By TOM LEA
MADISON — Wisconsin freshman Sam Dekker watched the Big Ten Network announce all the Big Ten basketball awards Monday night. What should have been a night of celebration — Dekker was an honorable mention all-conference selection — turned somewhat sour.
Though many thought Dekker had an opportunity to be named the league’s sixth man of the year, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead it went to Indiana’s Will Sheehey, a player that averaged 9.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 points per game.
“I was a little bit (upset),” Dekker said. “But I blame myself for that, for some of the lapses I’ve had mostly on the defensive end. If I was more consistent on that end I probably would have won it.”
Defense has definitely been the area Dekker has struggled most during his transition from prep standout to college role player. He’s been burned multiple times throughout the course of the season and probably lost minutes because of it, especially during the first half of the season.
Watch a typical Badgers practice and it wouldn’t take long for head coach Bo Ryan to point out a defensive mistake Dekker has made. But the freshman, like he seems to always do, shrugged of the fact he didn’t win the league’s sixth man of the year award.
Even though his numbers are very similar to Sheehey’s, and even though Dekker’s numbers in league play are better, he simply said he’ll use the slight as motivation as he progresses through his career.
“That’s just fuel to the fire for myself,” he said. “To work on my weaknesses and my game. Hopefully next year I’ll be even better.”
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