Anderson Making Progress

Evan Anderson (UW Athletics)

Although he is two years removed from his last serious ankle injury, the stat line of redshirt freshman Evan Anderson shows that it's a work still in progress. His work in practice, however, hints that the Wisconsin native isn't too far off from contributing.

MADISON - With sore feet and an undersized body for the post, Evan Anderson didn't hesitate to make himself feel uncomfortable last season. After years of being the big man in the middle, Anderson took himself out of the rotation for a year of seasoning and development.

The opportunity for playing time has been there for Anderson, but the 6-10, 260-pound center recognizes he's not ready to make the impact he wants.

Having played in just 12 of No.14 Wisconsin's 30 games this season, Anderson is averaging only 2.8 minutes and has registered more total fouls (10) than rebounds (7) or points (6).

"It's what you make of it," Anderson said. "I know what I can bring to the table and I want what's best for the team. If I am not the best for the team in a certain game or a certain matchup, I don't want me out there either. I want to be able to help the team."

Knowing he needed to get healthy and seeing that Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil has tons more experience, Anderson redshirted last season to learn from the trio of seniors and build his body, which he accomplished by adding roughly 20 pounds of muscle to his frame since signing his letter of intent to play at Wisconsin.

The big thing now is adjusting to the speed and the footwork needing to play at the college level. The challenge for Anderson is getting back on the right development track, as he lost significant time in high school when he tore ligaments during a right ankle dislocation his junior year – sidelining him a month - and a severe left ankle sprain cost him time his senior year.

"I feel like I am progressing in that area, but there are some quick players out there," said Anderson. "I practiced just as hard last year as I am this year, so that's not any different. I am just playing as hard as I can everyday to try and show something to help this year. I am feeling more comfortable with my feet, so it's just progressing with that."

With his injury history, Anderson knew that his that fifth year was going to outweigh his first year multiple times. Working with strength and conditioning coach Scott Hettenbach during the team's eight week summer workouts, consisting of conditioning and muscle-building/injury-prevention weightlifting, Anderson has become an asset by simulating the moves and tendencies of a guy like Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.

"Last year was a very, very odd and very different thing for me just being a practice player," said Anderson. "Transitioning into this year, I got a lot of experience from Keaton, Jon and Tim and this year has been the opportunity to take it all in and figure it out. I saw the commitment it took every practice, all practice, to really prepare. You practice how you play and they knew that every minute in practice counted. It was nice to take a step back to figure out what I had to do this year."

The comfort and confidence is not only starting to develop on the practice court for Anderson, it's starting to develop with the coaching staff. Working with the post players during the preseason and throughout the season, assistant coach Lamont Paris wouldn't go as far as calling it a ‘night and day' difference, but sees that Anderson's conditioning and posting around the basket has dramatically increased compared to last season.

"He's really getting a feel for who he is as a player and that's going to continue to develop," said Paris. "He is very critical of himself, which is an area where he has improved. If he makes a mistake and you go to let him know, he has already processed that through his head. That's a good thing, as a lot of guys aren't hard on themselves."

With Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans all juniors and returning next season, Anderson knows he likely will have to wait another year before seeing a large amount of minutes. But with the growing confidence in his feet and himself, Anderson sees no reason why he can't push himself to be involved more in November 2012.

"I definitely want to do what I can in practice to prove that I belong out there with the guys," Anderson said. "I hope that they can rely on me to guard the big opposition, play good post defense and play good defense overall. I want to be an aggressor as I can and be able to bang in the post. The team wants what is collectively best for the team, so I just have to work to get into that role."

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