We're now just two days from Wisconsin men's basketball kicking off its season against St John's. Even scarier is the fact the Badgers host Florida in less than a week -- a squad that crushed UW, 74-56, in Gainesville last season.
Soon, many of our questions surrounding the starting lineups and how Bo Ryan will rotate players and hand out minutes will be answered, but it could be quite some time until issues in the frontcourt are resolved.
It's clear Frank Kaminsky will start at center and Sam Dekker will probably see significant minutes at the four spot with freshmen like Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown filling in off the bench. However, the current situation in the frontcourt worries me more and more as the season approaches.
The issue is that not only is there a severe lack of depth in the frontcourt, but that you can't even feel secure with the starters down there, either. The biggest of these concerns for me is Kaminsky. The Badgers are relying on a guy who's come off the bench the last couple seasons and been very inconsistent, to say the least. He really needs to continue to improve upon his footwork, become more decisive offensively and more stout defensively under the basket.
Last season, Kaminsky averaged only 10 minutes, four points and two boards a game. Granted, he saw minimal time on the floor so you can't fault him for low averages, but he obviously wasn't a major cog in the Badgers' system. How can we expect a player like that to take the reigns of the frontcourt and fill the role of someone like a Jared Berggren?
It's worrisome to lose an entire starting frontcourt and not have someone reliable or consistent enough to feel comfortable putting that sort of pressure on them. Sure, if Dekker plays forward at times there shouldn't be worries about his offensive game by any means, although having him matchup against other Big Ten bruisers could cause some defensive problems.
Who will the Badgers have to deal with in the Big Ten? Michigan's Mitch McGary, Michigan State's Adreian Payne, Purdue's AJ Hammons, Illinois' Nnana Egwu, Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh and Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White from Iowa. Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas and Michigan State's Derrick Nix may be out the door, but there's still plenty of talented forwards and centers in the conference that'll pose challenges for the Badgers.
And if those weren't already enough, the Badgers have a very tough non-conference schedule, which starts with Florida and its center Patrick Young, who averaged 10 points and six boards a game last season. He put up just eight and six on Wisconsin last season but teammate Eric Murphy -- who thankfully graduated -- killed the Badgers for 24 points on 100 percent shooting from the field.
You can gripe all you want about the offensive play of former Badgers Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz, but coupled with Jared Berggren, they played pretty stout defense in the paint, something Wisconsin will surely miss this season.
We all know the script. though. Ryan will get the best out of what he has from his frontcourt and somehow the Badgers will place at least fourth in the Big Ten, but at least brace yourself for some major growing pains that lie ahead.