Skip to main content

Buckets, Bucky and brains: A look back, a Duke link

April 6, 2015

As the Wisconsin Badgers prepare for their first NCAA basketball championship appearance since 1941, we offer a few facts and figures about what this milestone means for the UW–Madison campus.

Back in the day

A glimpse at the 1941 Badger Yearbook reveals that campus life was a bit different then.

  • The yearbook introduced two mascots, but neither was the now-beloved Bucky. Their monikers were Beulah and Benny Badger.
  • The most popular winter sport wasn’t basketball, but boxing. That year, the Badgers went undefeated in the ring.
  • Wisconsin basketball’s 1941 championship was the school’s second-ever NCAA-bestowed national title. The first was the 1939 team boxing championship.
  • The yearbook gives ample credit to basketball Head Coach Bob Foster in its description of the season. It reads: “Coach Foster turned an ordinary enough looking group of green players into a polished and smooth working machine — a machine that never faltered once started.”

Research collaborations

The Badgers and the Blue Devils may be fierce rivals on the court, but in the lab they find plenty of common ground.

While a graduate student at UW–Madison, Jamie Hanson and his advisor, Psychology Professor Seth Pollak, examined the impact of stress on brain development in young children. Hanson is now a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University and he and Pollak continue to work together to understand how early life experiences affect the brain.

Thomas Kuech, a UW–Madison chemical and biological engineering professor, collaborates with Duke Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor April Brown on the ways that nanoscale structuring can expand the power and usefulness of semiconductors in sensors and optical devices. 

A fan’s view — then and now

In 1941, as a senior at Madison West High School, Roger Greeley attended one of the Badgers’ regional tournament games at the Field House during the lead up to their championship win in Kansas City. Now 91 years old, he plans to watch this year’s game with his wife, Kay, at home in Marquette, Mich.

He’d hoped for a Michigan State versus UW final. Now, he says, “I’ll be supporting Wisconsin 100 percent.”

As a teenager, Greeley wasn’t much of a fan of basketball, UW or otherwise. Until the addition of the shot clock, he says, “it was just a glorified game of keep-away, making a basket and then trying to prevent the other team from doing so themselves.” Hence the 1941 championship score: a staggering 39-34.

Greeley has seen some other big moments in history. He survived Iwo Jima as a Marine in World War II. He was at Fenway Park when the Red Sox won the American League pennant in 1946, and again when they won the World Series in 2013.

So his daughter, Bethany Knight, thinks his support can’t hurt. “I think he’s got the karma to make this happen,” she says.

— Devin Lowe, Chris Barncard, Kelly Tyrrell and Susannah Brooks