Visit Bucky's 5th Quarter Get fresh Badger content from me at Bucky's 5th Quarter.
Subscribe to the new RSS feed Subscribe to my RSS feed from the new site.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Badger Duo Wraps Up Summer League

In each of the past two seasons, a fifth-year senior has finished off a remarkable career in a Wisconsin uniform and embarked on a journey to the NBA. One was drafted in the first round and one was not drafted at all. Yet both Alando Tucker and Brian Butch have faced similar scrutiny regarding their skills and potential to contribute on the next level after college.

In both cases, the road began in the NBA's Summer League, where both players have suited up again this year. By Sunday night, the final games were in the books for each team.

Although he has been away from the fold for over a year now, Tucker is still trying to claim a foothold in the NBA. Sent back and forth between "the association" and the D-League more times than a utility infielder in baseball, Tucker flashed scoring ability in spades against lower levels of competition, but never crack the talented Phoenix lineup with the stingy Mike D'antoni at the helm. Who knows what the Suns can expect with Terry Porter now coaching, but some hope for 'Do to finally get his break.

The summer league numbers were, once again, promising. Tucker led the Suns in scoring four out of five games, including an impressive 24 points in less than 20 minutes of playing time in a win versus the Spurs.

He is obviously not passing the ball a lot (or well enough to get assists, that is) but his shooting percentages on 3-pointers (44%) and free throws (80%) jump off the page at you, earning him the label "Mr. Efficiency" from TrueHoop. Clearly, Tucker has enhanced his already considerable drive to improve himself. He will need that drive to prove he is not a one-dimensional player.

Meanwhile, Butch faces much steeper odds this time of year after going undrafted. The silver lining, of course is that Butch can workout for multiple teams that may see a need for the big man's shooting touch. First came summer ball with "O.J. Mayo's Team" (Memphis) in Las Vegas, where Butch posted meager numbers with two DNPs sprinkled in between. After five games and just over 28 total minutes played, Butch is still looking for his first 3-point bucket.

Because Butch played for Memphis, he appears to have relinquished his spot with Atlanta in the Rocky Mountain Revue league which just started over the weekend. Butch is not on a roster for that six-day league hosted by Utah.

Other players of note in the official NBA Summer League include Kyle Weaver (Charlotte), Jonte Flowers (Detroit), former UW-Milwaukee star Clay Tucker (Cleveland), and the newest members of the Milwaukee Bucks, Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

The "other" Tucker was solid for the Cavs though they lost all five games, but Flowers hardly saw the floor. Weaver's most impressive play and extended playing time came in his team's three losses.

As for Alexander, a modest start is a safe way to label his summer play so far. He showed a diversified skill set, but also suffered through a couple of tough shooting nights. It is too soon to judge him. Same goes for Mbah a Moute, whom I will refer to as LRMaM from now on. LrMaM put up some nice rebounding stats and chipped in some points as well. I hope I am wrong about that pick, especially in light of the latest "upgrades" to the Bucks roster. Who gets traded first: Mo Williams or Charlie Villanueva?

Free agent Matt Freije of Vanderbilt fame lit it up off the bench for Milwaukee's summer squad. With a glaring hole at PF for the Bucks, it's too bad the 6'10" Freije only weighs 240 and is allergic to rebounding.

: : :

- Sadly, Joe Krabbenhoft reaffirms his love of Minnesota sports [video]
- With Wisconsin scholarships full through 2010, 2011 will likely be the next big recruiting class for the Badgers. One region that is already loaded with top freshmen is Indiana. Both The Hoosier Scoop and Jody Demling comment on the rising stars, Marquis Teague in particular. Bo Ryan probably won't go into such hostile Big Ten territory, but with so many good players, he shouldn't rule it out.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

No Such Thing As Squeaky Clean

The Wisconsin men's basketball program prides itself on running a clean operation. Badger fans can usually rest assured that Bo Ryan will not stoop to unsavory levels to sign certain types of superstar athletes.

But even the best slip up at times, especially when the NCAA guidelines that universities must follow are occasionally outlandish and convoluted. That is why I found Andy Baggot's report on compliance in the UW Athletic Department interesting. While Wisconsin has avoided a major infraction since the infamous Shoebox scandal, the university has committed 35 secondary violations over the last 11 months.

Both the men's basketball and football teams at Wisconsin self-reported five secondary violations in that time. As you might expect, high-profile revenue-generating sports like football and basketball traditionally are more prone to transgressions across the country because of the cutthroat recruiting battlegrounds the coaches deal with.

