October 30, 2008

Scrimmage analysis: Sophomores

MADISON, Wis. - If Wednesday night was any indication of the impact forward Keaton Nankivil will have for the Wisconsin basketball team this season, the Badgers will have a great scorer in the frontcourt. During the annual scrimmage, the sophomore's 24 points led the Cardinal squad to a 72-67 victory.

The following is an analysis of the six returning sophomores on this season's UW basketball team:

Keaton Nankivil:

Points: 24
Assists: 0
Rebounds: 6
Turnovers: 0
Blocks: 1
Minutes: 27

Analysis: What makes Nankivil's 24-point outburst more fun is he did it in only 27 minutes of play with a running clock. In short, the Madison native is very strong and a force in the low post. He also has incredibly soft hands and great touch when shooting the ball.

He can score from any direction and does not have to face up his defender or the rim in order to score. He has a solid turnaround jumper to compliment powerful post moves that will keep his defender guessing. In his match-up with Kevin Gullickson, he consistently wedged himself and used his leverage to gain an advantage to the rim with a quick post move.

At points during the scrimmage, his defender would play off of him so Nankivil would fire a jumper. Although he was unable to connect on his mid-range shots, he has great form. His overall offensive game reminded me of a workingman's Tyler Hansbrough.

Defensively, he is not afraid to get physical and is a beast on the rebounding front. Throughout the scrimmage, he was matched up with Landry. While the senior finished with 20 points, many of those came when Nankivil was on the bench.

In the end, Nankivil has a solid vertical leap and is strong with the ball. Early in the game, Jason Bohannon took his man off the dribble and dished it to an open Nankivil. Once he caught the ball, he was hit in mid-air but was still able to finish with a powerful one handed dunk.

Jon Leuer:

Points: 5
Assists: 1
Rebounds: 7
Turnovers: 2
Blocks: 0
Minutes: 30

Analysis: When Leuer made his first impact as a Badger at Michigan last season, he did it mostly with his long-range shot. At his height, (6-foot-10) it is true that his deep shot threat would present huge match-up problems for opposing defenses. But, in watching the scrimmage, it seemed the sophomore was becoming too reliant on his perimeter game.

Many times down the court he would camp out around the three-point line and fire up shots, even with a defender in his face. In total, he shot three times from distance and did not make any of them.

After losing Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma to graduation last season, UW is lacking experienced size to play in the post. It would be nice to see Leuer posting up his defender, especially after filling out his body a little bit more during the off-season.

He is a confident player and a smooth runner in the open floor. If he didn't rely so much on the three-point shot, he could become a solid option from mid-to-short range areas, but his shooting percentage needs to be more consistent. He finished the scrimmage with 2-of-14 shooting.

Tim Jarmusz:

Points: 3
Assists: 3
Rebounds: 4
Turnovers: 3
Blocks: 1
Minutes: 21

Analysis: During the live blog, a member of the Badger Den brought up an interesting question. He asked whether I could compare freshman Robert Wilson's game as of right now to Jarmusz's at the same point in his career. It was a difficult question to answer simply because we are still in the very, very early stages of the season, but it was a legitimate observation.

After watching the scrimmage, it seems Wilson has a little more athleticism, raw talent, and range, but Jarmusz is the better defender. While watching Jarmusz, it would be fair to say he focuses a lot of his energy on the defensive side of the ball. He tries to get on his man and force him into his weaknesses.

On offense, Jarmusz is solid off screens, but rarely looked to score, which is fine because he does not have to be a top-notch scorer on this team, this season. His only bucket came on a wide-open three-pointer where he had plenty of time to set his feet and square up.

In conclusion, it seems Jarmusz can be a good spot up shooter, but will not be able to create his own offense. On the other side of the ball, Jarmusz could be an effective tool in trying to guard some of the conferences better guards because he is a very good defender.

J.P. Gavinski:

Points: 5
Assists: 0
Rebounds: 2
Blocks: 2
Turnovers: 1
Minutes: 17

Analysis: It looks as though Gavinski has picked up a step in comparison to his limited minutes a season ago. He gets up and down the floor quicker and sets himself in the post faster than he had in the past. He sets solid screens for the UW guards and is not afraid to challenge opposing drives to the lane.

However, on offense, he still lacks a consistent post presence. He sets up but is unable to do anything when he receives the ball down low. He has to work on his footwork and develop better moves in order to become a scorer as a big man.

At points last season, the Wisconsin Dells native looked clumsy out on the court. During the scrimmage, it seemed that he worked past that stigma, but he still has to become better fundamentally sound on the offensive side of the ball.

Brett Valentyn:

Points: 7
Assists: 3
Rebounds: 0
Turnovers: 0
Steals: 2
Minutes: 20

Analysis: Valentyn is the definition of a gritty player. He is solid on all sides of the ball and has a knack at getting his hands on his man and forcing loose balls that lead to turnovers. At one point in the scrimmage, Valentyn stole the ball from the opposing team on back-to-back possession.

He can be a good spot-up shooter, but he won't be able to create his own shot. His defense is solid and he always gives as much effort as any coach can ask for. It doesn't seem that he will receive an abundance of minutes, but something tells me Valentyn would be happy with any minutes he got simply because he loves to play the game of basketball.

Wquinton Smith:

Points: 2
Assists: 4
Rebounds: 2
Turnovers: 0
Steals: 0
Minutes: 19

Analysis: While Smith has a great story, achieving a walk-on role with the team following open tryouts, he remained a question mark for many because he did not play much his freshman season. In the scrimmage, he was confident in running the point, had good ball control and made smart decisions.

He does not have a scoring mentality, and probably won't be a regular in head coach Bo Ryan's rotation, but he knows the game and plays it at a high level.

On defense, he, like Valentyn, is a scrappy defender. He is physical and does not let anything come easy. If there is a loose ball, he isn't afraid of getting on the floor and he fights for rebounds even though it is tough for him to get his hands on the ball with so many men on the court much taller than him.

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