Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 2/24/12
MADISON, Wis. The same large, high-socked man stands in the middle of Wisconsin's pre-game basketball huddle, arms flailing, head bobbing as he whips the team into a frenzy with his comical routine just before tip-off. Evan Anderson, all 6 feet, 10 inches of him, screams encouragement with the Badgers circling him and the speakers blaring before mustering the mettle to show off his not-so-coordinated dance moves as one final motivational tactic. "I used to do a running man, try to get everybody going type of deal," Anderson said. "This one now is called the lawn mower. You get going a little ways then you have to bring it back. Everybody thought it was pretty funny so it just caught on." Masking the light-hearted pre-game antics is that, for the most part, it marks the only time fans see Anderson grace the court on game days. Anderson, a redshirt freshman from Stanley, Wis., is the Badgers' third-string center during a season in which coach Bo Ryan plays just two centers. He has appeared in 12 of Wisconsin's 28 games and played a total of 34 minutes. Anderson also has registered more fouls (10) than shots attempted (five) and averages 0.5 points and 0.6 rebounds per game. Riding the bench all season hasn't been an easy task to manage, but Anderson said he was allowing himself to take it in stride in the hopes of it paying off with more playing time down the line. "We want people in the program who give us their best effort, who (are)the most skilled and can do what we want them to do out on the court," Anderson said. "If that's not me at the time, then I'm fine with that. If I can present that some time, that's great. That's what I'm trying to do. But I want what's best for the team out on the floor." Anderson earned all-state honorable mention honors and was a first-team all-conference player as a senior at Eau Claire North High School, where he averaged 10.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. But the physicality and pace of play in the college game, coupled with Wisconsin's deep frontcourt last season, forced Anderson to take a redshirt season rather than use up a year of eligibility while not playing. He appeared to be in line for backup minutes this season behind starting center Jared Berggren. But that was before freshman Frank Kaminsky demonstrated his own abilities to the coaching staff in practice and took away whatever minutes might have remained for Anderson. "Evan wants to be good," Badgers assistant coach Lamont Paris said. "I do know that. He's hard on himself and he wants to be a good basketball player. He understands the situation. That's how it is right now. He knows what he needs to improve on to get in the mix and he's willing to do whatever it takes to be good. Now it's the process of building upon his skill level to where he can get some minutes in the game." Kaminsky's ability to pick and pop for jump shots, along with his smarts in the post, pushed him past Anderson on the depth chart. Kaminsky has played in 27 of 28 games and averages 8.4 minutes, 2.1 points and 1.6 rebounds. Anderson is more of a back-to-the-basket type of player who still struggles to keep pace with opposing big men, although his strength and confidence have improved as the season has progressed. While the competition for playing time could spur hard feelings, Anderson's easy-going nature has made the transition simple for Kaminsky, a 6-11 freshman from Lisle, Ill. Kaminsky said he and Anderson bonded during the team's annual preseason conditioning drills, which included running up and down the steep grass at the Elver Park Hill. "He's a really good guy," Kaminsky said. "He's funny, but he can be really serious. He doesn't have a problem saying what needs to be said sometimes. He's not scared to be outgoing and tell everybody what they need to do. "He was giving me advice early in the summer as to what to expect. He helped me out." Anderson said he harbored no ill will toward Kaminsky and reiterated that he wanted whatever was best for the team. "Frank's good stuff," Anderson said. "It doesn't bother me. He's a great guy. There's nothing weird between me and Frank. I'm just going to do whatever I can in practice every day and that's all I have control over." Anderson's greatest hope is that by the time his Wisconsin career is over, he'll have left a lasting impression that goes beyond simply being the star of the pre-game show. "I'd like to make the biggest impact I can, especially at my position," Anderson said. "Try to be a role guy or whatever the team needs me to be. If I'm going in for a minute here, a minute there in the game to help our team in any way, that's fine with me. "I'm staying positive. I've got to get better and go from there." Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
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