New book captures essence of Badgers' title game run

BY foxsports • June 16, 2015

A team that produced the single greatest college basketball season the University of Wisconsin has ever seen deserved a story that captured the totality of its significance. And now, a book exists to chronicle all the magic in one place.

"Make 'Em Believe," which was released June 15 for $24.95, is pegged as "the inside story of the Badgers' road to the 2015 Final Four." Written by Patrick Herb, assistant director of athletic communications for Wisconsin, the hard cover, 160-page book features more than 100 color photos and first-hand stories from Wisconsin players and head coach Bo Ryan.

For Badgers fans or college basketball enthusiasts who want to relive everything about what made the team so special, owning the book is a must. It features a foreword from national player of the year Frank Kaminsky, an epilogue from co-Big Ten coach of the year Bo Ryan and plenty more stories in between.

"Every single day was a privilege," Kaminsky writes in the foreword. "Our team was a collection of guys who were not afraid to show the world who we really were. We liked having fun, we weren't serious 100 percent of the time, we joked around, we laughed, and we were good at basketball. We didn't see ourselves as teammates. We see ourselves as family."

What followed was a rollicking joyride that captured the essence of this fun-loving Badgers team, which caught the attention of a nation by never taking life too seriously but managing to focus when it mattered most on the court to finish 36-4 and reach the school's first national championship game since 1941.

The book begins by reviewing Wisconsin's stirring 2014 NCAA tournament run to the Final Four, paving the way for an even more majestic 2015 burst through the big dance. From the team's heart-pounding, emotional one-point loss to Kentucky in the 2014 national semifinal to the rematch with the undefeated Wildcats in 2015 that served as the crowning moment on the most impressive two-year stretch in program history, it's all there.

Along the way, Herb -- the team's lead public relations contact -- weaves a series of vignettes about some of the Badgers' most important players: Kaminsky, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, Bronson Koenig and Sam Dekker, among others. It also takes readers inside what it was like to be behind closed doors during critical moments of the season, celebrating a Battle 4 Atlantis championship in the Bahamas, enduring a stunning upset loss at Rutgers, bouncing back to win the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles and earning the first No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in school history.

There are several hilarious behind-the-scenes stories, too, including how the team's basketball staffers managed to hide the Big Ten championship trophy in the locker room following Wisconsin's late-season loss at Maryland -- a feat that would make Danny Ocean in "Ocean's Eleven" proud -- and the subsequent plane malfunction that forced an emergency landing in Pittsburgh.

With recollections from Kaminsky, Ryan, Gasser, Koenig, Dekker, Jackson, Nigel Hayes, Ben Brust, Duje Dukan, Zak Showalter, play-by-play voice Matt Lepay and strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland, among others, no important moment from the season is left unturned. It is a book that accurately reflects the magnitude of the season and the joy with which the team played, all wrapped up into one 160-page keepsake.

The book can be purchased at www.kcisports.com or at local Madison-area bookstores.

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