2013-2014 ITH season preview: Wisconsin Badgers

  • 09/24/2013 7:19 am in


With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Wisconsin Badgers.

The brand of basketball in Madison may not always be easy on the eyes, but the results cannot be called into question. Over 12 seasons at Wisconsin, Bo Ryan has two Big Ten championships and the Badgers have never finished outside of the top four in the conference standings. That’s consistency.

Of course, that begs the question: Is this finally the year Wisconsin falls into the middle of the pack in the league? A quick survey of preseason prognostications says no. That optimism is centered largely around the upside of Sam Dekker, pictured above, and a solid nucleus of returning players in the backcourt.

Dekker, one of four true freshman to start under Ryan, appears poised for a huge year. Ryan Evans is no longer going to take minutes from Dekker and his elite athleticism, motor and ability to shoot from the perimeter make him one of the more exciting players to watch in the league. As a freshman, he shot nearly 40 percent on 3-pointers and posted an offensive rating of 116.7, the highest mark among regulars in Wisconsin’s rotation.

Also returning are Ben Brust and Josh Gasser, who missed last season with a torn ACL. Brust made a team-high 79 three-pointers last season, but rarely gets to the foul line. Gasser could start in the backcourt with Brust and Traevon Jackson as long as health isn’t an issue. Gasser played in Wisconsin’s trip to Canada, but will need some time to knock off the rust after missing an entire season. In his last full season, Gasser shot over 45 percent from distance, so he and Brust have the potential to form a potent perimeter combination for Ryan. George Marshall also figures to get a shot at backup minutes, assuming he can hold off freshman Bronson Koenig.

The frontcourt situation is far less certain as Evans, Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren all graduated. Frank Kaminsky is the only returning player with any significant experience and he’s not a prototypical big man as nearly half of his field goal attempts came from behind the 3-point line.

Beyond Kaminsky, senior Zach Bohannon and freshmen Vitto Brown and Nigel Hayes will battle for the remainder of the minutes. Hayes, a top 150 recruit according to the 247Composite, appears ready to contribute right away. On the trip to Canada, Ryan started Kaminsky at the five and opted to go smaller at the four with Dekker.

Bottom line: Ryan’s teams consistently limit turnovers, hunt good shots and defend, which is why the Badgers are annually a good bet to finish near the top of the league. Wisconsin has exception guard depth and one of the more talented wings in the league in Dekker, so the lack of frontcourt experience is something the Badgers should be able to overcome and once again win plenty of Big Ten games.

Quotable: “I think right now all we’re focused on is getting better each day and it’s coming together. We lost a lot of guys who played a lot of minutes last year, so just getting guys acclimated is important. I think if we just keep progressing the way we’re progressing right now, as long as we keep getting better we can do some good things.” – Brust after Wisconsin’s trip to Canada.

Previously: MichiganOhio State, IowaPurdueMinnesotaNorthwesternNebraskaPenn State

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  • sarge

    hate loosing to this team, hate bo ryan’s style of play, but i have come to respect the hell out of them

  • jimmygoiu

    Wiscy always has 4 year players, combined with some 5 year guys due to their use of the redshirt. Wiscy always has a core of veterans because of that. This is a big part of Bo’s strategy of winning every year. Many teams in B1G have more elite talent, but Wisconsin TEAM still beats them.

    Dekker is a star. Koenig will be tough to keep off of the floor as a frosh. If you are going to beat Wiscy this year, beat them inside. The five guards they have are solid.

  • CreamandCrimson

    A backcourt of Brust, Gasser and Jackson with George Marshall and Bronson Koenig off the bench. Sam Dekker at the 4 and then Frank Kaminsky, Vito Brown and Nigel Hayes at the 5. A good lineup no doubt. However, that would be a pretty small lineup and I think a team with solid interior play and good rebounding could really punish them. I do think they will miss Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren big time. Berggren was one of the best interior defenders in the conference and Bruesewitz was just a tough player. Ryan Evans gave some solid minutes but the more minutes Dekker gets, the better for them.

  • OhioHoosier

    Here’s to hoping our superior athleticism will get us over the hump this year against the badgers.

  • chiswede

    I hate Wisconsin. That is all.

  • Gregory Spera

    I thought, for sure, we had it last season, but, hopefully, sooner or later, CTC will have such an overwhelming talent advantage that he will finally be able to overcome Bo Ryan’s coaching and beat Wisconsin.

  • Ole Man

    We had an “overwhelming” talent edge last year.
    Not picking on CTC.
    Some teams just have your “number”.

  • And_One

    Luke Fischer. The “Fisch” that got away. He will play a big part this year, the year we finally beat Bucky.

  • BC

    Look forward to seeing Wis do well in the Big then eventually underachieve in the tournament again.

  • BC

    If we were completely healthy we might have won. Wis wears you down with bodies. Part of their strategy, bang players around helps even the talent gap.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    for gosh sakes lets just beat bo 1 time already !! and PS HANNER GO TO THE GYM!!

  • Oldguyy

    And it should be fun to watch Vonleh posting up Dekker.

  • I like Bo. He is steady, does it the right way, graduates his players… and yes I spent some time in Madison and love UW. I think they finish in the top 4. I think they always have trouble in the NCAAs because the system Bo has does not draw the biggest recruits. He always has one star – and Dekker fits that role. Wish them the best.
    I prefer CTC over Bo. CTC gets better players and his system will lead to more success in the NCAA. I like IUs chances next yr if Vonleh stays.

  • Snookafly

    Yeah, Bo is in his head for some reason, going all the way back to Crean’s time at Marquette.

  • Snookafly

    Agreed. Bruesewitz was definitely their Dane Fife-spark-plug-type player, and Berggren was surprisingly good at defending the interior. I think he caught Cody off guard and overwhelmed him quite a bit in our matchups last year. I’m glad he finally graduated, but Dekker and Evans both look to be the new irritation for us. Thankfully, the team does looks to be small for a Badgers squad, and hopefully we can exploit the lack of size.

  • Andrew Walker

    I just can’t like him.

  • marcusgresham

    Dammit Andrew. I was about to say how happy I was that I wouldn’t have to see Sideshow Bob any longer and damned if you don’t post a pic of his ugly puss.

  • SCHoosier

    Might be just as interesting to see NV trying to handle Dekker in half court.?? Good match-up…one season of B-10 experiences I think gives Wis a slight advantage here.

  • Snookafly


  • Andrew Walker

    It gives me nightmares. I need help. The picture haunts me everywhere I go!
    ‘Sideshow Bob: hilarious!!!

  • Andrew Walker

    A before fro pic!

  • Andrew Walker

    You meant “some teams just have your ‘neck'”

  • hoosier1158

    IU has better athletes, they just need to start pressing and speed the game up. Take WI out of their plodding game plan.


    Don’t care who they have back or don’t have back, don’t care what the margin of victory ends up being, don’t care what the amount of points we score is, don’t care where it’s played at or anything else, JUST FREAKIN’ BEAT BO AND HIS LITTLE BAND OF BUCKIES !!!!!!!!!!!

  • SCHoosier

    Amazing how “‘ol Bo” and his “play them tough and slow” style gets under our collective skins. Have to admit the guy is a genius at getting the most out of what he’s got. That said…I REALLY want us to kick their Badger *&%# in B-town. Guess I just proved my own point):

  • hullsfor3

    Bo may have our number, but we have the banners!