With the Wisconsin Badgers basketball season just weeks away, official tip-off is November 8th against St. John’s, it’s time we slowly start turning our attention from the gridiron of Camp Randall to court side of the Kohl Center. So lets switch gears and go inside and preview the 2013-14 Wisconsin Badgers basketball season.
Last Season: 23-12 overall, 12-6 Big Ten (tied for 4th) Lost to Ole Miss 57-46 in 2nd round of NCAA Tournament
Key Departures: Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz
New Kids on the Block: Vitto Brown, Riley Dearring, Nigel Hayes, Jordan Hill, Bronson Koenig
Bo Ryan and the Badgers look to improve upon their dismal shooting percentages from a year ago. The Badgers only shot 42% from the field, 33% beyond the three-point line and an atrocious 63% from the charity stripe. Those numbers are the worst in the 12 years that Ryan has been head coach. Even with the less than impressive numbers, the Badgers were still able to finish 4th in the Big Ten once again. In fact the Badgers have finished no worse than 4th in the conference in Ryan’s 12 years as a head coach. And then the season came to a screeching halt, being upset by 12 seed Ole Miss in the NCAA tournament.
But last season is in their rear-view mirror.
The Badgers of this season are a young group of players with only two seniors on the roster, Ben Brust and Zach Bohannon. Point guard John Gasser, who missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in his left knee, will be one of the leaders on the team and will add some much-needed expertise in the backcourt. Junior Frank Kaminsky will also have to step up big this season as he fills in for the departing Berggren. Although Kaminsky is able to stretch defenses by stepping outside the three-point line, it’s his play and physicality in the paint that will be the big question this season.
One player that nobody has questions about is sophomore sensation Sam Dekker. Coming off the bench for Bo Ryan last year, Dekker was able to average 9.6 points per game in just a little over 22 minutes per game. Not bad for a freshman playing in Ryan’s slow-paced offense. Sure there were times he played like a true freshman out there, but the skill set Dekker brings to the table just couldn’t be ignored. Look for Dekker to step up big this season and make a huge impact for the Badgers from the starting lineup. I guess there is one question that some may have about Dekker; does he make a strong case for Big Ten Player of the Year?
Which brings us to the young players that will be asked to step up this season. Both freshman big men Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes will be asked to contribute a good chunk of minutes this season and improve the Badgers’ front court. Another freshman that will be hard to keep off the court is guard Bronson Koenig. The La Crosse, WI native will provide a huge spark off the bench with his athleticism and play-making ability.
Bold prediction: The Badgers will finish no worse than fourth in the Big Ten. Alright that prediction is not very bold at all, I understand. On paper it’s tough to judge just how far the Badgers can go with a young roster. If there is one thing that is certain it’s Bo Ryan will have his boys ready to play. Ryan will also more-than-likely make it 13 straight seasons finishing fourth or higher in the conference.