From the bench to ‘the Tank’

first_imgBefore Frank Kaminsky helped lead Wisconsin to a Final Four, was named the most outstanding player of the West Regional, was a first-team All-Big Ten selection or broke a 48-year old scoring record, he rode the bench.Much like many Wisconsin players before him, Kaminsky had to bide his time behind upperclassmen while developing in Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan’s system.“You scold to mold. You praise to raise,” Ryan said in a press conference in Anaheim, Calif. during the Sweet 16. “You have to be honest with them. You can’t tell that kid sitting with the remote on the couch eating potato chips bag by bag and telling him he’s the greatest thing that ever lived without kind of mentioning that maybe you ought to get off the couch.”Coming to Wisconsin from Benten Academy in Lisle, Ill. Kaminsky stood at 6-foot-10, still growing into a frame that would eventually top out at 7-feet. A late growth spurt allowed him to play the guard positions in high school where he was able to develop ball-handling skills and a soft touch.Picking up these skills would prove to be key traits in his success later on.“He had passing skills, pretty good foot work, things like that,” Ryan said of what he saw in Kaminsky in high school. “So to get to be 7-feet tall and then still have those skills, that’s helped us.”During his freshman and sophomore seasons, Kaminsky averaged just nine minutes per game while sitting behind forwards like Jon Leuer and Jared Berggren.Learning behind players at his position that received All-Big Ten team selections during their careers at Wisconsin gave Kaminsky a strong foundation to his development as a player.“He had a chance to play behind some other guys that he learned from in Jared Berggren and in a lot of practices with guys like Keaton Nankivil, Jon Leuer who is with Memphis now,” Ryan said. “So he’s had a chance to be around some guys that could help him. He listens.”Heading into the 2013-2014 season, the junior forward looked to be next in line to take over the Wisconsin front court with both Berggren and Ryan Evans leaving vacancies down low for the Badgers.Although he was primed to become the starter and would soon embark on a season that would make a mark on the Wisconsin history books, Kaminsky was still a relative unknown.“I had no idea who Frank was coming in because he was playing behind [Berggren] who was a great player for them,” freshman forward Nigel Hayes said. “But, I knew Frank could shoot the ball and I knew that he was skilled. But Frank is actually a lot better than I was told.”With an opportunity finally presenting itself for Kaminsky to make contributions to the team, he was determined to make the most of it.“I knew that this year there would be an opportunity for me to go out there and play a lot of minutes, and I just wanted to do anything I could to be a big factor on this team,” Kaminsky said.It wouldn’t take long for him to become a “big factor” as he would lead Wisconsin in scoring in a three-point win over UW-Green Bay in the third game of the season, which he followed up with a 43-point performance against North Dakota to put himself in the program’s record book and on the national map.In the 33 games after his record setting performance, Kaminsky has failed to reach double digit scoring or rebounding just seven times.In Wisconsin’s last 13 games, Kaminsky has averaged 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.Ryan attributes his 7-footer’s success to his growth both as a player and a person.“He’s growing into his body, mentally, physically, socially,” Ryan said. “They tell me he’s funnier than he used to be, and his eyes are more wide open now. Last year I thought at times his eyes were closed, then I realized that’s just his eyes. If you see him sitting sometimes you think, oh, look, Frank’s asleep. He’s not asleep. But he’s got that sleepy look. But he’s matured in every aspect because he’s worked hard.”With a top-10 standing in rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage in the Big Ten this season, Kaminsky became a first-team All-Big Ten honoree. He was the only Badger to earn a first-team selection this season.Kaminksy’s versatility has been a big part of why he has been successful this season. With the ability to stretch defenses out to the perimeter and a quick first step to the rim, he presents a mismatch for most opposing teams.“Frank’s the man. I know that some of the guys say that I’m a mismatch nightmare, but Frank is really even a better one in the fact that when he’s guarded by a true seven-footer it’s almost illegal for him to play against them,” Hayes said. “The fact that usually their feet are no where near as good as Frank’s, so when he’s out on the perimeter, if he just puts the ball on the ground it’s always a foul because they can’t slide with him. Inside, with his great footwork, he can get you up off of the ground and score anyway he wants. That’s just Frank being Frank.”But it has been his emergence in the NCAA Tournament that has caught the attention of the country and has even put him in the conversation as a possible NBA prospect.In Wisconsin’s four wins in the tournament, the junior is averaging 18.5 points per game and six rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the floor.That pales in comparison to his performance in the West Regional final against No.1 seed Arizona, where he scored a game-high 28 points to go with 11 rebounds to send Wisconsin to its first Final Four since 2000.Kaminsky’s 28 points was the second-highest scoring total by a Badger in the NCAA Tournament, behind only Michael Finley who scored 36 points in 1994, earning him the Most Outstanding Player award in the West regional.“We always knew Frank had it in him, we just had to get it out of him,” sophomore forward Sam Dekker said. “He’s been carrying us this whole season.”last_img read more

Here are the mouth shields NFL players are testing as a COVID-19 precaution

first_imgThe NFL and the NFLPA reportedly are still discussing the health and safety protocols they will implement as they attempt to start the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And if the league’s medical experts get their way, players will wear mouth shields on the field this season.ESPN on Monday shared a photo of the mouth shields players could wear in 2020 if approved after more testing. According to the report, the mouth shields that attach to facemasks on helmets are being distributed to all 32 teams this week so players can give them a try. They are being developed by Oakley, the league’s official partner for visors, and are not yet required. Said NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills: “We hope that we’re going to land on a product design that’s something that everyone would want to wear, because they’ll see the value and want that additional protection without any detriment to performance.”The NFL is hoping to have all teams report for training camps on or by July 28, but the league and the players have not yet agreed upon a complete set of health and safety protocols, delaying the confirmation of reporting dates.As of now, the 2020 NFL regular season is still scheduled to start Thursday, Sept. 10 when the Chiefs host the Texans. MORE: Aaron Rodgers voices uncertainty about seasonA first look at the Oakley Mouth Shield, which is being shipped out to NFL teams this week in hopes of protecting players from COVID-19. https://t.co/ubrwi6iOfr— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) July 13, 2020An explanation of how the mouth shields work, via ESPN:”The Oakley Mouth Shield (is) a product designed by doctors and engineers from the NFL and NFL Players Association to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus on the field of play. … The Oakley Prizm Lens Technology used by skiers, military personnel and, most recently, NFL players for enhanced color and contrast in their visors is featured in the new design.”Plastic sheets extend down and attach to the face guard. There are airways and openings on the mouth shield but none that allow the direct transmission of droplets.”NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer told ESPN that visibility and breathability are the two anticipated issues with the mouth shields once more players start testing them. But ESPN noted that “the current design is the result of an iterative process based in large part on player feedback, with comfort and functionality top of mind along with protection.”last_img read more