For the third straight year, Keaton Nankivil did his best Blake Griffin impression at Wisconsin's Red & White Scrimmage, allowing the White team to pull away, 65-51, on Sunday afternoon in front of a modest crowd.
Nankivil wisely downplayed the significance of a big showing in the event, in which fellow senior and All-American candidate Jon Leuer shot poorly. All in all, it was good to get my first live look at the team after missing last week's scrimmage.
The first half was heavy on long-distance attempts as both squads showed off Wisconsin's trademark pack-it-in defense. Individual defensive effort on the perimeter did not stand out as a result unfortunately. While walk-on senior Brett Valentyn put on a shooting display, I was most impressed by Mike Bruesewitz's rebounding, which shut the door on the cold-shooting Red side and offset Jordan Taylor's shooting trouble.
Here's a summary of each player's performance from the exhibition.
The White team consisted of Nankivil, Taylor, Valentyn, Bruesewitz, Rob Wilson, Evan Anderson and J.D. Wise. Gary Close's Red side featured Jon Leuer, Tim Jarmusz, Wquinton Smith, Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren, Josh Gasser, Ben Brust, and Duje Dukan. The full court press employed by the Red throughout the game didn't lead to much more than brief sloppy play.
Wquinton Smith | #2
The senior had plenty of opportunity to run the show for the Red team, and served mostly as a facilitator. He looked very comfortable and you can see why the coaching staff felt he could fill in in a pinch. His drive late in the game earned an three-point play opportunity, but he did not convert the free throw.
Brett Valentyn | #15
Valentyn has always had a nice-looking shot, but he was en fuego this afternoon. He hit all four of his first-half 3-pointers, finishing 5-of-6 from downtown. It was pretty funny to watch since he leans forward so much on his shot. The open looks were a result of a little two-man game on the perimeter with Taylor, Took two charges.
Tim Jarmusz | #24
The Moose curled around a screen to hit a 12-footer, which was mildly delightful. Even though I know better, I was expecting more than two shot attempts out of Jarmusz in a scrimmage. No silly mistakes though, which I think still puts him in the starting lineup. The question is will it be over Ryan Evans or Rob Wilson.
Jon Leuer | #30
When it comes to scrimmages, Leuer is Mr. Hyde to Nankivil's Dr. Jekyll. Though Leuer showed off his improved ball handling ability leading some fast breaks, he made more than a few turnovers with some questionable decisions. Leuer shot a low percentage, but did get his share of free throw attempts -- always a good sign. He highlighted the day with sky-high (literally a good two feet above the rim) one-handed dunk attempt that clanged hard off to the left. He also was quick enough to snag a couple of steals. Fifteen points on an off night ain't bad.
J.P. Gavinski | #44
Did not play. Still sidelined with injury.
Keaton Nankivil | #52
Scored 22 points in a variety of ways, the most impressive of which were as follows: a monster dunk putback of a Taylor miss that resulted in a three-point play, an up-and-under reverse lay in that showcases his length, and a bucket off of a triple move with his pivot foot in the post that might have confused everyone on the court. Nankivil corralled eight rebounds too, and like always, was on the lips of fans as they exited the Kohl Center.
Jordan Taylor | #11
Struggled with his shot (4-of-14), but like Leuer, that's nothing new for Taylor in this setting. Taylor looked slimmer than last season and he knows this is his team now. The official stats had him down for a sneaky 10 assists, thanks in large part to Valentyn's shooting.
Rob Wilson | #33
Everyone keeps waiting for Wilson to seize his opportunity, myself included. But I didn't see too many glimpses into that kind of future on Sunday. He was only able to get loose a couple of times when a freshman was guarding him. He did not get the ball in the post that I recall, which was disappointing, but he did throw down one alley-oop.
Ryan Evans | #5
Coming into the game, I was hoping to see better ball handling out of Evans, an area he has been weak in previously. I got my wish. Evans was probably the most aggressive Badger in terms of charging the hoop, but he can still improve quite a bit. For one, he rarely finished off his drives with made baskets, typically bouncing shots hard off the backboard. And he continues to lower his shoulder when he commits to the dribble drive, which a smart opponent will turn into an offensive foul. Evans added a few blocks and steals to his 12 points, and his free throw stroke looked better.
Dan Fahey | #10
Did not play. Still sidelined with injury.
J.D. Wise | #22
Somehow logged 14 minutes and three rebounds, though I don't remember a single play he made. Maybe next year.
Mike Bruesewitz | #31
Don't be deceived by the red mop, Bruiser is bigger and badder this season. Every loose ball off the rim in his area was his, to the tune of 11 rebounds. Most of his boards came on the defensive end, where his positioning was superb. It says a lot when a guy who shot 1-of-4 is who you walk away thinking about. Bruesewitz added two assists on a pair of alley-oops, one to Nankivil and another to Wilson.
Jared Berggren | #40
Berggren has some potential as a post scorer (8 pts) now that he is healthy and I hope the team can get him on the floor this year. It will be tough to get minutes away from Evans and Bruiser though, since Bo tends to go small. Reminds me of Nankivil when rebounding in that he grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds, but not super active on the defensive glass.
Ben Brust | #1
Brust appeared to be an eager participant, but couldn't get any of his treys to drop. He impressed the entire building by going completely horizontal on a dive to save a loose ball from going out of bounds, so yeah, he looks willing to mix it up. Brust fought through some screens on D, but it's too early to tell how the Badgers will attack that this season, since I saw plenty of switching also.
Duje Dukan | #13
I expected Dukan to be skinnier, but he looked alright. He got a couple of shots to fall, but played the fewest minutes (12) out of anyone. The decision to redshirt will be his, but he could be a real weapon in 3-4 years. Since his own father is a pro scout, it will be interesting to see what he views as best for his development.
Josh Gasser | #21
With the way Bo Ryan has been gushing about Gasser so far, I knew I'd be watching this freshman on Sunday. Bo has a pattern of finding some PT for a freshman who distinguishes himself (a la Taylor in '08) and if he can improve his on-ball defense, Gasser looks like the one. His steal and ensuing cross-court pass led to Leuer's missed monster dunk. Led the Red team with two assists and two steals, sharing point guard duties with Smith. Gasser won't start but is making the guys in front of him earn it.
Evan Anderson | #32
I still think Anderson will redshirt due to his recent comments and the playing time available to him this year, but he looked like he belonged. Of course, Gavinksi fooled me a couple of years ago too. On the bright side, he hung with Leuer an actually blocked his baseline turnaround early in the game, but picked up the foul with his body. Anderson showed a decent touch on several baskets and did get tired, but never dogged it like we've seen Gavinski or Ian Markolf do in the past. On the flip side, were this a real game, Anderson would have fouled out with four minutes left.