Traveling Team: Wisconsin Playground Warriors

Our continuing look at the traveling team scene takes us to Milwaukee. The city is home to the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, a team that features a number of wing players.

Anything can happen when it comes to traveling team basketball. A few years ago, an underappreciated guard led the Wisconsin Playground Warriors to numerous summer titles. Travis Diener really brought a tremendous amount of notoriety to the program.

This year's edition of the Playground Warriors isn't built for inside power and doesn't have a leader like Diener. It's not a group that has a big time presence inside either. The team is founded on its solid backcourt play.

"I think our group is going to have to run," assistant coach Tommy Zaffran said. "No matter who we play, we aren't going to be bigger than anybody. I think guard play will be strength. Both Marcus Landry and Breon Allen can take it from the wing. We'll have to try and pull the big guys out so we can get around those guys."

The pace of traveling team basketball is always fast so Wisconsin shouldn't have trouble getting the tempo in their favor. When they do, the boys will look to unleash a few talented perimeter weapons in transition.

Landry is likely to be the team's highest-recruited senior-to-be and he plays much bigger than his listed size. "His strength is definitely in his athleticism. Being about 6-6, maybe 6-7 he's not the protypical college [power forward]. Even if he doesn't grow much he can benefit a team from the wing. He's a good shot blocker and it's about timing and athleticism rather than being about 6-10."

If Landry is the top prospect amongst the 2005'ers, than Jerry Smith is the man in terms of 2006 prospects on this team. Right now, according to Zaffran, he's a high-major prospect. Everyone else on the team has work to do in terms of attracting attention as a prospect.

"Marcus has a chance to be high-major. Jerry Smith is high-major right now. Everybody else is probably going to be a tweener. With a lot of the kids we have, if you don't see them twice you might overlook them."

Last year, the program took its lumps. They'll begin play in early April with a little something to prove to themselves and the college assistants in the stands. "We just got stomped on last year now these guys are ready to play."

Wisconsin Playground Warriors (Milwaukee, Wisc.)

Head Coach Rick Stimac

Assistant Coach Tommy Zaffran

Top Prospect Marcus Landry

Projected Starters SF/PF Marcus Landry (6-7/185, JR), PG Joe Higgins (6-0/165, JR), SF Breon Allen (6-6/175, JR), SG Jerry Smith (6-3/200, SOPH), PG Billy Mimis (5-9/130, JR)

Others SG John Rybak (6-4/195, JR), SG/PG Javon Campbell (6-2/170, JR), PG Wilethon Boyce (5-11/180, JR), PG Will Howard (5-10/175, JR), SG Nick Polk (6-1/180, JR), PF Andy Polka (6-6/240, SOPH), SG John Dekker (6-5/180, SOPH), SG/PG Naz Daniels (6-4/1800, SOPH), PG Steve Gruber (5-10/165, SOPH)

Famous Alum Travis Diener

First Tourney Boo Williams (April 9-11)

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