The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers were well represented when the Big Ten awards were announced yesterday.
Junior center Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky became the eighth Badger to be named first-team All-Big Ten in the Bo Ryan era. His sensational play continued all year and over the second half of Wisconsin’s Big Ten schedule he became even more dominant. Which helped the Badgers finish conference play strong, going 8-1 in their final nine contests. He finished the regular season as the Badgers’ top scorer at 13.4 points-per-game; as Sam Dekker’s productivity dwindled a bit down the stretch. We knew Kaminsky was destined for a special year after he dropped 43 points in a contest against North Dakota. But somehow, he only got better as the competition did, too.
“I’m honored that people think I’m worthy of first-team All-Big Ten and I’m happy that I’m able to contribute to the team success we’re having…When you come into the program you hear all about the great players who have come before you and made Wisconsin what it is. I’m humbled to be in that company,” Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky wasn’t the only Badger honored though.
Freshman forward Nigel Hayes took home the prestigious Big Ten Sixth-Man of the Year award as while as being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. Hayes’ play continued to elevate all year and he is now looked at as one of the Badgers’ top offensive threats. The rest of the Big Ten is certainly scared of the dangerous player he is becoming — especially at such a young age.
Sophomore forward Sam Dekker was named to the Second Team All-Big Ten, despite his struggles as of late. He ended the year scoring 12.9 points-per-game (was above 15 PPG halfway through the year) but he’s beginning to learn to contribute more without the ball in his hands; which is good.
Junior guard Josh Gasser earned his way onto the Big Ten All-Defensive Team and received an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. Gasser’s defense has always been stellar but his three-point shooting has developed into a valuable part of the Badgers’ attack.
Senior guard Ben Brust and junior guard Traevon Jackson both received Honorable Mention All-Big Ten nods as well. Wisconsin will look for its guards to carry the team as March unfolds. The Big Ten and NCAA Tournament are both all about clutch guard play.
It’s nice to see so many Badgers get awards, recognition and respect while playing in the toughest conference in the nation. That speaks to the talent level, and depth of this team. Lets hope it translates into a deep run into the Big Dance…the only dance you can continue to enjoy for weeks while never getting tired.
Congratulations to the six Badgers who were honored and the whole team for receiving a two seed, and a bye, in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis this weekend. A second place finish in this conference is nothing to be ashamed of.
Lets go cut down those nets in Indy!