Devin Harris admits that when he was growing up in Milwaukee,
Badgers basketball didn't exactly get his heart thumping.
"Marquette was the big thing," says the junior point guard. "I
didn't know much about Wisconsin until they went to the Final
That was in March 2000, during Harris's junior year at Wauwatosa
East High, and it was Wisconsin's first Final Four appearance in
59 years. A similar drought ended in 2001-02, when Bo Ryan took
over as coach: Harris started every game at shooting guard as a
freshman and the Badgers became Big Ten titlists for the first
time since 1947, sharing the championship with Illinois, Indiana
and Ohio State. Last season Wisconsin won the conference outright
and set a school record with 24 wins. With every starter but
leading scorer Kirk Penney returning, expectations have never
been higher in Madison. For the first time in the six-year
history of the Kohl Center, every ticket for every home game was
gone before the season started.
That enthusiasm may be slightly dampened by preseason injuries
that have cut into the Badgers' frontcourt depth. Athletic
forward Alando Tucker is out until at least mid-December with a
fractured right foot, and 6'10" forward Jason Chappell is
sidelined until late December with the same injury. Brian Butch,
a 6'11" freshman and the program's first Parade first-team
All-America, has a good outside touch for a big man but he's a
rail-thin 215 pounds and will likely redshirt.
As a freshman Harris averaged 12.3 points and led the team in
steals and blocked shots. While learning the point on the fly
last season, he averaged 12.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists
and a conference-high 2.0 steals and directed one of the
country's most efficient offenses. "There are so many good guards
in the conference that if you don't have one like Devin, you'll
get buried," Ryan says. "He's finding out that he's a natural for
the point position."
With Harris running the show, the Badgers are feeling similarly
comfortable atop the Big Ten. --S.C.
2002-03 RECORD: 24-8 (12-4, 1st in Big Ten)
TOURNAMENT: Lost to Kentucky in Sweet 16
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Alando Tucker 6'5" Soph. 12.0 ppg
PF Mike Wilkinson 6'8" Jr. 6.8 rpg
C Dave Mader 6'11" Sr. 2.1 rpg
SG Freddie Owens 6'2" Sr. 82.0 FT%
PG Devin Harris 6'3" Jr. 12.7 ppg
an opposing coach's view
"ALANDO TUCKER is by far the most underrated player in the Big
Ten. He's a 6'5" tweener that nobody can guard because he can
score in the post and he's a good offensive rebounder. People
have trouble matching up with him.... DAVE MADER doesn't fit
their system very well because he lumbers a bit.... DEVIN HARRIS
is very quick off the dribble. He's not a great shooter, but he's
good enough that he keeps defenses honest.... People have this
image that Wisconsin isn't athletic, but they're athletic as
hell. There's a reason they've won the league two years in a row.
What they lack in size, they gain in quickness and execution.
Plus they're so tough to beat at home."
Turnovers per game committed by the Badgers last season, a
school-record low and the nation's second-best average.