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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Slight Redesign

I made some tweaks to the site this weekend, mostly notable adding the left-hand column. That enabled me to add the tag cloud that I never got around to adding before.

All the sidebar content should be easier to see and get to now. Yes, there are a couple of ads, but also a better site search tool and more fluid ways to share content via ShareThis. Next task would be a new header banner, but no promises. Any feedback is welcome!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Big Ten Schedule Officially Released

The 2009-10 Big Ten schedule was released today. With Wisconsin's full schedule now available, having only one true non-conference away game doesn't look so laughable since the Badgers will be on the road for four of the first six conference tilts. At first glance, Wisconsin looks like an 11-7 Big Ten team to me.

Under the new ticket plan, half-season student ticket holders will split up a nice slate of home contests with Duke, Marquette, Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois coming to the Herb Garden ... not to mention Ohio State and Michigan. As you probably know, Wisconsin plays Minnesota and Iowa once a piece this season. It would be nice to flip those venues (travel to Iowa City, stay at home for the Goofs), but oh well.

: : :

In yet another reminder of the fluid nature of recruiting analysis, try to find Evan Anderson in the updated Rivals150 for the Class of 2010.

Ha! You won't find him. Back in December, Wisconsin was lauded as having a top 10 recruiting class with both Anderson and Blue regarded as Top 40 prospects. As Anderson drifted off the list, Blue decommitted and other schools signed their own studs, the Badgers slipped off the national radar, joining Mike Tyson in Bolivion ...

: : :

Removed the following prospects from the recruiting sidebar:
: : : Class of 2010
SG Cameron Wright, Cleveland {Pittsburgh}
SG Jacob Thomas, Minneapolis

Negotiating With Gasser

Now that Wisconsin has finally offered a scholarship to 2010 Port Washington guard Josh Gasser, many are analyzing the motives behind this rare "5-for-4" deal.

While several other high-profile schools are dangling traditional full rides, UW is offering a walk-on spot to Gasser in year one, to be followed by four years on scholarship. This type of arrangement assumes a redshirt freshman season in 2010. Knowing they are in a tight spot with available scholarships, the Badgers are basically bargaining with Gasser with a token of good faith.

Only a few weeks ago, the best Bo Ryan could offer Gasser's family was a walk-on role, straight up. At the time, Wisconsin seemed to be in good shape to land either Vander Blue or Cameron Wright. I never bought into the theory that Wisconsin could have signed both -- the fact that UW is still only able to offer Gasser a walk-on spot next year seems to confirm my suspicions.

Fast forward back to the present. Wright is off the market. The Badgers are in contact with numerous high-level prospects for 2011, but do not seem to be close to landing any of them. There sits Gasser, who continued to improve throughout the summer and could fill a big need on the future roster with his ability to play either guard spot.

In my opinion, this strategy speaks just as much to the coaching staff's view of the 2011 class as it does the coaches' hopes of signing Blue for 2010. Yes, it's complicated -- just like most of the UW recruiting news over the last four months.

Blue is priority #1 and obviously the staff feels confident in their chances. Maybe even the "Defender of the Swing" Devin Harris knows something we don't. But Blue will not be a sure thing until he signs on the dotted line with someone. Bo could not afford to continue offering just a walk-on role to Gasser and expect to keep his interest.

The 5/4 deal was available immediately and if the Badgers were serious about landing Gasser, it should have been offered sooner in my opinion.

My hunch is that Wisconsin realized Gasser just might be as good or better than many of their prospects in the junior class. What's more, keeping Gasser at home is more realistic than stealing away a Chasson Randle-type from Purdue, Ohio State, Duke, et al. I would contend that vibes UW is getting from it's 2011 recruiting targets were the final push to up the ante with Gasser.

