GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Seven-footer Frank Kaminsky owns the school single-game scoring record. Forward Sam Dekker creates matchup problems with his inside-out game.
But someone needs to get the big guys the ball for No. 8 Wisconsin, and coach Bo Ryan's team has three players who are filling that role and then some.
At 8-0, the Badgers are a virtual offensive juggernaut scoring 76.8 points per game. They're off to their best start in 20 seasons, with a huge assist from their three starting guards.
Senior Ben Brust is the shooter and junior Traevon Jackson is the confident point guard. Fourth-year junior Josh Gasser is the steady, all-around defensive expert.
"In the past, we'd usually wait until the shot clock (winded down) and make a play," Jackson said. "We've got enough skills to make plays throughout the game and take our chances."
And each guard can easily slide into a teammate's role when necessary.
"If we have a screen ... we can definitely switch it. We can cover 1 through 3, no problem at all, all of us," Gasser said after practice Monday. "Offensively, too, we can all go down to the post and score."
Some better than others.
"Oh, bad. I don't finish enough," the 6-foot-1 Brust said about how he fares around the bucket. "I've got to do something better when I get down there."
It's OK -- Brust leads the team in 3-pointers (20) and rebounding (5.8 per game). It might be the perfect example of Ryan's emphasis of having all five players on the floor being able to play every position -- guards work on post plays, while forwards work on ball-handling.
Kaminsky, a big man who can shoot the 3, leads the Badgers at 15.8 points per game, while Dekker is next at 14.6 points. Each starting guard averages at least 10.4 points headed into Wednesday night's Big Ten/ACC Challenge game at Virginia.
Wisconsin is shooting 43.6 percent from 3-point range and 48 percent overall, though this doesn't mean that Wisconsin has suddenly turned into a run-and-gun team. Efficiency remains the key word in Madison.
The Badgers are averaging 66.3 possessions per game, an increase of four from last season, and the fastest pace since the 67 possessions per game in 2005-6. But the Badgers are also scoring 1.2 points per possession -- the most efficient team Ryan's 13 seasons as head coach.
Coincidence or not, it's happening with three guards in the starting lineup. Ball screens are important. All three guards can be trusted to make play calls.
Gasser is back after a missing the 2012-13 season with a knee injury. Brust and Jackson are in their second seasons as starters.
"Offensively, we stay pretty consistent in what we do," assistant coach Lamont Paris said. "Last year we were fairly inexperienced at the guard spot ... I think they're better at it because they're a little more experienced."
The veteran presence has come in handy during a tricky nonconference schedule. Wisconsin opened the season with wins over power conference teams St. John's and Florida before beating Horizon League contender Green Bay on the road.
The next game, Kaminsky scored 43 points against North Dakota to secure the school record. Last week, the Badgers won the Cancun Challenge in Mexico with victories over St. Louis and West Virginia.
Ryan said he likes how his team has stepped up to beat opponents with different systems. Sounds like the perfect preparation for playing in March.
Defense might be the early concern, with Wisconsin allowing 66.2 points per game. The renewed emphasis from officials this year to improve scoring by increasing freedom of movement and reducing physical play hasn't really had much of an impact.
"We haven't been a handsy team in the past, so we just need to keep working on our positioning and our footwork," Ryan said.
Communicating on the court, like calling out screens on defense, is another area to improve -- though the backcourt trio is rarely caught off-guard.
"Yeah, we can take each other's guy. There's not much panic if you end up on a different guy," Brust said. "We're pretty much interchangeable."
Note: Ryan is one win from 300 victories at Wisconsin. He would become the ninth coach to reach that plateau at a Big Ten school.
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.