But the contributions of Wisconsin's bench in Thursday's 80-56 win over Coppin State shouldn't be overlooked. The Badgers' bench players scored 31 points, the most that unit has tallied since scoring 51 in the season-opener against Prairie View A&M.
Three players in particular – forwards Tim Jarmusz and Jared Berggren and guard Rob Wilson – accounted for most of the damage. Jarmusz finished with a career-high 12 points, Berggren had eight and Wilson scored a season-best nine. Moreover, that group was highly efficient, shooting a combined 10-of-12 from the field.
"They were able to make things happen," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "They were active. Each individual has strengths and each individual has weaknesses. We just … try to get guys to understand what they can do when they come in."
Ryan was also happy with the work of forward Ryan Evans, who despite being in somewhat of a shooting funk grabbed five rebounds and played solid defense.
"It's so important that we have nine, ten guys, whatever it is, ready to go in certain situations when you get foul trouble, when you get some nicks," Ryan said.
For Jarmusz, a favorite target of fans on message boards because of perceived offensive inadequacies, his career game came with a special guest in attendance. Watching Jarmusz was his older brother Adam, a member of the U.S. Army home on leave.
"Today was just one of those nights where whatever you throw up is going in," Jarmusz said. "Adam doesn't get to too many games, but he's been to a few before."
Jarmusz was probably one of the players Coppin State head coach Fang Mitchell had in mind when he mentioned postgame the Badgers surprised him with the number of shooters Wisconsin could put on the floor. Jarmusz's 12 points came on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.
And while basketball games – and sports in general – are often casually referred to as battles, Thursday's tilt certainly didn't remind Adam Jarmusz of his months spent on the Afghan/Pakistan border or in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
"For him to be able to come home over the holidays and spend Christmas with him and have the whole family around, it's something really special," the Badger forward said. "I'm glad he did go over there, and I'm proud of him and I love him for it, but I'm glad he's home and he's safe."
Sharing the Rock
To set a school record with 17 made three pointers, the Wisconsin had to have a hot shooting day. But making that easier was exceptional ball movement that resulted in 17 assists, fourteen of which led to three-pointers.
"They do look for each other, and Bo's gotten them to play in a manner that's team basketball," Mitchell said. "The way they play is the way that people play when they're winners."
Taylor gave a lot of the credit to assistant coach Lamont Paris, who prepared the scouting report on Coppin State.
"He stressed to us there were going to be opportunities we have to pass up a good shot to get a great shot," Taylor said. "There were times we didn't do that and times we did. Guys who were called upon when they were open stepped up and knocked them down."