Badgers 2010/2011 Big Ten Dark Hoarse
As what has turned into a tradition in Madison the UW Badger Basketball team led by Bo Ryan figures to be a dark hoarse in the Big Ten title race again, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Last year ended in humiliating fashion for the Badgers in the Big Dance with that second round loss to Cornell. Cornell had a solid squad but the loss was still humiliating and we can't wait for the sting to be erased by the UW Badger basketball season getting underway.
What follows is our quick thoughts heading into the 2010/2011 season, with of course more to come including hopefully as many live game blogs and previews as last year.
UW Badger Backcourt
Coming into the 2010/2011 season the Badgers have more question marks than in recent years, that is going to happen when you loose your entire senior led starting backcourt and a solid one at that with Hughes and JBo moving on. We all know that those two provided a ton of minutes, leadership and some clutch play with games on the line but players move on in college and the Badgers have options for 2010/2011.
It all starts of course with Jordan Taylor who as a sophomore was really a starter in the backcourt and now in his junior year this is his team to lead. What we really like about the fact that Taylor is a leader is the same thing we liked when Tucker was a leader and that is that Taylor is a strong tough kid without quit and the talent to go with it to make his teammates stand up and take notice of what he does on and off the court. All reports are that the Badgers had one of there best off-season conditioning programs from top to bottom for the players and one can't doubt that Taylor was a leader setting an excellent example for the younger players to follow. Taylor will provide the playmaking ability and decision making this backcourt needs to be successful, he has grown every year as a player and look for him to be in the discussion for Big Ten Player of the Year when the season is said and done.
Rob Wilson figures to get more time at the shooting guard spot this season than at forward as he is the only upperclassman to play meaningful minutes at the guard position on the roster. Rob has been a player during his UW career that has shown flashes of being a key contributer but that is all they have been is flashes. If the Badgers are going to be truly successful during this season they need him to grow as a player which means a lot more consistency on his part, that means making the right decisions on when to penetrate, shooting a higher percentage from beyond the arc, and not committing dumb fouls on the defensive end.
The freshman guards Ben Brust and John Gasser are going to need to contribute this year as there isn't enough depth to hide them on the bench in the way Bo has so often hid his freshman. In particular the Badgers are going to be looking for one of them to be a sharp shooter from beyond the arc and that figures to be John Gasser from Port Washington, WI. If these two can average 15 minutes of solid play between them per game it will be a success.
Also look for the walk-on seniors Wquinton Smith and Brett Valentyn to play a bigger role than walk-ons have in past recent years. In fact it wouldn't surprise us at all if Smith ends up playing more backcourt minutes than the freshman as he like Taylor is a solid figure, with good decision making abilities. Look for Valentyn to play an increased role as well in particular if he gets on a role hitting shots from deep.
Overall this backcourt won't have the experience you like to see, but led by Taylor it could be better for the team because we should know more what to expect from it night in and night out. The one thing about Hughes and JBo was that they weren't consistent even as seniors and that led to problems when the team looked at them to lead.
UW Badger Basketball Frontcourt
The frontcourt is where the Badgers will have an advantage over other teams in the 2010/2011 season and this group makes them a dark hoarse for the Big Ten title. Of course it all starts with the senior Jon Leuer who gives a solid effort on the defensive end but has turned himself into one of the most versatile offensive big men in the country with his scoring moves at the rim and being able to hit the jumper. Leuer is good enough to be like Taylor a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year and we expect him to finish at the very least on the first team squad.
Senior forward Keaton Nankivil has had a bit of a disappointing career at the UW as he has yet to put it all together for the Badgers in the consistency department. When Nankivil is on his game he can be a dominating player by playing tough and with emotion on defense and having the versatility to light a team up from downtown. If Nankivil can be more consistent this season he pairs very well with Leuer to give the Badgers an intimidating one two punch down low on offense and defense.
Senior forward Tim Jarmusz has been a bit of a whipping boy for Badger fans as he doesn't seem to have enough athleticism as you would like for Big Ten play. Despite that he was a starter for the Badgers as Bo Ryan likes his smarts as he doesn't make dumb decisions and through positioning can be effective on the defensive end of the floor. In the past Jarmusz has also had a reliable outside shot that this team desperately needs him to rediscover as it went missing most of last year. Look for Jarmusz despite being a senior to play less minutes than last year in the frontcourt as players like Evans, Mike B. and Evan Anderson prove to be better options but Jarmusz might pick up some slack if needed in the backcourt.
Ryan Evans is a player who came to the Badgers as a raw prospect and has always worked hard on the court and has made strives every year to improve. One thing you will notice though is that no player on the roster drives Bo Ryan more crazy than Evans and he has the shortest leash on the team when he makes a mistake. Evans can be a true impact player for the Badgers, he already was on the defensive end last year where his tenacity and athleticism when he was making smart decisions drove teams nuts. On offense he was still very raw but he showed flashes of an improving jumper and at least a little less forced shots around the rim. Evans is the type of kid who is going to keep improving because that is how he is and why the Badgers recruited him, look for his jump shot to be just good enough that he turns into the third biggest contributer to the team behind Taylor and Leuer.
Sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz did one thing very well as a freshman and that was attack the glass. Mike is a fearless player on the court and draws comparisons back to Krabbenhoft but that is only on the defensive end, on offense Mike needs to show he belongs in his sophomore season otherwise he might not get the minutes his defense warrants. Jared Berggren another sophomore big man is another player who needs to show he is progressing in the system, one thing that would make him invaluable this year is if he found his stroke from beyond the arc as has been advertised that he is capable of.
Evan Anderson was once considered a good get for the Badgers on the recruiting trail, but last year he had a disappointing senior high school season. Despite that senior season don't be surprised if Anderson makes the biggest contribution of the Badger freshman this year as he is 6-11 and weighs 240 and all reports are that he is ready to play for the Badgers. In addition reports are that he works hard in fact he took to the off-season conditioning program with open arms, the Badgers have been burned by their last few Center recruits but we expect Anderson to be the one that contributes from day one and are expecting him to not redshirt and have the possibility to make a contribution if a player ahead of him gets hurt.
This frontcourt has a diverse group of upperclassman leading it, and we expect it to be the dominating factor in Big Ten play that makes this team competitive. We expect Leuer to have a terrific season that will propel him into the NBA draft and we expect Ryan Evans to have a huge impact on this team, not always the prettiest to watch but a huge impact.
This team is no doubt thin in the backcourt and the loss of Taylor could pretty much send the season off track in a hurry, but the Badgers have just enough in the backcourt with Taylor, Wilson, Smith and if Jarmusz has to swing over that you know they should be solid. In the frontcourt the Badgers have all sorts of upperclassman with diverse talent and that will give opposing teams fits and that is how the Badgers are going to win. In the 2010/2011 season the Badgers will have stifling inside defense, above average rebounding, and the big guys will stroke it from the outside and bang it home inside with Jordan Taylor creating as needed and a freshman knocking home some clutch threes outside. Is this the best team in the Big Ten this year, no it is hard to say with all of the talented Big Ten teams and you have to respect MSU but this team will be there at the end competing for a title.
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