Koenig is on fire

    Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig (24) high-fives Sam Dekker after hitting a 3-pointer during against Illinois. | Andy Manis, AP

     La Crosse native coming into his own 

    Column by RICK SOLEM 

    MADISON, Wis.  Bronson Koenig is in the zone.

    There's no other way to put it. He's a different player now that he's a starter.

    http://youtu.be/FpO-nHD8SCU

    Since he's taken over point guard duties for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team, the sophomore is shooting 21-for-39 (53.8 percent) from beyond the arc.

    He was awful shooting as the backup for the now injured Traevon Jackson. He couldn't hit anything. It's mind-boggling. As the sixth man, he averaged 4.4 points and was 5-for-29 from deep. 

    Now, he's got confidence – for himself, from his team and from his coach. Of course, he probably always had the confidence from his team and coach. But now, he must feel he belongs with this group of veterans.

    Bo Ryan had a lot to say about his sophomore point guard Sunday as Koenig scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, going 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. He added four assists, no turnovers and in the Badgers 68-49 win over Illinois at the Kohl Center.

    "I am surprised Bronson is hitting the 3s the way that he is hitting them," Ryan said. "His teammates were calling him, ‘high school’ last year because in the first half of the year, in practice and in games, he must have taken 80 percent of his jump shots standing with two feet on the line.

    "So, they called him ‘high school’ and they had to inform him that he wasn’t at Aquinas (High School) anymore. He just had to realize where the 3-point line was."

    The shooting has come with the starter's role, and the La Crosse, Wis., native continues to do what Ryan loves best - move the ball and not make mistakes, like this play below.

    http://youtu.be/fbQjwt59F2o

    In his eight starts at the point, the 6-foot-4 Koenig has just five turnovers. The added minutes has not added up to more turnovers. As he continues to gain experience as a starter, he continues to thrive.

    “I’m just glad he’s here," Ryan said. "He had no turnovers, that’s pretty good for anyone and he’s pretty confident out there. He’s making his teammates look good which makes the game fun."