UW MBB: ‘Rock Fight’ at the Garden

BY MIKE LUCAS

UWBadgers.com Senior Writer

MADISON, Wis. Jordan Hill "played" Corey Sanders — as in played the role of Sanders on the scout team — more than Hill played against Sanders in the Big Ten opener between Wisconsin and Rutgers; a rugged game that could be best described as a "rock fight" in late December at the Kohl Center.

As it was, Hill personally endured a rocky start to the conference season playing only three minutes against the Scarlet Knights and Indiana and five against Purdue in the first three games. Since then, he has logged 18, 13, 15 and 18 minutes off the bench as his role has steadily expanded.

With 60 career games under his belt, Hill understands the vagaries of his job, which is to say that the fourth-year junior doesn't have a starting job and must be ready to contribute whenever called upon, even though the minutes may be uneven, a fact of life for a sub.

"It was huge adjustment for me, just because I was so used to getting loose and getting right into it (as a high school starter)," recalled Hill, who appeared in 11 games as a true freshman. He redshirted his second year (2014-2015) and played in 30 games with one start last season.

"It was definitely tough to get my juices going right away once I got on the floor. But I've tried to adjust. I try to get at least a touch, so I can feel the ball and get comfortable a little bit. It's just something you've got to deal with. There are plenty of people who specialize in contributing off the bench."

There is one advantage to getting a feel for the tempo before entering the game. "You can see what people's tendencies are," Hill said. "It's one thing to watch them on film, but to see it in person, you can see what they want to do and how the offense overall is working in the flow of the game."

Each situation can be different and Hill has got to be prepared accordingly. Against Ohio State, he capitalized on some scoring opportunities and had a season-high eight points (2-of-4 from beyond the arc). Against Minnesota, he presented the Badgers with their best defensive matchup.

One thing that Hill can't afford to do is "look over his shoulder" when he is playing; a potential temptation for any sub whose minutes may be limited. "I don't have time for that," he said. "If I look over my shoulder, somebody is going to go past me or I might miss a shot, something like that."

Not knowing how many shots he may get, he can't dwell on the misses, either. "I heard (Phoenix Suns) Devin Booker say, 'Shoot the next one like you made the last one,'" Hill said. "I try to abide by that and make sure I stay confident. When I put it up, I believe it is going in."

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