UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Gasser growing through ups and downs

Following Monday's practice, UW guard Josh Gasser grabbed a basketball and a retriever (Evan Anderson) and shot a series of jumpers from beyond the 3-point arc.

After making two out of his first four attempts from 3-point distance in the season opener, Gasser has made just one of his last 13 shots from beyond the arc.

Typical of his play so far, Gasser is confident that he will find his range soon.

"When you're only taking two or three outside shots a game making that first one is kind of crucial and that's what I've got to do,'' said Gasser, who has attempted only six 3-pointers over the last three games. "I've been struggling a little bit. But it will come back. I'm not worried about it.''

That's the type of attitude that has endeared Gasser to UW coach Bo Ryan, who has shown plenty of confidence in his true freshman. Gasser, a starter, is averaging the most minutes among Big Ten freshmen with 29 minutes of playing time per game.

So what has Gasser learned after his six-game exposure to college basketball?

"You have to think quickly - that's pretty much the main thing,'' said Gasser, who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds each of the past three years at Port Washington High School.

"Once you get the ball, you've got to go. You've got to be aggressive offensively. Even if you're struggling a little, you still have to make yourself a threat to help out Jon and Jordan.''

The reference was to Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, who are one-two in scoring. In fact, Leuer (18.2 points per game) and Taylor (13.2) are the only UW players averaging in double-digits.

"The scouting reports are focused on Jon and Jordan which obviously they should be,'' said Gasser, who's the third-leading scorer with a 9.2 average. "That leaves the rest of us more open.

"So when we get shots, we have to knock them down. When we get attacking lanes (to the basket), we have to take advantage of that, too.''

Like most first-year players, Gasser is adjusting to how each game is being officiated. "Some games they let you play a little bit and it's physical,'' he said. "Sometimes they call it a little tighter.''

The biggest adjustment for Gasser has come at the defensive end.

"Guys are so much quicker and stronger and athletic, so you can't take a play off and you always have to be alert,'' Gasser said. "Guards are crashing the boards hard so you have to find a body.''

That's one area where Gasser has excelled. He's averaging 5.5 rebounds.

Gasser's resolve will be put to the test Wednesday night against North Carolina State which features two very highly touted freshmen guards, 6-foot-5 Lorenzo Brown and 6-1 Ryan Harrow.

Brown leads the Wolfpack in points, minutes, assists and steals.

Gasser's learning curve will be accelerated. But he has been preparing for it.

That's why he was putting up those extra shots after Monday's practice.