FanPost

Wisconsin Basketball Season Outlook




Another Wisconsin basketball season is rapidly approaching and I’d like to take a moment to look at the team this year and talk about some expectations and hopes. This year’s team, in my opinion, has the potential to be one of Bo Ryan’s best. Fans have clamored for a game-changing scorer since Alando Tucker, and that explosive playmaker may have returned in the form of Sam Dekker. Obviously there are no guarantees, but Dekker looks like he’s as close to the "real deal" as we’ve had in a long time. In basketball today, if you have a top-level talent you have a chance to be special. Dekker can be that guy for the Badgers and the best part is that he has plenty of help around him. On that note, let’s take a look at this year’s projected starters and key bench players.

One thing that has always been clear throughout Coach Ryan’s now 12 years here is that his teams are tough to predict, usually they are subject to underestimation but no matter what, they always seem to take on an identity that was at least slightly unexpected. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what was lost. Basically the entire frontcourt from a year ago has graduated. Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz were two of the strangest players in recent memory, neither met expectations that were set after their careers peaked during their sophomore season. That said, both were serviceable in their own ways, but probably would have been 6th man type players on a great team. The loss of both leaves a void to fill, but Dekker should be able to step in to the ¾ hybrid role and give Wisconsin a slasher from the wing that has been so coveted for so long. Jared Berggren is also gone, taking his UW career record for blocks with him. Frank Kaminsky should adequately fill that void. Berggren was a deceptively athletic center with decent shooting range and solid defensive ability. I see no reason that Kaminsky can’t be exactly that, but his ceiling as a player is probably Berggren. That brings us to the backcourt, where Josh Gasser’s ACL injury pressed Traevon Jackson into service last year, probably before he was ready for serious minutes. To Jackson’s credit he improved steadily as the season went on, and the serious minutes he played will serve an immeasurable benefit going forward. Gasser returns after redshirting to rehab with two years of starting experience under his belt (he remains only one of three freshmen to start a majority of the games in a season under Bo). Assuming he returns to full health, his leadership in the backcourt will fill a void that proved gaping at times last season. Not a true point guard by trade, Gasser will probably share the ball-handling duties with Jackson, which is fine. Gasser will take care of the ball, make good decisions, play good defense and provide another threat on offense. Ben Brust returns after a breakout season, highlighted by the buzzer-beater to send the Michigan game into overtime (you knew I had to get that in there). Brust has impressive range as a shooter and has shown development into more than just a three-point specialist. If he takes another jump this year, he will be serious threat as a scorer, and the perfect complement to Dekker.

So that leaves the projected starting lineup as Jackson, Gasser, Brust, Dekker and Kaminsky. Ryan has always shown a preference to the 3-guard look, and this year’s version looks to be one of his most reliable in recent memory. None of the three are game-changers, but they can all contribute on both ends of the court, which is more than could be said about certain members of last year’s team. Dekker has shown an ability to excel at the 2, 3 or 4, but it will be interesting to see how he handles playing the 4 primarily. In Bo’s offense, positions don’t matter too much, but Dekker will be asked to guard opponents who will oftentimes be bigger than him. That is where the thirty pounds he supposedly gained this offseason will come in, along with having a year under his belt with Bo’s defensive schemes. The main question in the frontcourt is depth. Duje Dukan sat out last season, taking a medical redshirt, and returns for his junior year. He has been rumored to be on of the best one-on-one players in practice, a nod to the European influence in his game. It remains to be seen how this will translate to actual gameplay, as Dukan has yet to see meaningful minutes in his time at Wisconsin. He will need to be able to step in and fill minutes down low, and be at least serviceable at it, for this team to be a threat. Evan Anderson figures to be the backup to Kaminsky. I’ll just let that sentence sit there. Nigel Hayes is an interesting freshman from Ohio who Bo seems to think will contribute key minutes right away. A forward by trade, the Badgers will need him to step into a prominent role. Between the three non-starters mentioned here, it is unlikely that all three will prove inept. But this area is still a huge question mark and the non-conference season will tell a lot about how Bo plans to address some obvious shortcomings.