If Blue leaves the state school hanging, Gasser's offer should immediately balloon to a traditional full ride. But will that be soon enough for a talent of Gasser's caliber?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prospect Profile: Josh Gasser

Josh Gasser, PG
6'4" :: 195 lbs.
Class of 2010
Port Washington (WI) HS
AAU: Wisconsin Swing

Scout: 3 Stars * * * (#44 PG) Previous: 1 Star (PG) > 3 Stars
Rivals: 3 Stars (PG)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 89 (#49 PG) Previous: #54 PG

2010 Wisconsin Player of the Year (Gatorade)
2010 First Team All State (AP)
2010 First Team All-State (Div. 2, WBCA)
2010 First Team All-Area (Journal-Sentinel)
2009 Fourth Team All-State (AP)
2009 First Team All-State (Div. 2, WBCA)
2008 Honorable Mention All-State (AP)
2008 Third Team All-State (Journal-Sentinel)

Recent Press
6/19: UW recruit Gasser leads South to narrow win - WiSJ
6/17: Port Washington's Gasser eager for return to Madison -
2/23: UW basketball recruits have teams in hunt for conference titles - The Capital Times
2/9: Top candidates emerge for coveted Mr. Basketball award -
1/22: Cross-county split decision - Ozaukee Press
12/11: Senior guard gets well fast - JSOnline
12/2: Port boys survive rough road opener - Ozaukee Press
9/18: Northwestern basketball in hunt for top guard - Chicago Tribune
8/18: Wisconsin throws hat into recruiting ring for Port Washington's Gasser -

The Verbal
Pirates junior guard gives nod to Badgers - JSOnline (9/24/09)
Port Washington's Gasser commits to Badgers - (9/24/09)
Port Washington's Gasser gives verbal commitment to attend Wisconsin - (9/24/09)

The Hype
Arizona State, Maryland extend scholarship offers to Gasser - (7/29/09)
Quarter-guard - Purple Reign (7/9/09)
July 2009 Wisconsin Prospects Preview - NY2LA Sports (7/5/09)
NY2LA Sports Midwest Inside Dish - NY2LA Sports (5/5/08)

Interview: The Badger Hour - 100.5 FM ESPN Radio
Game: Port Washington at Nicolet (1/23/09) -
Game: Port Washington Basketball 06-07: Regional Finals (2/20/08) - YouTube

Senior: 2009-10 (Port) - JSOnline
Junior: 2008-09 (Port) - JSOnline
Sophomore: 2007-08 (Port) - JSOnline
Freshman: 2006-07 (Port) - JSOnline

Additional Info
2009-10 Schedule :: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel :: Ozaukee Press


Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Furlough

It has been well over a month since the last update here. I've sat on some of the recent summer topics, so let's review a few of the things I have not been posting about:

Football roundtable
I like sticking strictly to the hardwood, but I did participate in a Badger football preseason roundtable with some fellow UW bloggers. Part one covers the offense and part two covers the defense (part three is in the works as well). Check it out if you are so inclined. Special thanks to Duff Beach at On Wisconsin! for extending the invite and putting this together along with Adam Hoge of Bucky's 5th Quarter. All I have to say is ... I am waiting 'til next year for the gridders. And I mean that in a good way.

NBA Summer League
Marcus Landry made a name for himself in the NBA's Summer League by catching fire from long-range and generally making an impact with the Sacramento Kings. Cowbell Kingdom called him the most reliable outside shooter on the squad. Landry had nothing to lose and just might have earned a training camp spot.

The team didn't win much, but Landry shot 48.5% from the field and hit 10-of-24 from behind the arc in about 20 mpg. This in addition to a handful of block and rebounds--not bad for a non-drafted invitee, eh? [video interview]

On the other end of the spectrum, Joe Krabbenhoft got the invite to Portland's summer squad but barely got off the bench. Greg Stiemsma had one decent appearance with Memphis, but fared only slightly better than Krabby in terms of playing time.

Vander Blue attends summer school
The news that Madison prep hero Vander Blue was attending classes this summer seemed to renew hope that he may still be a Wisconsin lean. But the speculation is just that, as traditional western powers Arizona and UCLA are now very involved and on his list of three or four campuses to visit. Florida also appears to be a likely finalist for Blue's talents.

