The busiest member of the University of Wisconsin men's basketball program over the next few days might be athletic trainer Henry Perez-Guerra.
It's that time of year where the grind of a long season has taken a toll on players' bodies. Luckily for the Badgers, they'll receive some much-needed time to heal because of a quirk in the schedule.
UW coach Bo Ryan canceled practice on Friday, though the players were required to report to the Kohl Center to watch video clips from the No. 21 Badgers' 68-61 overtime victory over Minnesota Thursday night at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
The Badgers are scheduled to practice Saturday before another off day on Sunday. UW (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten Conference) doesn't play again until Thursday, when it will take on No. 11 Michigan State (19-5, 8-3) at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
The only time this season UW had a longer break between games was during semester exams in December, when it played host to Savannah State on Dec. 15 and Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 23.
Shortly after the Badgers defeated Minnesota, Ryan was asked if he'd use the extended break between games to spend more time preparing for Michigan State or if UW would take the time to work on making improvements.
"Disney World is out," said Ryan, who has led the Badgers to at least 19 victories in each of his 11 seasons at UW. "We've still got to work it. We've got a lot of edges to smooth. We'll give the guys some time. There's some nicks on our team that every team has that we want to get healed up."
Among the players with nicks is UW junior forward Mike Bruesewitz, who made it clear that he welcomed the break.
"My ankles hurt, so sure," Bruesewitz said. "My whole body is not feeling very good right now, but that's OK. I'm going to go see Henry after this and things will be copacetic."
Six Badgers have played at least 600 minutes this season. Senior point guard Jordan Taylor leads the way with 904, an average of 36.2 per game.
Last season, Taylor played a school-record 1,241 minutes, an average of 36.5 per game.
Ryan tries to counter wear and tear from high minute totals by limiting the amount of work his players do in practice late in the season.
"You've got to keep your guys fresh," Ryan said. "Possessions in practice, we chart them all the time. And we keep them to a certain number. The number is lower as the season goes further, and that's worked well for us."
Sophomore guard Josh Gasser, who is second on the team with 843 minutes played, agreed with Bruesewitz that some time off will be beneficial as the Badgers prepare for the final three weeks of the regular season.
"Anytime you can get a couple days off, it's going to help you, especially in regard to the Big Ten season," Gasser said. "We go at it in practice; we go at it in games.
"No one's really 100 percent this time of the year, so anytime you can get a couple days off to get close to 100 percent and get your body refreshed a little bit, it's definitely going to help."
Ohio State game set
The Badgers' game at Ohio State has been set for Feb. 26, the Big Ten announced Friday.
The game will begin at 3 p.m. and be televised by Ch. 3 in Madison.
The No. 3 Buckeyes (21-3, 9-2), who are in first place in the Big Ten, beat UW 58-52 on Sunday at the Kohl Center. Ohio State hosts second-place Michigan State today.