March was always the same for Greg Gard growing up in Wisconsin. All the madness was elsewhere. For his kids, however, the madness never stops.
He’s lived the turnaround.
The Badgers will make their 19th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night when they play Virginia Tech. Gard was the associate head coach from 2001 to 2015 before taking over the top job.
“You take great pride in it because when I was from zero to 23 or 24, the Badgers were never in the NCAA Tournament,” Gard said in KeyBank Center. “So to come through that span of your lifetime and never see Wisconsin in an NCAA Tournament, it obviously has a special meaning right now.
“My kids know no different. I have a 15-, 13- and 8-year-old, and they've never seen an NCAA Tournament without Wisconsin in it.”
The native of Cobb, Wisc., has remained in the state his whole life. He coached at two high schools and two other colleges (helping Wisconsin-Platteville to a national title at Buffalo State) before moving to the Badgers.
“When you are leading your home-state school, there's an extra sense of pride,” Gard said. "I know we represent the state and Badger fans and alumni across the country. But obviously, those in the state, it's a little extra special to it because I'm one of them. I sat in that seat or watched it on TV or whatever for a lot of years and have witnessed how far the program has grown over that time.”