Five Days After Debut, Micah Potter Evaluates First Game as a Badger

Jake Kocorowski

MADISON -- Last Saturday, Micah Potter showed a glimpse of his potential as a Badger in Wisconsin’s 83-64 win over Milwaukee. In under 13 minutes, the Ohio State transfer scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and hit all six of his free throws.

Not bad for his first game in 21 months.

However, Potter acknowledged the jitters early on when he subbed in at the 16:34 mark of the first half. He committed three of UW’s nine overall turnovers, two in the first 20 minutes of the contest, and admitted after the win that he needed to slow down. Once he did, the Kohl Center faithful saw what the redshirt junior could bring to Greg Gard’s program.

There is always that old adage of when you go back to watch the film of the game, your performance is never as bad as you thought it was, and never as good as you thought it was, right?

“No, it was as bad as I thought it was,” Potter told on Dec. 26.

Despite the positives from his play and numbers from the stats sheet in the win, Potter began to list some self-critiques in his Wisconsin debut. According to the game log, he flushed two buckets home via dunks in the game, but he believes he should have slammed more home, among other plays he feels should be corrected.

“I mean, you could just see it because I should have had four dunks that game,” Potter said. “The one where I lost [the ball], Brad [Davison] threw that baseline pass, and I went and I lost it out of bounds. That would have been a dunk. There was one that I had that Aleem [Ford] threw to me that I tried to go right away and dunk it, but I didn't catch the ball first and so that one didn't go. Then obviously the one that I missed on that foul, I should have made that one, so just different things like that, just seeing different situations.

“The pass that I made to Kobe [King], just slowing down. That whole possession was all way too fast, out of control for everyone, not just me. But I was part of the problem so just different things like that.”

Those nerves may have gotten to Potter early on against the Panthers last weekend. From his perspective, though, watching the film helps him slow the game down further in allowing him to correct the previous mistakes made for future situations. 

“Then come in a game it’s sitting in the back of your mind like, ‘Okay, don't do this, do this,’” Potter said. “So being able to watch film for me is super helpful, whether it be in different things when we watched it as a team or I watched it individually myself. Just being able to see the different things really helped me as a player.”

On top of the aforementioned mistakes, the film also allowed him to see and pick out different spots on the types of offense that Wisconsin runs, which includes the swing or individual plays Gard’s team at its disposal. That includes other reads or cuts he can make as well, but he also looked at the other side of the court.

“Defensive positioning is a big thing, you know, whether it be sitting down in a stance or being over in your gap a little bit more, all that kind of stuff," Potter said. "Because I've been working on that kind of stuff all year, but once you get into a game, you kind of go back to your instincts. Just getting into the habits of being in the right place every time, and just making sure I'm knowing all the plays and making the right reads all the time.”

While Potter viewed his performance in self-critical fashion, he finished with the dozen points and handful of rebounds in 12 minutes, 34 seconds of play. He shot 3-of-6 from the field and made all half-dozen free throw attempts. His presence also allowed junior forward Nate Reuvers to rest a hint more on the bench, and the fellow big man responded in tying a career-high with 22 points. His skillset could come in handing when Wisconsin (6-5, 1-1 Big Ten) takes on Tennessee (8-3) in Knoxville on Saturday (12:30 p.m. CT, CBS).

Potter believes he started to get in the flow of the offense and a rhythm once he got more comfortable. After the game on Dec. 21, he credited Davison with an “easy dish” -- one of the latter’s five assists -- to help him get going with 4:19 left in the first half.

“Like there was the one that Trevor [Anderson] made that pass to me where I slipped that ball screen under the shot clock, I was able to get that dunk. Brevin made that double pass so just being in the right spots to let the guards make the plays that they need to make and making their job easy. Setting good screens, getting ‘Meech’ [D’Mitrik Trice] open for a couple of his shots, a couple of his drives, rolling hard off of a screen so it gets the backside open because they have to help more.

“Just the little things like that, that I think I can bring to this team to open up the floor a little bit. Then obviously 6-for-6 from the free throw line I thought was pretty good. Hopefully we can keep that going.”

Though Potter seemed to be hard on himself, Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft believes the 6-foot-10, 248-pound forward performed well, had “a lot of positives out there” and gave the team a lift.

“He's got some areas you can improve on just like everybody else on the team,” Krabbenhoft said on Thursday. “No one's going to play perfect so he's gonna be hard on himself, which is good. Then the coaches don't have to do it as much when he recognizes those things, but I thought he brought a lot of good things.”