Late on Tuesday afternoon assistant men’s basketball coach Alando Tucker, along with senior forwards Micah Potter and Aleem Ford, met with the media for a bit to discuss the upcoming season and how practice is going so far.
In the limited time we (the media) have had with the Wisconsin Badgers players and coaches this fall there is a definite air of “unfinished business” surrounding them. This team, which has every contributor back except for sniper Brevin Pritzl, is antsy to get back on the court because they were playing their best basketball of the season heading into the postseason last year and then...well...we all know what happened.
"They know they have some unfinished business," Tucker when asked about how he'd like to build a team, either a couple NBA guys or a veteran unit who has played together for a while.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 20, 2020
(Tucker, obviously, mentions how much of a comitted "unit" the Badgers are.)
Tucker, who spoke excitedly about the team and getting back to practice and, well, just about everything, stressed that Wisconsin might not have a bunch of NBA-ready talent but they do have a team filled with veteran guys that can take over on any given night.
Having an all-senior starting lineup is a huge benefit, especially in a weird offseason like this. Tucker notes that practices have been pretty fast-paced and that the coaches don’t have to do all the teaching because there are, at a minimum, five guys who can pull one of the freshmen aside and explain what they should be doing.
"We can spend less time teaching and more time diving into it. We've got to speed up everything." - Alando Tucker finding a silver lining to the strange practice schedule due to the large amount of veterans on the team— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 20, 2020
“From a workout standpoint I feel like [head coach Greg Gard] really pushed us,” senior wing Aleem Ford said.
It sounds like the new guys have been fitting in well with the senior laden Badgers, which is good to hear because a couple of them are going to have to contribute off the bench this year to provide the team with adequate depth.
"I've been impressed with the work ethic...all of our new guys are impressive," Tucker says. He notes that everyone can shoot it, but that there hasn't been a lot of 5-on-5 up and down the court playing yet.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 20, 2020
Other notes from the availability:
- Versatility will be key for Wisconsin in terms of lineups this year. Tucker thinks that they’ll be able to be flexible because guys can play different positions and shoot.
- Speaking of versatility, Potter raved about sophomore forward Tyler Wahl, noting that his body has improved (added weight) and that he looks great defensively and could probably guard 1 through 5.
- “Consistency throughout the course of the season...he’d battle confidence issues [last season] but he was peaking at the end of last year,” Tucker on what he’s looking for from Aleem Ford this year.
- “Attack off the dribble, be comfortable with the ball in my hands in different positions on the floor. I just feel more comfortable with the ball in my hands,” Ford talking about what he worked on this offseason. It will be exciting to see what Ford does during his final year as I think he could be the player that unlocks this team and turns it into a season-long top-10 outfit.
- Ford said he feels a responsibility to use his platform as a prominent athlete at UW to speak out on racial injustice because not everyone can. He was one of the leaders of the march for racial equality this summer and has shown great leadership on the matter.