It has been a long time since sophomore forward Alando Tucker last graced the court; especially at the Kohl Center. A foot injury sidelined Tucker for the first five games of the season and Wisconsin fans welcomed him with a short but rather loud standing ovation in his season debut against UW-Green Bay Wednesday night.
"That shows the fan support," senior guard Freddie Owens said. "Our fans here are great. Hearing them applaud the way they did for Alando just showed us how much support we have."
The fan support helped Tucker ease back into the game. During his 12 minutes he only put up five points, one assist, and surprisingly no rebounds. Despite having minimal stats, this game was essential for Tucker to just get back into the swing of things.
"I'm trying to come out and perform, just be my regular self," Tucker said. "And that's what I wanted to do. Just basically right now I want to get my rhythm back and a feel for how to play with four other guys on the court."
Tucker's first appearance came six minutes, 18 seconds into the first half and only eight seconds into his time, he was called for his first foul of the season. He quickly redeemed himself with 12 minutes, 40 seconds remaining before halftime after a pass from junior forward Mike Wilkinson helped Tucker sink a three-point shot that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. Just 27 seconds later, though, he was called for traveling.
The sequence displayed that Tucker still has a bit to go before he becomes the same player he was last year.
"I wouldn't say I'm a ways away from last year," Tucker said. "I'm going slowly but surely. I'll work on it each practice, and each game. I had two practices coming into this game so the more I practice the better off I'll be, the more comfortable I'll feel on the court."
Last season Tucker was a dominant force in the starting five, averaging 31.8 minutes, 12 points, and 5.9 rebounds per game. He was not found in the starting lineup tonight but with his return Badger coach Bo Ryan can look forward to an even deeper rotation.
"Alando did some good things," Ryan said. "The best thing was he got on the floor, he got in front of the crowd, and he got to play against somebody else. I think that's definitely going to help him Saturday and the next game and the next game."
Besides the fans giving Tucker a great welcoming, it is his teammates and coaches that need him the most and they are excited to have him back in action.
"It feels great to have him back out there from a teammate standpoint," Owens said. "He's been through a lot these past couple of months with a broken foot. It can take an emotional toll on you a little bit but I'm glad to have him back because he brings a lot of energy to the floor. He's so athletic and we need that."