Point counterpoint: Koenig or Jackson at point guard for Wisconsin basketball team?

first_imgThe No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team lost one of its most valued starters on Jan. 11 at Rutgers when Traevon Jackson went down with a fractured foot. Promising sophomore guard Bronson Koenig took over for Jackson and the Badgers haven’t missed a beat since.But Jackson said he’s hoping to return Sunday against Michigan State, and while he hasn’t been medically cleared to play yet, his return is imminent.With a Big Ten regular season title in its hands along with postseason play just around the corner, Wisconsin will have a decision to make at point guard once Jackson returns to the court.The Badger Herald men’s basketball beat writers, Nick Brazzoni and Eric Kohlbeck, stake their claim on who they think should take over the reigns of the Wisconsin basketball team.The case for Traevon JacksonTraevon Jackson deserves his starting spot back from Bronson Koenig once he is healthy and returns to the Wisconsin rotation.That doesn’t mean Jackson is better than Koenig. It just means, with how this Wisconsin team is put together right now, Jackson is better served to start and Koenig is better served to provide a spark off the bench.Koenig has been phenomenal in place of Jackson. His three-point shooting has been stellar, his confidence has grown astronomically and he has scored in double figures in nine of the 11 games he started for Jackson.Koenig is a better pure scorer than Jackson, so let’s take those scoring capabilities and use them to provide a spark off the bench.Since Jackson went down, UW’s bench has given no offensive production whatsoever. Zak Showalter and Vitto Brown are still too raw to contribute much and Duje Dukan’s jumper has disappeared. Wisconsin needs a scorer off the bench and Koenig fits into that role perfectly.Jackson isn’t much of a scorer. He can score, but he’s not a scorer. So bringing him off the bench wouldn’t provide much of an offensive spark. Having Jackson, a senior, start the game, run the offense with all of Wisconsin’s best offensive players and get the Badgers off to a good start, it gives Bronson a prime opportunity to keep any offensive momentum going for UW when their better scorers take a breather.How Wisconsin finishes the game rotation-wise is up to head coach Bo Ryan and will largely be based on the flow of the game, but while I think it is clear Bronson deserves a starter’s load of minutes, he does not need to be the starter to get those minutes.Above all, there is a common rule of thumb in sports that one cannot lose their starting spot to injury, and I think that rule applies nicely here. Jackson returning to full health just means that the Badgers have even more firepower coming off the bench in a more confident Koenig.If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.– Nick BrazzoniThe case for Bronson KoenigIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.If you’re going to use that logic, Bronson Koenig is who should start at point guard for the Badgers, regardless of a healthy Traevon Jackson.Wisconsin has not taken a step back with Koenig running the point, winning 10 of its 11 games with eight of those wins coming by double digits. Why mess with that?The Badgers undoubtedly need Jackson back on the court. The bench has been essentially nonexistent, and consistently playing all the starters more than 35 minutes per game is going to wear them down, which will likely hurt Wisconsin in their pursuit of a second-straight Final Four. But Jackson, and the rest of the Badgers, will be best served with the senior guard coming off the bench.Jackson hasn’t played a game in over 45 days and for him to come right back and start at point guard could very easily throw off Wisconsin’s mojo in the defining stretch of the season.Plus, it would be hard for Jackson to top Koenig’s numbers at point guard, not just scoring wise (he’s averaging 12 points a game in his 12 starts), but doing what point guards do best – facilitating the ball while not turning it over.In his 12 starts, Koenig has 27 assists and only 12 turnovers while his 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio for the whole season is third in the entire nation.With three capable scoring threats in the front court (Nigel Hayes, Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky), the Badgers need a point guard that can get them the basketball and that’s Koenig. The added scoring from the sophomore guard is simply a bonus.When Jackson went down against Rutgers, I was firmly in the category of he should get his job back when he returns regardless of how Koenig performed.But after Koenig had four assists and no turnovers against Illinois a few weeks ago, even Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan had to pause after seeing that on the stat sheet which he followed with, “I’m just glad he’s here.”That’s all I needed to hear. The future is now and it’s in Koenig’s hands.– Eric KohlbeckWho do you think should start at point guard for the Badgers once Jackson returns? Agree/disagree with Nick and Eric? Let ’em know on Twitter at @NickBrazzoni and @eric_kohlbeck or on the Badger Herald Sports account at @BHeraldSports.last_img

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