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Lucas at Large: Breslin Center a baptism for Kaminsky

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Bloody but unbowed has been a cliche but apt metaphor for the Wisconsin-Michigan State series. Whenever these rivals meet, it seems, there's figuratively some blood spilt.

That doesn't include the occasional bad blood that has existed over the past decade.

After Thursday's slugfest, UW junior Jared Berggren was sporting five stitches under his chin. At one point, Berggren's blood had to be literally wiped off the court after the wound reopened.

Kaminsky_Frank_UWM_2011-12_Ament.jpgThere may be no better classroom in the Big Ten than the Breslin Center. After the 69-55 loss in East Lansing, Mich., Berggren conceded, "There's a lot to learn from."

Frank Kaminsky was in lockstep with Berggren's thinking.

"A game like this really teaches you what you need to improve on," said Kaminsky, the 6-foot-11, 230-pound freshman center from Lisle, Ill. "I'm going to take a lot away from this."

This was just another chapter in Kaminsky's orientation to the Big Ten. On this night, the teaching assistants were 6-9, 270-pound Derrick Nix and 6-10, 240-pound Adreian Payne.

"I learned how to fight back," Kaminsky said. "If they're pushing, you've got to push right back. You can't let down at any point in the game or they will take advantage of you.

"Everyone is big, everyone is strong. You have to neutralize their strength somehow. You've got to be smarter about the plays that you can go out there and make. That's what I'm learning right now."

There was one sequence where Nix was able to school Kaminsky on the low post. "They exploited me a little bit on defense," Kaminsky admitted. "I have to work harder."

Despite a baptism under fire to the raucous Izzone environment - not to mention dealing with MSU's imposing frontline, which also includes Draymond Green - Kaminsky did some good things.

While playing a Big Ten-high 12 minutes, Kaminsky grabbed a career-high six rebounds.

Speaking to the rebounding total which was split evenly (three each) between the offensive and defensive glass, UW associate head coach Greg Gard said, "I thought he was active that way."

Moreover, he noticed, "I don't think Frank was out of his element in any way."

On one possession, Gard said Kaminsky turned down a shot in transition that he needed to take. He also took a shot at the end of the clock when he could have kicked and gotten a better one.

His decision-making will improve with more experience, Gard implied.

But it's the physical part of the game that needs to be addressed during the off-season.

"Physically, he's adequate, but he's not where he needs to be," Gard said. "He needs another year of conditioning and weight lifting. He needs to change and reconfigure his body a little."

That's all part of getting a Big Ten education, particularly for a first-year player.

Nobody exposes you quicker than Michigan State, either.

"Enjoying and embracing the physical nature of the game is one thing that freshmen don't quite understand until they go through it a time or two," Gard said.

"Thursday's game will be a good reference point for Frank because now he has some understanding on why he needs to get stronger and the benefits that he can derive from it.

"We're so adamant about imposing your will and not backing down. That goes along with the fact we're always talking about playing physical without fouling; all the things that really good teams do.

"Maybe this knowledge will help him push through another set of squats in the weight room. Or maybe it will drive him to go a little harder when he's running the hill, whatever it may be."

Nix's steady development can be a case study for others in the conference. Since he weighed 340 pounds in high school, he has been reshaping his body. He's now down to 270.

Nix averaged only eight minutes of playing time his first two seasons with the Spartans. He's now up to 19, and he has become an integral contributor to the team's success around the rim.
    
What are the chances that the UW's Evan Anderson could play that role in the future? The 6-10, 260-pound Anderson, a redshirt freshman Eau Claire North, definitely has appealing size and strength.

"I think he's almost at the point where he can play right now and help," Gard said. "I really liked what I've seen. Not everything is perfect but he has a competitive fire about him.

"Evan has a little bit of a nasty edge. He just has to learn to polish up that nastiness to where he's not fouling all the time. But I don't see any reason why he can't come along the same path as Nix.

"He's a huge body and he loves to play physical. We need more of that."

