Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW debuts against EA Sports All-Stars

Mike Giefer, Senior Sports Writer

The 2003-04 Wisconsin men’s basketball team unofficially opened up its season with two players picking up where they left off last year, two newcomers playing like they had been there before, and two potentially dominant players watching in street clothes from the bench.

After a relatively slow start in the game’s opening five minutes, the Badgers exploded offensively for a 103-81 win over the EA Sports Midwest All-Stars in Wisconsin’s first exhibition game at the Kohl Center Saturday night.


Junior forward Mike Wilkinson led all scorers, notching 24 points to go along with eight rebounds, while beating EA Sports both on the perimeter and in the paint.

Devin Harris, the coaches’ pick for Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, was easily the most athletic player on the floor, posting 21 points and adding 10 assists.

And while the performance of these two returning starters was probably expected, the play of two new Badgers was the most promising aspect of the game.

Kammron Taylor, the freshman guard from Minneapolis, scored 16 points on four of six shooting from three-point range while junior college transfer Zach Morley added seven points.

“The two new guys gave us a boost,” head coach Bo Ryan said after the game. “They certainly did not look like they were on the floor for the first time in their life.”

Taylor and the 6-foot-8 Morley will be asked to play a big role early in the season with the injuries to sophomores Alando Tucker and Boo Wade expected to sideline them at least until mid-December.

Tucker and Wade were joined on the bench by Wisconsin’s prize recruit Brian Butch, who is still pondering the decision to redshirt his freshman season.

The 6-foot-11 forward from Appleton would have lost his opportunity to redshirt had he played in Saturday night’s exhibition game.

Ryan, who grew visibly irritated following the game after several questions on the status of Butch, doesn’t agree with the NCAA’s policy that playing in an exhibition game forfeits a player’s decision to redshirt.

“If it doesn’t count on the record, why shouldn’t exhibition games be a chance for a student-athlete to figure out whether or not he is physically, mentally (ready), if he’s going to redshirt or not, so he can judge his progress,” Ryan commented.

Butch, whose weight fell close to 200 pounds over the summer, is questioning whether he is physically ready to play at the collegiate level.

Sophomore Andreas Helmigk scored 11 points, and Ray Nixon and Freddie Owens added eight points and seven points, respectively.

The Badgers shot 50 percent from the field on the night, including 13-26 from beyond the arch. Wisconsin out-rebounded EA Sports 44-23 while grabbing 18 offensive boards, including seven from junior walk-on Clayton Hanson.

Wisconsin’s size, however, appeared to be the only glaring concern as the Badgers approach the regular season.

Though hardly fatal, the Badgers were outscored in the paint by a team who spent most of the night taking shots around the perimeter.

With the absence of Tucker until mid to late December and the possibility of Butch redshirting, the Badgers again will be forced to compensate for their size with athleticism underneath. Wilkinson, Helmigk and Morley, none of whom are taller than 6-foot-9, will be asked to pick up much of this burden.

EA Sports head coach Price Johnson said Wisconsin was the best of the five teams they have played this year (a list that includes Kansas and Texas Tech) and applauded Ryan for the discipline and patience that the Badgers exuberated throughout the night.

Johnson also referred to Harris as “the best guard we’ve faced this year.”

An announced sell-out crowd of 17,142 greeted the Badgers at their first game since losing to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen last March.

Next, Wisconsin hosts an NBDL team November 17 in their final exhibition game of the year.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *