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Wisconsin set to open season against Prairie View A&M

first_imgAfter dominating two exhibition games, Jordan Taylor and the Badgers begin their season against Prairie View A&M on Sunday.[/media-credit]After winning their two exhibition games by a combined 177-118, the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers are ready for some real basketball. That comes in the form of the Prairie View A&M Panthers, who come to the Kohl Center Sunday afternoon to open the 2010-11 season.In exhibition play, Wisconsin hosted UW-La Crosse and Minnesota State-Mankato, with the only negative result being the loss of guard/forward Rob Wilson, who tweaked his hamstring in the first half of the LaCrosse game. Head coach Bo Ryan was noncommittal about Wilson’s condition.“He’s just rehabbing and trying to get himself back,” Ryan said. “It’s more minutes for some other guys right now, though.”One of those guys could be senior guard Wquinton Smith, who received extended time in the two exhibition games. Against Mankato Wednesday night, Smith – a former walk-on at UW – scored six points and recorded five assists in 23 minutes. With guards Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon graduated and Wilson apparently missing some time, the door is open for Smith.“I’m just looking for guys that can get things done on both ends of the floor,” Ryan said. “Defensively, he’s very good. He guarded Trevon Hughes for a few years. What’s that tell you? Who’s going to shock or awe him out there on the court, guarding somebody”?A backcourt spot that is locked down for the Badgers is at the point, where junior guard Jordan Taylor is coming off a breakout season. Taylor began last season as a reserve guard, but saw more playing time after star forward Jon Leuer went down with a broken wrist Jan. 9 and Ryan went to a three-guard lineup. The Bloomington, Minn. native averaged 10.0 points, 3.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game. Taylor’s assist-to-turnover ratio was third in the nation at 3.03, and his decision-making quickly caught Ryan’s eye.“He’s a gritty competitor. He’s got to be a constant for us,” Ryan said. “The experience that he gained last year, that’s a valuable commodity, to have somebody with that kind of experience that he gained and he plans on using that to help the team.”While the backcourt may be unsettled at this point, Wisconsin’s frontcourt is returning last year’s starters in Leuer and Keaton Nankivil. Appearing in 24 games last season, Leuer led the team in both points and rebounds, with 15.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, respectively. Nankivil, meanwhile, was one of the Badgers’ most improved players last year, raising his scoring average from 4.5 points per game to 8.1 and rebounds from 2.5 per game to 4.7.“We’re starting to come together,” Leuer said. “We still feel like we have some things to improve on; defensively, especially, we want to get better in that aspect. Now, the real games start. It’s fun, it’s exciting, this is a good time of the year for us and we’re looking forward to getting the real games started.”Sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz rounds out the Badgers’ starting five, looking to expand on last year’s role as the energizer off the bench. Bruesewitz averaged only 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in 2009-10, but his defense and energetic mindset won him more playing time this year.“Man, is he active,” Ryan said. “He’s a live wire out there. You just love those kinds of guys who are not just doing stuff, getting in foul trouble or whatever. He’s a mixer, he’s a mixer.”Against the Panthers, the Badgers will look to continue their version of the swing offense that Ryan has patented in his 10 years at UW. This year, though, Wisconsin boasts some mobility, especially in big men Leuer, Nankivil, redshirt sophomore forward/center Jared Berggren and sophomore forward Ryan Evans.“Our offense is pretty much predicated on getting good looks at the basket and getting guys moving,” Taylor said. ” When you’re getting good, quality looks, you’re going to knock down shots against anybody.”last_img read more