Badger First Impressions
In the last few days, we got our first real glimpse of the University of Wisconsin basketball team in action against real competition in the Maui Classic. The Badgers registered wins against Arizona and Maryland while being defeated pretty handily by Gonzaga. It’s difficult to get a read on how good the Badgers are based on those two wins because we don’t know how good AZ and Maryland really are this early in the season. We do know that Gonzaga gave Michigan St. a tough contest in East Lansing.
The Badgers pretty much know what they’ll be getting out of their starting guards so the question is how much help the supporting cast can provide to seniors Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. So far, it appears that forward Keaton Nankivil has gotten stronger and much more aggressive around the basket; he’ll need to provide an effective inside presence if Wisconsin is going to be a factor in the conference race. Despite reports that forward Jon Leuer has added weight and gotten stronger, he still seems to me to be a little soft underneath in regard to what the Badgers need from him. Given his background , perhaps it is asking too much for him to play with his back to the basket. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas compared freshman Mike Bruesewitz to departed Joe Krabbenhoft “with a better shot”. If that’s true, he could eventually find himself in the starting lineup in place of Tim Jarmusz. They’ll also need to get regular scoring out of sophomore guard Jordan Taylor, who was the only player to make an impact against Gonzaga.
The guess here is that, at least early in the year, Wisconsin’s success will be determined by how well they shoot the ball. Because of their relative lack of size, they don’t figure to be able to rely on their defense as much as they have in the past. That will cause them to struggle once they begin play in the above average Big(11)Ten. Coach Bo Ryan will need his perimeter players to consistently hit their shots to open up the lane. Otherwise opposing teams will just pack in the middle and, with no offensive post presence like the graduated Marcus Landry, dare the Badgers to win with long jumpers.