Notes: Still in the Dark

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has had just one scrimmage and one exhibition game to evaluate his 14th-ranked basketball team heading into Saturday's home opener, meaning Wisconsin will be focusing more on itself in the days leading up to the opener against Kennesaw State.

MADISON - Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan never gives out his scouting reports but he's making an exception for Saturday's season opener against Kennesaw State.

When it comes to the Owls of the Atlantic Sun, Ryan doesn't know a thing about them.

"We don't have anything," Ryan said Monday, referring to any video of UW's first opponent. "We're trying to get information, but we have got so many things to take care of on our own about us (that) we have plenty in our drills today and the rest of the week to take care of us."

For one thing, No.14 Wisconsin and Ryan are looking to replace the reads and reactions that the trio of Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil gave in the front line. Through one exhibition game, the Badgers are looking at Jared Berggren (who is fully recovered from shoulder surgery two seasons ago), Ryan Evans (better defensively than a year ago) and Mike Bruesewitz among a cast of character to fill a full time slot.

"We really have a lot of work to get our front line ready to be as advanced as maybe the guard position defensively on how to read and react to screens, staggered screens, down screens, up screens, all the different ball screen reads," Ryan said. "That's where we have a lot of work to do."

Part of that process helps when the Badgers can have former players like Devin Harris and Michael Finley practice with them. In town due to the NBA lockout, both former Badgers worked out with the team Friday.

"That really made our practice tough," Ryan said. "It was a good practice. We have good practices when there aren't NBA guys on the court, but it was kind of neat to have the two of them out there. They interacted pretty well with the players and made some observations to me about certain guys in certain things.

"We did some old school passing drills and Devin is used to them. Devin's done all of them. I was curious to see how Michael was going to react. He was right in there, learning the four corners, the pivot passing, the half court passing … they did everything our guys did. It made for an interesting practice."

Taylor Turns it Back

In his first appearance since being named a preseason All-American, senior Jordan Taylor dialed it back against UW-Stevens Point, finishing with just eight points, seven assists and one turnover in 30 minutes. It wasn't an off night shooting as much as it was Taylor trying to facilitate his team's offense.

"We didn't run a lot of isolated screens for him for his shot," Ryan said. "We ran some screens where if the defense doesn't play it a certain way, somebody else is going to be open. When they took that away from him, he found his teammates. He was a point guard … He did his job well."

Freshmen in Waiting

Ryan said no decisions have been made as of yet as to which of his five freshmen will redshirt this upcoming season but if Saturday's exhibition game was any indication, fans can expect to see Jarrod Uthoff and Traevon Jackson in the rotation this season.

Uthoff was productive with five points and four rebounds in his seven minutes while Jackson got the most minutes of the freshmen, scoring five points and registering two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes against UW-Stevens Point.

"Josh Gasser played last year as a freshman because defensively he picked things up quicker than most freshmen … (and) Trae has developed very quickly and adopted our reads a lot quicker than some of the other guys," said Ryan. "That's why he has the potential to get more minutes. Now if that stops happening and other guys learn a little quicker and move ahead of him, then those guys will be playing.

"It still is about what all can you do in game situations to help the team out, both on the offensive and defensive end."

One player that appears to be on the fence is George Marshall. Although Marshall just played four minutes Saturday and appears to have a redshirt in his future, Ryan said Taylor doesn't get a break in practice when Marshall is guarding him.

"Jordan Taylor is not blowing by him," Ryan said. "They (George and Traevon) love going against him … and I want our guys to have that attitude. (George) is good with his feet, his mid-range jump shot is as good as anybody on the team and now he's working on understanding transition defense, when to protect the rim, when to fire out, how to go over screens, how to handle the guys that set illegal screens and how to deal with it. There's a lot to learn in this game and George has already picked up some things."

The redshirt decision is left up to the players, and Ryan knows what many fans are probably thinking.

"Jon Leuer should have redshirted, Keaton Nankivil (and) Tim Jarmusz and they all would have been back this year," Ryan joked.


Ryan on some of his returning players not being as green as they were last year

"I was trying to think of the Crayola box, 64 colors, there's a dark green (and) a lighter green. We used to play a little game on camping trips with my kids if you could name all 64 colors. We're looking for forest green, not lime green."

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