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Nonsensical Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Ramblings for Sickos Vol. 2

Wisconsin basketball sickos gather around because it’s time to unleash my nonsensical ramblings that consume too much of my thoughts Vol. 2.



Wisconsin Badgers Basketball arena: The Kohl Center
Photo Credit: Dillon Graff

My name is Dillon Graff, and I’m an overly invested fanatic of the Wisconsin men’s basketball program. Rather than attend a local meeting and earn sobriety chips, I’ve decided to lean into my addiction and give my poor wife a break from listening to my Badgers hoops takes — by continuing my ramblings here — for anyone who cares to read them.

The overwhelming support I received from the community after volume 1 was beyond humbling — and because of you — I’m happy to make this a regular thing as long as you still find value or entertainment from reading the words I type.

Before I lose you — if you’re even still reading — let’s dive into volume two — where I share a few opinions that won’t flow together, but I feel strongly about enough to share with the other UW hoops sickos.

Let’s begin.

Experience Will Be Key for the Badgers This Season.

Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball program are coming off a disappointing 20-15 season where the Badgers finished 11th in the conference and failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the last 25 years.

However, Coach Gard brings back a talented roster with good chemistry to go along with returning 92% of its scoring (top’s in the B1G) and 90% of its minutes from last season.

Jordan Davis was the program’s lone transfer — which had more to do with a diminishing role than anything — nothing personal.

Despite last season not going as planned, this group is battle tested and has plenty of room for internal growth from returning players.

With the offseason addition of AJ Storr and the incoming 2023 recruits, Wisconsin basketball should have more capable/improved players in their rotation, (hopefully) leading to less late-game fatigue.

The lack of playable depth paired with UW riding their starters as much as they did is the No. 1 thing that kept the Badgers team from making the tourney last season.

I believe Wisconsin basketball primed to compete for a double-bye in the Big Ten this season — primarily because of their returning experience. More of a high-floor group — but an NCAA Tournament team nonetheless.

Max Klesmit Could Thrive as the 6th Man for Wisconsin Basketball.

Every good Wisconsin basketball team needs a guy willing to check his ego at the door and do what’s best for the program to win games.

After watching Max Klesmit play for the Badgers last season — it’s safe to say he’s that guy for Greg Gard.

Klesmit appeared and started in 33 games, averaging 8.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.2 steals in 32.1 minutes per game — while shooting an impressive 38.3% from beyond the arc.

The 6-foot-3 Wisconsin native proved to be a fiery competitor on both ends of the floor. Despite being somewhat undersized, Klesmit was a thorn in the side of opposing backcourts on defense.

His attention to the small details makes his on-court impact so substantial. He stays in front of his man, is rarely out of position, dives on the floor for loose balls, and follows coach Gard’s defensive rules to a T.

I wholeheartedly believe that Klesmit could shoulder a more significant scoring load if that’s what the Wisconsin basketball team needed. He’s an excellent spot-up shooter, moves well off the ball, and can attack closeouts and get to the basket better than you’d think.

But that isn’t what Coach Gard will need from Klesmit this season, IMO.

Wisconsin will likely start Hepburn, Essegian, Storr, Wahl, and Crowl, making Klesmit the perfect fit for the Badgers sixth man role. He’ll still play starter-like minutes, provide energy, and offer some scoring punch in a potentially higher usage role off the bench than Klesmit had as a starter.

If that’s the case, Wisconsin basketball will be in a pretty damn good spot with their backcourt/wing rotations. Klesmit could also see time as the backup point guard — more so than last season. I love the fit.

I Need Clarification on What Wisconsin Basketball Has in Junior Forward Markus Ilver.

Entering his junior season with the Wisconsin basketball program, junior forward Markus Ilver remains just as much of a mystery for the Badgers as the day he set foot on campus.

He appeared in 18 games last season, averaging 1.6 points and 0.9 rebounds on 29.7% shooting from the field in just over 6 minutes per game. Ilver also had an 18.2 USG rating — which is far too high for a player of his caliber coming off the bench. But nobody likes to see themselves shoot the ball more than he does.

The downside is that even in a season where UW desperately needed help in the frontcourt, Ilver was never seriously considered for those minutes. Despite flashes where he scored a career-high six points in a win over Dayton in the Battle 4 Atlantis, a breakthrough wasn’t in the cards.

In all likelihood, his lack of strength (Ilver got crushed on the boards in extended minutes) and unpolished nature on defense last season was the difference. But it’s do-or-die time for the Estonia native because the incoming freshman could conceivably jump him on the depth chart sooner rather than later.

Ilver entered the program with a high ceiling — but the hourglass is starting to run out of sand — and I’m hoping he’ll show signs of being a rotation-level player in 2023-24. There is still some stretch-four upside here with Ilver; I’m just not holding my breath.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack newsletter best-selling author, publisher of AllBadgers, and the owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today's BadgersWire, Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Bucky's 5th Quarter, and FanSided.