That was the last time the Wisconsin men’s basketball team played a ranked team on the road within the first two games of the season.
But, as all records are meant to be broken, the No. 22/20 Badgers (1-0) will travel to Gainesville, Fla., to take on the No. 10 Florida Gators (1-0) in their first road contest of the season Wednesday night.
The biggest questions for the Badgers will remain at the guard position, as young Wisconsin point guard George Marshall will most likely be assigned the task of guarding Florida’s star guard Kenny Boynton, an explosive scoring threat — he recorded 110-made three-point shots and was the fourth-leading scorer in the SEC in 2012-13 — and a senior leader on head coach Billy Donovan’s team.
With the questions still surrounding this Badger team amid the season-ending injury to veteran guard and defensive standout Josh Gasser, Marshall understands this early matchup offers his team an opportunity to show its talent against one of the country’s best.
“We could definitely make a statement with this game,” Marshall said. “We have a pretty experienced team so I feel like all the guys are ready. It’s definitely a positive to play against competition like [Florida] and an opportunity to get better against a great team.”
If there’s one thing Donovan has done in his time at Florida, especially during its national championship years, it is bring the defensive pressure. With athletic players across the roster, the Gators held their first opponent of the season, Alabama State, to just nine points at halftime.
“There will be some changing defense to try to get us to think on the fly,” assistant coach Lamont Paris said. “They’ll try to pressure us to get us out of our comfort level, not wild crazy pressure but they will press in full-court pickup and ball pressure pretty hard in the half court.”
It still remains to be seen what Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan will do with his lineup. Since it’s only the second game of the season, Ryan is still trying to find the rotation he wants in the starting lineup as well as the bench.
In the first game of the season against Southeastern Louisiana, Ryan started Marshall, Ben Brust, Ryan Evans, Frank Kaminsky and Jared Berggren. But, with Mike Bruesewitz showing he’s already strong enough to receive major minutes after a gruesome leg injury and highly-touted freshman Sam Dekker looking strong with eight points in his Badger debut, there’s a possibility Ryan may try a different look in his starting five facing a more fast-paced Florida attack.
Dekker and Donovan already know each other on a personal basis — Dekker played for Donovan on the USA men’s under-18 team this summer, although he was sidelined by an ankle injury for the majority of his time with the group.
But Dekker still left his impression on Donovan, who remarked to ESPN.com after the summer that the young player was “going to be terrific.”
So, maybe Ryan will end up asking Dekker for an insight into the brain of his next opponent on the opposite bench.
“Sam, being a coach’s son, he’s a listener,” Ryan said. “He takes it all in. And I’m sure he learned something from Billy as well as anybody else.”