Wisconsin junior guard Josh Gasser has been cleared to play when the Badgers play a series of exhibition games in Canada this week. The five-game, eight-day tour will begin Wednesday at Carleton University and conclude Aug. 26 vs. A-Game Hoops, a Canadian men's select team.
Head coach Bo Ryan said he expects Gasser to play 8-12 minutes per game, cautiously easing him back into the grind of live game action.
"If we could get that it would be great," Ryan said after practice Sunday. "He practiced some today, but not total."
Gasser tore his left ACL and damaged both his LCL and meniscus in practice Oct. 27, causing him to miss all of last season. He began practicing about two weeks ago, putting him ahead of the schedule he discussed last spring.
"I didn't really have an exact set date other than the first day of practice," Gasser said. "So for me to be able to go out there and play a little bit and be abler to run up and down with these guys a few minutes here and there is going to be great."
Wisconsin finished 23-12 (16-6 Big Ten) without Gasser, good enough for another top-four finish in the conference. The Badgers, however, were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Ole Miss, prematurely ending hopes of a deep tournament run.
A healthy Gasser figures to be a tremendous boon for the Wisconsin, which returns only senior Ben Brust as an experienced member of the backcourt. Junior Traevon Jackson took over Gasser's point guard duties with sophomore George Marshall as his backup alongside Brust, and while having another year under their belts is undoubtedly helpful, Gasser returns as UW's active leader in career starts (66) and minutes played (2,184).
Before his injury, Gasser was expected to assume Wisconsin's point guard duties for the 2012-13 season. He spent the year prior largely at shooting guard, averaging 7.6 points per game and shooting a team-high 45.2 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.
Sunday, Gasser said he hopes to play point guard, though he envisions playing anywhere from the 1-4 spots.
"I would love to play point," he said. "I think I'm going to play point a little bit...I don't really know yet. "My main goal is to get out there and play and help our team. I don't care what position I'm playing.
"I could see myself playing 1 through 4 essentially. I've got to be able to do all those things. I love having the ball in my hands and being able to run the offense but at the same time we've got a lot of other guys who could do that, too."
As a freshman, Gasser played in 34 games, notching 5.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 rebounds per contest. Among his highlights that season was a triple-double, the first in UW history, against Northwestern Jan. 23, 2011.
|2013 WISCONSIN CANADIAN EXHIBITION SCHEDULE|
|DATE/TIME (times CT)||OPPONENT||COVERAGE|
|Aug. 21, 6 p.m.||Carleton University (Keith Harris Gym, Ottawa)||UWBadgers.com|
|Aug. 22, 6 p.m.||University of Ottawa (Montpetit Hall, Ottawa)||Live stream: http://www.ssncanada.ca/|
|Aug. 24, 5 p.m.||A-Game Hoops (Mattamy Athletic Center, Toronto)||UWBadgers.com|
|Aug. 25, 7 p.m.||Ryerson University (Mattamy Athletic Center, Toronto)||Live stream: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/ryerson.portal#|
|Aug. 26, noon||A-Game Hoops (Seneca College, Toronto)||UWBadgers.com|
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