Men's hoops: Krabbenhoft cleared to practice

Notes: Business as usual; Butch looking strong; lineup in flux

It was business as usual for Bo Ryan's squad as the Badger men's basketball team opened the 2005 campaign with the season's first official practice session Saturday.

The morning after Friday night's raucous Night of the Grateful Red celebration, which saw Alando Tucker and DeAaron Williams bring the house down with a pair of electrifying through-the-legs jams during a team slam-dunk contest, the Badgers went back to the basics Saturday in a low-key team workout.

"We did some pass-and-catch drills, footwork drills, defensive drills, help-and-recover, close-outs," Ryan said. "It's pretty much just the way I always like to start so the guys understand that in order to be good, you have to do these little things well."

In fact, Ryan has started with the same basic workout for as long as he can remember.

"It's pretty much been the same practice plan the first day for 20-some years as a head coach; I don't think I'm going to change," Ryan said. "It was true to form today. The young guys got an idea of what we expect on every drill, on every possession."

Krabbenhoft cleared: Freshman Joe Krabbenhoft, who was treated over the summer for a broken bone in his left foot, participated fully in Saturday's morning session. Ryan said the forward was not limited in his practice routine.

"Everything was just the way our training staff, our medical staff, had it planned," Ryan said. "He was on the practice floor doing the things everybody else was doing."

The UW training staff will continue to monitor Krabbenhoft's condition, but Ryan said the team will not limit his practice schedule unless the injury worsens.

Butch looking strong: The spotlight will be cast on Brian Butch from day one, as the talented big man enters his much-anticipated sophomore season. So far, Butch appears to be on the right track.

"He's looking stronger, his feet are better, and they should be," Ryan said after Saturday's workout. "He's definitely worked in the offseason at some things, and that's all you can ask for."

Butch put his long-range shooting skills on display during Friday night's demonstration, knocking down a few from beyond the arc during the three-point shooting contest. Ryan said he will use the big man to stretch defenses on the perimeter, but stressed that the sophomore has also developed his inside game.

"Brian can shoot the three; they better get ready to guard him from there. But he'll also score in the post," Ryan said. "He's got a great jump-hook, great up-and-under; he's pretty good inside."

Nothing set in stone: With a young team that features just one senior on the roster, Ryan has not committed to a starting five. The coach hinted that the lineup may be in flux for much of the year.

"It's all going to play out not just during the practices, but during the season," Ryan said. Ryan did not rule out the possibility of working one of his freshmen into the starting lineup, but he did not indicate any individual as his primary option.

"Don't know yet," Ryan said when asked if any of the freshmen will see significant playing time. "Sometimes it's out of necessity that you play a freshman right away, sometimes a freshman can be just as good as maybe a freshman that played early, but maybe it's not needed as soon."

Ryan was pleased with the effort and mentality the newcomers showed during Saturday's workout.

"They're attentive, they're hungry, they have good instincts, they've had good coaching," Ryan said. "And hopefully they'll continue to stay hungry, and hopefully they'll continue to get good coaching."

After the departure of four starters in Mike Wilkinson, Sharif Chambliss, Clayton Hanson and Zach Morley, as well as key role player Andreas Helmigk, Ryan will ask his young players to develop a bit faster than he has in years past.

"They just have to play a little older," Ryan said. "Each guy is going to have to mature just a little quicker. Sophomores will play like juniors, and juniors will to play like seniors, and freshman will play like second-semester freshmen."


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