Wisconsin point guard Traevon Jackson will miss the Badgers' opening-round NCAA tournament game against Coastal Carolina on Friday, he told reporters in Omaha, Neb., on Thursday. The senior, who has been out since breaking his foot against Rutgers on Jan. 11, is also likely out for Sunday's game, should the Badgers advance.
Without Jackson, Wisconsin will continue to ride sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig, who enjoyed a fantastic Big Ten tournament performance that was worthy of the MVP honors that ultimately went to Frank Kaminsky (still, no complaints there). Against Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State, Koenig averaged 16.3 points, 7.0 assists and 1.0 turnovers in 38.7 minutes per contest. In the tournament championship against Michigan State, he put up 18 points, nine assists and four rebounds, adding four points in the overtime period that saw Wisconsin out-score Michigan State 11-0.
In a story on Koenig's emergence in the Wisconsin State Journal on Friday, his teammates say they've noticed increased confidence -- not quite cockiness -- from Koenig, while assistant coach Greg Gard touted his renewed aggressiveness while running the point.
"His aggressiveness with the ball has grown," Gard said. "I think earlier in the year and last year, it was more facilitate, facilitate, facilitate for other guys and then shoot it when I'm open, and now he's started to turn the corner in terms of making plays for himself."
As for Jackson, he participated in practice on Thursday, but told the State Journal that he has yet to take part in the possessions part of practices.
"I had an opportunity to go in," Jackson said, "but I didn't want to yet because I wanted to make sure I went through a workout first before I jumped right in."
It sounds like if the Badgers advance through the weekend, Jackson will continue increasing his participation in practices and could be ready for the next game, which would come March 26-27 in the Sweet 16.