It’s tough to say that, as I do truly enjoy the 6’2″ guards’ game. But all allegiances aside, for Wisconsin Basketball to make a legitimate Big Ten title run and have a shot at advancing deep in March, Hepburn needs to take over.
He needs to be more selfish, shoot the three a lot more, attack the hoop more frequently, and hesitate less. However, these are all things that an unselfish Wisconsin Basketball player like Hepburn is unlikely to do anytime soon, nor will Coach Greg Gard allow it.
I get it. The Wisconsin way preaches ball movement, hustle, long possessions, and easy baskets — all things that have helped UW to a 3-1 Big 10 start. But this Badger team is not a group with a ton of depth or scoring prowess. Well, outside of Chucky Hepburns that is.
The sophomore point guard currently is averaging 12.2 points, 3 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Solid stats from a player in a low-scoring, methodical UW offense. But Hepburn has the potential to provide a lot more.
— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) December 31, 2022
What’s Behind Hepburn’s Offensive Success?
The only stat I highlighted prior to writing this article was Hepburn’s three-point percentage. 50.9%. That’s good for second in the Big Ten behind Minnesota’s Ta’lon Cooper. I had to double-take. He really is making over half of his attempted three-pointers. An average of 2.2 made on 4.2 attempts per game.
Against Maryland, the Nebraska native attempted four three-pointers. Against Iowa, he took just three, and vs. Lehigh, he failed to attempt one. I should also note that Hepburn has a true field goal percentage of 40.2. This brings me to my burning question, if Hepburn continues to shoot it at such a high clip, will coach Greg Gard give the star point guard a little more freedom in the offense?
Looking at the track record of Wisconsin Basketball during the Gard era, the answer is likely no. Other than Johnny Davis, who averaged 19.7 points per game last season — a lot of which came at the hoop and at the free throw line — no other UW star has had much offensive freedom.
I understand staying within the offense and getting scoring from guys like Tyler Wahl and Connor Essegian — slowing down the game has worked well so far this year. But this style of basketball with such streaky shooters and limited depth is worrisome come March. The perfect example of this was the road loss against Illinois. While the defense had mishaps, the offense struggled mightily with Tyler Wahl out.
This is truly something to keep an eye on as the Wisconsin basketball team heads deeper into Big Ten play. Can Hepburn take over the scoring load, allowing Wahl and Essegian to be true role players? Greg Gard could potentially strike gold if it comes to fruition.
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