Koenig to sign a two-way deal with Milwaukee, Hayes heads to New York

Bronson Koenig has reportedly found an NBA home, and he won’t be going far.

According to Michael Scotto of the Basketball Insiders, the former Wisconsin guard has agreed to join the Milwaukee Bucks.

Though not finalized, Koenig is expected to sign a two-way deal, according to the La Crosse Tribune. The deals are a part of the new CBA, and essentially give every team two more roster spots for players that will spend a majority of their time in the NBA’s G-League. It allows them to develop the player in their system, while also paying them more than the average G-League player.

Koenig worked out for Milwaukee in May, but suffered an ankle injury near the end of the session and was crutches afterwards. That limited his ability to perform in front of other teams until the last few weeks, but he was apparently impressive in those workouts, with ESPN’s Ian Bagley tweeting that the La Crosse product was moving up the draft boards of several teams.

A three-year starter at Wisconsin, Koenig left Madison as the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, and developed a reputation for hitting big shots when the Badgers needed it the most, including a buzzer beater in the 2016 NCAA Tournament to beat Xavier and advance to the Sweet 16.

On Thursday, Koenig wrote a letter via ‘The Players’ Tribune,’ telling general managers around the league why they should take him, including the fact that he believed he was the best shooter in the draft.

While Koenig is staying home, his former teammate, Nigel Hayes, is reportedly headed to play for the New York Knicks. It’s unclear if Hayes’ agreement is a two-way deal or simply for their summer league team.

New York was one of the team’s Hayes worked out for in the pre-draft process.

Michigan tops Wisconsin in Big Ten title game 71-56

WASHINGTON — Derrick Walton, Jr. led the Michigan Wolverines to their first Big Ten tournament championship Sunday afternoon, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 71-56.

Walton was a focal point for the Badgers defensively, but he still managed a game-high 22 points on 6-of-15 shooting. He added six rebounds and seven assists, while Bronson Koenig finished with 15 points for Wisconsin.

Koenig was an important piece for a Wisconsin team that battled back from a 10-point deficit to get within one point before halftime. Unfortunately for the Badgers, they’d come out of halftime to go nearly eight minutes without a field goal. The Badgers struggled shooting, despite grabbing 13 rebounds on the offensive glass.

Nigel Hayes added 14 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort for Wisconsin.

Happ, Koenig, Hayes and Showalter earn All-Big Ten recognition

MADISON — Wisconsin’s season didn’t end with a Big Ten regular season title, but several players still earned recognition for their work during the conference season when the All-Big Ten teams were announced Monday.

Forward Ethan Happ was a first-team pick by the coaches and media, becoming just the second Wisconsin sophomore to earn the honor, joining Michael Finley. Happ led the Badgers in rebounds, assists, blocks and steals per game, while finishing second in points. His selection also makes it four straight years where the Badgers have at least one All-Big Ten first-team player.

Senior Bronson Koenig was named to the second-team by the coaches after leading Wisconsin at 14.2 points per game during the season, including 17 in his final home game on Sunday against Minnesota. Koenig was a third-team pick by the media.

In his final season, Nigel Hayes earned third-team honors from both the coaches and the media after scoring 13.5 points and grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game.

Happ and senior Zak Showalter were named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team, the second time for Happ and the first for Showalter. Wisconsin led the Big Ten in scoring defense at 61.4 points per game.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, with Michigan State’s Malcom Bridges earning Freshman of the Year honors and Minnesota’s Richard Pitino picking up the Coach of the Year award.

The full list of award winners can be found here.

UW seniors shoot Badgers to 66-49 win over Minnesota, #2 seed in Big Ten tournament

MADISON | It’s exactly how the Badger seniors wanted to finish their careers at the Kohl Center. After scoring just 27 points in the first half, the 22nd ranked Wisconsin men’s basketball team exploded for 39 points in the second half and beat Minnesota 66-49 Sunday night.  With the win the Badgers earned the #2 seed in the upcoming Big Ten tournament. Wisconsin, who gets a double-bye, will play either the #7 seed or the #10 seed on Friday night March 10th at 6:30 p.m. at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.

