Wisconsin's annual Red versus White intrasquad scrimmage took place Thursday evening at the Kohl Center. Fans were treated to four 10-minute periods followed by an autograph session with players and coaches.
The star of the show of was junior guard Devin Harris. Recently named the coaches choice as Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, Harris tallied (unofficially) 36 of the White squad's 78 points to lead all scorers by a substantial margin.
Former Badger forward Charlie Wills was on hand and played for both squads Saturday, helping a Wisconsin team that was short three players. Guard/forward Alando Tucker and center Jason Chappell, both sophomores, are each recuperating from a broken foot and are out until mid-December. Sophomore forward/center Andreas Helmigk is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
Harris put the whole repertoire on display Thursday evening: driving to the rim with command, hitting mid-range jumpers and knocking down two three-point attempts. Only on the latter was Harris the least beat shaky, as he attempted eight from beyond the arc. Harris made a series of nifty passes and was outstanding defensively, coming up with six steals and an improbable four blocked shots.
Upping the tempo
Coach Bo Ryan and Wisconsin's players have stated on numerous occasions this preseason that the team will look to push the ball up the floor more than in previous years and may employ the press defense at times.
How often the press is used during the season will depend in large part on how deep Wisconsin's bench is. For what it is worth, though, the Badgers pressed and pushed the floor on a regular basis Thursday evening. The team, though, also showed a knack for knowing when to slow it down and run a half court offense.
Two plays involving Harris stand out. On one, the press led to a steal and a short jumper for Harris. On the other, Harris took an inbounds pass following a three-point basket from Kammron Taylor and went coast-to-coast before the defense could regroup, drawing a foul and completing a three-point play.
Taylor was matched up with Harris for most of the evening and obviously had a hard time stopping the veteran point guard. Taylor, though, was impressive in his own right. He is as quick as advertised and showcased good court vision. He also put on display one of the better shooting touches, scoring 14 points, the high tally among Badger newcomers. Perhaps Taylor's most impressive play was a 12-foot runner over the outstretched arm of Brian Butch, who stands about a foot taller than Taylor. Yes, Harris taught Taylor quite a few lessons Thursday night, but the freshman understudy did not appear fazed in the least—his intensity was high from start to finish.
Perhaps the most celebrated Wisconsin recruit of all time, Butch will likely live his Badger career under a microscope. Butch had an unexceptional night, not quite a struggle, but very close. He had a few nice defensive plays and worked and hustled well. He also made a positively beautiful hook shot in the first quarter of play. Butch, though, made only one of four free throws and had a hard time defending lob passes in the post. Though Butch does not look remotely as skinny as he did in high school he was without doubt the least physical player among Badger big men Mike Wilkinson, Dave Mader and Zach Morley and Charlie Wills. He also had a hard time knocking down perimeter shots. Still, the flashes of immense talent were present and one scrimmage obviously does not make a player.
Morley, on the other hand, was one of the most impressive players on the court. He scored 13 points, 11 in the first two sessions. In one brief stretch in the second period, Morley scored six consecutive points, including a very nice arching hook shot off the glass and a rebound put back. During the stretch he also blocked a Wilkinson shot attempt.
Morley made his presence felt early as well. On one of the game's first possessions, Wilkinson received a lob pass and went up for a layup, but Morley recovered quickly and got a piece of the shot attempt. Later in the session, Morley stepped out and drained a three-point shot.
Man in the middle
Wilkinson was far and away, though, the most impressive post player Thursday evening. His 21 points were second among all scorers and he displayed an array of offensive skills—well honed back-to-the-basket moves, off-the-dribble drives and jumpers, including one made three pointer. Wilkinson attacked the rim with impressive authority, getting at least four baskets on put backs, often with strong dunks. Wilkinson also did a significantly better job avoiding fouls than the other big men while still playing tough, physical defense.
The Big Ten's temporarily hidden gem
For one season perhaps the league's best sharp shooter will be cheering from the Badger sideline. Sharif Chambliss, who transferred to Wisconsin from Penn State, will sit out this season before returning to action in 2003-04 for one year with the Badgers. Fans in attendance Thursday caught a glimpse of what could be in store. At Penn State, Chambliss was the go-to guy and then some. Thursday night, he received a taste of being one of many offensive weapons and he shined, picking his spots to showcase his deft shot. Chambliss led the Red squad with 16 points, hitting four of six from beyond the arc. In addition, one of his pair of two-point field goals was an athletic reverse layup around Wilkinson.
Sharif Chambliss, 16
Kammron Taylor, 14
Zach Morley, 13
Dave Mader, 10
Freddie Owens, 6
Boo Wade, 4
Charlie Wills, 3
Devin Harris, 36
Mike Wilkinson, 21
Clayton Hanson, 9
Ike Ukawuba, 6
Brian Butch, 5
Ray Nixon, 0
Charlie Wills, 0