View Gallery (2 Photos)Pat Muldoon showed flashes of potential last season in a limited role on Wisconsin’s defensive line.But the fact that he was on the field and contributing for the Big Ten champion Badgers was an accomplishment in and of itself.Muldoon suffered a major setback in November of his freshman year when he tore his right ACL as a member of the scout team during practice. But, to make matters worse, about three months later he felt discomfort in his other knee.Muldoon said his knee started “locking up,” and doctors found that “about half or three-quarters” of his knee cartilage was cracked off. Two screws were inserted, and Muldoon was on crutches for another two and a half months.“That just really set me back,” Muldoon said. “I lost basically all my leg strength. It’s been a long road back.”But Muldoon completed the long, tiresome hours of rehabilitation and worked his way into the D-line rotation last season as a redshirt freshman. He saw action in all 13 games and finished the year with seven total tackles and two tackles for loss.But he never felt completely healthy.Now, at the start of spring camp here in his third season, the 6-foot-3, 262-pound defensive end says he’s ready to compete with no limitations.“Finally in winter conditioning is when I’d say I felt 100 percent,” Muldoon said. “I got my strength back. I got stronger in my upper body, and had no real nagging pains or anything.”Muldoon’s complete recovery comes at a perfect time for the UW defense.Last year, Muldoon backed up junior standout J.J. Watt, but when you’re the back-up to a star player, you are not got going to see too much playing time.“I was definitely a role player,” Muldoon said. “But I was happy to get some good experience behind such a good player in J.J.”But even in the snaps he got, Muldoon could sense he wasn’t at his best.“Mentally the hardest thing was not being timid,” Muldoon said. “Sometimes I could feel myself leaning one way to protect the ACL knee more.”That trepidation no longer exists.The redshirt sophomore feels confident in his knees, and now the door is open for him to make a greater impact with Watt declaring for the 2011 NFL draft. He is currently battling junior defensive end David Gilbert for a starting spot on the line opposite senior Louis Nzegwu.Muldoon expects the competition for that spot to wage on all the way until the season opener, but regardless of who wins the starting job, there will be plenty of snaps to go around as UW employs a deep rotation to keep linemen fresh.“It’ll be great just to be given a shot,” Muldoon said. “I’m still competing with some other great players to win a role, and we should have a really good D-line this year.”One of the anchors and leaders of the D-line will be fifth-year senior Patrick Butrym, and he anticipates Muldoon playing a substantial role for the Badger defense.“Patty got some really valuable experience last year,” Burtym said. “There is no question I’m confident in his ability to step in next year and do a phenomenal job.”Like Butrym, the Wisconsin coaching staff has been excited about Mudloon’s skill set and potential ever since the Ohio native came to the program from St. Xavier High School.Muldoon is planning on finally putting those skills on full display.“I like to think I’m a technician. I work hard. I know the playbook well,” Muldoon said.“Just go 100 percent every play.”With the injuries now in the past, he finally can.
Last season, when a Syracuse point guard dribbled toward the right wing for a handoff, Tyus Battle usually took the ball to attack left. But late in the first half Wednesday night in Syracuse’s 89-52 exhibition win over Le Moyne, Battle did the dribbling and handing off to Elijah Hughes, who pulled up to knock down a 3. Battle, after two exhibition games against Division II opponents as Syracuse’s point guard due to injury, is settling into his temporary role. He finished with five assists and no turnovers against Le Moyne.“I was low on turnovers, tried to find the open guy, tried to make the right play,” Battle said. “So I’m getting more comfortable with it as time goes on.”Battle, a 6-foot-6 junior, exemplifies the modern shooting guard. His size gives him the length he needs to blow by defenders with a quick, long first step. He operated most of last season, during which he averaged a team-leading 19.2 points per game, from the wings, where he could work off high screens to showcase the one-on-one ability that made him a near-NBA Draft pick.The former five-star recruit decided to come back to No. 16 Syracuse for his junior season. But he didn’t anticipate moving down from shooting guard to the point.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA series of injuries set him up as the Orange’s point guard, at least for now, with returning starter Frank Howard, freshman Jalen Carey and sophomore Howard Washington all sidelined with injuries in varying degrees. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said Wednesday night that he’s “not a doctor,” and doesn’t know exactly when his point guards will return to game action. SU’s regular season starts Tuesday, Nov. 6.“We’ll see how the health of our point guards is over the next few days, but at least now we’ve had two games where we’ve played with Tyus handling the ball,” Boeheim said. “That’s good for us.”Because Syracuse’s offense a season ago centered on three players — Battle, Howard and forward Oshae Brissett — Battle did a lot of ball handling himself. But then, Battle knew Boeheim wanted him to score. He’d receive a down screen and attack the basket. In SU’s two exhibitions, though, Battle’s movement has been more side-to-side, drive and kick to Hughes, Buddy Boeheim or Brissett on a wing. After Wednesday’s win, Battle spoke about the importance of the point guard recognizing the hot hand, and Hughes’ 21, Brissett’s 14 and Buddy’s 13 were due in large part to Battle’s facilitation.“This year, other guys score the ball and any player can get going on any given night,” Battle said. “And when they get going, we want to give them the ball.”Position change is not foreign to Battle over his Syracuse career. A year ago, he bumped down to forward when Syracuse played its three-guard lineup, usually due to foul trouble with its bigs. That put Battle at the bottom of the zone on occasion and in somewhat awkward spots offensively, because he wasn’t where he’s used to being: up top, near or at the wings. Entering 2018, before SU’s point guard injuries, this much was clear: He thrives as a true shooting guard.Yet Battle’s progression in reading the floor from the point is encouraging, he said Wednesday. He said he’s seeing plays develop and is hitting players with passes he may not have made a year ago. He also said he’s more confident in his ball handling, which was suspect during his first two seasons at SU. His ball-handling development could make him more of a threat when he returns to his usual role.“He’s a pretty good ball handler,” Boeheim said. “It’s hard to make that switch, he’s always been a scoring guard. I think he’s done a good job of it but he’s still more of a scoring guard. I think the thing he did tonight, what he’s gotta do is get to the basket, that’s what he does best.”When Battle checked out with 8:36 to go on Wednesday, he sat down with Howard and Carey to his left on the SU bench. They laughed on and off for the rest of the game. Battle said that at that point, the guards weren’t talking about playing point, just “playing around.”But come next Tuesday, for Syracuse’s regular-season opener, one of those three will have to run the show. Published on October 31, 2018 at 10:36 pm Contact Matthew: firstname.lastname@example.org | @MatthewGut21 Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments