Sunday, April 13, 2008

Redshirts

All this talk about Butch and Stiemsma has me thinking about the pros and cons of redshirting in college basketball. Certainly sometimes in works out. In Butch's case, we got more out of him as a 23-year-old senior than we would have as an 18-year-old freshman. And as you've read, I think Stiemsma could have been a similar case.

But what about guys who might never contribute, and redshirting just keeps them in the program for another year, tying up a scholarship? Let's take a look at the incoming recruiting classes under Bo.

2008 freshmen: Tim Jarmusz, Keaton Nankivil, Jon Leuer. None of them redshirted. Leuer played a lot early, not much late, but showed great potential. Jarmusz was solid in action late in the season. Nankivil hardly played at all, but should play a lot next year. Even though his body was ready to compete in the Big Ten, he was blocked by Butch and Stiemsma, and in my opinion should have redshirted this season.

2007 freshman: Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon, J.P. Gavinski. J-Bo played the most of the three, and had his moments. That team needed him, especially at the end of the season. Hughes had a nice game against Marquette, not much else, but he didn't seem like a redshirt candidate either. Gavinski redshirted, and right now I'm dubious that he'll make an impact on this program. But I thought the same thing as someone else I'll review here in a minute, and he turned into a contributor, and don't like it when guys get labeled "busts" early in their careers, so let's give him time.

2006 freshmen: Joe Krabbenhoft, Marcus Landry, Mickey Perry. Krabby and Landry played right away, Landry would have been an even bigger contributor if not for his academic problems. Perry redshirted and left early in his redshirt freshman season. My question is, why did it take him that long to come to the conclusion he wasn't going to get the playing time he was looking for? In any event, at least he moved on and freed up a scholarship, best of luck to him.

2005 freshmen: Greg Stiemsma, Michael Flowers, DeAaron Williams. Stiemer and Flowers played right away, and you know how I feel about the former's decision not to redshirt. Williams was an academic casualty. Had he stuck around I think he would have made an impact as a defender and hustle guy.

2004 freshmen: Brian Butch, Kammron Taylor (Zach Morley was a JC transfer). Butch redshirted, wise move. Kam didn't even though he was clearly lost out there and made no impact. Maybe he would have benefited from another year of seasoning.

2003 freshmen: Alando Tucker, Ray Nixon, Jason Chappell, Boo Wade, Marcettus McGee. McGee had problems and never made it to Madison. Wade contributed right off the bat, flamed out later, but his decision not to redshirt was a good one. Nixon was a young freshman and didn't play much, and could definitely have used another year. Tucker was ready to play right away, and eventually took an injury redshirt, but his decision was correct. J-Cheezy for some reason did not redshirt as a freshman and played about 15 minutes. He took an injury redshirt later, and while I lamented the fact he was tying up a scholarship, he eventually became a dependable player as a fifth-year senior. So there's hope for Gavinski.

In this fall's incoming class, you've got to think Jared Berggren and Jordan Taylor will play right away, Ian Markolf might be a project and redshirt candidate, and even if their offensive games are raw, Robert Wilson and Ryan Evans might see time as perimeter defenders.

The guys who redshirted as freshmen were Butch, Williams, Perry, and Gavinski. Hard to argue that redshirts work out for the best - one for four. But that one is so hard to ignore. Because of he redshirted, Butch had three productive years at UW (averaged 9.9 ppg as a sophomore), if not four (he played almost 10 minutes per game as a redshirt freshman, slightly less than what Stiemsma played as a senior) instead of two or three.

In basketball more than football, incoming recruits expect to play right away, and a pattern of redshirting probably works against a program. But there is merit in developing the right guys over a longer period of time. Emphasis on the right guys - if you made a recruiting mistake, get it out of your system ASAP. Wisconsin is not the kind of program that is going to attract the supremely talented one-and-done guys making a layover on their way to the NBA, so why not give them more time to grow?

What do you guys think?

4 comments:

Mr.Man said...

I think your line about "if you made a recruiting mistake, get it out of your system ASAP" is most schools' philosophy. Marquette certainly seems to operate that way. I can't think of the last time a kid redshirted there, but they've certainly had a fair amount of turnover. Most top tier schools seem to operate the same way. They'd rather have the scholarship back to try to hit on a different kid, so they encourage guys to leave.
My feeling is that Bo doesn't do that, often scouts kids based on long term potential, and thus is far more willing to have kids take a redshirt year. But he's been very clear that he leaves the decision up to the players themselves. Most kids who can earn high-level D-I scholarships are confident enough that they probably won't do it. Especially at the level Wisconsin is at now.

Also, I think I know why DeAaron Williams and Mickey Perry left when they did. They both left after first semester, after redshirting their first year, and both were supplanted in the depth chart by incoming freshman at the start of their second seasons. Williams by Krabby and Perry by Bohannon and Hughes. Sitting out a year, trying to get better, hoping you've made a good decision and will be able to play a fair amount, and then seeing incoming freshman kids outplay you in early season practices would be really frustrating. I could totally understand why that would make you want to leave.

I don't know what DeAaron is up to. I know Perry came off the bench for Dayton this season, averaging about 10-12 minutes a game for a team that almost made the tournament.

Will said...

Good detail, Tappa.

I agree, although it probably takes a good kid to handle the idea of sitting out for a year, simply because the majority of schools don't redshirt athletes in basketball.

What concerns me about the new improved relationship between the NBA and college basketball - as promoted during the championship week - is that Stern will get the min. age requirement raised to 20 in the next CBA. If that takes place, then I think the power schools (UNC, Duke, UCLA, etc.) will be able to attract even more blue chippers, making the idea of redshirting guys even better because that will help a school like UW remain a top 10/15 program.

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