It did not take long for Badger sophomore guard Boo Wade to get back on his feet. After what was thought to be a three-to-four week absence after suffering a knee injury during practice Nov. 4, Wade was in action Monday night during the Badgers' 102-95 victory in their final exhibition game against the NBDL Charleston Lowgators.
Wade wasted no time getting his season kicked off as he started in the backcourt with junior Devin Harris and senior Freddie Owens. Wade's 15 points, five rebounds and two steals made it seem as though he was never out of the rotation.
"Boo did a nice job," Badger coach Bo Ryan said. "We might have had him on the floor a little too long…but his game has always been long; he's a tough match up inside for guards. He makes good decisions with the ball, he's a player. That's what we recruited him for. "
During the first half, Wade had plenty of time to prove that he was healthy with his 15 minutes on the floor. He had a dominant presence in the paint as scored all of his eight points inside; four of them came on clean up of offensive rebounds. During one sequence, as the ball was going out of bounds, Wade made the save and put it into the hands of freshman guard Kammron Taylor. Wade recovered and was wide open in the lane as Taylor made an excellent pass right back to him for the easy bucket.
In the second half Wade was needed most when it came down to the final minutes. The Lowgators were starting to nip at the Badgers' heels as they pulled within four points (92-88).
Wade got the call to cover Charleston's star Tierre Brown, who had been on fire all night, particularly in the second half. His shot from behind the arc with 1:10 left shortened the margin to three points but Wade did not allow him to make another field goal.
Wade's three free throws within the final minute helped the Badgers pull ahead and ensure a victory over the Lowgators.
"The rotations I used down the stretch were guys I felt could hit the free throws and take care of the ball and handle the physical-ness of the other team," Ryan said. "That's why Boo was in there at the end. "
Besides putting the pressure on while on defense, Wade held his own on the inside for offense. Despite his 6-2, 185-pound frame he was going up against the big bodies in the lane. He contested a majority of the rebounds and hit many shots over the tallest of the Lowgators.
Though the Badgers still have three other injured players resting on the sidelines, with Wade back in the mix, the Badgers can breathe a small sigh of relief. Although Wade is coming off of a sprained MCL in his left knee, he showed no signs of slowing down during his 2003-04 debut.
"My knee is doing great actually," Wade said. "I wanted to play in the first game but the injury made me sit out. The last couple practices, coach let me go; he thought that I was ready so he put me out there."