The backcourt is the most stable area in reserve as well, with George Marshall returning as the main minute-getter. Marshall split time with Jackson last season until Traevon showed a more consistent level of play and won the point guard job for good. Marshall still showed the ability to score in bunched (at Iowa) which is a valuable asset for a guy coming off the bench. Marshall will see prominent minutes in the rotation that will almost always include a three guard look.

Other noteworthy returning reserves: Zak Showalter will provide emergency backup at guard, and that is probably right where his role should be for now. Zach Bohannon will, likely, battle with Dukan for some minutes, but his shortcomings are obvious and his contributions will likely be minimal. As for the incoming freshmen, Bronson Koenig could see some immediate time in the backcourt if his ability is anywhere near his hype. However with an already crowded backcourt, it would not be all that surprising to see him redshirt. I don’t think that will happen, but it certainly would not be the worst possibility. Riley Dearing and Jordan Hill both have a long way to go in their development, but both show intriguing amounts of upside. Though probably a year or two away form serious playing time, both of them could see some minutes this season.

My take: This team will be better than last year’s. They wont fall victim to the offensive dry spells that eventually killed the 2012-13 team, simply because they have so many more weapons on offense. For the same reason, I expect to see much less of the "Jordan Taylor" offense where the guard dribbles around up top before hoisting up a contested three pointer as the shot clock expires. That said, there are never any guarantees with this team, so don’t be surprised with 20 wins or 30 wins. I think the total will tilt more towards the latter, however only time will tell. With that I’ll run down the schedule and give my early game-by-game predictions:

Date Opponent Location Prediction

11/08/13

vs. St. John's

Sioux Falls, S.D.

Win

11/12/13

vs. Florida

Kohl Center

Loss

11/16/13

at Green Bay

Green Bay, Wis.

Win

11/19/13

vs. North Dakota

Kohl Center

Win

11/21/13

vs. Bowling Green

Kohl Center

Win

11/23/13

vs. Oral Roberts

Kohl Center

Win

2013 Cancun Challenge

11/26/13

vs. Saint Louis

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Win

11/27/13

West Virginia/Old Dominion

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Win

12/04/13

at Virginia

Charlottesville, Va.

Loss

12/07/13

vs. Marquette

Kohl Center

Loss

12/11/13

vs. Milwaukee

Kohl Center

Win

12/14/13

vs. Eastern Kentucky

Kohl Center

Win

12/28/13

vs. Prairie View A&M

Kohl Center

Win

01/02/14

at Northwestern *

Evanston, Ill.

Win

01/05/14

vs. Iowa *

Kohl Center

Win

01/08/14

vs. Illinois *

Kohl Center

Win

01/14/14

at Indiana *

Bloomington, Ind.

Win

01/18/14

vs. Michigan *

Kohl Center

Loss

01/22/14

at Minnesota *

Minneapolis, Minn.

Loss

01/25/14

at Purdue *

West Lafayette, Ind.

Win

01/29/14

vs. Northwestern *

Kohl Center

Win

02/01/14

vs. Ohio State

Kohl Center

Loss

02/04/14

at Illinois *

Champaign, Ill.

Win

02/09/14

vs. Michigan State *

Kohl Center

Win

02/13/14

vs. Minnesota *

Kohl Center

Win

02/16/14

at Michigan *

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Win

02/22/14

at Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Loss

02/25/14

vs. Indiana *

Kohl Center

Win

03/02/14

at Penn State *

University Park, Pa.

Win

03/05/14

vs. Purdue

Kohl Center

Win

03/09/14

at Nebraska

Lincoln, Neb.

Win

Total record, 24-7, 14-4 B1G.

Maybe that’s a little ambitious, and only time will tell, but I don’t see any reason why this can’t happen. The B1G is good again and the schedule is tough but it looks like the program is starting to take another turn upwards. If that is the case, there is no reason that this season can’t go down as one of the most successful yet. I am very much looking forward to it. See you at the Kohl Center, On Wisconsin.

FanPosts are user-created posts from the Bucky's 5th Quarter community. They reflect the opinions and views of that particular user, not that of the staff of Bucky's 5th Quarter nor the blog community as a whole.

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