Four Badgers players decide to redshirt this season

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan has long
been a proponent of players making their own decisions when it comes to using a
redshirt year. This season is no different, and given the depth of talent on
the team, it’s no surprise four players have now announced their intention to

Freshman guard Riley Dearring became the latest Badgers
player to redshirt, announcing his decision on Sunday. Dearring joins teammates
Jordan Smith, Zak Showalter and Aaron Moesch as redshirt players in 2013-14.

Dearring, a Minnesota Mr. Basketball finalist in 2013,
averaged 19.2 points as a high school senior but would not have found much
playing time this season at Wisconsin in a crowded backcourt. Smith and
Showlater, both non-scholarship players this year, found themselves in a
similar scenario, as did Moesch at forward.

Ryan said the benefits of redshirting were numerous and
ultimately made the Badgers better down the road.

“If they have that fifth year in school, they would
much rather have a chance of playing on the court than maybe they would as
freshmen,” Ryan said Monday during his weekly news conference. “And
they’ve heard of other people doing it, not just here, but at other places.

“As long as they’re working hard as a redshirt on the
scout team, it makes our scout team better every year because those guys are
always loose. They get extra lifts in because they’re not playing in the games.
They get stronger, and they mature quite a bit. So to have them when they’re
23, 24, knowing that at probably 18, 19, they’re not going to get very many
minutes, if any, sometimes, it works out for everybody.”

Movin’ on up: Wisconsin shot up eight spots to No. 12 in the
latest Associated Press top 25 poll, released Monday. It is the highest the
Badgers have been in the poll since being ranked 11th in the Dec. 26, 2011
poll. UW also moved up four positions to No. 15 in the weekly coaches poll.

Wisconsin defeated then-No. 11 Florida 59-53 on Tuesday
night at the Kohl Center. The Badgers backed up that performance by topping
Green Bay 69-66 on the road.

Wisconsin (3-0) plays host to North Dakota (1-0) at 7 p.m.
Tuesday at the Kohl Center.

Koenig’s extended minutes: Badgers freshman guard Bronson
Koenig played his biggest role yet in a UW uniform during Wisconsin’s 69-66
victory against Green Bay on Saturday. He played 23 minutes and made all three
of his field goal attempts. Koenig finished with seven points, two assists and
one turnover.

“Bronson showed a lot of poise,” Ryan said.
“That was a good team we played in an environment that was pretty
electric. He was on the floor some against St. John’s, but he just has been proving in practice.

“You know, when he was on the scout team and he scored
like 10 straight baskets against the other guys, I thought it would be a good
idea maybe to move him over to our side rather than the far side.

“He’s got a lot of basketball skill, a lot of moxie, a
lot of just knows how to play and can get things done. He’s learning how to
play defense the way we need him to. So, yeah, I thought he handled himself
really well.”

Koenig’s minutes increase came partially as a result of
guard George Marshall missing Saturday’s game with a concussion he sustained
during Friday’s practice. Marshall’s status for Tuesday’s game is unknown.

“Medically, I don’t know anything that I didn’t know
yesterday, just that he wasn’t able to be out there,” Ryan said.
“When he does come back, he’ll be trying to contribute in any way he can
— defensively, offensively, shooting-wise. It’s pretty competitive there in
the backcourt. Can’t hiccup a lot.”

High praise: Ryan was asked which player had been the most
pleasant surprise on this year’s team, and he didn’t hesitate with a response:
freshman forward Nigel Hayes.

Hayes is averaging 14.7 minutes per game off the bench,
tallying 5.3 points and 1.0 rebounds. His 57.1 percent field goal rate (8 for
14) is the best among any player with more than three made shots.

“If you don’t appreciate what Nigel has given us, you
haven’t been around this game,” Ryan said. “If you can’t say that
he’s the one guy that, more so than anybody else, you’d have to say he has done things that maybe a lot of people
wouldn’t have expected.”

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