UW men's basketball: Gavinski doesn't get much playing time, but he holds his head up

2011-02-26T20:17:00Z 2011-02-27T01:02:14Z UW men's basketball: Gavinski doesn't get much playing time, but he holds his head upROB SCHULTZ | rschultz@madison.com | 608-252-6487 madison.com

J.P. Gavinski has played a grand total of 43 minutes and scored 10 points in 21 games over the past four seasons, and everyone connected with the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team considers him an important part of its success.

"He's a crucial part of our team because he does little things that people aren't going to see every day," junior point guard Jordan Taylor said.

"That's what makes us appreciate him that much more."

Gavinski, along with Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil, Wquinton Smith and Brett Valentyn, will be honored during Senior Night festivities after the No. 12 Badgers play Northwestern Sunday night at the Kohl Center.

Just don't think that's the reason Gavinski's teammates spoke so glowingly of his contributions to the team this week.

They pointed to the 6-foot-11 redshirt senior's role as a hard-working leader of the scout team at every practice and his great sense of timing, always saying the right thing to keep the team loose as reasons why he has been a great teammate.

They also thumbed their noses at those who believe Gavinski, a former Wisconsin Dells standout, hasn't done enough to have earned a scholarship that covered five years. His critics, they say, don't understand the inner workings of a close team like this year's — how it is built and chemistry is developed.

You see, Gavinski has the mind of a scientist when it comes to team chemistry.

"The way you carry yourself every day will affect how you play," Gavinski said.

"If you're having a bad day, as soon as you walk into the locker room you have to be ready to strap up and forget about everything. That's tough to do sometimes. Some guys have trouble with it. But that's what everybody else is there for. They'll pick you up."

It's Gavinski who picks his teammates up with a joke, a remark or a quote from the movie "Dumb and Dumber" or another comedy. He has taken the tension out of the locker room and snapped his teammates out post-loss doldrums dozens of times.

"He's the guy you want on your team because he keeps everybody mellow and puts things in perspective sometimes that guys don't always see," Leuer said.

Gavinski is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in human ecology-leadership studies. He's spending this semester working as an intern back home at the Original Wisconsin Ducks, which is owned by his uncle. He has no idea where he will be a year from now, but no matter what he's doing he'll use the principles learned from UW coach Bo Ryan to guide him.

"I came to practice every day and worked hard," Gavinski said. "I did what I had to do. That's how it goes. That's the way it is. I did my part every day in practice, that's all I can say."

That's what Ryan asks for from his players. Ryan watched Gavinski battle Leuer, Nankivil, Marcus Landry, Joe Krabbenhoft, Greg Stiemsma, Brian Butch and Kevin Gullikson for playing time. Gavinski didn't win any of those battles, but Ryan liked his effort each time.

"He worked extremely hard every day with the conditioning, with the weights. He's a good team player," Ryan said.

So Gavinski never won a game for the Badgers, but his work on and off the court helped them prepare to win. He found ways to contribute that were appreciated.

"There are no regrets here," he said.

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