Wade working back to form

Junior point guard making presence felt on practice floor

Boo Wade's potential value to the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team was clear during a recent practice. How quickly he earns a spot in the regular rotation, however, is still anyone's guess.

Wade has been practicing with the Badgers for two weeks since returning from an indefinite leave of absence that began soon after the start of formal workouts this fall. The 6-foot-3 junior guard, who has not been available for comment since returning to the team, played nine minutes in UW's blowout win over Western Carolina Dec. 27 but sat out a win over Alabama two nights later.

While playing point guard in a scrimmage drill Monday afternoon, Wade beat his man off the dribble, dashed through the lane, ploughed into a defender near the basket and was called for charging. Without hesitation, however, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan praised Wade for attacking the basket, something the Badgers' guards have not done often this season.

"He's always been a pretty good slasher," assistant coach Gary Close said. "He's got some experience, he's played in this league a little bit and that helps. That's a quality that he could bring."

When Wade is ready, his ability to work his way into the paint and create – for himself or his teammates – will add a valuable component to a Wisconsin offense that is starting to get on a roll.

"He's getting there but like any player on the team, he's got to earn his spot and he's behind, just because he hasn't been here for a while," Close said. "But he's working hard and I think each day you see him getting in a little bit better basketball shape and basketball timing."

In the two months Wade was away from the team, senior Sharif Chambliss has developed into a quality point guard. Sophomore Kammron Taylor and freshman Michael Flowers have also played well in spots.

When Wade was on the floor Monday he primarily played point guard with Chambliss sliding to the "2."

"With either of us on the court we can either play the ‘1' or the ‘2,'" Chambliss said. "Or he can move to the ‘3,' I'll move to the ‘2,' someone else will move to the ‘1.' There's a lot of interchangeable spots, especially in the swing offense."

Wisconsin's offense has taken flight its past three games, averaging 83.3 points per contest. Since surviving a cold shooting first half against UNC Greensboro Dec. 23, the Badgers have shot 50 percent from the field.

Especially impressive was the team's 76-62 win over No. 19 Alabama, when Wisconsin shot 50 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range (11 of 22).

"It's a good sign that this is what we can do," senior forward Mike Wilkinson said. "Looking back on it…if we don't build on the things we need to continue to work on or learn from the Alabama game… we could take a step back in the next game."


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