Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE
All those annoying little habits you've noticed from your favorite Badgers could be better utilized by some of their teammates.
I have been thinking about regifting lately. Thanksgiving is over and now the Christmas season is upon us in full force.
Did you know National Regifting Day is Dec. 18? The term made famous by a Seinfeld episode even has its own etiquette now, which you can find on websites dedicated to the practice.
Truth be told, the real reason regifting has been on my mind is due to a couple of annoying trends I've picked up on while watching the Wisconsin basketball team. A number of Badgers have some interesting habits on the court, and they do not always benefit the team.
You've probably observed these same things too, and the degree to which they irritate us may vary. Rather than just sit around complaining, however, I thought I'd do a little problem-solving and see which annoying habit could be turned into more of a positive if transferred -- excuse me, regifted -- to another player.
Ben Brust: Jumping Bean Connoisseur
This is probably the most interesting case on the board at the moment. The super-aggressive Brust is gobbling up rebounds at a pace unheard of previously for a small guard in a Bo Ryan-paced system. He leads the team with 8.5 rebounds per game, so I really shouldn't be complaining. But admit it, you see the same thing I do: Brust careening about in the lane, bouncing off his own teammates like a bumper car. In the Florida and Creighton losses, he was knocking fellow Badgers off their position, which caused the ball to bounce out of UW's grasp and into the opponent's possession for easy second chances. I feel a bit more control on Brust's part would be better.
But if that raw aggression and pursuit of the basketball cannot be corralled, at least pass it along to Ryan Evans. Evans has been struggling offensively and has gotten away from the role that made him so valuable, which is rebounding and defending. Imagine Evans flying through the air to grab contested boards. Instead of trying to tip balls to himself at 6'1", Evans would be swallowing them whole at 6'6".
Zak Showalter: The Almost Highlight Reel
Young Showalter is still but a padawan learner. He has earned Bo Ryan's trust though, as you knew he would, averaging a steady eight minutes and two points per game. Showalter's signature move is clear already. He attacks the rim for one-handed putback dunks with reckless abandon, from anywhere on the court. I can count three times already (and maybe there were more that I missed) where Showalter has tried this unsuccessfully. I love the excitement factor, but concentrating on actually possessing the ball instead of yanking the rim down would be more effective.
In a twist, I'm going to say I'd like to see this aggressiveness regifted to George Marshall. After all, Sam Dekker and Jared Berggren already have it. Dekker has the basketball IQ and flair necessary for these Showy-type of plays; Berggren has seemingly mastered the putback slam. And I don't want Marshall going to for putback dunk ... I just want him to trying creating a little more. We've seen his outside shot is pretty reliable, which should open up some dribble penetration for him. But right now he seems a bit skittish, still too uncomfortable to "make things happen." While Ryan probably loves the turnovers that avoids, I'm hoping Marshall can develop this aspect over the next month or two.
Ryan Evans: A Force...d Shot
As mentioned earlier, Evans hasn't broken out offensively yet this season and seems to be pressing. Lots of 3-pointers taken out of rhythm and a bunch of shots clanging off the front iron. Despite averaging 10.5 ppg, Evans hasn't shot over 50% from the field in any game yet this season. His atrocious 10-of-26 shooting from the free throw line isn't helping matters one bit. (Maybe Marshall or Traevon Jackson will regift him some charity stripe accuracy??) Evans needs to get back to letting the game come to him and sticking those open 15-footers when they present themselves. He needs to stop trying to replace Jordan Taylor because he fits in better as a second banana. This season, that means deferring to Berggren.
So give the extra shots to Mike Bruesewitz. Hear me out. Bruesewitz has been relegated to this floating 3-point shooter on offense, almost Tim Jarmusz-like (*shudders*) and I don't know if it's related to his recovery from injury or what. But we don't want a neutered Bruesewitz. He's got to be mixing it up, tipping in misses and drawing contact in the lane. I'm starting to miss that Bruiser.
Traevon Jackson: Hyperactive Puppy
Sometimes I just don't get what's going through Jackson's mind out there. In the preseason I was predicting that Jackson would be playing with a chip on his shoulder, and that has manifested itself in some unforced errors. Jackson has committed a few offensive fouls you could see coming a mile away, and he also has this irritating habit of suddenly getting in a guy's grill 45 feet from the basket and bumping him until the foul is called. Jackson's 13 personal fouls are second most on the team to Bruesewitz, despite splitting time with Marshall.
Honestly, I don't really want Jackson to regift these mistakes to anyone because I don't see the upside. But I wouldn't mind seeing Frank Kaminsky get a little more nasty in him. Who on this team will set those Krabbenhoft-type picks or give the hard, Stiemsma-level foul when needed? Kaminsky's confidence seemed to take a hit with his early struggles, but you saw some of his offensive potential against Presbyterian. Since the Badgers cannot afford to have Berggren sitting with foul trouble, Kaminsky adding an enforcer's edge to his 6'11" frame would bring some advantages.
If you noticed a pattern here, it's not a coincidence. A problem of over-aggressiveness is probably better than no one being aggressive enough. In fact, compared to recent Badger teams, this problem might be welcomed by many.
So, even though I find some of this stuff frustrating at times, at least it's interesting. And at just 4-2 so far, Wisconsin needs all the interesting it can get.
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