Ask senior guard Shariff Chambliss what the most difficult aspect of playing point guard is and his response leaps from his lips the moment the question is finished: leadership. He did not hesitate to point this out during Wisconsin's men's basketball media day last week.
As the 2004-05 season draws near, Chambliss will be one of the members of this Badger team that will need to step up and provide additional leadership with the early departure of Devin Harris to the NBA.
For Chambliss, being a leader is nothing new. As a junior at Penn State two seasons ago, the Racine native served as an upperclassman leader for Nittany Lions. The 6-foot-1 guard is confident that his Big Ten experience will help him lead the younger Badgers early in the season.
"I just think I am going to try to be a mentor to the younger guys like DeAaron [Williams], Greg [Stiemsma] and Mike [Flowers]," Chambliss said. "Just trying to tell them a little about Big Ten basketball, the competitive nature about Big Ten basketball and being a student athlete."
Kammron Taylor will also need to step up the leadership role, especially with the loss of junior guard Boo Wade, who left the team indefinitely for personal reasons, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan announced Monday. Willie Wade, Boo's father, told The Capital Times that Wade would return to the Badgers in "a month or so."
Although Taylor only saw action in 18 games, he understands that part of his role with the Badgers this season is helping freshman guard Michael Flowers develop.
"I just try to tell him don't try to come into practice and force anything," Taylor said. "I mean the coaches know what he can do, so just make sure that he needs to go out there and play defense."
Despite the fact that the Badgers have been practicing for less than two weeks, Flowers knows that he can follow the leadership of Chambliss and Taylor while adjusting to the rigors of Big Ten basketball. In fact, Flowers said he can already see the improvement in his game from when he enrolled at UW.
"I am learning a lot from [the older guys]. I am learning a lot from the coaches too," Flowers said. "It's a learning process so the quicker I learn, the better it is for me and the team."
Flowers will begin to show how much he has learned from the veteran guards when the Badgers tip-off against UW-Parkside in their first exhibition game Nov. 10. Regardless, Flowers readily admits that the experienced guards have helped him settle in and enjoy his budding tenure with the UW program.
"I still feel like I am in that dream state," Flowers said. "I just can't believe that I am here, I am so happy to be here. It's like I am about to play Big Ten basketball and it's just a dream."
Chambliss, Taylor show Flowers the way
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