MADISON - One of the toughest decisions a freshman has to make, whether it comes on the football field or basketball court, is grappling with the pros and cons of utilizing his redshirt season.
Usually these players come from the bonafide star at their respective high school without any applicable fathoming of what it's like to practice but not play. All of that is true for George Marshall, a freshman point guard on the Wisconsin basketball team.
Once Tuesday's practice concluded, BadgerBlitz.com had an opportunity to catch up with Marshall. The following is a question and answer with the Chicago-area native.
To start, how are things going now that you're halfway through your redshirt season?
Marshall: Things are going well. I think redshirting was the best option. Right now I feel a lot stronger. I put on some weight. Overall I'm playing well in practice so things are going well so far.
How much weight have you put on and where on your body has it gone? It looks like your upper body is pretty strong right now.
Marshall: Yeah, well I came in at 178 pounds and now I'm around 186 or 187 pounds. So I've put on eight or nine pounds.
Have you added quickness?
Marshall: Yeah, I'm definitely a lot quicker defensively, guarding guys and offensively, penetrating and getting past guys.
Going back to your decision to redshirt, did you struggle with that decision at all? Who did you talk with and who consoled you?
Marshall: I struggled with it a little bit, especially since I didn't think I would redshirt coming in. I just talked to a lot of people. I talked to Ryan Evans since he redshirted. I just got his take on it. I talked to Jordan Taylor and I talked to my parents. I talked to all the coaches and just from talking to all those guys I made the decision to redshirt. So far it's been a good decision.
Not to get too into this, but how have the opinions varied? I know you talked to Ryan and Jordan. How did that conversation compare from the players perspective with the coaches perspective? Did the coaches talk to you about the depth chart and maybe how they slotted you or how many minutes they thought you would get? Take me into those conversations a little bit.
Marshall: As far as the depth chart we had a decent amount of guards this year so my minutes weren't set in stone. The amount of minutes I would get were more so along the lines of maybe I would get this amount of minutes or maybe I wouldn't. I just didn't want to take that gamble of wasting a year.
What did the players say to you? Were they just giving you advice?
Marshall: Yeah, well Ryan thought it was the best decision for him when he redshirted. He said it benefited him a lot. Just talking to Jordan, he really didn't say redshirting was the best option and he didn't say playing was the best option. He was just kind of in the middle of things. He just had his little advice with what to do with either decision I would make.
So now that you get to go up against Jordan every day in practice how do you see your game improving?
Marshall: It's improving a lot. I'm just learning a lot of things from him. I'm seeing how he reads defenses and I'm just trying to incorporate a lot of the stuff that he does into my game and just go at him as hard as I can to try to make him better.
A lot of times people associate the point guard position with being a leader on the team. Do you try to pick up on what he does, as the senior on this team, being a preseason All-American and being as good as he is? Do you pick up on that kind of stuff?
Marshall: Yeah, definitely. I try to study the leadership type things he does. I'm just trying to pay real close attention to the little detail things he does as far as leadership. So yeah, I definitely pay attention to that stuff.
Kind of the other part of being a student athlete, how is school going?
Marshall: It's going good. The first semester went really well. I had good grades. Overall it went well.
Did it take you any time to find the balance between basketball and schoolwork? I know that's a pretty demanding schedule for you?
Marshall: Yeah, it was pretty demanding, but in high school I kind of got used to it. In high school my schedule was really, really demanding. I think stepping in to college wasn't really much of a big transition as far as time management.
Watching you in practice it seems as though you're pretty confident in your game. Where does that come from?
Marshall: I just think that comes from how I grew up playing and how confident I am in my own game. I always feel that I'm the best player on the floor, whoever I'm playing against or whoever I'm playing with. I think it's just confidence within myself and getting comfortable with the guys.
Obviously I know you're not playing in games, but it's pretty rare for a Bo Ryan coached team to lose three straight games. When I was watching practice tonight it seemed like you guys were having a good time. You didn't seem to be tight. Instead you guys seem to be loose and having fun. Do you think that's rare? I don't know if you've experienced a three-game losing streak in high school or not, but…
Marshall: Yeah, I don't know if it's rare. I high school I think I had a similar situation, but in practice we weren't really smiling. We took it really serious. I think now we're just keeping a positive attitude with things. But at the same time we know what we have to improve on. So I think we're just staying positive no matter what.
Does it get tough on gamedays for you? Obviously you're at practice all the time and you're working really hard. Then game day comes and you're in sweatpants.
Marshall: Definitely. Just watching games there would be so many situations where I say I wish I was out there. I can contribute this and I can contribute that. So yeah, it definitely gets tough on game days.
More so offensively, especially when you see them struggling? Or is it defensively?
Marshall: I would say both. Just guarding other good guards, other quick guards, led me to believe I can contribute both offensively and defensively as far as breaking guys down and getting easy shots for other guys on offense. I definitely think I can contribute on both ends.
Since you're on scout team do you have a favorite guy you've had the chance to imitate this year?
Marshall: I'd probably have to say Bo Spencer from Nebraska.
Are you just saying that because you have that coming up again?
Marshall: Well, I'm probably saying that because a couple of my best practices of the year was when I played his role. I think that has something to do with it.
I ask the football players this too, but when you're on scout team is it hard to show how you're improving with your game when you're trying to imitate someone else on the scout team?
Marshall: I think you've got to kind of imitate other guys, but at the same time you're still kind of showing your game even while imitating the other player. If things break down or if a play doesn't go as planned you know you've got to kind of react on your own instincts. I think it's a mixture of both, both imitating that person and at the same time showing your game.