The Badgers found themselves down 29-27 at the half. Senior guard Bronson Koenig, who picked up two quick fouls, was forced to sit much of the first half and had no points at the break. Wisconsin shot just 1-5 from the free throw line in the first.

UW’s free throw shooting woes continued in the second half (6-16 overall), but the Badgers offense came to life | especially Bronson Koenig who knocked down three late three pointers and finished with a team-high 17 points | all in the second half.  Koenig finished 5-8 from beyond the arc in his final game at the Kohl Center.

Senior Zach Showalter also finished with a fine game in his final game in Madison scoring 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Nigel Hayes added 12 points. Ethan Happ finished with 9 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.

Wisconsin’s defense held the Gophers to just 20 second half points. Minnesota shot just 32 percent from the game, 23% from three point land (3-13). The Badgers shot 43.9% from the field (25-57) and 10-18 from three-point land.

Wisconsin finishes the regular season 23-8 overall, 12-6 in the Big Ten tied with Maryland for 2nd place in conference.  Minnesota falls to 23-8 overall, 11-7 in conference in 4th place.

Badgers clinch double bye in Big Ten Tournament, Happ leads Wisconsin at half

MADISON, Wisconsin | Thanks to Purdue’s 69-65 win over Northwestern Sunday, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team will have a double bye in the 2017 Big Ten Tournament. Wisconsin will play Friday March 10th as either the #2 seed or the #4 seed, depending on what happens in Sunday night’s game against Minnesota at the Kohl Center. The Badgers-Gophers winner will earn the 2 seed and will play Friday night at 6:30 against either the #7 seed or the #10 seed on the Big Ten Network. The Badgers-Gophers loser will earn the #4 seed and will play at approximately 2:45 p.m. on Friday against either the 5, 12 or 13 seed on ESPN.

The Big Ten Tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington DC March 8-12.

Minnesota was leading the Badgers 29-27 at the half on Sunday at the Kohl Center. Ethan Happ led the first half for Wisconsin with 8 points. Zach Showalter and Nigel Hayes added 7 first half points. Once again free throws were an issue for the Badgers going 1-5. Senior guard Bronson Koenig picked up two quick fouls and was forced to sit much of the first half. Koenig had no points in the opening half.

Wisconsin falls at Michigan State

Nigel Hayes scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but No. 16 Wisconsin fell for a second straight game, this time 84-74 at Michigan State on Sunday.

The Badgers got out to a solid start, leading 10-4, but the Spartans would score 15 of the next 19 points to take a lead they would not relinquish. Center Nick Ward scored a team-high 22 points for Michigan State, while forward Miles Bridges added 17 and guard Matt McQuaid came off the bench to contribute 15.

Wisconsin’s issues were aplenty, including going just 13 of 25 from the foul line, making a brutal 14 of 31 layups and allowing 80-plus points in back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since 1993. It all led to the Badgers fourth loss in their last five games.

Hayes’ afternoon, which also included four assists and solid defense on Bridgers, overshadowed by a 4 of 12 effort from the foul line.

Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter played well offensively, scoring 15 points, including three 3-pointers, while Bronson Koenig went for 17 points (1 of 9 on 3-pointers).

The Badgers leading scorer coming in, sophomore Ethan Happ, had just eight points but did grab 11 boards.

The loss leaves Wisconsin (22-7, 11-5) one-game back of Purdue and one-game up on Maryland, Michigan State and Minnesota in the Big Ten standings. The Badgers will finish out the conference season with a pair of home games — Thursday against Iowa and Sunday against Minnesota.

No. 16 Wisconsin upset at Ohio State 83-73

Bronson Koenig scored had 27 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough for No. 16 Wisconsin in an embarrassing 83-73 loss at Ohio State Thursday night.

The Buckeyes, just 5-10 in Big Ten play coming in, trailed for only 2:59 of the game on their way to easily their best win of the season. Coach Thad Matta’s team made 10 of their 16 3-point attempts, a high in conference play, and shot 50 percent for the game — just the fourth team this year to do that against Wisconsin.

Ohio State was paced by C.J. Jackson’s 18 points, while JaQuan Lyle added 17 off the bench.

