November 9, 2010

Gasser could play major role

MADISON - As a freshman at Port Washington High School, he quickly made a name for himself as he led the Pirates to the Division II championship game.

Now a freshman guard for Bo Ryan's Badgers, it shouldn't take long for Wisconsin fans to become familiar with Josh Gasser either.

"He understands the game, he plays much more mature than his actual age, he makes good decisions, makes plays, he knows how to play, and he doesn't get rattled," assistant head coach Greg Gard said. "He plays like a 21- or 22-year-old that's been here for two or three years, not like a freshman that's only been on campus for three months."

As evidenced by his ability to lead a team as a high school freshman, and noted by Gard, Gasser plays beyond his years at point guard, something that players and coaches have quickly noticed about the 6-foot-3, 185-pound freshman since he arrived this summer.

Could that poise and confidence as a freshman result in more playing time for Gasser?

"Absolutely," Gard answered. "I don't think there's any doubt. We didn't recruit him to sit on the bench very long. So, he's been given an opportunity to show what he can do in practice, and he definitely hasn't disappointed. He's definitely shown what we thought he could do and the impact we thought he could have."

Gasser has already given fans a taste of what he can do in the Badgers' scrimmages earlier this month and Saturday's exhibition matchup against UW-La Crosse.

When the Badgers scrimmaged at the Field House back on Oct. 16, Gasser connected three times from beyond the arc, finishing with nine points and showing that he was not afraid to release the ball with a defender in his face. In 17 minutes of play during the Red-White Scrimmage, he tallied three points while dishing out two assists against one turnover while grabbing four rebounds and two steals.

In his first collegiate action against someone other than his Wisconsin teammates, Gasser was even more impressive. In 20 minutes, Gasser did not commit a turnover, while collecting four rebounds, one assist, and nine points on 3-of-6 shooting.

For fellow guards like Jordan Taylor, it was likely a relief Saturday to have Gasser on their side, rather than going up against him as they do every day in practice.

"He's a competitor," Taylor said. "He's a tough kid and just loves to compete, bang his head around and bang other people's heads around, too. He's given me a few headaches already.

"As he continues to get better and his confidence continues to grow, I think he could see a lot of minutes. I'm looking forward to it, I like playing with him and it's fun to play against him. He's a great competitor and a great teammate, so I'd love to be on the court with him at the same time."

Despite the hard work of trying to secure a major role on Ryan's squad, Gasser has enjoyed his time so far at Wisconsin, going so far as saying he, "Wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here." The biggest challenge and difference in adjusting to the collegiate level for Gasser has been the physicality and intensity of the game.

Based on the early results and reviews from his teammates and coaches, though, Gasser seems to be getting along just fine in the more physical competition with the Badgers.

While he looks to be putting himself in position to take on a major position within the Wisconsin rotation, Gasser is happy for now with any role that comes his way.

"Whatever they put me in, I'll do," Gasser said. "If I come off the bench for a few minutes here and there, I'm fine with that. If I play a bigger role, that would be fine as well. Whatever I need to do to help us win.

"I'm not expecting anything as far as a lot playing time, but I'm working at it. If that's what happens, it's what I want."


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