Two decades later, Andy Kilbride says his Badgers team would beat current UW squad
Twenty years have passed since the last Wisconsin men’s
basketball team opened a season 11-0. And until this season, it had marked the
only Badgers squad in the modern era (since 1943) to begin the year with 11
The 2013-14 version matched that 1993-’94 team with a victory
on Wednesday against Milwaukee. Now, the fourth-ranked Badgers can surpass the
mark with a win on Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.
The ’93-’94 team — which featured a starting lineup of
Michael Finley, Rashard Griffith, Tracy Webster, Andy Kilbride and Brian Kelley
— became the first Wisconsin team to reach the NCAA tournament in 47 years and
helped lay the groundwork for future successes at Wisconsin. The Badgers have
reached the NCAA tournament in 17 of the last 20 seasons and own a current
streak of 15 straight tournament appearances.
Fox Sports Wisconsin spoke with Kilbride, one of three
players to start all 29 games for the ’93-’94 Badgers, who finished 18-11 and
reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Kilbride shared his thoughts
on this year’s team and how it stacks up with that famous squad from 20 years
Fox Sports Wisconsin: What stands out about this year’s
Andy Kilbride: One of the things you can immediately tell is
the chemistry on this team is very good, even with the freshmen coming in. It
just seems like they’re all on the same page. So there’s a lot of continuity.
And then when you watch them play, at least when I watch them play, I get that
same sense. They’re controlled. They obviously move the ball very well. They
shoot the ball, I think, better than we did 20 years ago.
(Note: Wisconsin is shooting 39.1 percent on 3-pointers this
season and 45.9 percent from the field. The Badgers’ ’93-’94 team shot 36.9
percent on 3s and 46.5 percent overall.)
You look at Frank (Kaminsky) or Sam (Dekker) or Traevon
(Jackson), I think they’re a better shooting team than we were. Defensively,
they’re two different styles. We pressed full court after made baskets the
whole game. That was a little bit different than this year’s team. But this
year’s team is really mentally tough. They’re a better road team than we were.
So, I’m really impressed. It’s obviously fun to watch. I
think those are a couple differences that I see with this year’s team. They’re
a little bit more perimeter-oriented. Like I said, they shoot it better than we
did. We had Rashard Griffith and Brian Kelley. We tried to pound it inside
through Rashard as much as we could. And Mike Finley obviously was kind of a
slashing small forward to us and got to the rim a lot.
This team is a little bit different. Sam is coming on like a
freight train, though. I didn’t see him do this last year, but he’s been getting
to the basket and that was one of the little differences I saw with the two
teams. But it looks like it’s evening out.
FSW: How do you think the two teams’ starting fives compare?
Was the 1993-’94 team this balanced?
AK: No, it wasn’t. Our offense was centered around three
players: Tracy Webster, Michael Finley and Rashard Griffith. Tracy could get in
the paint whenever he wanted to. I think that’s one of the differences. There
were a lot of times when it got late in the shot clock where we didn’t feel
pressure because we knew that he could either get his shot off or he could get
into the lane and make something happen.
Not that this year’s team doesn’t do that, but Traevon is a
little bit different style than Tracy. Tracy was a pure scorer. I think Traevon’s
a pure point guard, does a really nice job of distributing the ball. That’s one
of the differences.
This team is a little more balanced. We didn’t have a big
man that could step out and shoot. We just didn’t have that threat, and it
really stretches the defense. You watch the last couple of games with this
year’s team, and they can really stretch the defense.
With Bo’s offense, obviously it’s well-documented that they
sometimes take it deep into the shot clock. As you get later in games, it wears
down the defense. Then when you have a big man that can stretch it, it really
puts a lot of pressure on the other team, where they can’t help. If you have
five guys in double figures, it’s hard to figure out OK, do I guard (Josh)
Gasser tonight? Do I guard Jackson tonight? Do I guard Dekker tonight? Who do
It really creates a lot of problems for the defenses to hone
in on one guy. We didn’t really have that. If someone took away Finley or
Rashard, it was tough for us to score points that year. I do remember later in
the year that happening. Obviously, the end of that year was great. But I do
remember times in the Big Ten season where it was really tough to score. And I
don’t see that happening with this team because they’re so balanced.
FSW: When did you have a chance to see this year’s team in
AK: I was in town for homecoming and I went over to practice
on Friday and on Saturday. I’ve tried to get to a couple games, a couple
practices every year for the last probably 10 years. It’s amazing to me. I
don’t want to wax on about how great I think Bo is, but I do think he’s great.
One of the things he does really well is you can tell he’s got the right
players because they’re the right people. It just seems like the new guys fit
right in with the seniors.
Part of that is their style, but I also think a lot of that
is just the kind of people that he recruits. I was standing there with Andy
North, who obviously knows the team really well. I mentioned that to him and
said, ‘Wow, after an hour and a half, it looks like these guys have really good
chemistry.’ And you can see that in games. It’s a big deal, especially in road
games or tight ballgames.
If you have good chemistry on the team and everyone trusts
each other, I think it’s a huge advantage. They’re sharing the ball. Whoever is
open gets it. There’s a lot of smiles on their faces. I know it’s because
they’re winning, but it’s good chemistry on this team.
FSW: What has it meant to the 1993-’94 team to hold the
school record for wins to start a season in the modern era?
AK: It’s great. We’ve talked about it maybe a couple times.
That team, when I’ve gotten together with guys I’ve played with, it seems like
there’s a theme that comes back to how quickly everything changed. From a
really tough period of years where the program wasn’t successful to how quickly
we were undefeated.
So I think that we were all sort of surprised at ourselves
and pleasantly surprised that, wow, this is a pretty good team. We’ve really
got something going here. I think it’s great. I hope this year’s team goes
undefeated in the regular season. It’s a great bunch of guys. I don’t know them
real well, but some of the upperclassmen I’ve met three or four times.
They’re just great student-athletes. They’re great people.
And they deserve it. I know how hard they work in the offseason, and I think
it’d be great if they went on a huge run here through the Big Ten season. I
think it’d be great.
I probably shouldn’t say this to you but I will anyway: It
makes us look better every year because of Bo and his teams and these guys.
They just keep making our team look better. It’s kind of fun because if someone
finds out, or we’re talking and they figure out that I played basketball at
Wisconsin, they’re really impressed. And it’s because of not only what we
accomplished 20 years ago but what these guys are doing right now.
FSW: Here’s the big question: Who wins in a game between the
1993-’94 team and the 2013-14 team?
AK: Our team. No question.
FSW: What’s the final score?
AK: Our team wins 85-75. No question. I think there’d be a
lot of scoring, and I think we’d win.
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