The annual Red/White Scrimmage went down Sunday afternoon before an unofficial event record crowd of over 8,000 spectators. It did not disappoint, featuring two last-second game-winners, one of which was eventually waved off. My personal highlight of the event was seeing Sam Dekker make it down the full flight of stairs on his slightly gimpy ankle without any further incident (*phew*). Think of all those little kids he had to worry about stepping on while high-fiving...
Despite how fun it was to watch the guys race to sink a bunch of half-court shots at halftime, it's tough to draw many conclusions from an afternoon put on mostly for the fans. Here are five questions I was asking myself as I left the Kohl Center this past weekend.
1. Will Ethan Happ redshirt?
Vitto Brown might have gotten the upper hand during the scrimmage with his surprising offensive aggressiveness and board work, but I'm not convinced Happ is going to concede playing time to Brown just yet. Happ tied Brown with a game-high eight rebounds, including a scrimmage-best seven of those on the defensive end. The true freshman also had an eye-opening swat against Brown early in the first half.
It's hard to imagine Bo Ryan needing to go six deep in the front court, which still has me leaning toward Happ taking a redshirt. Some observers feel he may be too good to redshirt, however, since he doesn't need the ball to impact the game. If he gets an indication from the staff in the next two weeks that he will play more than five minutes a game, it sounds he might give it a try:
"You’ve got to take it one day at a time and if the coaches tell me I can help them ... whether that be 10 minutes a game, I'll definitely lean (toward) not redshirting," he said. "I haven’t made my decision yet but we’re going to figure it out later down the road."
Neither Happ nor Brown, who has a 7'3" wingspan, has scratched the surface of their potential yet. Now that Brown is healthy, if the players remain neck-and-neck, Happ would be smart to learn from his roommate. Brown played only 44 minutes in 14 appearances last season and the Badgers lost only 63 combined minutes to graduation from Evan Anderson and Zach Bohannon. If nothing else, Happ seems like a nice insurance policy against any non-Kaminsky injury.
2. Can anyone besides Kentucky stop Detective Frank Kaminsky?
I honestly don't know. Kaminsky looked to be in complete control Sunday. He shot 60 percent and scored a very relaxed 23 points to easily lead all scorers. He appears to be picking up right where he left off last season. The confidence is still there and it affects everything Kaminsky does, from his shooting motion right down to his posture. Kaminsky looks huge on the court, at least compared to his Badger teammates sans big Evan Anderson. As an All-American senior, Kaminsky is far from being just the tall gangly kid that he appeared to be not too long ago.
Some of the buzz surrounding Dekker has carried over to a few preseason All-American nods himself, but I fear the hype has gotten out of control. Kaminsky, at this moment, is still better in most phases of the game and he's the alpha dog for Wisconsin without question. It's been a thrilling ride watching this guy develop over the last three years and I'm excited for the encore performance coming our way this season. Maybe he'll even get a rematch with those pesky Wildcats. I think the Final Four loss paved the way for a big season for a guy that thrives on using failure as motivation.
3. Better dance moves: Nigel Hayes or Bo Ryan?
The head coach made his mark with the Hambone first, blew up by cranking dat Soulja Boy, and has sprinkled in a few more moves over the years. But Nigel Hayes -- who received a louder ovation during introductions than anyone else -- got the crowd going with his shimmy out to halfcourt and bobbing along to Let Me Clear My Throat. A crowd-pleaser for sure, but it's still a toss-up in my mind.
That's a slightly awkward segue into talking about how comfortable Hayes looks playing out on the perimeter. Although he was a destructive force inside drawing fouls last season, Hayes is quicker and more trim physically than he was last season. With Brown holding it down inside, Hayes only grabbed two rebounds for the winning White team. But he added two steals, two 3-pointers and a solid floor game. His ability and confidence to pop treys as a sophomore makes him an ideal candidate to replace some of Ben Brust's production. I think by season's end we will be viewing Hayes as more of a wing player than a post presence.
4. Who takes crunch time shots for the Badgers?
This question didn't even pop into my head until after the game, and it's not one that can be answered ahead of time anyway. Normally, the stock answer has been Traevon Jackson, end of story. Jackson has had success getting great looks when UW needs one at the end of games. But there are a number of smaller factors to consider here, causing me to at least raise an eyebrow.
First of all, because the team relied so heavily on Jackson last season to take end-of-clock shots, there will be plenty of opportunity to go against the grain and find someone else wide open in these situations. Secondly, both Bronson Koenig and Duje Dukan had apparent game-winners in the scrimmage. Though neither is a favorite to even start, Dukan is a perfect pick-and-pop candidate if he's in the lineup. Koenig, on the other hand, thrives with the ball in his hands in much the same way Jackson does. If the sophomore can play up to the potential he flashed against Kentucky and get some crunch time minutes, will Jackson be playing off the ball more? It's certainly possible.
Add to that Kaminsky's potential in the pivot, not to mention how a new-and-improved Dekker might be involved with the game on the line. It would go against Bo's history to deviate too much from the Jackson formula, but it's a nice dilemma to have.
5. Is Diamond Stone coming to Wisconsin?
Yep, Stone conspicuously attended the Red/White Scrimmage, but nope, we don't know any more than we did before. Bo Ryan was up in the stands chatting with Diamond, his family and his AAU coach leading up to the game, but assistant coach Lamont Paris was doing most of the hosting. Paris stopped by a couple times over the course of the afternoon and brought the young center down to tour some of the team facilities.
That gridiron beatdown of the Terps on Saturday certainly didn't hurt UW's cause, though judging by his Twitter account, Stone did not arrive in Madison in time to attend the football game in person. He will take his final official visit to Connecticut next weekend, and after that ... the whole state will be on commitment watch.
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