Wisconsin Badgers head coach Ryan watches as his team scores a three-point basket during the second half of their NCAA men's college basketball game against the Michigan Wolverines in Chicago, Illinois

Wisconsin draws strength from team manager who’s beaten cancer

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While the average college basketball fan doesn’t tend to pay a great deal of attention to team managers, the fact of the matter is that those students play an integral role in the success of a program.

More than simply the undergrad who hands out towels and sports drinks to fatigued players, student managers have a number of responsibilities that if left unattended to can grow into bigger issues down the line.

Star player looking to snap out a shooting slump? Chances are there’s a manager chasing down the player’s shots during late-night shooting sessions.

And managers can even serve as a source of inspiration for a program, as is the case for Wisconsin student manager Matt Meinholz. Meinholz is a cancer survivor, and upon hearing the young man tell his story at the Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala in the spring of 2012 Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan pledged to help Meinholz accomplish his goal of being a manager for the Badger program.

By that point, Meinholz was doing much better and mentioned he’d like to be a manager for the Badgers. Ryan’s response: “Get through this, and if you want to be a part of this, I’ll make it happen.”

Meinholz attended UW-La Crosse as a freshman but applied for a transfer to UW. His application included a letter of recommendation from Ryan.

“He’s the most genuine person I’ve ever met,” Marv Meinholz said of Ryan, who was as happy as anyone to receive the news in late spring that Matt had been accepted at UW. “The way he’s embraced Matt, I’m just in awe.”

According to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal there are still some health issues related to the cancer that Meinholz must navigate, with the chemotherapy sessions causing nerve damage that has affected his stamina and strength, but that hasn’t sapped his enthusiasm for the job in any way.

And with cancer beaten, Meinholz has embraced the fact that he can be an inspiration to others who are looking to defeat the disease.

“My personal battle may be over, but I just want to keep fighting and helping other people get through theirs because I definitely had a lot of support through mine,” he said.

“One of the things that makes me the most proud about coming back to manage is being able to have kids know about this happening and just know that I went to college after cancer. When kids have cancer, I don’t want them to feel like the rest of their life has to change. You can still go out and do what you want to do. Don’t let cancer hold you back from anything. You can go achieve whatever you want to achieve. I want other kids who have cancer to go out and fulfill their dreams.”

POSTERIZED: Jaylen Brown throws down hard in transition

Albert Almanza, Jaylen Brown, Jalin Barnes
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Jaylen Brown is a top five player in the Class of 2015 and a kid projected as a top ten pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.


Because he does things like this:

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Denzel Valentine, the nation’s best player?

Denzel Valentine
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 32 points, nine boards, six assists

No. 3 Michigan State beat Boise State 77-67 in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy out in California, but the result of that game is less important than the result of Valentine’s night. A night after notching his second triple-double of the season, Valentine took over another way on Friday, hitting five straight threes in the span of about five minutes to put the Spartans up double-figures in a game they were struggling to take control of.

In three games against high-major competition, Valentine is now averaging 30.0 points, 10.7 boards and 9.3 assists. He has been, unequivocally, the best player in college basketball this season.

No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.

No. 17 Notre Dame 68, Iowa 62: The Fighting Irish blew a 15-point second half lead, but the comeback gassed the Hawkeyes, as Notre Dame was able to pull away down the stretch. V.J. Beachem led the way with 16 points.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.

Cat Barber, N.C. State: Barber notched a career-high 37 points to go along with eight assists as the Wolfpack fought off a scrappy Winthrop team, 87-79. He wasn’t the best scorer on the floor, though …

Jimmy Gavin, Winthrop: Gavin finished with 38 points. Off the bench. The most incredible part? He was 5-foot-4, 90 pounds as a sophomore due to Crohn’s Disease.

John Egbunu, Florida: Egbunu finished with 17 points, 11 boards and four blocks as the Gators knocked off FGCU, 70-50. Dorian Finney-Smith added 23 points for Florida.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.
  • Troy Caupain had 17 points and Octavious Ellis added 12 points and nine boards (seven offensive) as No. 24 Cincinnati outlasted Nebraska, 65-61, at the Barclays Center.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.
  • Taurean Waller-Prince had 25 points to lead Baylor to a win over Arkansas State.
  • Joey King’s 18 points paced five players in double-figures for Minnesota as they knocked off Omaha, 93-90.
  • Caris LeVert had 19 points and Derrick Walton added 13 points and seven assists as the Wolverines beat Texas in the fifth-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis.