February 25, 2010

Bohannon's hot hand guiding team

MADISON - If anyone can point out a stretch of games where Jason Bohannon has played better than he has over Wisconsin's six most recent, the floor is yours.

As one may suspect, though, that floor will probably remain empty because like a fine wine, Bohannon has done nothing but get better with age.

Now, with his final season in cardinal and white winding down, Bohannon seems to be playing some of the best basketball of his career either at the high school or college level.

Long are the days where the sharpshooter would simply spot up on the perimeter and wait for the ball to come to him. Long are the days when the coaching staff would worry about his defensive matchups.

Perhaps most importantly, long are the days when Bohannon was underappreciated.

"I think you're seeing a senior who has developed obviously very well as he's come through his career," UW assistant coach Greg Gard said. "He is playing with a lot of confidence right now and knows for him to be good he needs to continue to be aggressive.

"As you turn the corner here and you head down the stretch of your final year, you (hope) that you're playing at your highest level."

When the Badgers take the Assembly Hall floor later tonight to square off with Indiana, Bohannon will likely have a bulls-eye on his chest. Not only is he shooting 60 percent from the floor over the last six games, he is also finding multiple ways to score.

Whether it is his 52 percent clip from downtown or his knack to take his man off the dribble for a quick pull up jumper, Bohannon is averaging 19.5 points per game. And remember, the last time UW played Indiana Bohannon dropped a cool 30 on the Hoosiers.

"He's shooting well lately," fellow senior Trevon Hughes said. "I told him that it helps the team and it helps me. It makes my job a whole lot easier. I've seen it since last year. He's been shooting like that since his freshman year. As a sophomore and a junior, I think he felt like he had to play like a role player. I think at the beginning of the season he felt that too, until Jon Leuer got hurt.

"What better way for a senior to do it that down the stretch when we need him the most."

Bohannon, a player that has always been rather modest off the floor, has been anything but that on it. His confidence is probably higher than it's ever been and it shows on the court.

Whether he's pulling up from distance with a man in his face, or taking that same opponent off the dribble, Bohannon has seemingly added an extra gear to his skill set.

"I felt like I've been able to do it," Bohannon said in response to his recent hike in off the dribble jumpers. "But I haven't really showcased it as much as I have in the last couple of games. I've been trying to read the guys. They've been giving me the opportunity to do that and I've tried to take advantage of it whether it be the step back or going all the way to the rim."

For Bohannon, a player that claims that facet of his game has been a staple of his over the years, developing a more aggressive mindset has been the final piece in putting the offensive puzzle together.

And with his recent success with the ball in his hand, UW seems to have a hot hand to ride entering the month of March.

"He's a natural born shooter," Hughes said. "As a shooter you've got to constantly move. He's moving around and now he's taking people off the dribble. We're not used to that."

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