Runaway expectations are tremendously dangerous and, occasionally, particularly painful for Wisconsin fans , but fuck it -- basketball season is here, and we are ready for this.
The Badgers held their first practice open to the media on Monday, and thus reporters went rightfully nuts providing their observations of a single afternoon's worth of practice. It's fun to see and fun to read; there's so much damn hype surrounding this team right now and hoo boy Wisconsin fans have burned by that before -- damn you again, Andy Ludwig! -- but nobody's letting that get in the way of some good ol sports fan dreamin' at this point.
Let's see what's brewing with this team.
Nigel Hayes has three-point range now
Hayes looked comfortable from beyond the arc during 5-on-5 play on Monday and again during a shooting drill near the end of practice. The players split into pairs and shoot a 3, then run to midcourt and come back to the same spot if they missed; if they make, they return to a new spot and make their way around the arc.
Unofficially, Hayes was 15 of 23 from 3-point range during that drill. Granted, those are uncontested shots, but Hayes still got on quite a roll. Adding a solid perimeter game to his already impressive mid-range and inside game will only make Hayes more dangerous.
Also of note: Hayes is down to 235 pounds, 15 pounds lighter than his playing weight last season.
Frank Kaminsky isn't messing around
Frank Kaminsky clearly has high expectations for himself. When he missed inside after making a nice spin move, Kaminsky yelled: "(Expletive) you Frank!"
Kaminsky wasn't upset later when he caught a pass on the wing, faked Hayes out of position and drove around him for a dunk.
You guys should hear the f-bombs that fly when I miss a typo on this site. Rock on, Frank.
The Sam Dekker hype is undeniable, and probably unmatchable
But that's ok. Here's ESPN Wisconsin:
Sam Dekker had a huge summer, taking part in camps put on by Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The feedback at both was that the Badgers' junior was among the best players at either camp. He flashed some of that on Monday. In 5-on-5 work, Dekker drove baseline and spun past a defender to get to the hole for an easy lay-in.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound, Dekker looked bigger than last season, and though he displayed some of the things that drive UW coach Bo Ryan crazy at times - specifically shot selection and not always being where he should be - he seems primed physically for a big year.
Duje Dukan is the x-factor
Here's ESPN Wisconsin again:
Duje Dukan was active on both ends of the floor. The senior forward has grown to 6-foot-10, and though he's known for his outside shot, he and Dekker battled down low several times, and Dukan seems more than willing to mix it up, which hasn't always been the case.
Dukan's frame never really seemed strong enough to let him be a viable contributor in Big Ten games -- at least, in my opinion -- so it's nice hear he's working hard to become a viable bench option for this team. More hype:
Duje Dukan was a stud in #Badgers practice today. Toughest player on the floor. Made plays on offense and defense. 3-or stroke was sweet.— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) October 13, 2014
Boy, this is the best damn time of the year. Football season's in full swing, hockey's already under way and basketball is just getting started. We'll do our best to keep you updated on everything along the way.