December 15, 2009

Jarmusz learning defense through experience

MADISON - Near the end of the Marquette game last weekend it was apparent Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan was substituting for defense. Every time the Golden Eagles would foul the Badgers down the stretch, Ryan Evans would come in for someone.

By seeing that it becomes noticeable that the coaching staff is pretty high on Evans' defensive capabilities. When you combine that with the fact the redshirt freshman is averaging nearly 16 minutes per game largely as the backup to starter Tim Jarmusz, it becomes natural to ask about the defensive progress of Jarmusz.

So, following a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Jarmusz and talked entirely about defense. The following is a question and answer with the junior starter.

I figured we could talk today about defense. How do you feel you are playing on that end so far this season?

Jarmusz: I think I'm playing okay. I think there's a lot to learn and you learn through experience. With each game you start to pick up new things and you kind of get into a groove. It's really about a mentality over anything. You've got to be going all out all the time.

Is that something you learn through your years of playing basketball, that defensive mentality? Or is that something that could develop?

Jarmusz: Like coach always says, defense is all about heart. It's just how much you want to stop the other guy from scoring. You learn it through playing up through the years and just getting that mentality of not letting your guy score. That's what you've just got to do each and every game.

Just talk about your lateral movement especially when you're on the ball and it's just you and your man. Do you feel like you handle one-on-one, on the ball defense pretty well?

Jarmusz: I think I do a pretty good job. I think I could definitely do a better job and I think anyone can say that about themselves. I think as a team, we have a lot to improve on and I think we'll keep learning and picking things up from there.

Do you think playing the three spot is one of the more important places to really hammer down defensively?

Jarmusz: I think any position can be. The three, it has its tough times. You get the guys who are quick and can shoot the ball and then you get the guys that can post up. So you kind of get a little bit of everything. You've got to be pretty well rounded. It's a tough position, but everybody is up for the challenge.

It's something that you have to have that mentality. You have to look forward to that challenge, right?

Jarmusz: You do. You have to have the mentality to go out there and be able to stop the guy and do whatever it takes to do that. I think if you don't have that you're not going to be a good defender.

It's got to be fun though. You look at playing against Kyle Singler, you were one of the guys on him a couple of weeks ago. It must be pretty fun. He had a big game, but you guys shut him down towards the end.

Jarmusz: It's a blast. It's something you've got to look forward to each time you go out and play. You've just got to get that mentality of defense wins ball games and that's true. You just got to go out there and play like that guys never going to score on you.

Getting more to the technicalities of it, how do you get faster with the defensive shuffle and defensive slide?

Jarmusz: I think just lots of playing. One-on-one basketball, I've always been told, is the best way to do it. Just to keep moving your feet, keep moving laterally and just always being ready to shuffle your feet anyway you can.

Do you guys do any one-on-one stuff in practice?

Jarmusz: Of course. Each possession you can break it down to one-on-one situations. At the beginning of the year we do drills one-on-one and during the off-season, that's a lot of what we do. It's a lot of one-on-one stuff to help your defense.

How hard is it to get through screens, especially when you go above them? You guys don't go under screens very often.

Jarmusz: Not too often. I think it is tough, but once you realize it the other guys got your back and they've got your help if anything happens. It becomes easier once we all start to mesh together. It really becomes a good time.

It kind of becomes a staple of Bo Ryan's teams. You guys have good defensive rotation when you're playing well.

Jarmusz: Exactly. I think it takes time, like any team does, to get good chemistry and know how to play off each other and know where each other is going to be. When you know you've got that guy that's going to be there to help you, I think it makes it a lot better.

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