Micah Potter on Career Performance at Penn State, Finding Rhythm

Jake Kocorowski

MADISON -- With the team struggling in the scoring department early in Happy Valley on Saturday afternoon, forward Micah Potter asserted his presence off the bench with a career-high 24 points during Wisconsin's 58-49 win at Penn State. That included 18 of those in the first half and scoring UW's first 12 points of the game. He also recorded career bests in rebounds (13) and three-pointers.

After now officially playing in six games as a Badger -- in which UW has posted a 5-1 record heading into Tuesday's matchup against No. 17 Maryland (8 p.m. CT, ESPN2) -- does Potter feel like he is finding his rhythm?

"Absolutely," Potter said on Monday. "I've told a couple other media members where as much as you want the immediate impact to happen right away, it's just almost impossible for that to happen realistically. I didn't play for 645 days, and so just getting used to the speed and physicality of the game, it takes time. 

"Thankfully, I've had a lot of great supporting staff with my teammates, coaches, family, all that kind of stuff so I was able to stay focused and stay confident in my ability. Even though it didn't happen as quickly as I would have liked it to, it's still coming, but it's good to see those little positive improvements game-to-game."

In the half dozen contests Potter has seen action, he has averaged 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while connecting on 48.6% of his shots. He has scored in double digits in three of those six, including 13 and 24 against Illinois and Penn State, respectively, in the last two. 

Redshirt sophomore guard Kobe King believes Potter has been a spark off the bench, not just in the scoring department but also with rebounding.

"Before with Nate (Reuvers) I know Nate played the four (position) all of last year with Ethan (Happ) so it's kind of his first year having to go against those big, big guys," King said on Monday. "So having Micah in there to be able to kind of pound and take some of that pressure off, I think even has helped Nate a lot.

"Definitely, I've seen (Potter) working every day. I knew a game like this was coming for him. When he had those first 12 (points), I was just thinking, 'Feed the hot hand. Let him shoot until he misses,' and I was very happy for him with all that he went through in the first semester and having to sit out. I think he's bounced back well, and I think he'll continue to improve."

Potter spoke with reporters on Monday afternoon inside the Kohl Center media room about a variety of topics. Check out some video excerpts from the interview above and below, along with more highlights from his discussion as seen below. 

*On having the trust of your teammates to play such a huge role to close out win vs Penn State:

"It was huge. That's something that I'm thankful that I've been able to build that trust since I've been here. But at the same time, like I've said other times, I may not be on like that every night. I probably won't be -- I mean, I hope I do -- but at the same time, you've got to think realistically. That's just the thing with everyone else, like we can lean on each other, and other guys will pick each other up. That's the thing with this team. It's very unselfish so it makes things like that and finishing games, regardless of who the star is for that game, it makes it all easy."

*On what went right against Penn State that led to a productive game:

"Because I think before the Penn State game, I was one for five from three, and I was still trying to find the rhythm of everything, all that kind of stuff. So they kind of sagged off me a little bit, and then once I saw one go in, it's just like the bucket became huge. Just different things like that. I think there was one where Brevin (Pritzl) kind of did a cut under and I dribbled over and hit one, they just sagged off so just different things like that. Like I said, once you see one go in, they all look like they're going to go in."

*On if he felt he was close to gaining that confidence level back and having one of those performances scoring and rebounding heading into Penn State:

"Yeah, I think Illinois was kind of like the first one. I was like, 'OK now I'm really starting to get back to it,' because I think I had 13 (points) and nine (rebounds) in like 15 minutes or something. 

"But I mean, yeah, absolutely. Being able to see that kind of stuff and seeing me perform like that with bigs as good as they have at Penn State and against Illinois. Just different things like that. That's kind of the expectation I set for myself, and I really take pride in my ability to rebound the ball. So going forward, that's something that I'm really going to try to emphasize for the rest of the season. Shots may not fall as much as they did every single game, but rebounding is something that just takes effort. So that's something that I'm really gonna try to pride myself in the rest of the year."

*On how Wisconsin worked to limit Mike Watkins and Penn State on the offensive boards:

"I think just getting bodies and playing physical early. I think it was probably the first possession of the game, Nate forced a really tough turnaround jumper on Watkins, and just keeping him uncomfortable. I mean that kind of stuff -- like forcing him to take tough shots like that -- keeping him out of the, we call it the '10 Foot Zone,' the 'TFC.' Keeping them out of that area, and it makes it difficult for him. If you're uncomfortable, you're not going to want to go in and bang in the post all the time, because it's not fun. It's hard. So keeping them uncomfortable, stuff like that, getting bodies early, and making sure we're securing the ball was huge."

*On bouncing back and not having a home loss after a road win (as seen last week against Illinois):

"I was talking with the guys in the locker room. Whether it be after the Illinois game or after the Penn State game or even just in the locker room, in-between those two games, just we can't let that happen again. We learned from our mistakes, and we set the expectation early. Then at Penn State, I was like, 'This is the expectation. This is the kind of way we have to play every single game, whether it be home or away, no matter who we're playing against.' We've proven we can beat anyone, so the big thing with that is just making sure we're staying consistent mentally. I think against Illinois, we got away from ourselves, whether it be with our defensive principles especially. So just making sure we're mentally focused throughout the entire game. Obviously, no one's going to be perfect, so you're going to kind of sway away from where you want to be, and then you have to make sure you refocus yourself and get back in line to where you want to be."