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Wisconsin basketball exhibition recap: Short-handed Badgers take down UW-Parkside

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The Badgers saw their first glimpse of in-game action Wednesday night (minus Sam Dekker).

Jamie Squire

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team opened its season with a 77-40 victory over UW-Parkside in an exhibition game Wednesday. The Badgers entered the game missing a few key parts, as shortly before tip-off, news broke about Duje Dukan's eligibility, as well as Sam Dekker and Jordan Hill were announced as inactive for the game.

Dukan, who was previously credited with playing a season in which his only appearances were in a scrimmage and an exhibition game, was informed by the NCAA that he must sit out four games and is then eligible for his final season. The fifth-year senior sat out a scrimmage last weekend and then the exhibition game against UW-Parkside, so they count as two of the four games. He will also sit out against Northern Kentucky and Chattanooga, but is then eligible to return for the Badgers' game against Green Bay on Nov. 19.

"We'd like to make it clear that Duje did nothing wrong in this situation." Katie Smith, UW assistant athletic director of complance said in a press release Wednesday afternoon. "We have exhausted every effort on Duje's behalf to reduce the extent of the withholding, but unfortunately the rule does not provide an opportunity to appear."

After the game, head coach Bo Ryan was very candid in his feelings towards the situation and tried to shed light on how the process took place. He later went on to explain that although the NCAA doesn't see the illness as debilitating, he felt otherwise.

"We were wrong in that the understanding of what's debilitating and what can qualify in that area, so you move on." said Ryan "Duje's a man. And he's taking it like a man."

Senior guard Josh Gasser spoke to the situation as well. The Port Washington product knows what it is like to miss time and itch to get back out on the court.

"I don't really understand [the NCAA's ruling] too much. You feel bad for Duje just because he's waited his turn."

Dekker was inactive because of an ankle that has left him hobbled after injuring it in practice a few weeks back. He was a game-time decision headed into the exhibition. Hill sat out the exhibition as he contemplates whether to redshirt. He is in a battle with Zak Showalter and a distant Riley Dearring for the fourth guard position behind Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser and Bronson Koenig.

The Badgers started the game with a starting five of Gasser, Jackson, Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Frank Kaminsky, but with Dekker out, the question of who will be the team's fifth starter (Koenig or Hayes) was left still unanswered. The Badgers got out to a great start, jumping out to a 15-6 lead. Nine players saw the floor in the first half, and the Badgers headed into halftime leading 46-30.

The second half saw the Badgers take control of the game and never look back. The defense held the Parkside Rangers to 10 points in the second half. Kaminsky lead the way for the Badgers, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while only playing 22 minutes. He also had two blocks. Jackson finished the game with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes of work. Hayes also registered a double-double in his 24 minutes of action with 13 points and 11 rebounds, seven of the 11 coming in the first half. Gasser saw the second-most playing time on the team with 27 minutes and scored 11 points with six rebounds and three assists. Koenig saw the most, playing 29 minutes and scoring five points with three assists.

The Badgers had no difficulty putting the ball in the hoop, particularly in the first half. Gasser said the team moved the ball around well, which contributed to some of that success.

"I thought we moved the ball pretty well for the majority of the game. We got a lot of guys involved," Gasser said. "There were a couple of possessions where it didn't happen, but for the most part it was good.

"Defensively, the first half, we could have been a lot better. Especially with screening situations and doing what we have been working on all year. Once we got into the locker room, we talked about it, came out in the second half, and did a lot better."

Kaminsky enjoyed finally getting out on the court and playing a different opponent rather than his fellow teammates. He said it helped to get back into the routine of the season again.

"It's nice to just prepare for someone else and going through the normal routine of scouting reports and practices for the other team," he said.

With high expectations coming into this season, Kaminsky has been the face of this Wisconsin team after being ranked the top player in college basketball by ESPN on Wednesday. Parkside coach Luke Reigel had high praise for the big man, saying it's one thing to watch him on tape, but another to see him in person. He said he admires Kaminsky's ability to score and play the post position.

Kaminsky is trying not to let all of the talk of the new "face of college basketball" -- as one report had it -- get to him and the way he prepares and plays.

"I'm not trying to think about [the hype]. I'm just going to go out there and play the way I know how to play." -Frank Kaminsky

"I'm not trying to think about [the hype]. I'm just going to go out there and play the way I know how to play," he said. "It's kind of weird seeing how many people say all of these different things. I know it's getting annoying for myself with Twitter and emailing."

"Frank will be positioned at the end of the year based on his play," head coach Bo Ryan said. "He's a very good player and he's trying to get better. That's all I'm looking for. That's all his teammates are looking for, too."

A surprise in the game was freshman Ethan Happ, who has impressed in the offseason. He played 12 minutes and scored five points with five rebounds. The Taylor Ridge, Ill., native was 2-of-7 shooting from the field and 1-of-3 from the free-throw line. Fellow big man Kaminsky praised Happ's work ethic.

"He's been doing some really good things," Kaminsky said. "He rebounds the ball well. He plays hard. He pushes the ball in transition. From the second he stepped on campus, he's played hard. Coach loves people who play hard and you're always gonna get an opportunity."

Ryan, never one to dole out acclaim to freshmen, wasn't so quick to give praise to Happ, but did say he liked some of the effort on the court.

"It was a mixed bag," Ryan said. "[Happ and Vitto Brown] were aggressive. But sometimes you rush, trying to impress, trying to make things happen, so they just needed to get their mind and body working at the same speed."

Notes:

  • Thirteen Badgers saw the court. The only players not to see action were Dekker, Dukan and Hill.
  • Wisconsin out-rebounded Parkside 53-28.
  • Hayes, who recently joined a lawsuit against the NCAA pushing for adequate player compensation, said that he will not comment on the lawsuit until further notice.
  • Kaminsky and Hayes both recorded double-doubles.
  • Hayes hit a three-pointer in the game. He had been working extremely hard in the offseason to add the shot to his game. Afterward, he said it feels great to see the hard work pay off on the court.
  • Showalter saw the most time off the bench, with 17 minutes. Brown was next with 14.
  • The Badgers shot 55 percent from the field in the first half and only 40 percent in the second to finish the game shooting 47.5 percent from the field.
  • The Badgers grabbed 14 offensive rebounds. Hayes led the team with four offensive and Happ had three.
  • Ryan said that Happ, as with all of his players, has the option to decide rather to redshirt or not this season.
  • Ryan joked that he told Frank he has a parking ticket up in his office from when Frank let Bucky Badger ride on his moped for the ESPN photo shoot he recently did. Riding two people on a moped is illegal in Madison.