Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bo changing recruiting philosophy?

When Bo Ryan took over the Badgers he was immediately successful despite having undersized teams. Bo was faced with playing a big goon (Jason Chappell, Dave Mader, Andreas Helmigk) or an undersized forward at center like Mike Wilkinson. While those early teams were successfull, they were over matched against teams with size. In the NCAA tourney, players like Marquis Estill (Kentucky), Chris Wilcox (Maryland) and Sean May (UNC) just destroyed UW. To be fair, those were great college players and they destroyed a lot of teams.
After those first few years it seemed Bo decided that in order to compete for a national championship he needed size and started recruiting size for size sake. Bo was lucky to have talented in state Bigs Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma commit to UW in the early years. Those teams with Butch and Stiemsma playing center are arguably his best teams. Not only did they have legit defense and scoring at the 5, but players like Alando Tucker were allowed to play their natural position (small forward), instead of having to bang inside at the 4.
Butch and Stiemsma were the right guys at the right time. It's hard for a school like UW to bring in talented bigs from out of state. Bo kept giving scholarships to bigs. Some worked out, and some did not. JP Gavinski, and Ian Markoff never developed. I still have hope for Evan Anderson, but he may end up in that category as well. Bo also had success with players like Leuer, Nankvil, and Berggren.
From about Bo's 4th year until last year he used most of his scholarships on bigs. He usually had only 4 true guards on scholarship each year until last year. Last year there was Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson, Gasser, Brust, Jackson and Marshall-6. The 2012-2013 team will be back down to 4, so was this an anomaly or the beginning of a new trend?
Based on the recruiting commitments for 2013, I am guessing trend. So far Bo has 3 guards committed for 2013- Koenig, Hill, and Dearring. This will mean that in 2013-14 UW will have 7 scholarship guards (if no one transfers). More than that, 4 of the 7 will be underclassmen.
The remaining 2 recruits for 2013 may be telling. If Bo lands 2 wings this team could be headed in another direction. Sam Decker is the only recruit for 2012, so no bigs for 2 recruiting cycles may signify a change. Are the Badgers headed for a 3 guard starting lineup as the norm?
Perhaps I am making something out of nothing here. UW has Berggren, and Kaminsky looks like he may be a great Badger for the next 3 years. Evan Anderson still has 3 years of eligibility to develop. Maybe Bo just isn't worried about his bigs. Just seems like a lot of guards coming in.

1 comment:

  1. You may be right. We have heard some recruits (such as Koenig) say that they are being told the program intends to "run" more. I suspect this is puffery, but maybe not.

    Still, I suspect that it is more random than purposeful. Bo is still going after quality bigs, he's just not landing them—or when he does land them, they aren't panning out. As you've noted in the past, Gavinsky was a top-100 recruit back in the day. And, when he signed, Evan Anderson was considered a top-20 recruit. It's also interesting every once in a while to look at the benches of Kansas and North Carolina and Duke. It's not unusual to see big guys sitting down at the end of the bench who never see the floor in their four years. The main problem, obviously, is that it's really hard to tell which 6'10" high school sophomores are going to develop the athleticism necessary to play college ball. A great example of this, actually, is Anthony Davis who didn't really develop into a player until the summer before his junior year in high school. Wisconsin offered him earlier than most other schools--Bo and his staff saw the talent before others--but then Davis truly exploded over that summer and Coach Cal swooped in. The point is that 12 months earlier (when many players his class were committing) no one had any idea that Anthony Davis would be the number 1 pick in the draft and a gold medalist just three years later.

    I long for those days of Butch and Steimsma tag teaming the center of Wisconsin's defense. Before the season starts I plan to post a long analysis of why we miss those guys so much. Short version: those teams were way, way better at defense than Bo's more recent teams, and combining Bo's sound no-risk defense with the size and natural shot-blocking menance of the Steimer was a special combo.