Men's basketball: Illini big men a threat too

Badgers prepare for physical post game; Helmigk reflects on start, Morley reflects on reserve role

MADISON – Everyone, it seems, knows about the University of Illinois' backcourt. Senior Luther Head and juniors Dee Brown and Deron Williams are interchangeable at the ‘1', ‘2' and ‘3' positions and form arguably the best guard corps in the nation.

By comparison, Illinois' frontcourt has a tough time drawing headlines. Starting forwards senior Roger Powell and junior James Augustine, however, are a formidable duo.

"Obviously their guards are tremendous but we found out James Augustine's a heck of a player too and I think everybody knows Powell," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said in a teleconference Monday. "You just don't hear a whole lot about those guys."

Powell considered leaving school early in favor of the NBA last spring but ended up returning to the Illini. He is enjoying a strong senior season, averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Augustine is averaging 9.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

"I've played against those guys for a while now," UW senior forward Mike Wilkinson said. "When it comes to big guys they are as good as they get."

Powell and Augustine struggled from the field against Iowa Thursday. Powell was 2 of 15; Augustine 1 of 6. They combined to shoot 12 of 14 from the free throw line, however, and pulled down 21 total rebounds.

"Just because Powell and Augustine struggled the last game I'm sure they are going to come out and be real anxious to get on the floor again and play just like any player would want to be," Wilkinson said.

UW center Andreas Helmigk expects a lot of physical play in the post with Augustine (6-10, 230) and Powell (6-6, 235).

Said Helmigk: "A very physical game, I would say….Can be a rough game but it's our house, we got to make it rough too. We have to bring the toughness at them, I would say.

"Just show them right from the start whose house it is."

Helmigk proud of Saturday start

Helmigk is expected to return to a reserve role tonight after starting for the fourth time this season in the Badgers' win at Michigan Saturday. The 6-foot-9 senior learned he would start that game when Wisconsin began preparing for Michigan last week.

"Coach [Ryan] just said that they had a bigger lineup there," Helmigk said. "He wanted to try to go with a bigger lineup, give the bigger guys a chance to show what we could do on defense, especially."

Helmigk played 15 minutes, contributing eight points and five rebounds. Defensively, he helped hold Wolverine starting forwards Courtney Sims and Graham Brown to 10 and 0 points, respectively, though reserve Brent Petway scored 10 off the bench.

"I'm especially proud of getting Sims to stop him from doing what he wanted to do," Helmigk said. "That was my goal for that game to stop that offensive threat. Michigan always likes to start its game off by bouncing the ball in and getting it to the post. My goal was to stop that early."

Helmigk's offense was key during a 4-minute stretch when Wilkinson was on the bench with foul trouble. He scored 4 of 8 UW points in the stretch, helping the Badgers build a 12-point lead.

"I would say in general it was important for the team to get points," Helmigk said. "Michigan I think was trying to make a run. I was just trying to stop them from doing that, we were just answering that. We're a team and it doesn't matter who scores."

Morley looking for improvement

Helmigk started ahead of senior forward Zach Morley, who is expected to return to the starting lineup tonight. Helmigk started the first three games of the season before Morley established himself as a regular starter.

"That's something I can't worry about," Morley said of his time coming off the bench. "I've got to play my game no matter if it's starting or off the bench. It is one of those things where it really doesn't matter who is on the floor."

Morley enjoyed his best game of the season in the Badgers' Big Ten opener, when he made 6 of 8 3-pointers on his way to a career high 22 points in a win at Purdue. In four games since that outing, however, Morley is averaging 3.0 points per game and has made 4 of 17 shots. He has struggled with some early foul trouble during the stretch and has played the past three games with a broken left pinky.

"Obviously I've gotten in foul trouble in a couple of those pretty quick, which limits what you can do early," Morley said. "Other than that I've got to learn from some of the mistakes I've made and just try to get better."

Morley broke his finger in practice Jan. 9.

"It's kind of annoying but it doesn't really affect much," he said.

He is not sure how he suffered the injury.

"I just looked down and knew it didn't look right," he said.

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