October 21, 2009

Previewing the UW hoops team

MADISON - Wisconsin basketball fans, the wait is over.

No longer do pains stemming from the loss to Xavier in the round of 32 have to linger. No longer do questions speculating how players will respond entering a new year have to surface. No longer do stories about off-court issues need to dominate the newspapers.

Because today marks the beginning of the 2009-10-basketball season as the UW hoops team meets with members of the local media at its annual media day.

Before festivities get underway later this afternoon at the Kohl Center, including player availability and Bo Ryan's press conference, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look at returning players and newcomers for the upcoming season.

Projected starters:

Point guard: Senior Trevon Hughes

-Hughes hit the game winning shot against Florida State that sent UW into the second round of last March's NCAA tournament. He followed that clutch performance with an above average performance in the first half against the Musketeers. However, his sloppy play and turnovers in the second half hurt the Badgers down the stretch of that game as UW's season came to a close.

Still, entering a year where he will be relied upon to carry the offense and one where coaches expect him to make it work, his play in last year's tournament may be enough momentum to help him accomplish what he is capable of as long as he plays within himself.

Shooting guard: Senior Jason Bohannon

-On the surface, you know what you are going to get with Bohannon. Over the years he has shown he is a capable shooter, but it seems that for every games he is on, he has another one where he is completely off.

If UW hopes to flourish as an offense it will need Bohannon to perform at a consistent level in regards to his shooting touch. With Hughes at the point, Bohannon will not need to create off the dribble for himself, but he will have to hit jumpers when he has an open look and rub off screens with effective leverage so he can get himself open.

Finally, on the defensive side of the ball, because he will have the task of guarding some talented players, Bohannon will need to become quicker and more instinctual if he hopes to cash in on his senior season.

Small forward: Junior Tim Jarmusz

-During his sophomore season, Jarmusz showed some versatility by playing both guard and forward positions. He seems to be a heady player that likes to scrap and go after loose balls. When open, particularly from the corner, he has a reliable jump shot. But, like Bohannon, he is a player that will rely on Hughes distributing the ball because he doesn't necessarily have the ball-handling skills necessary to create his own offense.

Power forwards/Center: Jon Leuer

Leuer has a big, lankly frame and a great knack for scoring the basketball. If he was able to put on any bulk during the off-season, he may be poised for a breakout junior season. At his size, and with his guard background, Leuer is one of the more versatile big men in the Big Ten.

And for that reason, he may be the key to the Badgers success. If he is able to take over a leadership role and be a consistent offensive threat, the UW offense will open up for the other guards in the lineup. His post defense and footwork on the block will also be important as he will likely be matched up with several other players, potentially quicker or stronger than him.

Center/Power forward: Keaton Nankivil

-According to various reports, Nankivil has added size to his frame and is closer to filling out. If that is the case, his newfound bulk should do nothing but help him withstand a full Big Ten season in the post. He has always been one of the more interesting prospects on the Badger roster. Maybe this year is the year he becomes less timid offensively and continues to improve on the defensive side of the ball.

Key reserves:

-Sophomore guard Jordan Taylor

Taylor will likely be the first player off the bench considering point guard depth is relatively thin this season. He has a powerful body and good ball handling skills. If his shot continues to develop, he could be a much-needed boost off the bench for UW.

-Sophomore guard Rob Wilson

Wilson is one of the more athletic players on the Badger roster and after not getting much consistent playing time as a freshman, many people are probably curious as to what he can bring to the table. If he has a solid grasp on the offense, he, like Taylor, could pack a punch off the bench.

-Freshman center Jared Berggren

-During scout work a season ago, Berggren proved that he has an athletic prowess in the paint. With his size, Berggren will almost surely get playing time behind Nankivil and Leuer in the Badger frontcourt.

-Freshman forward Mike Bruesewitz

Many people familiar with Bruesewitz's playing style say he is similar to former Badger hustle man Joe Krabbenhoft. If he has the same amount of hustle, drive and discipline that Krabbenhoft did, he will likely see playing time as a true freshman.

-Redshirt freshman forward Ryan Evans

After showcasing his athleticism in last year's 'Night of the Grateful Red' slam-dunk contest, Evans will likely get a chance to showcase his skills in a game environment this season. Last season, Ryan would often talk about the progression of Evans. But, he also made it clear that for every good day he had, there were stretches of inconsistency as well.

Other returning players:

-Center's J.P. Gavinski and Ian Markolf
-Guard's Wquinton Smith, Bret Valentyn and Dan Fahey

Upcoming Badger schedule:

Today: Media day: 3:30-4:30 p.m. (cst)

Sunday, Oct. 25: Red-White scrimmage, Kohl Center, 5:00 p.m. (cst)

Wednesday, Nov. 4: UW vs. Bemidji State, Kohl Center, 7:00 p.m. (cst)

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