Fighting Through

About to wrap up what he felt was a productive summer of conditioning and strength gain, Duke Dukan was sidelined for three weeks at the worst possible time. Heading into tonight's lone exhibition game, the junior forward is looking to fight his way into the Wisconsin rotation.

MADISON - With the combination of his shooting range and long, 6-8 frame, junior Duje Dukan provides a tough match-up from the wing for any opponent No.21 Wisconsin will face on its 2012-13 schedule.

Unfortunately for Dukan, the combination of health and progression was absent in the critical month heading into the season, leaving his minutes in the early parts of the nonconference season in question.

Just before school started and Wisconsin began its preseason conditioning of running the hill at Elver Park, Dukan was diagnosed with mononucleosis, an infectious viral disease that gives its recipient a fever, sore throat, fatigue and loss of appetite among many other problems.

Dukan was out for three weeks and limited to what he could do physically. By the time he was able to return to the team, he was already well behind.

"It definitely set me back," Dukan said. "I got stronger and was in good shape this summer. I felt like I was in a good spot."

That's been an unfortunate theme for Dukan, who has yet to really break through into Wisconsin's rotation.

After choosing not to redshirt as a freshman in 2010-11 (appearing in only eight games), Dukan played in just 13 games last season. He scored four points in 11 minutes in the opener, but scored only three points the rest of the season. After January, Dukan played in three of UW's final 21 games for a total of five minutes.

This season, Dukan will be competing with three seniors in Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans, not to mention a highly hyped freshman in Sam Dekker.

"Obviously it's been frustrating with the mono, but there's nothing I can do about it now as far as the past," said Dukan. "I can't dwell on it. I have to focus on the here and the now. I have to use my abilities and my strengths to get some playing time. I have to play hard and leave it out there to compete with these guys for minutes."

Collectively, Dukan has developed into a more all-around player in three seasons. No longer known just as a deadly H-O-R-S-E player, Dukan has taken advantage of the natural progression given to him by strength coach Scott Hettenbach and the offseason two-hour practices with UW coach Bo Ryan over the summer.

"With redshirting, you are never playing with the sense that you are going to get an opportunity to play," Dukan said. "With not redshirting, you always have that idea in the back of your head that you are going to compete for minutes. That's the extra drive you get by knowing that you have a chance to possibly play."

Dukan has already got a taste of competition this season, scoring seven points and being productive in his minutes during Sunday's Red-White scrimmage. When Wisconsin takes on UW-Oshkosh tonight in its lone exhibition game at the Kohl Center, Dukan will again be looking to earn the trust of a coaching staff that will need to fill a vacant spot with Bruesewitz still sidelined with his right leg laceration.

"I am working on getting my strength and my endurance back," said Dukan. "We have a lot more depth coming off the bench and a lot of forwards. We'll definitely use that to our advantage."

Badger Nation Top Stories