October 30, 2008

Scrimmage analysis: Upperclassmen

MADISON, Wis. - It seems the Wisconsin basketball team gets asked the same question at the beginning of every season. How are you guys going to replace the scoring void left from last year's seniors? Many times, the players do not have to answer with words because as the season unfolds, their actions relay the message.

The 2008-09, defending Big Ten regular season and tournament champs, have the potential and talent coming back to do the same. The following is an analysis of UW's upperclassmen following Wednesday's scrimmage:

Marcus Landry: Senior

Points: 20
Assists: 2
Rebounds: 2
Turnovers: 2
Steals: 1
Minutes: 25

Analysis: There was no question the White team offense, anchored with three of the five projected starters, were trying to run their offense through Landry. He would touch the ball every time down the floor and would attempt to impose his will with physical drives to the lane.

He finished the night 9-16 shooting including a 33 percent (1-3) clip from downtown. Landry seems to be most effective when he posts his defender and gains leverage at his hip to turn in toward the rim. He is a strong finisher in the air and solid rebounder although his stat line for the scrimmage didn't necessarily show it.

As the veteran and one of the most tenured players on this season's squad, Landry will likely get plenty of chances to score. He can face up his defender and take him off the dribble, force the double team, or dish the rock to an open perimeter shooter for a good shot.

Joe Krabbenhoft: Senior:

Points: 13
Rebounds: 11
Assists: 5
Turnovers: 1
Steals: 2
Minutes: 28

Analysis: Of all the players on the roster this season, Krabbenhoft may be the best bet to consistently log double-doubles or possibly even break UW's triple-double draught. Throughout his career, he has been the epitome of a Badger basketball player. He is willing to do the dirty work that is needed to win games.

In the scrimmage, he almost had more rebounds (11) than he did points (13) and was constantly guiding some of the younger players around the court. However, he did seem more willing to shoot this year in comparison to years past. He hit five of his eight field goals including a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. If he develops into a consistent double-digit scorer, UW will have no problem replacing points lost from last year's squad.

Morris Cain: Senior:

Points: 4
Rebounds: 4
Assists: 0
Turnovers: 1
Steals: 1
Minutes: 15

Analysis: There was no lack of effort with any portion of Cain's game during the scrimmage. He was consistently one of the first defenders down the court protecting the fast break and played above-average defense.

Offensively, he has a quick first step and bursts to the rim. He hit both shots he took with confidence and even showed his capabilities as a finisher when drive to the hole. It may be hard for Cain to see as many minutes as he would probably like, but he could be a solid role player off the bench if Bo Ryan sees fit.

Kevin Gullickson: Senior:

Points: 4
Rebounds: 2
Assists: 2
Turnovers: 2
Minutes: 18

Analysis: Defensively, Gullickson was no match for sophomore [db]Keaton Nankivil throughout the majority of the scrimmage. He is not as strong defending the post as he will probably need to be to see consistent playing time this season.

Offensively, he remains a decent spot up shooter but the lack of a post game will hurt his offensive game as the season wears on. He moves very well and is quick for a guy his size, but he doesn't possess the power to create enough separation to grant himself scoring opportunities.

During his sophomore season, Gullickson provided coach Ryan with some solid minutes off the bench and even chipped in with his spot up shooting. It will be interesting to see if he can work his way back to that role after several off-court incidents curbed his playing time last season.

[b]Jason Bohannon[/db]: Junior:

Points: 13
Rebounds: 3
Assists: 8
Steals: 2
Turnovers: 1

Analysis: From watching Bohannon during the scrimmage he seems to be more comfortable with the ball than in years past. There were plenty of times he took his man off the dribble, usually Robert Wilson, and either scored a lay-up or dished to an open teammate for the easy bucket.

When a play runs through Bohannon, he will come of screens exceptionally tight and create enough room to fire a three-point shot where he has the reputation of being a deadly shooter. As an added bonus, he drilled at least two three-pointers coming off the screen in a catch and shoot scenario where his feet were not even close to being set.

Throughout the first two seasons of his career, he was consistently a good shooter, but he usually passed on threes unless he was wide-open and could set his feet. I was very impressed with his ability to create great looks for himself both off the dribble and while coming off screens.

In the end, everyone knows what Bohannon brings to the table. He has one of the highest basketball IQ's on the team and rarely turns the ball over. With a healthy Trevon Hughes and newcomer Jordan Taylor likely to run the point, Bohannon may be in line for a breakout season where his scoring statistics soar.

Trevon Hughes: Junior:

Points: 12
Assists: 4
Turnovers: 1
Rebounds: 5
Minutes: 34

Analysis: Yes, it was just a scrimmage, but Hughes was very efficient with the ball. He dished out four assists in his scrimmage leading 34 minutes, while only turning the ball over once. Last season, Hughes would force passes that were not always there and turn the ball over. Early on, at least from the scrimmage, he looked to be more careful and smart with the ball.

Throughout the duration of the scrimmage, Hughes was locked in a very physical battle with freshman Jordan Taylor. If the match-up is that intense every day in practice, one can only expect each player to improve at a rapid pace.

His shooting was not where it needs to be as he only hit five of his 16 shot attempts, but the forced shots that plagued him at times last year were at a minimum. Hughes also hit two-of-six shots from distance in the scrimmage.

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