The last time Greg Gard came to Buffalo, he ate Italian food and won a national championship. Alas, there won’t be a repeat.
The Italian place is gone.
Gard, coach of the eighth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers, was an assistant to Bo Ryan at Wisconsin-Platteville back in 1995. The Pioneers won the NCAA Division III championship at Buffalo State, capping an undefeated season by beating Steve Alford and Manchester (Ind.).
During this trip to Buffalo, Gard hopes to start his trek toward a D-I title. The Badgers play No. 9 Virginia Tech on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament.
“I chatted with coach Ryan, or traded messages over the week, when it was announced we're coming here,” Gard said Wednesday in KeyBank Center. “He said, ‘Hey, take the team to I think it's Carmine's.’ That's what we decided the name was now, but we found out it's out of business.”
Indeed, Carmine’s in Clarence burned down in 2015.
“But it was obviously great memories,” Gard said, “because my second year coaching we win a national championship. I mean, got spoiled pretty quickly. It was a good time.
“Seems like a hundred years ago, but it was fun.”
Gard fondly recalls the championship in the orange Buffalo State arena. He also happily recollects the Western New York weather.
“When Buffalo came up on Sunday, that's right where my mind went to was '95 and the last time I was here," Gard said. "There wasn't this much snow here, I know that."