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12 Wisconsin The senior-laden Badgers again hope that experience can trump raw athletic talent


"The beauty of college basketball," says Wisconsin coach Dick
Bennett, "is the way it offers each team a chance to recruit the
kind of player who will make it successful." In his five years
with the Badgers, Bennett hasn't recruited the kind of athletes
who tend to make other teams successful, but, then, he hasn't
had to worry about his players leaving early for the NBA. As a
result, Wisconsin this season will feature the four members of
Bennett's first full recruiting class. "We came in together, and
we're all going to leave together," 6'8" senior center Andy
Kowske says. "You don't see that too much anymore."

Nor does one often see a team that went .500 in its conference
and was a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament reach the Final Four,
but that's what the Badgers did last spring. No one is giving
Wisconsin much of a chance to reprise that finish, but these
Badgers are every bit as good as last year's edition was. They
retain their top two scorers in Kowske and 6'9" forward Mark
Vershaw, as well as senior point guard Mike Kelley, whom Bennett
calls "the ideal, unselfish role player." Kelley made just six
three-pointers last season, but he set a single-season school
record for steals (95) and had the best ratio of assists (3.17
per game) to turnovers (0.97) in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin lost its two most prolific three-point shooters, Jon
Bryant and Duany Duany, but their replacements are experienced.
Sophomore Kirk Penney is a New Zealander who played for the Kiwis
at the Sydney Olympics, and sophomore Ricky Bower is a junior
college transfer who is coming off a two-year Mormon mission in
Poland. "We'll be a better offensive team this year," says
Bennett, who nonetheless will again rely on the Big Ten's best
defense to beat those teams with all the hotshot recruits. "I
still think a tough, smart junior or senior can play against a
very gifted freshman or sophomore."




SF Roy Boone 6'3" Sr. 6.1 ppg
PF [*]Mark Vershaw 6'9" Sr. 11.8 ppg
C [*]Andy Kowske 6'8" Sr. 6.2 rpg
SG Kirk Penney 6'5" So. 3.7 ppg
PG [*]Mike Kelley 6'3" Sr. 3.2 apg

1999-2000 record: 22-14 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 16
[*]Returning starter