Thursday, July 24, 2008

Keaton Nankivil

Keaton Nankivil could be the most important player in determining the success of the 2008-09 Wisconsin basketball team. It's not a stretch. Consider:

-Landry, J-Bo, and Hughes will handle increased scoring loads, the former from the inside and the latter from the outside.
-Krabby can lock down opponents' top perimeter scorers.
-All of these guys are good individual defenders.

But what about post defense? With Butch, Stiemsma, Chappell, et al providing solid play on the blocks in recent years, it has never been a concern. Yet as we sit here in July, it might be my top concern.

Landry has proven capable since he first started getting regular minutes, but he's never been relied on to score like this season. Jon Leuer is too slight to bang; it will be interesting to see what his body looks like come November. Kevin Gullikson can't be counted on. J.P. Gavinski doesn't seem likely to be ready. Incoming freshmen Jared Berggren and Ian Markolf are big dudes, but when was the last time we relied on a true freshman for anything important?

That leaves Nankivil. I think he's up for the task. Even in high school, he had the frame to bang with the big boys - 6-8, 245 pounds, well proportioned. In high school he blocked shots, but I don't think he's going to overpursue blocks as a collegian. My biggest concern for Nankivil as a defender is that he'll be foul-prone, taking over Stiemsma's role as the guy who picks up ticky-tack fouls.

The nice thing is, most of last year's top Big Ten post players have moved on: D.J. White, Shaun Pruitt, Othello Hunter, Kosta Koufos, Spencer Tollackson, Ekpe Udoh. Who's left? Goran Suton is good. Cyrus Tate is athletic. There's probably some promising incoming freshman big men, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

So even if Keaton can't get the job done just yet, or if he's often on the bench in foul trouble, it won't be the end of the world.

Aside from defense, Nankivil will average 4-5 rebounds and 3-4 points per game, which will be just fine given the personnel around him. Long-term, like most of the other guys who are making their way through our program, the kid is a winner, and a solid student and citizen who will represnt the state and the university well.


Mr.Man said...

Alas, Ohio State has the top center prospect in the nation coming in, another presumed one-and-done guy named BJ Mullens.

Edward said...

I've heard ESPN talking about that Mullens some. I don't know, he might be good, but he might be another Koufos. Don't forget Koufos was a 5 star recruit and a big deal too, and while he had a pretty good year, I wouldn't be scared out of myy wits by 13 points 6 rebounds for one year. If that Mullens is even decent, he'll go the NBA agfter one year. How long can Matta recruit these One and Dones without Ohio state suffering for it.

Edward said...

I think Nankivil will be ok. I have no doubt he can be low-post muscle. Hopefully he'll shjow some Wilkerson-like shooting ability and post-moves as a Soph.

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