Friday, November 04, 2005

2005-6 Wisconsin Roster Breakdown

As promised, here's the roster breakdown of Wisconsin, in the exact same handy format as the Marquette roster breakdown from the preceding post. Enjoy my take on each of the Badger players, and look for my thoughts on the players for UWM next week, per the schedule I posted two days ago:

Marcus Landry (F)

What I Love: His bloodlines–brother Carl at Purdue is an elite Big Ten player and was nowhere near as advanced as Marcus at the same age. His athleticism–if you went to one of Landry’s high school games, you were pretty much guaranteed a 2 dunk minimum for the night. His shooting ability–a 6'7" guy with Landry’s leaping ability could be content with hanging out in the lane, but Landry has just enough of a touch that you have to respect him from behind the arc, even if that shot isn’t his primary weapon.

What I Don’t Love: He’s a freshman, and almost all freshmen take time to develop. He also failed to win last year’s Mr. Basketball award for the state of Wisconsin, losing out down the stretch to the equally talented Wesley Matthews.

What I Expect: My expectations for Landry are huge. I see him starting, if not immediately, somewhere down the line. A recent newspaper article described his play as being like teammate Alando Tucker as a freshman, only Landry has a better shot. I couldn’t agree more.

Alando Tucker (F)

What I Love: Athleticism. There aren’t a lot of guys out there that are more flat-out athletic than Tucker. In many ways he may not be the best pure basketball player around, but he always seems to defy the odds and find a way to win. If you can show me another 6'5" guy (okay, other than Arizona’s Hasaan Adams) who’s played the power forward spot in college as well as Tucker, I’d like to see him.

What I Don’t Love: Tucker’s fragile feet have cost him portions of nearly every season that he’s played and even forced a medical redshirt two years ago. At 6'5", he lacks the ball handling and shooting skills to play a position that would be more natural for his size. His ball handling in particular could be a problem this year as the Badgers roster make up dictates that they can’t hide Tucker’s backcourt deficiencies by slotting him in at the 4 spot.

What I Expect: Tucker is the one known entity on the Badgers, and anything less than a season where he places himself on the All-Conference first or second team will be a disappointment. He’s unique in that he has so many obvious weaknesses, but know how to concentrate on his strengths and win.

Brian Butch (F)

What I Love: His attitude. Invariably the first thing that anyone will say about Butch as a basketball player is that he’s a fierce competitor. You could see that in his limited playing time last year. I also love his shooting stroke. When Butch sees ample court time, he can get in a groove and shoot it as well as many guards. Except he’s 7 feet tall, and no one can block his shot. You’ve got to love that.

What I Don’t Love: His body. Butch actually spent part of his senior year in high school playing at 195 pounds, a frighteningly light frame for a 7-footer. He’s bulked up now, but has he figured out how to use his new body? His relatively lack of experience playing man-to-man defense prior to joining the Badgers concerns me, as well. I also worry about the crushing weight of his McDonald’s All-American pedigree and its effect on his psyche. As a redshirt sophomore, this is probably the make-or-break year where people start either jumping on the Butch bandwagon, or calling him a bust.

What I Expect: Solid minutes. Even when Butch was an all-world high school senior, I never thought he’d be a superstar. Butch has the talents and desire to be a steady performer along the lines of his former teammate Mike Wilkinson in his younger days. It remains to be seen if that will be the way things happen, though. I think Butch will be just a notch below the sophomore version of Wilkinson, but no one will steal his starting job.

Kammron Taylor (G)

What I Love: He’s lightning quick and has a scorer’s mentality that can bring huge games when he gets himself going.

What I Don’t Love: An article that I read a few weeks ago quoted Bo Ryan as noting that Taylor tends to turn the ball over more than an average point guard not because he’s careless, but because his hands are too small. It’s never a good sign when the head coach is making excuses for a player before the season starts. Taylor’s lack of consistency is also something of a concern, as last year it was not a shock to see him follow up a 20-point performance with a 4-point game. I’m also going to scream if I hear one more TV commentator point out his resemblance to Chris Rock.

What I Expect: Unlike last year, there isn’t a Sharif Chambliss-type experienced player waiting in the wings to take over at point if Taylor needs more time. Taylor will continue to improve, but he’s still another year away from being the outstanding player that many Wisconsin fans already believe he is. For this year, he’s a slightly above average starter, and nothing more.

Mickey Perry (G)

What I Love: They say he shoots the ball very, very well and was a sleeper pick up from the always competitive Chicago area. I wouldn’t know, since I’ve not seen him yet, but these things all sound good.

