LOS ANGELES — No. 1 Wisconsin’s 67-62 loss at Rutgers in mid-January was a notable result for multiple reasons. First, there was the matter that the Scarlet Knights didn’t win a single conference game from that point forward. Also of note from that Sunday night in New Jersey was the fact that Bo Ryan’s team was hit hard by the injury bug.
Frank Kaminsky was sidelined due to a concussion, and senior point guard Traevon Jackson broke a bone in his right foot in the second half due to an awkward landing after challenging a shot. Jackson hasn’t played since that game, and on Wednesday he stated that he’s going to return to the court Thursday night when the Badgers take on No. 4 North Carolina in Los Angeles.
“I’m sure there will be some nerves,” Jackson said. “Other than that, it should be fine. I’ve been playing this game for too long to have nervousness on the court. It’s a joy to be back on the court.”
Since Jackson went down with the injury sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig’s moved into the starting role and has played well for the Badgers. In the 19 games Wisconsin’s played since Jackson injured his foot (team record: 18-1), Koenig’s averaged 12.0 points, 2.6 assists and 1.2 turnovers per contest. With Wisconsin having multiple players capable of setting up teammates within their offense via the pass, the assists tend to be spread out rather evenly.
Jackson averages a team-high 2.9 assists per game, with three other players (Koenig, Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes) averaging at least 2.1 per contest. The question ahead of Thursday’s contest is just how much Jackson will play, and whether or not it will be as a starter or reserve.
Jackson did participate in the team’s open practice, but head coach Bo Ryan said it remains to be seen what his senior guard would be capable of in a full contact situation before knowing how much he’ll play. And he didn’t sound too worried about Jackson either.
“We’ll see what he gets in today, but you don’t see me agonizing over it,” Ryan said during his press conference. “But if he’s physically capable of being on the court, he deserves some time because I’m going to reward him for working so hard in the rehab and getting back because he deserves it.
“Now how many possessions or how many trips up and down the court, that remains to be seen. But no one is agonizing about it over here.”