At the end of the 2012-13 season the Wisconsin Badgers said farewell to Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans, meaning that Bo Ryan needed some players to step in in the front court this season. One of those possibilities is 6-foot-11 junior Frank Kaminsky, who posted averages of 4.2 points and 1.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
Kaminsky was more productive in Wisconsin’s wins over St. John’s and Florida to start the season, and in the Badgers’ 69-66 win at Green Bay on Saturday night the big man put forth the best performance (statistically speaking) of his career. Kaminsky finished the game with a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds, and his block of a Keifer Sykes layup attempt with 4.3 seconds remaining preserved the Badger lead.
With starting guards Ben Brust, Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson combining to shoot 8-for-24 from the field Wisconsin needed someone to step up, especially when considering Sykes’ performance. Sykes scored a game-high 32 points, giving Wisconsin all they wanted and then some before his three-point attempt to tie the game as time expired fell short. Remove Sykes from the equation and the Phoenix shot 14-for-40 from the field and 1-for-10 from beyond the arc, with no other player scoring in double figures. So while the guard certainly put forth an impressive effort, Wisconsin was able to limit his teammates for much of the night.
On this night the unsung Badger who stepped up was Kaminsky, and the contributions of Sam Dekker (13 points, seven rebounds) and Bronson Koenig (seven points off the bench) shouldn’t be ignored either. But if Wisconsin is to contend in the Big Ten with the likes of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, they’re going to need more than just Dekker in the front court given the pieces those teams possess.
Will Kaminsky score 16 points every night? Probably not, and given the options Wisconsin has that’s OK. But they need him to be productive, and he certainly was against Green Bay after a solid performance against Florida on Tuesday (eight points, five rebounds and two blocks). If Kaminsky can build on tonight’s outing, Wisconsin will reap the rewards as the season wears on.