MADISON - Ryan Evans burst onto the scene a year ago as a relatively raw and unheard of athlete out of Arizona.
Now, with another off-season under his belt, it seems Evans is poised for an even greater impact on the 2010-11 Badgers. If Saturday's scrimmage amongst his teammates was any indication, it looks as though Evans is focused on being more assertive with the basketball.
"Ryan is a gym rat," UW junior point guard Jordan Taylor said. "Ryan's in the gym every day. He's a guy who wants to come out and show what he's worked on and show what he can do. That's what I love about him. He's a competitor all the time and I think he's going to show that all year long."
Always considered an athlete, it seems Evans may have become more of a basketball player over the off-season. He looked more comfortable in the scrimmage than he had at any point a year ago.
He was doing things off the dribble, getting into passing lanes defensively and finishing (at times) above the rim. Should he come off the bench for Bo Ryan again this year, he would be a guy that could provide a spark for the offense at any given time.
Should he start, he will give Ryan a capable 'slasher' that the team hasn't really had over the past couple of seasons. Regardless, Evans will be a major factor for this team's success this season.
Behind Evans is Mike Bruesewitz, a savvy and aggressive frontcourt player that likes to get after loose balls. This year, Bruesewitz has a different look about him in the form of the afro look he's sporting.
"Unfortunately three wasps set up shop in there," Ryan said following the team's scrimmage. "So we've got to take him into the locker room. He doesn't realize there's a hive in there right now.
"It doesn't seem to bother him. He still plays hard."
During the minutes he received a season ago, it seemed anytime the Badgers logged an offensive rebound Bruesewitz had something to do with it. He's just got that knack that allows him to be around the ball at all times. He was doing that again during the scrimmage and he will be doing it all throughout the season.
He's a glue guy with a lot of upside both offensively and defensively. His role this season will be one that's much needed.
As far as other returning players go, it seems as though Jared Berggren may be in line for the biggest year of all. He looks stronger, he plays very aggressive and he's got the best looking shot from a Badger big man since Butch was in town.
With a relatively undersized frontcourt of Leuer and Nankivil, Berggren is going to get minutes and he's going to contribute for Ryan's Badgers this season. He gets after the boards both offensively and defensively and plays aggressive defense in the paint.
Of all the players that stood out during the scrimmage last Saturday afternoon, Berggren might have stood (no pun intended) above the rest. He will be a guy that gets minutes and a guy that makes the most of those minutes.
Then the Badgers have a couple of newcomers that looked capable. And really, with the lack of depth in the backcourt, the trio of Ben Brust, Duje Dukan and Josh Gasser will probably see plenty of action this season.
All three proved they are capable ball-handlers and all three proved they have a sweet stroke from downtown. While it's hard to gauge how the three are coming along defensively considering we've only seen them participate in one practice, the results that were shown that day are nonetheless encouraging.
Look for another basketball preview later in the day. UW's media day is set to take place Thursday afternoon.