The senior-to-be continued to perform well on the grassroots scene despite skipping a few events to focus on his academics. Blue continues to play things close to the vest, as he should. As his grandfather stated, when Blue gets cleared to play D1 ball as a college freshman (hopefully with a good ACT score later this month and other fulfilled requirements) we will hear a lot more on this subject, starting in September most likely.

Cameron Wright now holds a slew of big-time offers of his own and should not be considered Plan B for the Badgers ... they would be fortunate to get either kid for 2010. The catch-22 is that the true "Plan Bs" are beginning to make their final decisions too and may be off the market if eith Blue or Wright spurns Bo at the last moment. Port Washington's Josh Gasser is getting ACC and Pac-10 offers at this point after being told he could walk on at Wisconsin. Players like Darren Tillman and Darryl Trayham have been mentioned in this class, but not repeatedly. Rather that scrambling for scraps, perhaps the program would hold the scholarship for 2011 (more below), especially if Diamond Taylor is a redshirt candidate this season.

U.S. falls short in World University Games
In July, Bo Ryan appeared to be cruising to the gold medal game of the World University Games, before his team collapsed against Russia in the fourth quarter. Team USA held a 10-point lead through much of the game and led by six with 2:30 left. Do you think that reopened some old wounds from last season for the coach?

Clemson's Trevor Booker went 0-for-4 from the free throw line, part of a 20-for-31 team performance in the semifinal game [box score]. After starring for most of the tournament, Penn State's Talor Battle shot 9% from the field. Sadly, Purdue's Robbie Hummel summed things up:

"We didn't give enough to win. Russia played harder than we did, and we didn't get some calls, but that's the way the game goes. It was a very tough loss, and we are all very disappointed."

Team USA settled for an anticlimactic victory over Israel to claim bronze in an extremely hostile environment. It would have been nice for Bo to grab the gold and get a little publicity nationwide for how he runs things here at Wisconsin. But considering how little these games were even covered (ESPN did not even run scores for the tourney until USA's loss), it's not a big deal. Though the Americans seemed destined for a rubber match with Serbia, the host Serbs wound up with the gold as many expected. At least Bo got to teach a coaching clinic while abroad.

I bet Bo wished he still had some of those WUG big men on his roster when he returned to Madison. Bo did work closely with Big Ten adversaries Battle, Hummel and Evan Turner, which I suppose could give him at least one additional nugget of insight when Wisconsin plays one of their teams this season. And in turn, Turner said he learned patience from the ordeal.

With such a deep team, the scoring and rebounding was very balanced in typical Wisconsin style. Individually, Team USA players excelled in two areas. West Virginia's De'Sean Butler and Battle were both in the top eight for 3PT% while Turner (#4) and Hummel (#10) both had great assist-turnover ratios for the tournament.

New recruiting targets emerge
Wisconsin has at least expressed interest in D.C.-area sophomore Darion Atkins. Atkins is a 6'7" center who probably projects as a forward at the collegiate level. It's possible the staff first caught wind of him as they kept tabs on Jeremy Glover, since Flint Hill played Atkins' Landon School team last season.

Darion Atkins, F - Rivals :: Scout :: stats

The talent in Ohio continues to capture the attention of Bo Ryan and his staff. The signing of Rob Wilson last year seemingly opened some connections in the state as several Class of 2011 guards have seen their names pop up in conjunction with UW's recruiting efforts.

Trey Burke, G - Rivals :: Scout :: ESPN :: stats
Trey Lewis, G -
Rivals :: ESPN :: stats
Traveon Jackson, G -
Rivals :: ESPN :: stats
Jakarr Sampson, F -
Rivals :: Scout :: ESPN :: stats

In addition, two guards from Rockford in the 2012 class, Austin Angel and Fred Van Vleet, are on the radar.

: : :

Removed the following prospects from the recruiting sidebar:
: : : Class of 2009
F Mike Bruesewitz, Minneapolis
SG Diamond Taylor, Chicago
SG Jeremy Glover, Oakton VA [+]
: : : Class of 2010
F Kyle Kelm, Randolph WI
: : : Class of 2011
G Nick Latzke, Minneapolis
PF Mike Shaw, Chicago [v]
F Wayne Blackshear, Chicago

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?