During Wednesday night's practice at the Breslin Center, UW coach Bo Ryan was not satisfied with the work of his "bigs" so he pulled Anderson off the scout team and had him run with the starters.

"Some experience will do wonders for him," Gard said. "When he has been with me on the scout team, you can park him on the block and do some of the things Michigan State does (with Nix).

"There's no reason why he can't play for us down the road, if not sooner. He's never going to be light of foot or a leaper. But I see bigs across the country that aren't that way but they're effective.

"Hopefully we can get to the point with Evan where we can get him into the game for short spurts. It doesn't have to be eight minutes at a time - but a minute here and two minutes there."
   
That would apply, Gard suggested, "Whether he sinks or swims."

Which, he added, is the only way you learn how to swim.

Just ask Kaminsky who got his feet wet Thursday night in the shark tank.

Is Taylor still in the running for Big Ten Player of the Year?

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MBB_POY_sm.jpgAs the regular season winds down, the annual postseason award debates will ramp up all over college basketball. The Big Ten Player of the Year race is coming into focus, but the final six games could go a long way in deciding the winner.

As a preseason All-America and All-Big Ten selection, senior Jordan Taylor's name has been on the conference player of the year short list since November.

However, after seeing a dip in his scoring from last season, Taylor's name probably isn't at the top of anyone's list. But is it close?

Looking at the current player of the year lists from three writers who cover the Big Ten -- Sporting News' Mike DeCourcey, ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf  and BTN.com's Tom Dienhart -- each have Taylor third in the running behind Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Michigan State's Draymond Green.

That sounds fair considering the raw numbers during conference play:
• Sullinger (18.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg)
• Green (14.6 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.5 apg)
• Taylor (17.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.3 apg)

Perhaps the overall conference race will play as big of a factor as any in the player of the year voting.

If Wisconsin (which sits 1.0 game out of first place behind the Buckeyes and Spartans) can finish as Big Ten champions, it would be pretty hard to argue that any player is more valuable to his team's success than Taylor.

Taylor and the Badgers have two head-to-head opportunities with MSU and OSU to prove their worth. That starts Thursday in East Lansing.

Badgers arrive in Champaign

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After a four-hour bus ride filled with movies Columbiana and Orange County and Jimmy John's subs, the Badgers rolled into Champaign, Ill. Saturday afternoon in advance of Sunday's showdown with the No. 22 Fighting Illini.

Wisconsin practiced for about an hour and a half at Assembly Hall. Visit the Wisconsin Men's Basketball Team's page on Facebook for a photo gallery from practice.

Be sure to "Like" the page to get exclusive photos and updates sent to your Facebook wall.


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Badgers in the Pros Update

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The college basketball season has reached the midpoint of the season and the professional ranks are ramping up. Seems as good a time as any for an update on how former Badgers are doing.

Harris_Devin_Home_3.jpgThree former Wisconsin players call the NBA home right now: Devin Harris is in his seventh season in the NBA and second season with the Utah Jazz, while Jon Leuer (Milwaukee Bucks) and Greg Stiemsma (Boston Celtics) are in their rookie season.

Harris has started all nine games for the Jazz, who are 6-3 and currently riding a five-game winning streak. Harris is averaging 9.3 points and 4.4 assists per game.

Stiemsma has appeared in six games (one start) for the 4-4 Celtics. He made a splash with six blocks in his first-career game and followed it up with 13 points and seven rebounds in his first career start. The 6-11 center is averaging 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds and ranks sixth in the NBA with 2.2 blocks per game.

Leuer has found a comfortable home in Milwaukee, appearing in all nine games for the Bucks. He averages 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes off the bench. He is scheduled to make his first career start Thursday night against Detroit.

20111227_Wolves_Bucks_0180_web.jpgSeveral other Badgers names that will ring a bell are playing professionally overseas.

Marcus Landry recently signed with the Shanghai Sharks and is promptly making big shots.

Keaton Nankivil has a new hairdo in Germany, but still has his sweet stroke. Check out video of this game-winning shot.

