University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard is no stranger to cancer.
His father, Glen Gard, died in October 2015 at the age of 72 of glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer. It was a month before Greg Gard became the Badgers’ coach.
Greg and his wife, Michelle, have raised more than $5 million through their Garding Against Cancer initiative. The Gards, inspired by the loss of Greg’s father, have been dedicated to fighting cancer across Wisconsin.
His knowledge of cancer didn’t make anything easier when his mother, Connie, recently was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It still impacts you and specifically her mentally,” Gard said Tuesday. “You right away go to what happened (with my dad). What the result was with that, at the end of his treatments and his fight with it. We’re very positive that we’ve got a good plan in place, and the doctors are very optimistic and positive that there can be a success with this.”
People are also reading…
Connie, 75, is in her fourth week of chemotherapy treatment.
UW announced Tuesday the team will participate in Coaches vs. Cancer “Suits and Sneakers Week” this week. The Badgers play at Nebraska on Thursday and host Minnesota on Sunday.
Greg Gard will wear pink shoes and the staff and players will wear special pink laces in support of Connie.
“When you have this type of news again, it hits home,” Gard said. “For her, I want to do that, and I got her permission to do it before I was going to come out with the pink shoes. I felt it was important and our staff all wanted to wear pink laces. They asked if they could do that.”
Gard said it’s been hard for his family knowing what happened with his father six years ago, but family and friends have rallied around Connie to provide support.
Despite the fear, the Gards are optimistic. Connie’s prognosis is favorable, and breast cancer is more treatable than brain cancer.
“We have the fortunate, unfortunate ability to have access to a lot of professionals in that we can get answers,” Gard said. “My cancer vocabulary is very deep now over the last six years, so I kind of know the questions to ask, and then I can understand their longer words and that type of stuff. But she’s doing OK. It’s hard for anybody. But she’s got a lot of support. She’s a very strong woman.”
Gard’s mother’s diagnosis adds to an already trying season for the Badgers off the court. Chris Vogt’s hometown was decimated by tornados in December and Chucky Hepburn’s childhood friend was killed earlier this week.
Gard said it puts things into perspective and shows the team that there are things bigger than basketball.
“We told them as a staff, ‘We’re way more than your basketball coach,’” Gard said. “That’ll be something that’s going to go on forever. I always tell them, ‘Until they throw dirt on me, I’m here for you.’ … We’re going to celebrate a lot of good times together. We have celebrated a lot of good times. We’re gonna have a lot of good celebrations down the road with marriages and families and all those types of things, but we’re also going to have some pretty serious gut punches. Today’s a pretty serious gut punch.”
Badgers fans on Twitter have mixed emotions after Wisconsin men’s basketball bested by Michigan State
Beatdown on the boards
MSU was due to play well. Wahl badly missed and the bench was completely absent. 45-23 rebounds? My goodness.
— Chris Davis (@cdavis20000) January 22, 2022
Only a matter of time
Writing was on the Wahl
Could see it coming.
– No Wahl
-Good MSU post embarrassing loss
-young, thin uw frontcourt vs MSU
-uw bench production lacking
-UW team due 4 some humble pie
Just to name a few
Big men & bench best grow & step up or same thing in store vs Illini.
— Robb Vogel (@RobbVogel) January 22, 2022
Part of the process
No cause for panic
Shorthanded, very much outrebounded, missed quite a few bunnies and open looks early, just got out of hand. It’s the big 10, it’s Michigan State and it’s Tom Izzo. We’ll be fine.
— Mark Massey (@mfmass) January 22, 2022
Too many offensive rebounds and lack of help defense were killer… especially with Wahl out.
— Trent Tetzlaff (@ttetz5) January 22, 2022
Starting to become clear
Michigan State is really talented especially when they play that hard/rebound. This game showed how valuable Tyler Wahl is and how little depth/impact the Badgers have at the small forward position. They’ll be fine but this team will ride and die on what its starters do.
— Andrew Zimdars (@andrew_zimdars) January 22, 2022
Keep it in context
Badgers haven’t lost in a month + with tough games. Anyone would have taken the record they came out of that with. Tough one tonight with Wahl out.
— Jake Lund (@Jake_Lund) January 22, 2022
Keep it movin’
Twitter is a special place when UW loses for the first time since December 11 and “drops” to 15-3. Crush it, flush it and get ready for Nebraska or an extended break between games (Huskers have COVID issues).
— Steve Gasser (@sgcommunication) January 22, 2022
Set up for a stumble
Lack of depth showed up tonight. Add to the mix that Michigan State was coming off a loss to NW and had five days of practice to get whipped into a frenzy. And lastly Izzo seems to have Gard’s number.
— Jeff (@bluehighway15) January 22, 2022
Can’t win ’em all
Just wasn’t our night, Wahl’s absence was definitely felt and we ran into a buzzsaw against MSU. Hopefully Wahl isn’t out for long and there will be better games ahead.
— Kurt Sagendorph (@ksagendo) January 22, 2022
Join the club
I’d have preferred a win
— Jason Gay (@jasongay) January 22, 2022
What might’ve been
Tyler Wahl’s absence was a severe blow in this one. He would’ve been a game changer on D and keeping the MSU bigs off the glass.
— Ryan Antony (@RyanAntony22) January 22, 2022
Only time will tell
At some point, this team was due for a clunker. I won’t be that concerned unless it starts to bleed over into the next few games.
— Craig Smith (@smithcp1) January 22, 2022
Coming up short
Michigan State played more physical and had more depth tonight. Wahl’s absence spotlighted Bucky’s lack of depth. Sparty always had an answer and Wisconsin couldn’t string together enough stops. It’s only one game.
— Jeff Brown (@jbrowneahs) January 22, 2022
Eyes on the prize
We are fine, focus on the next game. If you know BIG10 play your not going to win them all.
— Shaun (@Lanzarus21) January 22, 2022
It’s a 3-man job
Need all 3 of Davis, Davison, and Wahl to be competitive. Rest of the roster is too offensively challenged. And MSU showed how shooting ability can cure a lot of ills.
— Gregg Summers (@gregg_summers) January 22, 2022
Nothing to see here
Can’t win them all. Flush it and move on. Get healthy and get ready for the next one.
— Kevin (@dcbadger7) January 22, 2022
Scratching the surface
He had a couple nice moments and a couple more near nice moments. Something to build on. Hopefully he can get going. He’s a guy that we were counting on coming into the season. He could really help that bench.
— Bob (@ajnate) January 22, 2022
The match checks out
Most succinct analysis I’ve seen. Spot on.
— BethAnn Meier (@BAMeier) January 22, 2022
Finding a silver lining
Sparty was really on tonight in all facets. Shorthanded without Wahl who has been playing his best ball. Good to see Carlson get consistent minutes, I think we’ll need him down the stretch
— Ron (@RonFiki) January 22, 2022
Don’t hold back
Defense was dismal. And that’s being kind.
— Mitchell Gauger (@MitchellGauger) January 22, 2022
Fourth or better
Just gotta finish top 4 in the B1G
— Chris Cesar (@Cesar_Chris) January 22, 2022
Out of gas
Our effort on the boards was pathetic & our D was soft
JD & Brad showed up, but we needed a little more from Crowl & Hepburn
Carlson starting over Gilmore was the right call, he should get more minutes
Energy was weak all night – we just did not want it as bad
We need Wahl
— chuckwestover (@chuckwestover) January 22, 2022