What to Watch in Canada, Part I: Frank Kaminsky's rebounding

USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin heads to Canada this week for a five-game exhibition tour. In each of the three days leading up to the first game, B5Q is highlighting one item to pay close attention to during the two live-streamed games on Aug. 22 and Aug. 25. In part one of the series, we look at junior Frank Kaminsky's importance to the Badgers -- specifically on the glass -- in the upcoming year.

Where does the time go? Frank Kaminsky was not exactly hailed as the heir to Jon Leuer coming in, lacking Leuer's ridiculous natural athleticism, despite their similarities like a freakish high school growth spurt and serious late bloomer vibes. Kaminsky has always been the guy waiting in the wings.

Until now. Kaminsky is a junior and the prospective anchor of the 2013-14 Wisconsin front line.

Some will question Kaminsky's stamina since he's never played big minutes before and has tried to transform his body over the last year. But the most pressing issue is his defensive rebounding.

Wisconsin has firmly established defensive rebounding as one of its hallmarks of its success. Looking at defensive rebounding percentage (DR%) to measure a big man's effectiveness, we see that the Badgers typically have two or three players in heavy rotation reaching the 15-20 percent range to achieve that goal of limiting opponents' second chances. It all starts up front, where the Badgers have lost a ton of experience.

Because DR% is an opportunity statistic, you wouldn't expect it to rise simply with more playing time. For example, a very good defensive rebounder like Ryan Evans basically maintained the same DR% throughout his career. A guy like Jared Berggren improved his DR% over his last few seasons, but with the notable exception of Leuer, most Badgers under Bo Ryan don't drastically improve this number over four years, let alone between their sophomore and junior seasons.

Kaminsky has been a decent offensive rebounder in limited minutes, but steadily gathered a mere 12.7% and 12.5% of available defensive rebounds in his first two seasons. We want that number to jump up to at least 18% this season. Big Frank should be able to do so against these Canadian teams. If not, it could be a long year.

Offensively, the 6-foot-11 forward showed flashes of spectacular outside shooting for a big, canning all four treys attempted versus Samford and hitting two huge 3-pointers against Indiana before leaving with a gouged eye. Kaminsky averaged 4.2 points per game in just over 10 minutes. His career highs are 23 minutes, 19 points (both against Illinois last year in a triumphant return from the eye injury) and six rebounds.

Like any unproven player, Kaminsky's biggest test will be playing at a consistently high level. What matters most to Wisconsin this season will be his consistency on the defensive boards. Starting Wednesday, fans get to see what Big Frank has been working on.

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How does Kaminsky compare to his predecessors at Wisconsin when it comes to corralling defensive rebounds? Take a look:

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For more Wisconsin basketball coverage, follow Phil on Twitter @hoopsmarinara.

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