After missing the entire 2012-13 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee (he also damaged the meniscus and lateral collateral ligament), Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser returned to the court to play a key role for a team that reached the Final Four. Gasser posted averages of 8.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season, and his ability on the defensive end of the floor led to his being named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
It’s been said in the sports world that the second year removed from a torn ACL, even with the medical advances that have accelerated the rehabilitation process, is the one in which an athlete experiences the greatest amount of growth. That’s the hope in Madison with regards to Gasser, who’s healthy after undergoing hernia surgery in the spring and is getting used to playing without a cumbersome brace on his left knee.
Gasser discussed the process with Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal.
“It feels good,” Gasser said. “Throughout the whole season, I was shooting without it and I was doing some running without it. It’s just good to be out there and not have to worry about it. Mentally, I’ve got to kind of get confident again, similar to when I was coming back from my injury. Playing without it is just a whole different ballgame.
“But I definitely feel comfortable. I feel a little quicker, so I’m excited to work without it this summer.”
Wisconsin returns every major contributor from last season’s team with the exception of guard Ben Brust, who posted averages of 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 39.3% from beyond the arc (third in the Big Ten). With Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky being the expected leaders for the Badgers offensively and multiple supplementary options, Bo Ryan’s team is seen by many as the early favorite to win the Big Ten.
Having Gasser back at full strength will certainly help matters for Wisconsin, which will also look to not only return to the Final Four but also pick up the two wins they were unable to earn in Arlington, Texas back in April.