Clearly, Andy North knew what he was doing in selecting his team for Sunday’s Red-White Scrimmage in front of a large crowd that filled much of the lower bowl at the Kohl Center.
Home court advantage may have had something to do with it as well.
The two-time U.S. Open winner, current ESPN golf analyst and longtime Wisconsin basketball enthusiast — who paid for the Badgers’ new home court prior to the 2008-09 season — coached his White squad to a 45-36 victory over the Steve Stricker-coached Red team.
While golfers North and Stricker coached his players, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan got the chance to provide color commentary during the radio broadcast of the game.
“It’s just a great opportunity,” Ryan said of the scrimmage. “If I could tell you how many people thanked us for doing this because they can’t get tickets to the games — that’s one of the main reasons (we do it).”
Although the game was tied four times, it was clear throughout that White was in control. North’s roster included senior guards Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes as well as junior forward Keaton Nankivil and redshirt freshman guard/forward Ryan Evans.
Nankivil led White with a game-high 13 points while shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. The Madison native also added seven rebounds.
Bohannon also scored in double digits for White, adding 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting and 2-for-3 on 3-point attempts. He also dished out a pair of assists.
The star of the game, however, was Evans.
Rocking a Fresh Prince-esque flat top hairstyle after sitting out all of the 2008-09 season, the Phoenix native stole the show with seven points and eight rebounds, including a pair of impressive dunks in the second half.
“I’m a little more old school at heart, so it’s something I like to do,” Evans said of his look. “Just being able to play with my team, being able to get out there and run, being able to see the floor again — it felt real good.”
North was happy to see success out of Evans for his White squad, as well as several other young players.
“Ryan played well, and he’s been playing well in practice,” North said. “It’s nice for people to see (Jared) Berggren and Ryan and some of the guys they haven’t had a chance to see.”
Evans’ eight rebounds were a game-high, an impressive statistic for a player listed at just 6-foot-6 going up against 7-footer Ian Markolf and the 6-foot-10 Berggren.
The rebounds came because of Evans’ effort on the court Sunday, something Ryan expects of all his players.
“Well, he’s here on scholarship to play basketball; why wouldn’t he hustle?” Ryan said of Evans. “That’s what our guys do. … He’s a guy that’s so raw, and I don’t know what it’s going to be like this year, but down the road, Ryan Evans has a great chance of contributing to the team.”
On the other side, Stricker’s Red squad was led by sophomore guards Rob Wilson and Jordan Taylor as well as juniors Tim Jarmusz and Jon Leuer at guard and forward, respectively.
And while the world’s No. 3 golfer was happy with the players on his roster, he was not around when the teams were chosen.
“It’s always tough to lose to Andy, but we didn’t get any calls — that’s what I’m going to blame it on,” Stricker said. “But he picked the team that he wanted to coach before I even got here, so I don’t think that’s too fair.”
Wilson, who was 4-of-11 from the field, including 2-for-3 from long distance en route to a team-high 10 points, led the Red team offensively.
Jarmusz, Berggren and Leuer also contributed to the Red offensive attack, adding seven, six and five points, respectively. Leuer and Jarmusz each added a three-pointer for Red, which went 4-for-11 from beyond the arc in the game.
Leuer struggled from the floor, though, hitting just 2-of-12 shots and 1-of-5 from three-point range. He still played 34 minutes in the game, tying Nankivil for a game high.
As a result of the loss, Stricker lost the bet between he and North.
“He just said you owe me dinner at the end,” Stricker said. “I don’t know how that worked, but it was a gas. We had a good time. Gary (Close) wanted me to call a play (but) I couldn’t pull the trigger; I couldn’t come up with anything.”
North’s coaching style was similar, but he argued it was his occasional insight that helped White come out on top.
“I just tried not to get a technical; I managed not to get a technical this year,” North said. “We talked over some strategy, (and) it worked out well, look at the scoreboard.”