Overall Rank: #35
Conference Rank: #5 Big Ten
2006-07: 30-6, 13-3, 2nd
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Wisconsin is developing a reputation for not getting the job done in March. Last season was the year the Badgers could, and should, have made a better run than losing in the second round. On paper, this is a down year compared to last season, but that does not mean Coach Bo Ryan will not have his team ready to make another NCAA appearance. Coach Ryan has a history of taking unknown players and developing them into a great team. The talent level on this squad will not match that of the 2006-2007 campaign, but they may end up being a better team.
Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor were the Badgers team last year. They were the only players to average double digit scoring, the best shooters on the team and two of the best players in the conference. Fellow starter Jason Chappell has also graduated after averaging 2.9 points and 2.8 rebounds during his senior campaign.
Keaton Nankivil and Jon Leuer are your typical Wisconsin power forwards. Both have the size to play inside, but will step outside and hit the jumper as well. Nankivil has more strength, while Leuer is the better shooter from long range. Both will have to pay their dues before being major contributors, but Coach Ryan is not opposed to throwing more big men on the floor to match the situation. Redshirt freshman J.P. Gavinski will find himself in a battle with Nankivil and Leuer for playing time. The 6-11 center has more size and has developed his strength, but may find it difficult to earn much time on the floor this year. Small forward Tim Jarmusz and redshirt walk-on Brett Valentyn will shore up a slim perimeter group.
Who to Watch:
Most of the minutes at the two guard spots will be shared by Michael Flowers, Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. Flowers is the only proven player and even he has some questions that need to be addressed. His shooting numbers were not up to Wisconsin standards and he will need to improve on his 31 percent shooting percentage from long range. However, Flowers is still a quality scorer and he will take some of the big shots for this team. The consistent long range shooting is expected to come from Bohannon. He did not put up great numbers as a freshman, but he rarely got the opportunity either. He will likely come off the bench again this year, but he will be given the opportunity to live up to his reputation as a great shooter. Having Hughes start at the point with Flowers by his side will give the Badgers a tremendous defensive duo. Hughes is more of a true point guard than Taylor ever was, but he can do some scoring as well. His outside shot needs to continue to be developed, but he has the strength to finish around the basket. At 6-7 and 217 pounds, Joe Krabbenhoft has nice size for a wing and, like most Badgers, the versatility to play just about anywhere on the floor. Krabbenhoft will not put up big numbers, but he will do all the little things to help the team win. He is a decent rebounder and that becomes important on the offensive glass with Coach Ryan’s swing offense.
The backcourt lacks some experience, but that is not the case with the frontcourt. Brian Butch is back and healthy and ready to become a dominate player up front in the Big Ten. After averaging 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds last year, Butch should see those numbers increase drastically when the team looks to him to take more shots. Marcus Landry is the player that should benefit most from the departure of Tucker. The 6-7 junior was relegated to the bench most of last season and will be expected to pick up a big chunk of Tucker’s points. Landry is a superb athlete who will score in the paint and hit the mid-range jumper. His range will occasionally take him out to the three-point arc, but that will change after this season when the arc is moved back. Greg Stiemsma is full of potential but time is running out for the 6-11 senior. He is a good post defender and has shown the ability to hit the mid-range jumper. He will need to stay healthy and become more consistent if he does not want some of his minutes eaten up by the newcomers.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Trevon Hughes, Sophomore, Guard, 1.4 points per game
Michael Flowers, Senior, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Joe Krabbenhoft, Junior, Forward, 4.8 points per game
Marcus Landry, Junior, Forward, 5.9 points per game
Brian Butch, Senior, Center, 8.8 points per game