MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin fans got their first look at the 2013-14 men's basketball team Saturday night at the Kohl Center as the Red team defeated the White team 67-65 in the annual Red and White Scrimmage.
Josh Gasser looks ready
After missing all of the 2012-13 season with an ACL injury, Josh Gasser returned to the Kohl Center in front of an announced crowd of 4,905.
"I was actually pretty nervous," Gasser admitted after the scrimmage. "I wasn't expecting to be nervous but I really was. It was just really fun to get out there and play in front of everybody. I've been looking forward to this moment for 11 months now, so I'm glad it finally came and it was fun."
Josh Gasser from Jon McNamara on Vimeo.Gasser certainly didn't make his emotions known as the redshirt junior scored 11 points and shot 4-for-6 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range in 26 minutes of action.
"I shot [45 percent] my sophomore year and I was feeling pretty confident because I thought I had developed my shot even more the next year to where I was going to knock it down every time I felt like," Gasser said of his three-point shooting. "I tried not to lose that at all - I still feel very confident with my shot - and when I get my legs under me, when I'm balanced then I'm just one of the 10 guys on this team that can shoot the three at a really high rate."
The 6-foot-3 guard also mentioned after the game that he didn't want to rely solely on the three-point shot, rather that he was going to try to get to the basket and earn trips to the free throw line while also getting his teammates involved.
"I feel head and shoulders above where I was [in Canada] mentally," Gasser said. "I'm ready to go for the season."
All in all, Gasser looked like he was in great shape and, barring any setbacks, he should be a big asset for the Badgers this season.
Zach Bohannon shines
In 26 minutes of playing time on Saturday night, senior forward Zach Bohannon had 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
"That was a pretty good performance by him to get the ball and make some plays," head coach Bo Ryan said of Bohannon's play. "Good shot fakes and he caught [Frank Kaminsky] a little anxious there. He's got more experience than everybody; he's old but tough."
Bohannon shot 2-for-4 from three-point range, which is something, along with his 6-foot-6 frame, that could help him see more playing time than he's seen in the past. After averaging just 4.7 minutes per game last season, a depleted and inexperienced frontcourt could lean on the Iowa native for some minutes in key situations this season.
His defense on Kaminsky also is reason to believe that Bohannon could be valuable to the Badgers this season as Kaminsky was just 7-for-19 in the scrimmage, including going 6-for-13 inside the paint.
Freshmen get their first Kohl Center experience
Bronson Koenig, a freshman point guard who figures to see his fair share of playing time this season, was in the starting lineup for the White team and played heavy minutes.
In fact, Koenig led all players with 33 minutes and was fairly effective in running the point the majority of the night. The La Crosse, Wis., native scored five points on 1-for-3 shooting from the field (1-for-2 from three-point) and recorded three assists and three turnovers in the process.
With the clock ticking down in the first half, Koenig brought the ball up the court and there appeared to be a communication issue between he and Sam Dekker as Dekker didn't get the ball until there was three seconds remaining and he had to settle for a contested fade-away three. The two seemed fine after the play and the team will certainly work on situations like that between now and the regular season.
Koenig returned to his usual self in the second half as he found Kaminsky off of a pick-and-roll with a no-look pass that found the big man for a layup and a foul that gave the Kohl Center crowd reason to cheer.
Freshmen forwards Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown combined for 11 points, six rebounds, and one blocked shot on the night. There appeared to be some spacing issues in the first half when the two were on the court together, but that didn't seem to bother Ryan.
"Those two have played together before and they were fine," Ryan said of Hayes and Brown. "They're going to be good players here and they're already showing some things in practice, and [in the scrimmage], that shows they're moving along."
As for the rest of the freshmen, Riley Dearring had three points on 1-for-5 shooting in 14 minutes of action and Jordan Hill had two points and one steal in 18 minutes. Aaron Moesch did not take a shot in his 11 minutes of playing time.
At the end of the day this was a learning experience for the freshman and both Ryan and Gasser agreed that it was more important for them to get the butterflies out of their stomachs by playing in front of the Kohl Center crowd for the first time.
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