As the print version of the Wisconsin State Journal column detailed, four of the five violations pertaining to the men's basketball team relate to recruiting in some way. Here are the five incidents, which serve to show how difficult it is to remain completely error-free in this realm:

*Dec. '07 - Impermissible contact with prospective student-athlete [NCAA]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible discount to student-athlete [NCAA 16.11.2]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible benefit to prospective student-athlete [NCAA 13.2.1]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible per diem [NCAA]
*Jan. '08 - Impermissible comments about a prospect by a student-athlete [NCAA]
The discounted merchandise incident was one of three violations singled out and acknowledged by the university. The impermissible contact with a recruit during an NCAA quiet period was identified as inadvertent.

Speaking of restricted "dead periods" there are two coming up this summer that coaches will have to abide by on the recruiting trail, including all of August. The on-and-off design of the summer evaluation schedule seems a little silly, but unfortunately, it's necessary. Unlike Wisconsin, many other programs would set up shop in a recruit's backyard if they could.

Coaching staffs are also prevented from seeing even their current players through much of the summer. This is when UW's strength and conditioning coach Scott Hettenbach earns his keep--part babysitter, part drill sergeant, part liaison. Now that Stiemsma has moved on, my guess is that Krabbenhoft holds down the stereo in the weight room. From what I've heard in the past, he prefers rap to hard rock or country.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

NBA Draft Aftermath

Back at last! Vacation time and other obligations coincided with a very slow news period for Wisconsin Badger basketball, luckily, but the NBA Draft is an event that I cannot let pass without comment.

The Milwaukee Bucks were major players this year and I loved the acquisition of Richard Jefferson. Sure, the team bailed on Yi too early, but RJ is an All-Star right now. One report says that Jefferson is upset about being sent to Milwaukee, which doesn't endear him to fans one bit. Personally, I have never cared for him much and viewed him as a cry baby at times. Regardless, clearing Bobby Simmons and his contract from the Bucks roster gets thumbs up from me on this trade.

New GM John Hammond continued to add pieces at small forward, however, with the addition of West Virginia's Joe Alexander with the eighth overall pick. Alexander was one of a few players I really liked for the Bucks at that spot, after he erased speculation about his athleticism in pre-draft workouts. His scoring and collegiate ability to raise his game on a big stage are both intriguing.

"Vanilla Sky" was a big hit on the Dan Patrick Show Monday morning [audio] and seemed to have a great personality. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel surveyed the critiques of Milwaukee's top pick, with generally good reviews.

I do not agree with the second-round pick (#37) of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. I like the idea behind it--getting a long-limbed, potential lock-down defender--but disagree with the execution. On a team that just added Jefferson and Alexander and already has Desmond Mason and Villanueva, when will Luc ever see the floor. Wouldn't Kyle Weaver have filled an even bigger need by putting a smart, defensive-minded player in the backcourt to aid Mo and Redd?

I think comparisons between Mbah a Moute and Bruce Bowen are far-fetched. Bowen is a huge success story; if LRMaM can add a deadly 3-point stroke, then I will gladly be dead wrong. The Bucks passed up opportunites to go big in the second round, with a player like Trent Plaisted or Hendrix, and now having glaring depth issues up front. The same goes for the backcourt, where Milwaukee must have been too content with Sessions and the poo-poo platter off the bench to go for Weaver.

Speaking of Weaver, he should have every opportunity to fit in with Charlotte. With Brian Butch going undrafted, Weaver was the closest thing to a local kid for Badger fans to root for at the 2008 NBA Draft. I am very pleased to see him do well and will keep rooting for Kyle. As for Butch, supposedly he will be playing in an NBA summer league with Atlanta. Jay Bilas feels going undrafted is the best route for a guy like Butch, who must find the right fit since he was not impressive on the pre-draft circuit.

Badger Accolades
Other than Butch's quest for the NBA, Wisconsin fans have had little to follow in recent weeks. However, the program and its leader each received a figurative shot in the arm recently. Head coach Bo Ryan was inducted into the Chester-area chapter of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, the Big Ten Network named the Wisconsin basketball team its Men's Team of the Year. [video]

- Adding Tyson Chandler as the top alternate for Team USA is good news. His rapport with Chris Paul could be just what the national team needs to solidify its thin frontcourt.
- featured a detailed write-up about the in-state talent at the Whiz Kids tourney on MSOE's campus last month, which included a rumor that the top prep player in Wisconsin from the Class of 2011, Larry Bradley, may be looking to transfer. I hope for UW's sake that he does not wind up at Milwaukee Bay View, which has seen several of its talented players struggle with academics.

Do you like the NCAA tournament's new 8-team "first-round" format?

What should Wisconsin do with the newly vacated scholarship?

Poll: Who will win the Big Ten?

Poll: Who was Wisconsin's first-half MVP (thru 16 games)?

Poll: How Many Regular Season games will wisconsin win in 2009-10?