A need for (less) speed

Harris, Wilkinson shine in exhibition season opener

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If there is one lesson Devin Harris and the men's basketball team learned after its 103-81 trouncing of EA Sports, it is that they can, and probably should, slow down.


"I think we got a little too excited at the beginning of the game," Harris, a junior guard, said. "We were going 100 miles per hour. I think once we settled down in the second half, I think we were a lot better and a lot more comfortable."


Ryan concurred, citing Harris' decrease in speed.


"Once Devin went from 120 miles per hour to 85 on those first couple of possessions … then he was okay," Ryan said.  


And fly the Badgers did, scoring 58 points in the second half alone, compared with 45 in the first. Harris and junior forward Mike Wilkinson were in constant drive mode from the get-go, scoring 21 and 24 points, respectively. Wilkinson and Harris dominated with solid play throughout the game in other areas, as Wilkinson led the team in rebounds with eight and Harris racked up a team-leading 10 assists. 


"Mike battled in there, good strong post moves," Ryan said. "And Mike was left open outside and knocked down some shots. That was the way we wanted to start off the year, taking advantage of what the defense gave us." 


In the fast-paced game, Wisconsin owned EA Sports in all areas, including rebounds (44-23), assists (22-12), steals (8-5) and three-point shots made (13-10). 


"(Wisconsin's) the best team we've played so far," said EA Sports head coach Price Johnson, who has taken his team to Madison for three consecutive years. "This is the most disciplined, patient team that I've played in a long time, even when we were facing them the last time I played here."


Johnson was impressed with the improvement players like Wilkinson and Harris have made in the last year.

"(Harris) got stronger, so he's close to having an NBA body," Johnson said. "He changes gears really good, he changes paces good, he can shoot the ball a little bit better this year and I think he's special. He's the best guard I've played in my five games this year."


Ryan noted the game's importance in preparing the team for bigger challenges ahead, including the experience newcomers freshman guard Kammron Taylor and junior forward Zach Morley received. Although the five starters—Harris, Wilkinson, senior guard Freddie Owens, senior center Dave Mader and junior guard Clayton Hanson— collectively spent the most time on the court, Morley received 23 minutes of playing time and Taylor had 18, giving both valuable experience early in the season. Morley had seven points, five rebounds and three assists while Taylor had 16 points.    


"The two new guys really gave us a boost, Kamm and Zach," Ryan said. "They didn't look like they were on the floor for the first time in their lives. … They were contributors, which is good."

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