing a solid job of getting Taylor some quick breathers surrounding media timeouts. Instead of taking him out for three or four minutes of game time, Ryan has pulled Taylor shortly before the media timeout takes place so the junior gets four or five minutes of rest but only misses mere seconds of game action.

So far, it seems to be working.

"Whenever he can get extra rest," senior Jon Leuer said. "If he can get a few extra seconds here or there that's always helpful as a player that's playing that many minutes. The more rest we can get him the fresher it keeps him. That's what we need for this stretch run of the season."

Taylor, who's averaging 35.8 minutes per game, believes it's more of a mental thing at this juncture of the season.

"I just try and go out and play hard all the time," Taylor said. "Anytime you've got to play against a guy like Talor Battle it's going to be a grind and a long game. You're probably going to get tired a little bit. That's why we do everything we do before the season. All the conditioning we do is for moments like that.

"This time of the season everybody is tired so it's just a mental toughness thing. You've just got to stay mentally tough and just kind of put that in the back of your mind and keep pushing along."

According to Leuer, there is no wear and tear on his stud teammate.

"He's always just active, diving on the floor, getting rebounds and pushing it," Leuer said. "We're all pretty young. It's not like it's the NBA where we have to start coasting at the end to save up for the playoffs."

Speaking of Leuer, a guy who has played some very solid basketball of late, he seems to be feeling awfully fresh entering the late portion of the Big Ten schedule.

"I'm feeling fresh and feeling good and healthy," Leuer said. "Everyone is fairly healthy. Obviously Keaton Nankivil tweaked his ankle a little bit but you'll play through it and every team deals with that. We're all feeling good.

"You can't ask for much more than that heading into the last few games of the Big Ten schedule."

NANKIVIL NOT WORRIED:

Though he left the arena floor late in the first half to get some treatment on his tweaked ankle and though he missed Monday's practice to rest, Nankivil was insistent that his injury was nothing more than a slight sprain.

"It's nothing serious," Nankivil said Monday night.

The senior did return to practice Tuesday and is expected to play Wednesday night at Michigan.

Having hit 8-of-9 shots from the field including a perfect 5-for-5 mark from downtown, Nankivil didn't go so far as to say the injured ankle had an effect when a reporter joked about it.

"There are other ways to play without a bad ankle," Nankivil quipped. "I'll let it heal."

The senior forward said he received four to five hours of treatment on his ankle Monday afternoon and that it was making great progress. The resources available to college athletes are tremendous and it shows with injury recovery.

"Things move a lot quicker in college," Nankivil said. "The technology and resources we have and different things that we use are pretty incredible. It feels (bionic) sometimes."

THE FRESHMAN 15:

Tonight's game inside Crisler Arena will mark the 15th Big Ten game of UW's season as well as that of freshman Josh Gasser. Though he had a stretch of games earlier in the Big Ten season where he wasn't contributing at quite the same level he had early in the season, it seems as though Gasser is starting to play his best basketball.

Over the past three games, the freshman has averaged more than eight points per game, and in two of those three games, he's scored 11 points. Gasser started his career with a 21-point, nine-rebound effort and hasn't disappointed since.

"It's his confidence level," Taylor said. "He's always staying aggressive and staying confident. He's one of those guys who is going to benefit from Jon and Keaton knocking down shots, especially off of ball screens. Guys are going to run at Jon and Keaton. Josh has always been there. He's just always solid at knocking down shots and staying aggressive.

"That's been huge for us this year."

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT:

This late in the season it would make perfect sense for Bo Ryan to maintain the level of intensity in practice by lowering the amount of time the team is on the court. With guys like Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor logging as many minutes as they do, keeping them fresh for the stretch run is something that needs to be considered.

Spend 20 minutes watching practice and it becomes clear the players are revving their motors with hopes of finishing the season strong. Having shorter practices helps.

"I think everyone likes to be out on the court, get after it and be competitive," Leuer said. "We're not running into the ground or anything like that. We're fresh and we enjoy being out here and watching film. Those are all things that make this team special. We might not go as long, but we still go hard. That's the main thing, to maintain that routine and don't do anything out of the ordinary.

"When we get on the court we're going to go hard and try to keep up our good habits."

GAME TIME:

-Tonight's game at Michigan is scheduled to tip at 5:30 p.m. (CT). It will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network with Tom Hart and Tim Doyle on the call.


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