Wisconsin basketball made a crucial and smart decision this offseason by putting together a foreign trip, one that begins tomorrow as UW hoops heads north of the border for a five game trip in Canada. Along with the games come the ability to get organized practices as well.
That's the crucial part, especially with Wisconsin having to find replacements for their entire starting front court from last season and a glut of players in the back court as well. Wisconsin's five games in Canada are as follows (two games will be streamed free):
|Aug. 21||Carleton||Keith Harris Gym (Ottawa)||6 p.m.||UWBadgers.com|
|Aug. 22||Ottawa||Montpetit Hall (Ottawa)||6 p.m.||Watch Live|
|Aug. 24||A Game Hoops||Mattamy Athletic Center (Toronto)||5 p.m.||UWBadgers.com|
|Aug. 25||Ryerson||Mattamy Athletic Center (Toronto)||7 p.m.||Watch Live|
|Aug. 26||A Game Hoops||Seneca College (Toronto)||Noon|
So, as Bo Ryan and Co. head North we've got you covered with the 5 Things to Watch for during the quick six day, five game trip.
1) Back court logjam: We haven't seen or heard a lot from the practices leading up to these games, but with the gluttony of guards Wisconsin has it will be important to see how the likes of Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, and George Marshall all fit in and how they are used. Also, what about star in-state recruit Bronson Koenig.... Where does he fit into all of this? There are a lot of questions about who fits where and this trip offers a competitive way to help figure it all out.
2) Josh Gasser's return: According to an article by Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal, Gasser will play on this trip and the plan is to get him 8-12 minutes a game as he works his way back to full health following the injury he suffered to his left knee before last season ever started. Gasser was expected to be the starting point guard, but with Marshall and Jackson gaining valuable experience in his absence it will be interesting and important to see that Gasser hasn't lost a step. It will be his first game action and Gasser was just recently cleared to return to action as is.
3) Youth Movement: This should be the obvious headline to watch during this trip as it will be the first opportunity to see freshman guards Bronson Koenig, Riley Dearing, and Jordan Hill along with forwards Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes. The freshman forwards are going to be the ones I pay the most attention to because there's zero question that both need to be hits right away in order for this team to be successful in 2013-14. A good showing on this trip will put some fears to rest to say the least.
4) Is this Dekker's team?: There is no question that Sam Dekker is a difference maker and has the potential to be one of the greats in UW basketball lore, but he's just a sophomore. Can UW really put the fate of this team in the hands of Dekker? We'll get a glimpse of just how big his role could be this season on this trip. I have a feeling a lot of UW's offense is going to run through him and Ryan will give him a chance to be free to use his array of skills on this trip. Personally, I can't wait to see Dekker completely unleashed in this offense, now that he's a starter and one of the most experienced front court returners.
5) What about Evan Anderson?: Remember the disappointment some had with a guy named Brian Butch back in the day? Ya, that same Brian Butch that became a massive part of the team during his senior season. Well, a lot of people are comparing Evan Anderson to Butch and not in the good way. It's Anderson's last chance to prove he can be a player for this team and lord knows they could use him up front. Anderson is a junior and if the comparisons to Butch are true that means he'll turn the corner this offseason and become a reliable player.
No doubt Frank Kaminsky is going to be the starter at the 5 spot on this team, but Anderson needs to show he can provide depth or this team is going to be in some major trouble against taller teams this season. At the least it will be important to show Bo that he's turned the corner on being a foul machine. Anything he can add offensively would be bonus stuff if you ask me.