Chappell emerging as effective offensive threat

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoLen Chappell was the last player in NCAA history to average 30 points per game over an entire season, doing so for Wake Forest in 1962. It is fitting, then, that the offensive dynamo’s son would find his own offensive mojo on his fathers’ old stomping grounds. Literally underneath the banner — hanging in the rafters — and the gaze of his father, who was sitting in the crowd, Wisconsin junior forward Jason Chappell discovered his role in the swing offense and is now a reliable offensive option, not the liability many thought he might be.”The first couple games I was just trying to get used to being out on the floor and playing with all these guys,” Chappell said. “If you’re running the swing well you’re definitely going to get open, so you just have to make the most of it.”Chappell certainly didn’t do anything to embarrass himself through Wisconsin’s first four games of the season. Averaging 4.5 points, four rebounds, two assists and 19 minutes per game, Chappell was solid, but didn’t seem comfortable in the starting lineup.Since the second-half of the Wake Forest game, however, Chappell has looked infinitely more confident and quicker to let the ball fly should he find himself open.”That second-half my jump shot was feeling pretty good,” Chappell said. “I knew if I was open, I could hit it.”Against Wake Forest, Chappell scored a career-high 11 points, shooting 2-for-2 from the field and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the second half after going 1-for-5 in the opening stanza.Chappell followed up his performance by setting a new career high in points scored against Pepperdine, pouring in 15 on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. The offensive explosion has caught opposing teams off guard.”We didn’t know that Chappell can shoot the ball as well as he did,” Pepperdine head coach Paul Westphal said.Just as Westphal wasn’t cognizant of Chappell’s offensive abilities, neither was Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser.”If they keep saying … they are surprised, well obviously they aren’t doing their scouting too well,” Chappell said. “People will probably start taking notice more and more that I can hit the outside shot and start playing me differently, but for now I suppose I am enjoying it.”Chappell doesn’t have to light teams up on his own, but simply knock down the open shots that are sure to come his way as teams continue to key on junior forward Alando Tucker and junior guard Kammron Taylor.”We figured we could have our center clog the middle to keep Taylor and Tucker from hurting us inside and if we gave up anything, it would be shots to [Chappell],” said Westphal. “But he hurt us.”This kind of stratagem has been the defense du jour against Wisconsin this season, but might not hold out for much longer, should players like Chappell and sophomore center Brian Butch continue to contribute and make teams pay for double-teaming Tucker and Taylor.Although Chappell is listed as a junior, he might as well be a redshirt freshman for all the experience he has seen on the floor prior to this season, a total of 59 minutes in his first three years. The reason for the limited minutes wasn’t because of depth or skill level but simply because injuries have plagued Chappell’s career.He redshirted the 2003-2004 season after missing six weeks with a foot injury and then started off last year on the same foot — the wrong one — sustaining an ankle injury that hindered him from competing for minutes early in the season.”The one thing that people don’t realize, probably because I overshadowed him, is that he’s had injuries,” said Tucker, no stranger to injuries himself. “When I broke my foot, he broke his foot and he bounced back. Then last year he had an early ankle injury that he struggled with the whole season and, man, that plays on your confidence.”The UW coaching staff is hardly surprised about Chappell’s emergence as an offensive threat.”I think the best way to describe Jason is that he has taken advantage of his opportunities,” Badger assistant coach Greg Gard said. “We’ve always known that Jason has the potential. I always felt it was just about him getting some confidence and him getting some reps.”Regardless of how Chappell has emerged from obscurity, it is probably safe to say that when Wisconsin plays UW-Green Bay on Wednesday, Phoenix head coach Tod Kowalczyk won’t be caught off guard by anything he sees from Chappell. But then again, that might not even matter.”I don’t think defenses are ever going to start keying on me [as long as we have Tucker and Taylor], so I think there will still be open shots, whether they think I can shoot or not,” Chappell said.last_img read more