Tim Jarmusz is also playing in Germany (Gotha) for the first-place BIG Oettinger Rockets (hope you speak German).










Badgers in the NBA
                        NBA Team           UW Yrs
Devin Harris       Utah Jazz            2002-04
Jon Leuer          Milwaukee Bucks 2008-11
Greg Stiemsma  Boston Celtics     2005-08

Current Badgers Overseas
                              UW Years    Country         Team
Jason Chappell        2003-07       Austria          Xion Dukes Klosterneuburg
Tim Jarmusz            2008-11      Germany        Gotha Rockets
Joe Krabbenhoft       2006-09      Greece          Panellinios G.S.
Marcus Landry         2006-09      China            Shanghai Sharks
Zach Morley            2004-05      Ukraine          Budivelnyk Kyiv
Keaton Nankivil       2008-11       Germany        Ratiopharm Ulm
Ray Nixon               2003-06      Japan            Hamamatsu-Higashi Mikawa
Kirk Penney            2000-03      Spain            Baloncesto Fuenlabrada
Kammron Taylor      2004-07       Cyprus          Keravnos
Alando Tucker        2003-07        Spain            Gran Canaria
Mike Wilkinson       2002-05        Russia          Lokomotiv Kuban

What if the NHL Badgers all played on the same team?

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When Kyle Turris and Joe Piskula skated in their first NHL games of the season this past week, it brought the number of Badgers in the NHL to 20 for the 2011-12 campaign. Twenty happens to be the normal number of players dressed for an NHL game.

With that in mind, we put together a possible line chart for the Wisconsin Badgers in the NHL. It isn't perfect as the team would go with no back-up goaltender, one forward short and would have two extra defensemen, but as long as Brian Elliott stayed healthy, the team would be fine. Perhaps Curtis Joseph could come out of retirement as an insurance policy.


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Do you think the team would make the NHL playoffs? Quick calculations shows the team has 64 goals and with the number of games played by all the skaters, would be averaging about 3.26 goals-per-game, which would rank fourth in the NHL. However, the 64 goal-total would be better than three NHL teams and right in the mix of many more.

Couple that with Brian Elliott, who leads the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage, and I think you'd have something there. What do you think?


Sauer, Johnson recognized

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Both Jeff Sauer and Mark Johnson are known for their hockey accomplishments, and will be recognized today in St. Paul, Minn., for their great contributions to hockey in the United States with the Lester Patrick Trophy. The story of Lester Patrick dates to the early 1900s and is worth a read.

Their hockey contributions are great, both with national and international championships on their resumes, but you'd be hard pressed to find better people. The two surely go hand-in-hand.

NHL.com: Lester Patrick Award a family affair for the Johnsons
NHL.com: Sauer has seen everything in his 40 years of coaching

Lucas at Large: Freshman Uthoff reminds Ryan of Gasser

Bo Ryan is not prone to hyperbole when discussing freshmen. So his words tend to carry more weight when the UW basketball coach does single out a first-year player as a potential contributor.

That was the case during last season's media day when Ryan volunteered a thumbnail sketch on the strengths of guard Josh Gasser, which clearly indicated that he had a chance to play right away.

Uthoff_practice_2.jpg"His knowledge of the game and court sense are really good; he's ahead of a lot of freshmen," he said at the time. "Josh can play. Josh is smart. Nothing seems to rattle him. That's what I like about him."

As it turned out, there was plenty to like about Gasser who scored 21 points in the season opener, started 30 of 34 games and produced the first triple-double in school history.

During Monday's media day, Ryan was asked about freshman Jarrod Uthoff, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward from Cedar Rapids, who was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Iowa.

"He'll play at the University of Wisconsin and he'll play early," Ryan said. "He's a player; better than expected. But don't tell him I said that. I think the other guys (freshmen) have a chance to play.

"I'm just saying that he's right now, kind of picking up things like Josh (Gasser) did last year. Coaches like good listeners and fast learners and I've never seen a more conscientious guy."