What I Don’t Love: I’m told that Mickey is not his real name, and rather, it is a nickname. Mickey’s not a cool nickname, and I don’t know why anyone would embrace it. When I hear "Mickey," I’m thinking of Mickey Rourke, Mickey Rooney, or the drummer from the Monkees, Mickey Dolenz. Not exactly the coolest trio in the world.

What I Expect: Barring injuries that force him into action, I see him getting slightly less minutes than Michael Flowers did last year, and as Flowers did, learning on the job a bit. Of course, I’ve never seen him play, so maybe he’s way better than I’m expecting.

Michael Flowers (G)

What I Love: His defensive prowess. Watching Flowers play, it’s almost instantly apparent that he’s a player with the skills and the mentality to come close to being the defensive stopper that former Badger Mike Kelley was. He also seems ego-less, as he doesn’t appear to be on track to ever be a featured guard for the team, but also doesn’t seem to care.

What I Don’t Love: Everyone I know who saw Flowers play more than once or twice in high school raved about his athleticism. So far I haven’t seen him try to display any of that. Additionally, for a man who’s supposed to be the backup point guard, his ball handling and court leadership skills could be better.

What I Expect: Last year Flowers was a role player, seeing very limited minutes. I expect him to be a role player again this year, but with significantly expanded minutes, given the Badgers’ lack of depth at guard. Though just a role player, Flowers is going to offer the most consistent play of any of the Badgers. Solid, but unspectacular is the name of the game. Personally, I expect that I will be disproportionally excited every time Flowers enters a game. Last year I said to anyone that would listen "Badger fans are going to absolutely love this guy in 2 years." We might be a year ahead of schedule.

Greg Stiemsma (C)

What I Love: He’s tall, strong and agile. I’ve nearly worn out my tape of his one play in the state high school tournament three years ago when he blocked a shot, received the ball back from a teammate immediately after, dribbled down the court, and when cut off by a defender on the block, went behind his back to change directions and dunked the ball. He’s officially the only 7-foot 16-year-old that I’ve ever seen do that. I liked him better than all-American, Brian Butch when both were in high school, and that potential is still there somewhere.

What I Don’t Love: While he’s solid on defense, last year he was severely lacking on the offensive end. It still remains to be seen if he can fully return to form after the ACL tear that occurred just before his senior year of high school. And though he came in as a strong freshman, if you’re a big man in the Big Ten and your name isn’t Robert Traylor or Acie Earl, you could always stand to add some weight.

What I Expect: Lots of growth. Stiemsma will begin the year as a shaky substitution, but grow into a solid option as time goes on. While his offensive skills were not up to snuff last year, he’s had time to work on improving, and given that he has a hook shot (the only shot in basketball that can make me openly giddy) in his arsenal, he could be quite a weapon if he develops. I’m certainly not comparing the two in terms of talent, but let’s remember that Emeka Okafor, a defensive wizard from the time he stepped on the floor at UConn, didn’t develop a passable offensive game until his junior year.

Jason Chappell (F)

What I Love: He’s got a decent shooting touch for a 6'10" guy, and you have to respect him from the outside. He showed enthusiasm in his brief stints on the floor last year, and when he’s not on the floor, he holds a towel very well.

What I Don’t Love: That time a couple years ago when he braided his hair. The fact that he was cursed with a constant facial expression that falls somewhere in between saying "I’m not at all interested in what’s going on right now," and "I’m ridiculously high right now." That his on-court enthusiasm last year generally resulted in him playing at an overly-furious, hurried pace. That he’s had a year at prep school and a redshirt year, yet he still hasn’t done much of note in college.

What I Expect: Last year I read constantly that Chappell was much improved and was going to be a contributor. This year I hear much the same story. And at least early on, I think he could give the Badgers some minutes. Lord knows he’s been practicing his entire life for this. As the season goes on, though, I see Chappell’s minutes decreasing as other, more talented players pass him by. As hard as I typically am on Chappell, I don’t know that any of this is really his fault–he just happens to be surrounded by lots guys with more raw talent than him. And those talented guys sound like they’re learning very quickly.

Devin Barry (G)

What I Love: Another guy that I haven’t seen play, about all that I know about Barry is that he’s from Janesville. My friend Pat is from Janesville, and he’s a pretty good guy. Maybe Devin Barry is, too.

What I Don’t Love: There’s probably plenty, since he’s just a walk-on, but what good does it do to pile on the walk-ons?

