Badgers news: The value of having Connor Essegian off the bench

The Wisconsin Badgers are set to kick off their 2023-2024 season with a house matchup towards the Arkansas State Pink Wolves on Monday, which prefaces a troublesome contest towards the No. 9 Tennessee Volunters on Friday on the Kohl Heart.

Nevertheless, followers obtained a primary take a look at the new-look Badgers throughout an exhibition match final week, the place Wisconsin defeated UW-Stevens Level 87-44 on the Kohl Heart.

The storyline of the exhibition sport was switch A.J. Storr, who led the staff with 14 factors as a starter.

However, one other main storyline was the participant he changed: guard Connor Essegian, who has been relegated to the sixth-man position this season, with Chucky Hepburn, Max Klesmit, Tyler Wahl, Steven Crowl, and Storr beginning for the Badgers.

Essegian, the staff’s second-leading scorer in 2023 and a high three-point shooter, served as a wing in a shorter lineup final season that featured three gamers standing at 6’4 or smaller.

With Storr’s arrival in Madison, Essegian has turn out to be the odd man out, however may it’s a superb factor for Wisconsin?

Final season, the Badgers lacked scoring off the bench, main head coach Greg Gard to shorten his rotation earlier within the season to seven or eight gamers, highlighting his high 5 to a larger extent.

This yr, the Badgers have two “microwave” choices, or scorers that may create their very own pictures at will, alongside the wings in Essegian and Storr, which is why it is smart to stagger their minutes, offering extra pictures throughout the board and maintaining a high-profile choice to lean on with the second unit.

Head coach Greg Gard acknowledged the worth of getting Essegian off the bench, pointing to the significance of a superb scoring punch off the bench and the flexibility it offers with lineups.

“I believe it provides us a superb weapon,” Gard stated about Essegian coming off the bench. “I believe the actually good groups I’ve been on, I’ve had a scoring punch off the bench. So for him, I believe it’s a superb time for him to come back in and get in a rhythm and we are able to play with completely different combos.”

Has something modified with Essegian’s method?

If something, it’s allowed him to play extra free, as there are ample scoring alternatives with the second unit, whereas Gard continues to be trusting the capturing guard with the inexperienced mild.

“With him, as I did tonight, he’s not bashful, that’s for positive, however he’s a kind of guys that you just let him shoot it if he thinks he’s confirmed it sufficient,” Gard stated about Essegian.

“His numbers in apply are actually good, too. He’s within the 40s for the quantity he takes from three. To shoot it at that stage in stay motion is nice. So, yeah, if he likes it, he’s obtained the inexperienced mild to shoot it proper up right here.”

Now, the largest query relating to Essegian is whether or not he’ll be within the lineup to shut video games.

In a means, the closing lineup is extra beneficial than the beginning lineup, as these are the 5 {that a} coach will depend on in crunch time.

The potential answer may very well be the involvement with Essegian on offense, whereas inserting combo guard Max Klesmit in on protection in a stagger to finish video games, however the Badgers additionally worth the latter’s capturing and playmaking potential.

Whereas Friday’s sport isn’t projected to be shut, because the Badgers are seen as 13.5-point favorites, Wisconsin has a troublesome check towards Tennessee on Friday, which may propel the staff to carry out their crunch-time lineup.

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