Taking the redshirt is a common theme for many Wisconsin men's basketball players this season. Whether it is to gain more experience like freshman center Brian Butch or to nurse an ailing injury as sophomore forward Alando Tucker is doing, the Badgers have been unable to use some vital players.
While Butch and Tucker have their separate reasons to sit the season out, sophomore forward Jason Chappell took a redshirt this season to better an injury as well as attempt to improve his game for the future.
The possibility of redshirting arose after Chappell broke his foot during practice back in late October. Though he was projected to be out for four to six weeks, he waited to make his decision. In December, Chappell returned to practice and even suited up for a non-conference game against UW-Green Bay but never saw action in the 73-57 victory. In the next contest against UW-Milwaukee it was back to the bench for Chappell, but this time in his street clothes. By then the decision to redshirt was official.
Two months later, Chappell is still dressed in the red shirt, but often exchanges it for the practice jersey that he wears on the scout squad. His right foot is not a roadblock anymore and his presence in practice has helped prepare the active players for whatever opponent lies on the horizon for the Badgers.
"(My foot is) fine, it's felt fine ever since I came back," Chappell said. "It used to get sore every now and then but it hasn't been sore for a long time. I think it's pretty much all the way back to good."
Though he is unable to show his work during games, everyday in practice he gets to continue to strengthen his foot and learn a thing or two from defending players like junior forward Mike Wilkinson.
"Anytime you get to play against someone like Mike who has been around the league for a long time, he knows what it's like and he plays pretty good defense, so anytime you can go against him everyday it's good for you," Chappell said.
At this point in his season, it seems as though Chappell is taking as much time as he can to learn whatever he can to make an impact next season. During his first season as a Badger he only saw action in eight games and averaged 1.4 minutes. Next season, if his injury is completely healed, the 6-foot-10 forward can look ahead to giving the team added size and complimenting the likes of Wilkinson, sophomore forward Andreas Helmigk and an active Butch on the inside.
Though it is tough for Chappell to sit and watch his teammates enjoy the success they have been having on the court, he knows that this season "off" is for the best.
"Right now it (redshirting) sucks because I kind of want to play," Chappell said. "But as far as for myself in the future I think it will be good. I'm in no hurry to get out of college and as far as my fifth year here, I'll most likely be a lot better in my fifth year than I will be this year. So I think it will help me in the long run."