INDIANAPOLIS (WGBA) -- Wisconsin head basketball coach Greg Gard has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year, the conference announced Monday.
Gard led the Badgers to eight consecutive wins to close out the regular season, culminating with Wisconsin's first Big Ten Championship in five seasons.
The Badgers were able to weather a mid-season storm that saw star guard Kobe King leave in a brutally public transfer; weeks later, strength coach Erik Helland resigned after allegations that he used a racial epithet in front of team members.
"They matured more than any team I've been around, and they've been through more than any team I've been around," Gard said Saturday after the Badgers won the Big Ten Championship. "They matured from November to now. We were sporadic. We were inconsistent and we got really consistent because we really matured in the last two months."
After starting the conference season 6-6, the Badgers rattled off eight straight wins. They are the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.
This is Gard's first conference coach of the year honor. Bo Ryan won the award four times (2002, 2003, 2013 and 2015). No other Wisconsin coach has won the award.