Earlier in the press conference, Ryan fielded a question on his expectations for UW's freshman class - Uthoff, George Marshall, Traevon Jackson, Frank Kaminsky and Jordan Smith - based on what he had seen already.
    
"Well, if you asked me last Tuesday, I could have given you an answer," Ryan said. "If you asked me yesterday, I could have given you an answer.

"You know what? After eight practices I could have given you eight different answers which is not unusual. But here's what I do like.

"They don't like to lose in the drills. If you come in second, you come in last. There are three teams of four or five guys and you go against each other; red, white and black jerseys.

"There are two teams that have to run, because only one team wins. It's pretty competitive. That's a good sign. If we don't have guys who are competing we're not going to get better."

The faces may change from class to class; the message never does to his freshmen.

"For the 40th time, since this is my 40th year of coaching," Ryan said. "You tell them on the first day that if you don't go hard against me, you are disrespectful to me.

"If I don't go hard at you every possession then I'm being disrespectful of you. We just tell guys, 'If you really want to accomplish something each and every day, try to beat the guy across you.

"Try to make sure you're making him work as hard as he can to get to the rim and to get a good shot and make him move his feet to stop you when you're on offense.'

"If you have those kinds of (competitive) drills, guys will develop."

The mere mention of player development struck a chord with Ryan, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame last weekend along with former Princeton coach Pete Carrill.
    
"I got goose bumps when Petey told me Saturday night that he doesn't watch a lot of teams on television but he watches us play," related Ryan.

"I said, 'Why, because we're slow?' He goes, 'No, because you move the ball and you play the way the game is supposed to be played.'

"I thought that was pretty nice. Here's a guy who's 81 years old and still working in the NBA and he actually had something nice say about our guys."

Ryan has always had the utmost respect for Carrill because "he was such a good teacher getting guys to understand their roles and how to play off each other."

Who does that sound like? Exactly.

After that brief detour, Ryan got back on point and concluded, "If these freshmen are competing, we have a chance to get better."

Butch and Stiemsma make Team USA roster for Pan Am Games

The official 12-man USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team was announced this week and former Badgers Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma both made the cut.

Butch_USA-300x400.jpgThe U.S. squad, comprised for the first time in Pan American Games history of NBA Development League players who are under contract to play in the NBA D-League in 2011-12, will continue training in Tulsa through Oct. 22 and will compete Oct. 26-30 in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Butch will be playing in his first competition since suffering a brutal knee injury 15 months ago. USA Basketball chronicled his comeback story here.

Since playing at UW, Stiemsma has spent time playing professionally in both the NBA-Development League and overseas.

The USA men were drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m. CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27 (8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m. CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 30.

Training camp for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team will held Oct. 14-22 at the Tulsa Convention Center. The 12-member USA Men's Pan American Games Team will be announced before the team departs for the Pan American Games competition in Mexico on Oct. 23.

Butch and Stiemsma reunite at USA Pan Am Games Training Camp

MADISON, Wis. -- Former Wisconsin big men Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma are two of 21 players that have accepted invitations to participate in the Oct. 14-22 USA Pan American Games Team training camp. The training camp will be utilized to select the USA's 12-man roster that will compete in the 2011 Pan American Games that are being held from Oct. 26-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Since leaving Wisconsin, Butch has played professionally overseas and enjoyed a successful stint in the NBA Developmental League that earned him a spot on the Denver Nuggets roster late in the 2010 season.

The Appleton, Wis., native missed all of last season after dislocating his knee in an NBA Summer League game in July of 2010. An All-Big Ten selection as a senior, Butch scored 1,115 career points and finished sixth in UW history for career rebounds.

Butch_Brian_PURDUE_07-08.jpgStiemsma has taken a similar path since his days in Madison, playing professionally in Europe, the NBA D-League as well as a call-up to the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010 and later a contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A native of Randolph, Wis., Stiemsma appeared in 95 games for the Badgers and currently ranks sixth in UW history for career blocks.

