Wisconsin point guard Josh Gasser’s 2012-13 season came to an end before it even began, as the expected starter suffered a season-ending knee injury in late October. With the rehab process being what it is, there were questions as to whether or not the redshirt junior would be cleared to take part in Wisconsin’s upcoming trip to Canada.
Badgers coach Bo Ryan said he expects Gasser, who missed the entire 2012-13 season after injuring his left knee, to play anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game in Canada. The Badgers will play five exhibition games on the trip, beginning Wednesday with a game against Carleton University in Ottawa.
Without Gasser on the floor last season the Badgers had to adjust, with Traevon Jackson and George Marshall taking over the primary ball-handler role that was expected to be handled by Gasser when the season began.
Jackson started 28 of Wisconsin’s 35 games, posting averages of 6.9 points and 2.8 assists per game for a team that reached the title game of the Big Ten tournament and won 23 games. The “trial by fire” that both he and Marshall experienced last season should only serve to benefit them, as well as Wisconsin as a whole, with Gasser back in the fold.
The trip to Canada comes at a good time for the Wisconsin program, as the Badgers have to account for the graduation of two of their top three scorers (forwards Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans) and a third senior in valuable “glue guy” Mike Bruesewitz.
That likely means more responsibility for players such as Ben Brust (11.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Sam Dekker (9.6, 3.4) and the rehabilitated Gasser in 2013-14. Wisconsin also adds five newcomers this season, with point guard Bronson Koenig and versatile forward Nigel Hayes being two of the additions.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.