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Badger Bits: A look ahead to 2011-12 Badger hoops

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Josh Gasser and Mike Bruesewitz (fro or no fro) will likely play large roles in next year's edition of Wisconsin basketball.
Josh Gasser and Mike Bruesewitz (fro or no fro) will likely play large roles in next year's edition of Wisconsin basketball.

Another basketball season, another successful year for Bo Ryan's Badgers. We enjoyed watching the emergence of players like Jordan Taylor and Mike Bruesewitz. The Badgers took down an undefeated No. 1 Ohio State at the Kohl Center, snagged a win over Marquette in Milwaukee, almost became the best free-throw shooting team in NCAA history, was clearly one of the top three teams in the Big Ten after being projected to finish in the middle of the pack, went undefeated at the Kohl Center, and topped it all off with a run to the Sweet 16.

The Wisconsin basketball careers of six young men are over. The versatile and skilled big man Jon Leuer who is poised to play in the NBA. The sometimes-disliked Tim Jarmusz who never turned the ball over and had a great 2011 NCAA tourney. The quirky hometown kid Keaton Nankivil who had a silky smooth three-point shot. Wquinton Smith, a campus open tryout walk-on who set multiple Wisconsin records in the weight room for a guard. Brett Valentyn, another walk-on who would only take three pointers when on the floor. And finally J.P. Gavinski, a fan-favorite big man who scored 10 more points in Division I basketball than most of us ever will.

So what is possible from the 2011-12 Badgers basketball team? The entire starting frontcourt is graduating, but second-team All American point guard Jordan Taylor will return. Mike Bruesewitz will be back, no matter the status of his red hair. Ryan Evans, Josh Gasser, and Jared Berggren are all returning players with significant playing experience. And Rob Schultz at Madison.com notes that redshirt freshman Evan Anderson could have a big role next season. And don't forget about the four freshmen coming in next year. It's a bit too early for overly detailed 2011 predictions, but you'd have to think that there's no way Jordan Taylor won't take us to another above .500 Big Ten season and NCAA Tournament next year.

More Links:

The Badgers football season opener against UNLV has been officially moved to September 1st, a Thursday night. It is yet to be determined whether the game will be shown on ESPN or the Big Ten Network. The last time Camp Randall hosted a Thursday night game was 2000.

ExileOnDaytonStreet over at Sixty Minutes questions Barry Alvarez's statements on why the Big Ten Hockey Conference will be good for Wisconsin. It sure does seem like it's all about the money. We should also be worried about the possibility of shootouts in the new B10.

I highly recommend rooting for Madison native Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams squad in the Final Four this weekend. Think he would want to come back to Wisconsin to coach the Badgers someday?

Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel wonders how anyone could defend the swing offense after that performance against Butler. Which begs the question...is it time for Coach Ryan to install a new offense at Wisconsin?

Could Badgers basketball assistant coach Gary Close end up as the head coach of....the Wisconsin women? Maybe.

If you're starving for some Badger sports this Spring, consider heading out to the Goodman Diamond to watch some Wisconsin softball this spring. The home opener is tomorrow at 4:30 PM CT against Illinois-Chicago.