Ryan with the 2011 Badgers: Hawk-like intensity.
As the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team shoots for a 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid and a second straight trip to the Final Four this season, Badgers coach Bo Ryan faces an impending age problem.
Not his age (he turns 67 next month), but that of his team. "I've had very few teams with four seniors who will be going out at the same time," Ryan told Isthmus.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves and start worrying about next season. As Ryan emphasizes to his players: Focus on the present.
This season should be a dandy. Here are the four seniors to keep an eye on:
Duje Dukan: The redshirted graduate student has steadily made his presence felt and came on particularly strong during last year's NCAA Tournament run.
Josh Gasser: The powerhouse guard returned last season after a torn ACL sidelined him in 2012-13, and he has a shot at becoming only the second Badger to post 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 250 assists in his career. (Michael Finley is the other.)
Traevon Jackson: His physical prowess should come in handy, especially now that the target on Bucky's back is bigger than ever.
Frank Kaminsky: The seven-footer entered this season as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year and led the Badgers last season in scoring and rebounds. Remember, this is the guy who poured in 43 points last November in a 103-85 win against North Dakota.
Meanwhile, a sophomore surge includes Vitto Brown, Nigel Hayes, Jordan Hill, Bronson Koenig and Zak Showalter. And let's not forget junior Sam Dekker, who joined Kaminsky on the preseason All-Big Ten team. Dekker suffered a lower left leg injury in preseason practice but appears to be suffering no lingering effects and is expected to become an even more imposing threat as the season evolves.
Big Ten Conference play doesn't begin until Dec. 31, when Bucky hosts Penn State at the Kohl Center. But a tough nonconference schedule that includes Duke, Marquette and Cal will test the Badgers early. So will the "Battle 4 Atlantis" tournament in the Bahamas next week -- a three-day event stacked with teams like UCLA, North Carolina and Oklahoma. Wisconsin opens play against the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Nov. 26 and then will play either Florida or Georgetown on Thanksgiving Day.