The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team didn't play a minute without a point guard on the floor during its victory over UW-Green Bay on Friday, Nov. 12.

Freshmen Chucky Hepburn and Lorne Bowman shared the responsibility of the role of traditional point guard against the Phoenix.

Assistant coach Dean Oliver said the Badgers play better when there is a point guard on the floor. Hepburn and Bowman are two of the younger players on the team and are playing arguably the most important role on the court.

"The point guard is the extension of the coach, he's kind of the coach on the floor," Oliver said. "He's got to get guys organized, make sure that we get a great shot every single trip, and then set our defense and make sure that we are playing the right way on the defensive end. He's got so many responsibilities."

Hepburn has started both games at point guard this season, but he isn't always the person taking the ball up court. Both Johnny Davis and Brad Davison have stepped in when Hepburn needed some help over the team's first two games.

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Hepburn is likely to start at the position again when UW (2-0) welcomes Providence (2-0) to the Kohl Center at 8 p.m. Monday for a Gavitt Games matchup.

Wisconsin Badgers guard Lorne Bowman II (11) brings the ball up the floor during the game with the St. Francis Terriers on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. 
Mary Langenfeld / USA TODAY Sports
Wisconsin Badgers guard Lorne Bowman II (11) brings the ball up the floor during the game with the St. Francis Terriers on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Mary Langenfeld / USA TODAY Sports

Davis, a sophomore, has had to play point guard during his career. He said it's typically the most level-headed, experienced player who's playing at point, so it's interesting that the Badgers rely on two freshmen.

"Chucky is as good as he is and he hasn't had a lot of experience playing in college," Davis said. "Point guards are supposed to keep the team mellow. When the other team starts to get up tempo, they keep their teammates in check."

Bowman and Davison showed how point guards can set the pace during the team's game on Friday. Davison had a fast break and drove to the basket. The team was up by 23 points at this point and Bowman called for the ball to slow down the game and set up a better shot.

It can be a risk having two freshmen in this role, Oliver said. Freshmen are typically just excited to play and want to show that they can perform well individually. When you're a point guard you can't be selfish, you have to make sure the team is playing well, he said.

"They'll learn on the fly," Oliver said. "Both of them have done a nice job of soaking it in and asking questions when they make mistakes. They really want to know why or how they should do something different. They're also team guys, I think that's the number one thing as a point guard is you can't be consumed in yourself, in your own play."

The pair are similar players in that they both have a pass-first mentality. Hepburn and Bowman are also often trying to push the pace. They've combined for seven of the team's 16 total assists so far this season.

Oliver said Bowman is a versatile shooter who can score off the dribble as well as with jumpers and 3-pointers. He scored nine points against St. Francis and three against Green Bay. He also has the highest 3-point shooting percentage, making 4 of 6 from behind the arc so far.

Hepburn also can shoot and has the second highest 3-point shooting, hitting 3 of 6. Oliver called him the "ultimate team leader" and said he reminds him a lot of Davison.

"He is a pass-first point guard, a traditional point guard, you don't see a whole lot of that these days, where he's thinking pass first and how can I get someone else's shot," Oliver said. "He knows he can get a shot himself also. Defensively, Chucky is on another level. Most high school guys don't come in with the type of defensive mentality that he has."

Having a point guard on the floor allows Davison and Davis to focus on other things.

Davis has more than doubled his scoring average from a year ago in the first two games, going from seven points per game to 15. Davison is averaging 11.5 points over 23.5 minutes per game and has connected on 50% of his shots from the floor.

"When there's a point guard on the floor I don't have to worry about going to get the ball, bringing it up and I'm not worried about ball handling," Davis said. "I can just go to my spot and run the offense."

Hepburn said it can be a lot of pressure to be the main ball handler, but he just tries to set his team up for success on every possession he has.

"I just try to go out there and compete my hardest, show them what I'm capable of and play how I do," Hepburn said. "There's three people that can't have bad days in the game, that's the coach, the best player, and the point guard."

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