Lucas at Large: Henderson hard for Badgers to ignore

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KANSAS CITY -- Neither Zak Showalter nor Jordan Smith had ever been "pulled'' before for not "pulling it,'' or shooting it enough, on Wisconsin's scout team.

But that was the consequence for making the extra pass or taking a higher quality shot while simulating Mississippi's top gun Marshall Henderson here Wednesday.

Showalter and Smith took turns as Henderson.

"I think they're both a little gun-shy,'' observed UW associate head coach Greg Gard, who's in charge of the scouting report on Ole Miss. "But they just have to let it fly.''

Throughout the practice in the Rockhurst University gym, Gard exhorted Showalter and Smith to "move, move, move'' and to "take it'' to "pull it'' from all angles and depth.

"I've never played like that before,'' said Showalter, a freshman from Germantown, Wis. "I got pulled out for passing it even though we scored. That's something different.''

In using screens and freeing himself up for shot opportunities, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Henderson has shown a non-stop motor -- making him difficult to defend or copy.

"I've just been running everywhere,'' Showalter said. "It's been fun, but it's been just chaotic basically. He runs in millions of circles all game so that's what I've been trying to do."

Gard rotated Showalter and Smith in the Henderson role "so they can stay fresh and get a little more speed off their cuts'' because Ole Miss is always looking to get him open.

"I love shooting, everybody loves shooting, it's a dream job for a scout guy,'' said Smith, a sophomore from Orono, Minn. "But you have to run off a lot of screens.''

You also need a special mindset. "He (Henderson) thinks he can make everything he shoots,'' Smith added. "That's how you have to play if you're going to be him.''

In 34 games, Henderson has taken 507 shots. Or 139 more than anybody else on his team. Or 150 more than Ryan Evans, who leads Wisconsin in field goal attempts.

"I took 25 shots once in a game,'' Smith said. "But I think that's about what he (Henderson) takes on average. That's crazy. But it's fun to emulate him.''

Actually, he's averaging about 15 per game with a high of 23. It just seems like he's taking every shot that goes up for Ole Miss because he's such a focal point of the offense.

Here's more perspective: Henderson has taken 367 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Or 273 more than any of his teammates. Or 173 more than Wisconsin's Ben Brust.

Henderson has made 131 triples. Brust and Sam Dekker have combined for 125.

"I like his confidence in his game,'' Showalter said of Henderson. "He can miss six shots in a row and he'll just keep shooting it. He shoots to get hot and shoots to stay hot.

"He's going to get his shots up no matter what. There's nothing that's going to keep him from doing that. So I've been trying to do that all week in practice.''

Henderson is more than just a shooter; there's much more to his success.

"The biggest thing is how hard he plays,'' Gard said. "I know a lot has been made of his theatrics but he understands how to play and he makes so many plays for his team.

"He'll come off a screen and draw help and have guys running at him and he'll be finding the open guy. His court awareness is really good, and you don't want to foul him.''

Henderson is an 88-percent shooter from the foul line. He has attempted 183 free throws. Or 38 more than Evans, who has gotten to the stripe the most for the Badgers.

"He (Henderson) really sets guys up and baits people into fouling him,'' Gard said. "He'll get a defender out of position and if you rise out of your stance, he'll dribble into you.

"He's good at acting, too. He'll fall down and kick his foot out -- things that we've seen other guys do. You just try to warn your defenders that you can't get too close.''

But you still have to close out on the shooter, Henderson. The Badgers will use a rotation of defenders, ranging from Brust to Mike Bruesewitz to Evans.

"That's what we've done with good shooters all year,'' said Gard.

Bruesewitz, in particular, has usually drawn the assignment of guarding the opposing team's No. 1 threat, whether it has been Illinois' Brandon Paul or Indiana's Victor Oladipo.

At 6-6, 223-pounds, Bruesewitz brings more size to close-outs than perhaps Henderson is accustomed to seeing. But Bruesewitz is not as quick as Brust; not even close.

Henderson has drawn comparisons to former Michigan State guard Drew Neitzel.

"Only he's a little faster than Neitzel,'' Gard said. "They spread the floor for him and he changes directions on screens so well. He's flying off things.

"And he can make a lot of things happen beyond just shooting the ball. If you make one little mistake now it opens up an alley for him to attack (the rim) too.''

Henderson has come under attack for his showboating and flamboyance. He angered Florida fans with a "Gator Chomp'' and he has a "Land Shark'' hand wiggle after making 3s.

"It looks like he's having fun,'' said Gard, who then cut to the chase. "He's a very good player. He plays hard and he makes a lot of shots.''

Because of his volume of shots, Gard didn't have any trouble recruiting volunteers to simulate Henderson on the scout team, either. "Everybody wants to be him,'' he said.

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