Taylor focuses on reserve

Sophomore guard is adjusting to new role as a top bench player

Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan had one chief concern for sophomore guard Kammron Taylor after the Badgers' win over UW-Green Bay Tuesday night. Taylor, the Badgers' most frequently used reserve since losing his starting spot two games ago, turned the ball over three times Tuesday, twice in the second half.

So when a passed slipped through Taylor's hands in practice Thursday, much as it did against the Phoenix, Ryan turned to a bit of humor.

"He asked if I had any change at home sitting on the dresser," Taylor said. "I was like, no, I didn't. He was like, ‘Well, you need to get some and go buy some new hands.'"

If there is a gap in Taylor's game thus far, it is his 13 turnovers in six games. The number is not exorbitant, but compare it to senior Sharif Chambliss' five and one reason Chambliss is now the starting point guard becomes clear.

"[Taylor] just had a tough time with the ball the other night," Ryan said. "Other than that it wasn't his hustle or anything else or where his mind was."

"I do need to do a better job of catching the ball because I think at the end of the last game I had two turnovers where the ball just slipped right out of my hands," Taylor said.

Taylor started Wisconsin's first four games before ceding to Chambliss, who has scored 42 points in his last three contests. Two days before the Badgers' game at Rutgers, Ryan informed Taylor that Chambliss would start.

"It was a shock but he's the coach and he knows what he's doing," Taylor said. "It's not like we lost after I stopped starting. As long as this team is winning, I want to do whatever I can to help the team."

It is not like Taylor was relegated to basketball purgatory either. He led the Badgers' reserves in minutes in each of two games coming off the bench. He scored nine points in 21 minutes in his bench debut at Rutgers, a game Wisconsin won 70-62. Taylor played 17 minutes but was held scoreless in Wisconsin's 65-55 win over UW-Green Bay Tuesday.

"When it first happened I got down on myself, which I shouldn't have," Taylor said. "I should have known that I'm still going to be playing, and it doesn't matter who starts the game. It's all about who finishes the game. At Rutgers I didn't start but I finished the game and it was a close game."

With the shift to Chambliss running the point, this week Taylor began practicing at shooting guard in addition to point guard. When Taylor is on the court without Chambliss, he will still play point guard, but when the two play together, Chambliss will run the point, while Taylor plays off the ball. The rolls were reversed previously.

The shift is reminiscent of former Badger star Devin Harris' freshman year, when Harris played off the ball while Travon Davis ran the point. Once Davis' departed, Harris assumed his role.

"What we want [Taylor] to do is hit the floor with energy and make some things happen," Ryan said. "That's what Kam needs to give us. That's what he's working on trying to give us, at either position."

"I just need to make sure my focus in there all the time," Taylor said. "I can't be an on-and-off player. I have to be consistent."

Ball security is one piece to the puzzle, but more work remains. Taylor's 38 percent shooting needs improvement, but as long as his shot selection is satisfactory that will not raise too many eyebrows at Wisconsin. Taylor has a scorer's sense that is bound to take flight. His defense remains a work in progress, but signs of improvement are abundant, including the two first-half steals he had against UW-Green Bay.

"The coaches tell me every day that I could be one of the best defenders with my quickness," Taylor said. "I just have to take advantage of what God gave me. I think I've been doing a lot better job with my positioning out there on the court."

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