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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of Summer Status

Just one week into September and football season, it already feels like the previous basketball season ended years ago.

Luckily a lull in groundbreaking Wisconsin basketball news came at a perfect time. It was a busy summer for me personally and changes are in the works regarding this blog as well. But when I rehash what people might have missed during the lazy summer, it turns out that a lot went down and most of it was good.

While the Big Ten collectively celebrated the return of many of its top players from the brink of the NBA Draft pool, other key pieces like Kevin Coble evaporated unexpectedly. Or in Chris Allen's case, not-so-unexpectedly. Meanwhile, UW said goodbye to two seniors and one non-contributor without any teeth-gnashing. That is especially great when you consider what was going on last year at this time.

Rather than the program kicking a couple kids off the team, recovering from a dramatic decommitment and sending Bo Ryan to coach Team USA, Wisconsin flew under the radar (except for this). A flurry of recruiting activity in June wrapped up nicely with Jarrod Uthoff's semi-surprising commitment in mid-July. What followed was a month of relative silence.

Though student-athletes typically get a couple of short breaks from class and teammates, an incredible amount of hard work is going on behind the scenes to prepare for the next season. Just ask the new freshmen. Or ask sophomore Ryan Evans if the hard work pays off. He was selected by Global Sports Academy for a team that toured Europe in August. Evans played well, even if it barely registered at all in the media.

However, one fellow who is no longer inconspicuous in any sense is Jon Leuer. A lot of praise was heaped on the 6'10" forward this summer as he impressed during his Team USA internship. That'll get you hyped as one of the top three players in your conference, although some draftniks over at Draft Express might be eating some crow based on how low they placed Leuer on their list of Big Ten draft prospects.

Leuer leads a six-man senior class heading into the fall semester as the program adjusts to one new assistant coach in light of Howard Moore's departure. But people forget that number could have doubled if Greg Gard had gotten the UW-Green Bay job in the spring (Ed. note: could have tripled really). Again, disaster averted.

So it's a good time to be optimistic about an even more enjoyable basketball season lurking behind the changing colors of the trees. We can even take a deep, relaxing breath knowing that the divisional realignment scare has passed ... I think.

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