In addition to Butch and Stiemsma, the USA Pan American Games Team training camp is excepted to include:
Blake Ahearn (Missouri State '07)
Chris Daniels (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi '08)
Justin Dentmon (Washington '09)
Jerome Dyson (Connecticut '10)
Moses Ehambe (Oral Roberts '08)
Anthony Goods (Stanford '09)
Ron Howard (Valparaiso '06)
Marcus Lewis (Oral Roberts '09)
Leo Lyons (Missouri '09)
Renaldo Major (Fresno State '04)
Anthony Mason, Jr. (St. Johns '10)
Matt Rogers (Southwest Baptist '10)
Walker Russell (Jacksonville State '06)
Donald Sloan (Texas A&M '10)
Curtis Sumpter (Villanova '07)
Lance Thomas (Duke '10)
Curtis Withers (Charlotte '06)
Chris Wright (Dayton '11)
Luke Zeller (Notre Dame '09).

The Pan American Games, held every four years in the year prior to the Olympics, are being held Oct. 13-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The men's basketball competition, which features eight teams, is being conducted Oct. 26-30.

The USA men were drawn into Group B for the Pan American Games and are joined by national teams from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Competing in Group A are Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The U.S. men open preliminary round play Oct. 26 facing Dominican Republic (5:30 p.m. CDT), then face defending Pan American Games champion Brazil on Oct. 27 (8 p.m. CDT), and conclude preliminary play versus Uruguay (5:30 p.m. CDT) on Oct. 28. Semifinals action will be played Oct. 29, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 30.

Training camp for the 2011 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team will held Oct. 14-22 at the Tulsa Convention Center (Okla.). The 12-member USA Men's Pan American Games Team will be announced before the team departs Oct. 23.

Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts will serve as head coach for Team USA. The player and coaching staff selections were made by the USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Committee, approved by USA Basketball's Board of Directors and are subject to final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer.

The USA Basketball Pan American Games Committee is chaired by USA Basketball Men's National Team Director Sean Ford, and also comprised of 2000 Olympic gold medalist Steve Smith, NBA Development League Vice President of Basketball Operations & Player Personnel Chris Alpert, and NBA Development League consultant Gordon Chiesa.

Making sense of road TV, home video streams for Badger hockey

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I tried to put together a release about television for road games at North Dakota on Jan. 27-28 (Fox College Sports) and at Minnesota on March 2-3 (Fox Sports North), as well as the online streaming schedule for select Badger home games, but clearly explaining the streaming schedule is proving a challenging task.

Instead, I'm trying here in a more informal way to see if that works better.

So... there are four Badger home game streams available to anyone. Two of those are free at wpt.org/wisconsinchannel. They are Oct. 8 against Northern Michigan and Jan. 20 against Alaska Anchorage. The other two games, which involve both games of the Mercyhurst series Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 25-26), require a subscription at UWBadgers.com.

The remaining six streams will only be available to viewers residing outside the borders of Wisconsin and again require a subscription at UWBadgers.com. Please note the subscription auto renews, so unsubscribe when you are done watching games if you don't want to keep getting charged.

Why outside the state, you ask? That is because they are on TV inside the state. In the Madison area, they are either on WISC-TV or TVW. Outside the Madison area, Charter Extra will carry the games. Those games include North Dakota (Oct. 22), Nebraska Omaha (Oct. 29), Minnesota Duluth (Dec. 10), RIT (Jan. 7), Alaska Anchorage (Jan. 21) and St. Cloud State (Feb. 4).

What this means is that all 22 regular-season home games will either air on TV or be available via the web.

Hopefully that makes sense so far.

A few bonus nuggets. All of Coach Eaves' Monday news conferences, which begin next Monday at 12:30 p.m., as well as all postgame news conferences at the Kohl Center, stream live and for free at UWBadgers.com.

Many of Wisconsin's opponents stream their games live at Americaone.com. This year, that means streams for games at Bemidji State, Colorado College, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State should be available to watch.

I would suggest checking UWBadgers.com each week for possible changes to the schedule.

We will be posting a chart on the Web in the next week that should help keep you informed on where you can catch Badger hockey.
ON WISCONSIN