Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE
Bo Ryan welcomes one of his biggest recruits to the fold as Wisconsin is poised to contend once again.
|Last Year||26-10 (12-6)|
|Coach||Bo Ryan, 12th year|
|Who's Gone||Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson|
|Who's Back||Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Josh Gasser, Ben Brust, Ryan Evans|
|Who's New||Sam Dekker, George Marshall|
Wisconsin continued to be Wisconsin under Bo Ryan last season, finishing fourth in the conference and making it to the Sweet 16. In all eleven years of Bo Ryan's tenure in Madison, the Badgers have finished fourth or better in the Big Ten. Obviously they have made the NCAA tournament in each of those seasons, as well. There is no reason to believe this year's team can't duplicate that level of success, if not better it (although they were picked to finish 5th). They are ranked 21st in the preseason coaches' poll.
The obvious question is how do they replace Jordan Taylor, but rising junior Josh Gasser is expected to be handed the reigns with some help from redshirt freshmen George Marshall. Gasser has been a highly efficient player at the 2 spot for Ryan's club the last two years. He's also been a defensive stalwart, making the Big Ten's All-Defensive team last season. Will he be able to maintain his defense and efficiency while being the primary ball-handler for 30 minutes?
Outside of Jordan Taylor, the Badgers return the bulk of their Sweet 16 team. Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz, and Josh Gasser all are returning starters who have played for 2+ years in Bo's system. Berggren had a breakout year of sorts, averaging 10.5 PPG and 4.9 RPG while proving to be one of the best 3-point shooting big men in the country. He's also the Big Ten's top returning shot-blocker and the anchor of UW's interior defense. Evans was another player who made great strides in his junior year in the system. He averaged 11 PPG to go along with 6.8 rebounds and is the Big Ten's best returning rebounder.
While the returning nucleus is formidable, all the hype surrounds McDonald's All-American Sam Dekker, a 6'7" wing who can fill it up. The heralded 5-star recruit chose to stay in his home state of Wisconsin and is expected to make big waves immediately in the swing offense. Expect to see this shot on the Big Ten Network at least 10 times this winter. Dekker's a dynamic talent not seen at the 3 position in Wisconsin since Alando Tucker.
Expect another Big Ten contender in the Kohl Center this season. Wisconsin has a great collection of pieces that should mesh well on the floor. If Gasser/Marshall can effectively manage the game from the point position, this team should be solid in all areas. Berggren, Evans, and Dekker will likely do the bulk of the scoring, while Bruesewitz (glue guy) and Brust (three-point shooter) will fill necessary roles. They have the depth, experience, and a proven, successful system that will keep them in the hunt all season long.
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