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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trevon's Team

In Bo Ryan's first eight seasons at Wisconsin he never had the same full-time starting point guard three years in a row. Now, in his ninth season as head coach, he has senior Trevon Hughes.

Remember that even though Devin Harris started as a freshman, Travon Davis was the starting point guard in Bo's first season. So Hughes, the kid from Queens, has bragging rights among Badgers in the Ryan era.

The 2009-10 Badgers have some good things going for them and Hughes is chief among those. But this year's team also has the burden of answering a lot of questions about it's own identity and whether last year's struggles were just bumps in the road or an indication of things to come.

When Hughes burst onto the scene as a sophomore, some fans saw him destined for the NBA; as his career unfolded, others blamed him for everything that went wrong for the Badgers. Hughes probably has been one of the more polarizing talents in recent memory.

Here what we know: Hughes will finish his career in Wisconsin's Top 10 all-time in steals and assists. He has been honorable mention All-Big Ten the last two seasons. Last season he posted career highs in minutes, 3-pt FG and FT percentage, assists, points and rebounds per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio has improved significantly.

In his second year as a starter, Hughes developed the knack for the big play, as his game-winning shots in the final seconds beat both Virginia Tech and Florida State last year. His teammates call him Pop, but you can call him the "ACC Killer." (Duke even brought in it's next point guard a year early to prepare for Hughes).

There is room for improvement, no question. Hughes must improve his shooting from the dreadful 34.4% mark (32% on threes) he posted in Big Ten play last season. He needs to be more vigilant in probing the defense, especially when the team looks to him to create as the shot clock winds down. Too often in the past two seasons, we have watched Hughes milk the clock before firing a bad 3-pointer. Those shots kill his shooting percentages and do not tax the opposing defense. Wisconsin will also need Hughes to play his best defense consistently.

Maybe most importantly, the coaches are expecting more leadership out of their senior guards. Hughes has learned how to be a leader from both Joe Krabbenhoft and Alando Tucker. He said he is up to the challenge.

"That's part of being the point guard; it comes with the territory," Hughes said on Media Day. "Joe was more outspoken and I like to lead by example. The team always looks to the point guard so I have to be on top of my game each and every day. I need to be more vocal."

On the court, Hughes led his team last year by pacing the Badgers in scoring 11 times. Only 13 times was a player other than Hughes or Marcus Landry (10x) the leading scorer. With Landry gone, you know teammates will be expecting Pop to lead the way again.

Bo Ryan runs the show off the court, but between the lines the proverbial buck stops with Hughes. It's his team and his time.

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To see more of Hughes' career accomplishments, check out these resources:
Wisconsin Basketball 2009-10 Prospectus [pdf]
Wisconsin Men's Basketball Record Book [pdf]

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