Greg Gard
UW associate head coach Greg Gard.

Greg Gard lost count a long time ago of all the times when University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan helped him understand a situation that had left him flummoxed.

The most recent occasion came Thursday morning, after UW-Green Bay athletic director Ken Bothof called Gard to tell him that he wasn't going to be the next coach of the Phoenix men's basketball team.

A quick consultation with Ryan softened the blow.

"That's a huge advantage. I can't ask for anybody better to work for or work with," said Gard, the Badgers' associate head coach. "That's what the general public doesn't see, how Bo handles all those things away from the limelight, how he deals with people and the rationale and reasonings."

Gard, 39, said he understood Bothof's rationale for hiring Brian Wardle, an assistant with the Phoenix. Bothof followed the growing trend in college basketball of promoting from within.

"He thought the best route at this point was to not upset the apple cart, keep trying to go in the direction they were going, of trying to win a conference tournament, trying to get into any type of postseason play," said Gard.

In his 16 seasons as an assistant under Ryan at UW as well as UW-Platteville, Gard has been a part of winning conference tournaments, conference championships and playing in the NCAA tournament.

Gard also has an outstanding track record as a recruiter within the state as well as in Minnesota and Ohio, schedules the Badgers' non-conference opponents each season, works with the development of the players and specializes in preparing them for their next opponent.

He believes his resume was almost perfectly suited for landing the job at UW-Green Bay, which would have been his first head coaching position.

"The advantage of (Green Bay) was you're staying in state," said Gard. "All the things lined up in terms of my track record and what we've done, recruiting contacts and network. Things were lined up as well as probably any place can line up."

But the Phoenix passed him over. Thus, Gard was disappointed and went to Ryan to seek some answers.

"Of course, you're upset," said Gard, who noted that he was extremely impressed with Bothof during the interview process. "You invest a lot of time, not just during the 14 days of this process but the last 15 to 20 years of laying down a track record for this kind of opportunity."

Gard doesn't interview for many head coaching jobs. "I always try to look for the right fit. I don't chase a job just to chase a job or to interview or apply just to say I applied," he said.

He also knows he has a great job with the UW basketball program. "This position is better than a lot of head coaching jobs in terms of resources and the success we've had," Gard mentioned.

The UW coaches are busy evaluating a handful of guards -- all of whom are high school seniors -- who could fill the scholarship created when center Ian Markolf left the team to concentrate on academics.

Gard is also working on completing the non-conference schedule for next season. He said he has one game left to schedule and it involves a home-and-home deal with an opponent.

In other words, it's business as usual for Gard, a consummate professional. "I've had better days," he said shortly after talking to Bothof, "but I'll be all right."

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