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November 18, 2010MADISON - For the first time in nearly two weeks, Wisconsin guard Rob Wilson returned to practice Thursday, looking like his usual self.
Wilson showed no effects of the right hamstring injury that has kept him out of the Badgers' first two games as he practiced with the first-team offense and defense.
"It feels real good," Wilson said. "It's still coming along, but I expect to get in on Saturday. It's the coaches' decision, but I'm ready to play."
Wilson played a limited role in the Badgers' first exhibition contest, but in the three games since (including a second exhibition game), Wilson has been limited to a spectator role.
It's been a frustrating situation for the junior guard, to say the least.
"It's really tough, but it's human nature, there's nothing I can do about it," Wilson said. "I've just got to deal with it, get better and come back stronger so it won't happen again.
"It's really frustrating because we had a lot of expectations going into this year. I worked hard this summer and then this comes along. But it's part of the game."
Without Wilson in the lineup, the Wisconsin offense has not missed a beat, putting up an average of 92 points per game through its first two. It's the team's highest average through two games since putting up 103.5 per game through the first two games in 1993.
Comparatively, last year's squad averaged just 66.5 points after two games.
Much of the offensive success has had to do with the improvement of senior forward Jon Leuer who has put up 23 points, 6.5 rebounds, four assists and 1.5 blocks per game. But the guard play has been impressive as well.
Junior point guard Jordan Taylor has done an excellent job leading the UW offense, averaging 15 points and five assists per game. In the absence of Wilson, freshman Josh Gasser also has shown plenty of skill.
"They've been really impressive," Wilson said. "Especially the freshmen like Josh stepping up. I'm learning a lot already sitting on the bench this year through two games."
Gasser started at the two guard Tuesday against North Dakota, making him just the third UW freshman to start in the Bo Ryan era, joining Alando Tucker and Devin Harris.
Even with his 14 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game average so far, Gasser knows the team will be even better with Wilson back in the lineup.
"Today was his first practice back, and it was exciting to have him out there," Gasser said. "It's just another guy to help us, especially offensively. We need guard play, it's a big part of our team. So he's going to come in right away and help us.
"Rob's a very good player, both offensively and defensively. He such a big part of our team, so to put up numbers like we did (without him), it shows that we are a pretty good team. With him back, we're going to be even better."