As the Badgers travel to Ohio State this Wednesday in search of their first conference win away from the Kohl Center, they will yet again have to perform with a limited roster. With sophomore forward Alando Tucker still out indefinitely and senior guard Freddie Owens listed as questionable, Wisconsin will look to its sixth man, junior forward Zach Morley, to continue the transition into the starting lineup.
Morley found his role change from first off the bench to first on the floor when Owens went down with a foot injury before the Michigan game Jan. 21. During that game he put up 12 points and eight rebounds. He went on to start again in Wisconsin's victory over Illinois but only tallied six points and four rebounds.
Though Morley is still proving that he will do all the little things and then some, he is aware that his approach has changed now that he is one of the starting five.
"I have to be ready from the start now," Morley said. "Before I had a little time to watch what the other team was doing and to see how guys reacted to certain things but now I just have to come in prepared from the start."
In addition to transitioning into the starting lineup, Morley has also had to become accustomed to a different style of basketball after transferring from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. His 24.4 minutes, 5.8 rebounds and 9.1 points a game makes his transfer to the Big Ten seem easy but Morley thinks differently.
"I'm not completely adjusted to the transition," Morley said. "I'm learning every day but it's coming easier. I still need to get acclimated to learning the positioning on defense and getting more familiar with the offense."
As the Badgers enter Wednesday's contest, Morley will not only be needed to fill in for the missing players but to be a dominant presence on the inside. Though the Buckeyes are struggling this season with their 1-4 Big Ten record, they have two rebounding machines down low. Morley is near the top of the conference with his 5.8 boards a game, but Ohio State sophomore center Terrence Dials and senior center Velimir Radinovic are ahead of him in the rankings with their 6.7 and 5.9 rebounds a game respectively.
"We go into every game the same whether it's the first place team or the last place team," Morley said. "In the Big Ten, there are no bad teams. Any team can beat anybody in the conference so you just have to go in prepared for the war."