[Updated] Men’s basketball: Greg Gard officially named new head coach of Wisconsin

first_imgWisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard was not named Big Ten Coach of the Year Monday after he led the Badgers to an impressive turnaround in the second half of the season. Instead, he earned a much greater honor — he can finally drop that “interim” tag from his job title.After going 13-6 since taking over the head coaching position from longtime coach Bo Ryan in December, the University of Wisconsin has given Gard the full-time position.“It’s an honor and a privilege to be named the head coach at the University of Wisconsin,” Gard said in a statement. “I’m extremely thankful to Coach Alvarez, the Athletic Board and the Board of Regents for this incredible opportunity to lead my home-state program into the future.”Gard worked under Ryan’s wing for 23 years, at UW-Platteville from 1993-99, UW-Milwaukee from 1999-2001 and joining the Wisconsin coaching staff in 2001.Ryan retired in mid-December with the intention of giving Gard a leg-up in the race to replace the future Hall-of-Famer. “I am thankful to Coach Ryan for the opportunity he gave me to be a college coach over 25 years ago,” Gard said. “He has been a positive mentor in the professional development of my career and showed great confidence in my abilities and potential as I grew as a young coach.”But the job wasn’t always a lock for Gard, with the Badgers getting off to a rough start when he first took over interim duties and losing four of their first six games.Fans and media started to question whether Gard was the right man to take over the program, but the Badgers answered, rattling off seven straight wins and going on to win 11 of their next 12 contests.And in that time, Gard successfully made his case, and UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez was sold. For Alvarez, it went beyond the wins that Gard had begun to produce.“As I said many times throughout the past weeks, I’ve been very impressed with the job [Gard] has done with this team,” Alvarez said in the statement. “Not just from a wins and losses perspective but also in terms of player development and making necessary adjustments. It became clear to me as the season wore on and I was able to observe Greg both on and off the court that he was the right person to lead our men’s basketball team.”Above all, Gard’s most impressive feat this season might be that he lead this team to yet another top four finish in the Big Ten, extending the program’s streak of top-four finishes to 16 consecutive seasons.While Gard may be remembered, for now, as the man who turned around a Wisconsin team that looked hopeless and lost into a national contender, nothing will change for the coach moving forward. Most importantly, he has his site set on the future and building on this memorable season.“I’m looking forward to building on the great tradition at Wisconsin and representing my home state in a manner that can make Badgers fans proud,” Gard said.Gard will officially be introduced as head coach during a press conference scheduled for 1:30 Tuesday and will lead the team for the first time Thursday, when the Badgers take on either Nebraska or Rutgers at the Big Ten tournament.last_img read more

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