Kaminsky evolves into offensive weapon for Badgers
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser saw the potential during summer pickup games.
“He realized during the summer playing open gym that guys wanted him on their team,” the redshirt junior guard from Port Washington said. “He was playing really well.
“Maybe fans didn’t realize how good of a player he is offensively but we know how good he is.”
The mystery man on Bo Ryan’s UW roster?
Junior forward Frank Kaminsky, who is shooting 41.4 percent from three-point range, 55.3 percent overall and averaging 15.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 assist per game for No. 8 UW (9-0).
“It hasn’t surprised any of us,” Gasser said.
Kaminsky, a 7-foot, 234-pounder from Lisle, Ill., has surprised so far this season by providing a consistent post presence on offense and defense.
That ability will be critical when UW hosts Marquette (5-3) at 1:15 p.m. today because the Golden Eagles feature two capable big men in 6-8, 290-pound Davante Gardner (14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds) and 6-11, 275-pound Chris Otule (7.4, 4.9).
“In open gym there were times he would shoot too many threes,” Gasser said. “I would tell him: ‘Frank, get your tail down low and post up. You’re 7 feet tall.’
“He would do it and he would score. Obviously he is a great shooter and wants to get out there and shoot threes. That is great for a 7-footer. And that is something that we need.
“But there comes a point in the game where we just need to get him the ball on the block, get out of his way and let him go to work.”
Kaminsky, who hit 6 three-pointers en route to a program-record 43 points against North Dakota on Nov. 19, has been doing the bulk of his work close to the basket.
Of Kaminsky’s 98 field-goal attempts last season, 45 were three-pointers (45.9%). Through nine games this season, only 29 of Kaminsky’s 94 field-goal attempts (30.9%) have been threes.
Stronger and more confident in his game, Kaminsky has demonstrated a combination of solid footwork and touch around the basket.
“I think we always want more,” UW associate head coach Greg Gard said. “But I think that is the part of his game that has probably grown the most, just in terms of his comfort level, his base (and) his balance. He has taken hits in there and finished.
“He has been very good with his footwork. He has definitely gotten better and that has been a huge bonus for us to get scoring out of the post consistently.”
Kaminsky also has turned his three-point shooting ability into a weapon against overzealous defenders.
If a defender rushes out to the three-point line out of control, Kaminsky will use a ball-fake to get him airborne and then drive to the basket. Last season and early this season he would execute the fake but remain on the perimeter.
“There’s lanes to go there and I feel more comfortable with the ball in my hands than in past years,” Kaminsky said. “It is nice to be able to do things like that for this team.”
Gard sees the change as part of the natural maturation process for Kaminsky, who contributed nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in the victory over Virginia on Wednesday.
“I think some of that comes with experience,” Gard said. “Some of that comes with he is bigger and stronger. He is able to play more physical.
“So when you’re able to do that you’re more willing to take it to contact and know (you) can handle it and finish and go through people.
“Physically he is better so I think he feels more confident.”
Kaminsky is improved on the defensive end and that was a huge concern with the departure of Jared Berggren.
Although blocked shots can be a misleading statistic, Kaminsky has 18 in nine games. He has helped protect the rim, a task at which Berggren excelled.
“I didn’t want to come into this year and be the weak link on the court, maybe like I was in the past,” said Kaminsky, who added Berggren offered advice before leaving. “He prepared me for every situation.
“You know how Bo is. He preaches defense….Getting pulled out of a game for a defensive breakdown last year was pretty disheartening at times.
“I didn’t want that to happen again this year so I really worked on my defense this summer.”
Kaminsky worked on all facets of his game and the proof is in the results through nine games.