Wade's absence not deterring Badgers

Light shines more closely on young point guards but they are unfazed

MADISON—Wisconsin is treating point guard Boo Wade's leave of absence like it treats any other case of a missing player.

"We talk about what we have all the time," Badger coach Bo Ryan said Wednesday, the first day players and coaches have been available to reporters since Wisconsin's media day last week. "We treat that as an injury as far as if somebody's not on the floor we don't discuss them not being on the floor."

Wade, Wisconsin announced Monday, is taking a leave of absence for an indefinite period of time in order to deal with some personal issues. Willie Wade, Boo's father, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Boo was having a hard time handling the deaths of his maternal grandparents, both of whom passed away in the past two months.

In any case, the Badgers are moving forward with the players they have on the practice floor in the Nicholas Johnson Pavilion.

"We've been through a lot of injuries before; just kind of treat this as an injury," forward Mike Wilkinson said. "He's not going to be able to play with us for who knows how long. We've just got to go out and still get the job done."

With Wade out, little-used sophomore point guard Kammron Taylor, senior combo guard Shariff Chambliss, and freshman combo guard Michael Flowers will vie for minutes running the Badgers' swing offense.

"With Boo not being here it really doesn't change anything for me," Taylor said. "I just go out there everyday and work hard. We just wish the best for Boo and I'm just going to continue to go out there and work hard. I'm pretty sure everybody else is going to continue to go out there and work hard.

"We're not going to let it distract us."

Flowers agreed.

"My perception doesn't change," he said. "I go to practice, I'm still focused. I try to learn, I try to pick up on things that the older guys hand down towards me and, you know, we wish Boo the best of luck with whatever his decision is. We've just got to pick up."

Chambliss was not available for comment Wednesday following practice, which was closed to the media. Chambliss is still taking limited reps in practice as he continues to rehab from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in March, Ryan said.

"We trust everyone that we have handling the ball," Wilkinson said. "This isn't the first time they've seen it. They've been here playing with us all summer. They are kind of used to it. They'll be ready when the time comes. We have all the confidence in them."

Taylor, a prolific scorer at Minneapolis North, sat on Wisconsin's bench for all but 41 minutes last season.

"When I was in high school I had to score," Taylor said of his mentality at the point. "When I came here the coaches told me… get satisfaction out of scoring and making your teammates look good. This year I've put more emphasis on making plays for my teammates as well as scoring. I'm just out here to get things done. If I have to get shots for my teammates I'm going to do that. If I have to score I'm going to do that."

Flowers said he is splitting time between the "1" and the "2" and feels "comfortable at either position."

The most difficult transition from prep to college guard, Flowers said, is learning how to control a team, from calling plays to being aware of the shot clock.

"All this is learning but every day in practice it gets a little bit easier and easier and easier," he said.

"The easiest part [of the transition] is this is something I want to do," Flowers said. "This is the choice I made to come here and I don't doubt it at all. I love being here, I love the coaches, I love my teammates. This is really comfortable. I feel good. That comfort level. That's key."

Flowers has already developed a reputation as a tenacious defender.

"First thing I noticed about him when he first got on campus was he is all over the court," Taylor said of Flowers. "He gets after it and playing against him every day in practice I think is going to help me and I think him playing against me is going to help him."

The Badgers have another point guard on the roster: manager-turned-walk-on Tanner Bronson.

"Tanner, he works hard. He gave up a lot. He's walking on, he comes to practice every day ready to play and I don't know if I could have did that," Taylor said. "I give big props to Tanner for doing that."

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