What I Expect: Some good high-fives to his teammates as they come off the floor.

Ray Nixon (F)

What I Love: Who doesn’t love Nixon’s athleticism? His ability to play outside as a taller player with a long wingspan is nice as well. The prospect of having a two guard with Nixon’s length is certainly tantalizing. There are also comments coming out of Madison to the effect that Nixon’s dedication this offseason was commendable.

What I Don’t Love: A lack of consistency thus far in Nixon’s career. That he decided not to redshirt his freshman year, despite the general consensus that Bo Ryan thought it might be better for him to do so. A growing concern that his career could end up like that of former Badger Maurice Linton, another big, athletic player who (despite much success) perhaps should have focused his talents less on perimeter skills.

What I Expect: Nixon is sort of a one-man version of the Badgers’ team this upcoming season. He’s supremely talented, but only modestly experienced. Best case scenario is that regular floor time is just what he needs and he has a breakout year, ending up as a valuable starter. Worst case scenario is that he stays pretty much the same as last year, is a serviceable 6th man, and we all end up scratching our heads as to how he could do so little with that much talent. Partly because I haven’t seen him do much yet, and partly because his best position is already taken by the best player on the team, I fear that he’ll be closer to the latter scenario.

Tanner Bronson (G)

What I Love: Come on, everyone loves an underdog. Who doesn’t love a guy that looks like a 14-year-old, started out as the team manager, and eventually earned a scholarship? If Bronson actually played in games, this could be a great movie script.

What I Don’t Love: That a player who is allegedly as skilled as Bronson (hey, we never get to see him play, so how would I know his skill level?) was not given an athletic, moderately tall body to display his talents with. Sometimes nature can be cruel.

What I Expect: That I’ll be at a bar at some point this season and someone unfamiliar with the Badgers will ask "Why does Wisconsin have a middle-school kid suiting up with them tonight?"

DeAaron Williams (G)

What I Love: Though I've not yet seen him play, everyone says he's as athletic as they come.

What I Don't Love: As athletic as he is said to be, people are also saying that he needs to work on general basketball skills.

What I Expect: As with any of the guys that I haven't seen, it's tough for me to say how he'll fit into the mix. My best guess, based on the things that I've read, are that Williams will be an injury or two from being regularly in the mix. But hey, he's a freshman, so he's got some time before he needs to start being a big contributor anyway.

Morris Cain (F)

What I Love: He went to Nicolet High School, which seems to turn out a new solid player every year.

What I Don't Love: Cain's a non-scholarship player, and not every walk-on is Clayton Hanson, so he's probably nothing more than a practice player.

What I Expect: To see the student section chanting for Cain to see the floor during early season games where the Badgers are up by 26 with 2 minutes to go.

Kevin Gullikson (F)

What I Love: I’ve not seen him play, but word on the street is that he’s playing much better than a walk-on should.

What I Don’t Love: No matter how he’s playing now, there has to be some reason that he’s just a walk-on.

What I Expect: A practice player who’s more useful than originally planned on.

Joe Krabbenhoft (G/F)

What I Love: I've only seen him play one half of high school basketball, but based on that, I can't argue with anyone who offers his versatility and court awareness as strengths.

What I Don't Love: After multiple injuries, his feet seem to be fragile, and that's about the last body part that I would want injured if I was a basketball player. Will he come back stronger than ever (like Sean May, a former broken foot patient, turned All-American) or get progressively worse, like Bill Walton. Time will only tell.

What I Expect: Assuming health allows, Krabbenhoft's talent level is said to be such that he should be one of the first guys off the bench. His size probably makes him a natural small forward, but his versatility and the Badgers' lack of depth at guard probably mandates that he'll get most of his minutes at off-guard. I don't think Krabbenhoft will dazzle anyone this year, but should get a nice jump on being a solid, 4-year contributor.

Bo Ryan (Coach)

What I Love: Ryan’s resume at the division 3 level speaks for itself. So what can I say? He’s a winner. He’s got an innovative offense. He seems to recruit fairly well. He’s excellent at endearing himself to Wisconsin fans. Basically, there’s a lot to like about Bo Ryan.

What I Don’t Love: He’ll always be somewhat tainted by the fact that he was an assistant to horrendous former Badger coach Steve Yoder.

What I Expect: With Ryan around, I always expect the same thing: more than should be reasonably expected. No one really knows exactly what to expect from Wisconsin this year, but with Bo Ryan at the helm, it's a pretty good bet that whatever happens, it will be good.


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