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Friday, April 12, 2024
Duje Dukan

Duje Dukan has played a key role off the bench for Wisconsin, shooting 50 percent while averaging 23.4 minutes per game.

Men's Basketball: Breaking down the Badgers’ season so far

Last season, the Badgers used the same starting five of Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky in all 38 of the team’s games.

This season, the Badgers have used the same starting lineup in all seven games: Jackson, Gasser, Dekker and Kaminsky, along with last year’s Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, Nigel Hayes.

By moving from a three-guard, two-forward look to one featuring three forwards and two guards, it moves Dekker back into his more natural position at small forward and stressing out opponents’ frontcourts as the Badgers now have a ton of size.

Furthermore, while Brust’s departure should have marked a significant drop in 3-point shooting, particularly when you replace him in the starting lineup with a forward, Hayes’ improved 3-point shot has eased the transition. Hayes did not attempt a three last season, while this year, he is 5-14.

Another interesting lineup combination head coach Bo Ryan has put on the court has been Jackson, Dekker, Duje Dukan (more on him in a moment), Hayes and Kaminsky. With only one person on the court shorter than 6’8” (Jackson), the Badgers can trot out a lineup that rivals Kentucky in terms of length while still putting together a team of five jump shooters.

Last year in the Final Four against Kentucky, two key reserves stepped up in a big way when Jackson struggled with foul trouble and the Badger big men had trouble with Kentucky’s length: Dukan and Bronson Koenig.

This year, Dukan and Koenig have been excellent in spelling the starters, with Koenig sporting a sparkling 20:3 assist-to-turnover ratio while Dukan has been tremendous since returning from suspension, particularly in the Bahamas, where he averaged 10.7 points while going 6-11 from beyond the arc.

The ability for the Badgers to go seven-deep without losing much quality will be vital for the team’s sustained success.

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