October 30, 2008

Scrimmage analysis: Freshmen

MADISON, Wis. - Obviously it is somewhat difficult to analyze a player or team in October when the championship is not decided in March. Still, the Wisconsin basketball season is underway and the reigning Big Ten champs took to the court for its annual intra-squad scrimmage Wednesday night.

The following is an analysis of the five scholarship newcomers in their first action under the lights as a Badger:

Jordan Taylor:

Points: 10
Assists: 4
Turnovers: 2
Steals: 2
Minutes: 29

Analysis: One of the more intriguing match-ups of the entire scrimmage was the battle between Taylor and junior Trevon Hughes. There was no intimidation factor whatsoever for the young point guard as he matched Hughes physicality and frustrated him defensively.

Overall, Taylor looks to be a lock for solid playing time as a true freshman. Not only does he have the physical build to contribute right away, he plays with a swagger that beams confidence on the court.

He can do it all on the floor. At one point in the scrimmage he backed Hughes down and gave him a nifty up-and-under for the easy lay-up. At others, he would stroke the long ball with his pure shooting stroke that puts great rotation on the ball.

In the backcourt, he will grow to become a floor general as he develops and learns the offense a little bit more as he already shows leadership skill while in control of the point. For instance, in pressure free-throw situations late in the scrimmage, Taylor hit three-of-four attempts to seal the victory.

It will be great for him, as a young player, to learn behind a physical point guard such as Hughes. If he continues to progress as the season wears on, Badger fans will not be seeing much of Jason Bohannon playing the point like he did at points last season.

Robert Wilson:

Points: 5
Assists: 0
Turnovers: 1
Steals: 0
Minutes: 25

Analysis: The first thing that jumped out as I watched Wilson play was his pure athleticism. He has long, lanky arms and a quick first step when he baits defenders. He has a great shooting stroke and loves to shoot from the perimeter. In total, he connected on one-of-four three-point attempts during the scrimmage but utilized the pump fake to blow past his defender.

Defensively, he was primarily matched up with Bohannon on the perimeter. He had trouble fighting through screens and Bohannon put some points up on the true freshman, but he will develop as a more instinctual defensive player as time goes on.

His most noticeable problem was his lack of confidence locking down as a defender. There were a number of times he gave Bohannon a comfortable cushion on the perimeter and Bohannon made him pay.

After hitting a couple of threes, Bohannon threw in a pump fake and got Wilson off his feet. Because of his quickness, he nearly recovered, but he wound up fouling the driving Bohannon.

In the end, he has pure raw talent and athleticism. Whether he sees solid playing time as a true freshman will rely heavily on his ability to shore up defensively and become a more consistent scorer on offense.

Ryan Evans

Points: 0
Assists: 2
Turnovers: 1
Steals: 0
Minutes: 17

Analysis: Evans seems to be a good candidate for a redshirt this season. That is in no way a knock on the Arizona native, but the swing position is fairly set already. In watching him Wednesday night, he moves really well without the ball even though it was somewhat evident that he was still learning the ins and outs of the swing system at the collegiate level.

He came off of picks tight, but when he got the ball in his hands there was no scoring mentality. He always looked to pass and conceded driving lanes, which is fine, but at some point, when the lane is there to drive and dish or drive and score, he will have to take it.

He, like Wilson, has great athleticism and will provide a boost at the swing position in the future, but he still needs to develop some confidence in the system. In time, he looks to have great tools to achieve great things.

Jared Berggren:

Points: 7
Assists: 1
Turnovers: 0
Blocks: 0
Minutes: 27

Analysis: It was hard to tell if his early struggles were simply nerves or some sort of fundamental problem. As the game wore on, he seemed to get more comfortable out on the floor.

His post presence was average at best during the scrimmage, but as is the case for many post players moving to the collegiate level, it takes time to fully develop as a player. It seemed he was timid when trying to back his defender down and was not too confident in his post moves.

However, when he was in the open court, he moves very well for a man that stands nearly seven feet tall. He has soft hands and a soft touch around the rim. As he develops and gains more confidence in his low post maneuvering and footwork, he has the potential to be an above average frontcourt player.

It is hard to see him getting a ton of minutes as a true freshman, even with the lack of experienced size on this year's roster.

Ian Markolf:

Points: 5
Assists: 0
Turnovers: 0
Blocks: 0
Minutes: 15

Analysis: Like Taylor, Markolf looks like he is physically ready to step on the floor and contribute as a true freshman. With that said he has plenty of work to do before head coach Bo Ryan will likely reward him with solid minutes.

Like Berggren, he seemed timid in the low post area and a little frazzled from playing against guys his same height. He needs to gain more confidence in his footwork and develop a short to mid-range jumper that will allow him to dictate the tempo in the low blocks.

If he were to develop a shot he can hit on a consistent basis, he will be a force in the low post. He is physically strong, but he just lacks the footwork and agility to make seasoned post defenders bite on his moves.

But like the others, he will only improve in the swing offense system and will likely go on to have a solid career at UW.

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