Grimyser: Potential is in the present

Wisconsin's current standing in the Big Ten is quite impressive, almost dominant along with Ohio State, and is probably good enough to win a conference championship and maybe more. What Badgers fans shouldn't worry about is the future of the team in the next few years.

MADISON – Take heed Badger fans. The demise of Wisconsin's first ever No. 1 ranking didn't go for naught. You should take pride in seeing the development of Marcus Landry. He's just one of many players that the team will be leaning on heavily for their future aspirations.

The players on the current roster, that will be coming back next year, all have a bright future on the team. They allow head coach Bo Ryan to not miss a beat when stars Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor step away from the Kohl Center for the last time. That's not to say that there aren't other players coming back next year who will be the leaders on the team.

The Badgers will have three steady juniors returning next year to bridge the gap between the present and future. Michael Flowers, the team leader in assists with over three a game, plus eight points and four rebounds. Center Brian Butch has become the Badgers main offensive weapon in the paint when Tucker isn't able to carry the load. He also has become extremely effective on the perimeter passing and hitting deep shots. Defensive specialist Greg Stiemsma is a solid player who gives maximum effort while shooting over 53% from the field. All three contribute over a fourth of the current team's points and rebounds. Those numbers, along with their responsibilities and leadership roles, will likely increase in the following year.

The players that they need to mentor are freshmen Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon, and sophomores Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry. All four will have to step it up next year.

First, there's versatile sophomore forward Joe Krabbenhoft who has basically done whatever has been asked of him. He defends anyone from point guards to power forwards. All of his shooting percentages and turnover numbers are better than most. He might never become the most dazzling playmaker who demands everyone's attention, but he more often than not made the preceding play that allowed those plays.

Dynamic point guard Trevon Hughes should fill the gap left by Taylor's departure. Hughes clearly isn't lacking any confidence, something that all floor generals need to have. He also understands, as a former streetball player from Queens, how to create for himself and his teammates when the offense has stalled.

Hughes needs to bring better focus around what Ryan asks of him. His assist-to-turnover ratio right now is horrible, along with his field goal shooting percentage. Yet still, he undeniably is able to do things that only natural point guards were born to do. Watch him start at the top of the key and swing the ball around without looking. Notice how he dribbles around an entire mob of defenders with his blazing speed. He should end up becoming one of the best point guards in the conference as long as he cuts down his mistakes.

Next you have the shooter, Jason Bohannon. He simply has one of the best shots in the game. Matter of fact, when he shoots it becomes one of the rare occasions only when a shot is missed do Badger fans become shocked. At least once per game he will bury a three pointer at the Kohl Center that just ignites the crowd into hysteria.

We haven't really seen much more of his offensive game, yet, because of the duties he has been assigned by his coach. Last year's Mr. Basketball of Iowa clearly has many skills he can display when the time comes. What's certain is he doesn't cause turnovers or take bad shots, plus he makes sure his man is always guarding him and not help defending.

Getting help on defense is something forward Marcus Landry will have to get accustomed to. This future stud of the team is going to have big shoes to fill when Tucker hits the NBA hardwood next year. What ‘lil Tuck' has been able to do is score in ways that express his combination of skills. Against Michigan State he was the leading scorer for the Badgers and hit 4-6 three pointers.

He might not be able to step in right away as the unquestioned leader of the team, but neither did Tucker. This father of two children will always have the support of a future NBA player, brother Carl Landry. He should continue to better himself constantly.

Landry is someone who offensively is very explosive with his 6'7" and 215 pound frame. He's extremely athletic with a lightning quick first-step and quick off his feet. Makes jumpers and rejecting shots emphatically have become his signature moves. He might be able to make his post game similar Tucker's, only if he continues to work at it. When he's on the floor he has the look of someone who will take over a game in due time.

The numbers he has put up so far are barely noticeable other than his average of six points a game, but his playing time has been much different than most players. Last year he had to sit out all but the first 16 games of the season due to academic violations. This year his numbers only represent his accomplishments while playing 17 minutes a game. Give him some playing time and experience and he could make sure this program has no drop-off when the stars leave. Ryan certainly must think so, as in many games Landry is the first player off the bench.

All of these underclassmen aren't perfect. They need to especially work on their defense and mental mistakes. Though, next year, all of them will get more time on the court to work through those problems. They at least should feel confident that their coach will try and get them in there as much as possible. The future of the team is always on the mind of Ryan. Badger fans, make sure you keep it on your mind when think of Tuesday night.

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