JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team has been proving all year that this is a different Badger hoops team. The players are quick to admit that in past seasons, tough road contests at Northwestern and Illinois would almost certainly have been losses instead of wins. Yet more evidence that this is a different Wisconsin basketball team is rolling in as the Badgers are continuing to draw more and more national media attention, which historically has been sparse if not nonexistent. Tuesday afternoon, head coach Bo Ryan made an appearance on Jim Rome’s nationally acclaimed daily ESPN talk show “Jim Rome is Burning.” On the show, Ryan addressed subjects such as how his players are handling the intense scrutiny of being the No. 2 ranked team in the nation. “I think they’ve done a great job of handling all the attention,” Ryan said. “Now that classes have started, all their fellow students are back, and they’re adding even more to the excitement.” Ryan also shared complimentary words about his John Wooden Award candidate and star senior Alando Tucker, whom he claimed he knew early on was a one-of-a-kind player. “I knew he was special,” Ryan told Rome. “He scores in a lot of different ways, and he’s perfect for what we do.” The sixth-year Badger head coach also talked about what it was like to win his 500th career game earlier this season. “I’ve survived, and I think that survival is a good thing. Getting the 500th with a team like this, with a leader like Alando Tucker, it’s been pretty special,” Ryan said. “I’m living a pretty good dream right now, and it’s all because of the people who laid the groundwork ahead of us, and this is a lot of fun.” Ryan added that when he first got into coaching, he thought the junior high school team that in1972 was “about as good as it gets,” to which Rome replied, with a wry grin, “That was a hell of team, huh, Bo?” Ryan will also be featured in this week’s Sports Illustrated, which hits newsstands today, as the subject of award-winning columnist Rick Reilly’s back page column. In the column, Reilly describes Ryan as his new favorite coach. Bear down Tucker has had plenty of reasons to be a happy camper as of late, with his team riding the nation’s longest winning streak and his name often being dropped into the Wooden Award race. But it was hard to find Tucker happier about any recent development than when he was asked about the fortunes of his beloved Chicago Bears. “I’m very happy. We’re goin’ to the Super Bowl,” the Lockport, Ill., native exclaimed with a smile. Tucker went on to explain that he had plenty of fellow Bears diehards to share the joy with trying to reach him. “I had fans calling me all night last night,” Tucker said. “It kept me up; I had some people calling me at two in the morning, so they must’ve been happy.”
USC will look to get back to its winning ways as it takes on Washington State Thursday at McAlister Field for a 3 p.m. kickoff and Washington Sunday at 1 p.m. Cal capitalized on virtually every opportunity from start to finish, scoring three times on 10 attempts. Sophomore forward Penelope Hocking has 9 goals so far this season — the second most on her team after junior forward Tara McKeown. She also has four assists. ( Yannick Peterhans / Daily Trojan) “I think we’re going to take it one game at a time and work on things we need to work on going into the postseason,” Hocking said. “We’ll be fine.” USC will have the week to try to hit the reset button before facing two of the highest ranked teams in the Pac-12. Washington State ranks No. 4 and Washington comes in at No. 2 in the conference. “I didn’t think we matched the competitiveness they brought to the game,” McAlpine said in an interview with USC Athletics. “As such, they were able to capitalize on all the mistakes that we made.” This has been a trend for the Trojans in games where they have fallen behind. No one doubts the Trojans’ talent and skill, but at times it seems as though USC’s competitive play takes a while to get going. The Trojans have won their last five matches against the Cougars and their last three against the Huskies, but the team’s focus is on the present. The No. 7 USC women’s soccer team is preparing for its final home games of the regular season against No. 18 Washington State and No. 12 Washington. “We’re not playing the best we can,” she said. “After the Cal loss, I think that was kind of a wake up call for us. We’re not there yet, we need to work on a lot of things to get where we want to be.” Sophomore forward Penelope Hocking said the loss to the Bears should kick the Trojans into high gear The Trojans are coming off a disappointing 3-0 loss to Cal Friday in Berkeley. It was USC’s first loss to the Bears in two seasons and the first time the high-scoring Trojan offense has been shutout this season. There are no cakewalks in the Pac-12 this season. It has been one of the tougher years in the conference’s history, with all but one team boasting a record over .500 and eight schools ranked in the Top 40 according to RPI rankings. The Trojans switched goalkeepers in the second half, as head coach Keidane McAlpine brought in former Pac-12 Keeper of the Year redshirt junior Kaylie Collins to replace sophomore Anna Smith. Collins saw her first action since suffering an injury in August and allowed two goals in the second half as Cal padded its lead on its way to the upset win. Hocking said it will be crucial for USC to approach the remainder of its schedule one game at a time instead of looking ahead to the playoffs. “For the rest of the season, we’re just really focused on each game,” Hocking said. “Taking each game one game at a time, and really focusing for the Washington State game.” The Trojans have struggled this season on the road with an overtime win, an overtime tie and now a loss in six games away from McAlister Field. USC will be happy to be back at home where it has been dominant, outscoring opponents a combined 11-5. The race for the Pac-12 championship may be out of reach for the Trojans, who have two losses already in conference play and are looking up at a terrific Stanford team holding first place. Still, USC’s confidence in its future success has not wavered.