Koenig was the lone consistent weapon for Wisconsin, who lost for a third time in four games. The senior went 5 of 9 from beyond the arc, and in doing so passed Ben Brust for the most 3-pointers in school history.

The other members of Wisconsin’s ‘Big 3’ — Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ — combined for just 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting, and for just the third time this year, Happ didn’t shoot a single free throw.

The loss dropped the Badgers (22-6, 11-4) into second place in the Big Ten, one game back of Purdue with three to go. Wisconsin will travel to Michigan State on Sunday, a place it hasn’t won since 2004.

Koenig expects to start for Badgers vs Ohio State

MADISON, Wis. — Senior guard Bronson Koenig played through a left calf injury in Sunday’s win over Maryland and told reporters Tuesday night that he expects to be back in the starting lineup Thursday night at Ohio State.

Koenig suffered the injury Jan. 24 against Penn State, which caused a sharp decline in his play the next five games. His Big Ten season average of 57.5 percent from three-point range and 51.5 percent from the field dipped to 22.6 and 25.5 percent, respectively. He then missed the Feb. 16 contest at Michigan — his first time sitting out due to injury. That’s why his 31 minutes of action in the win over Maryland was significant.

“I didn’t know how many minutes I had played until I looked at the stat sheet after the game,” Koenig said Tuesday following practice. “I was kind of surprised and surprised at how good I felt.”

All nine of Koenig’s points against the Terrapins came in the second half after adjusting to playing off the bench.

Koenig acknowledged that he intends to play Thursday night in Columbus, and that “rest is key at any point of the season but especially at this point. I don’t think anybody is really 100 percent.”

Wisconsin snaps a two-game losing streak with a 71-60 win over Maryland

MADISON — No. 11 Wisconsin turned a six-point halftime deficit into a much needed double-digit win on Sunday, snapping a two-game losing streak by beating No. 23 Maryland 71-60 at the Kohl Center.

“I thought guys, especially in the second half, answered the bell, so to speak,” coach Greg Gard said of his team’s effort.

After managing to hit just 28 percent of their shots in the first half, the Badgers saw Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ shoot a combined 9 of 15 after the break on their way to making 51.5 percent from the field in the second half. Add in the fact they turned the ball over just once in the final 20 minutes and limited Maryland to just eight made field goals, and it was clear why they were successful.

“That was more like (who) this team is,” Gard said.

Hayes, two days after saying he needed to be more assertive and step his game up, did just that, scoring a game-high 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds — his second double-double in Big Ten play. Nine of his points came at the free throw line, an indication of his aggressiveness.

“We’re not the best outside shooting team, currently,” said Hayes, who was 0 of 2 from 3-point range on a team that made just 2 of their 12 shots from deep. “I tried to do my best to get to the rim, try to draw some fouls.”

Happ scored 20 points and added seven rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble in the second half.

But the biggest lift may have come in the form of Bronson Koenig. Wisconsin prepared like they wouldn’t have the senior guard for a second straight game due to a calf injury, but he ended up coming off the bench and played 31 minutes.

His first make, a 3-pointer, tied the game at 36 with 16:29 left. The next time down the court he hit a jumper to give the Badgers a 38-36 lead. He made two more shots later in the game and finished with nine points, all in the second half.

“It was great for him to get back in the flow of things,” senior Zak Showalter said of Koenig. “He’s had five days off so he was a little bit slow but it was good to see him come in and contribute.”

Koenig wasn’t the only one off the bench to help. Redshirt freshman Brevin Pritzl, who didn’t play a minute in the loss to Michigan on Thursday, gave the Badgers seven points and seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end, which led to six second-chance points for Wisconsin.

Maryland was paced by Melo Trimble’s 27 points, but the junior guard didn’t play in the final 4:32, with coach Mark Turgeon saying he was tired, pointing to five missed free throws during the game.

The win leaves Wisconsin (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) in a tie with Purdue atop the Big Ten with four games to play.

The Badgers next to contests are on the road, with a trip to Ohio State on Thursday and a visit to Michigan State on Sunday.

Notes:

— Former Wisconsin running back James White was honored during the game for his performance in Super Bowl LI. He caught a Super Bowl-record 14 passes and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime to help the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons and win their second title in three years.

— Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson was in attendance, sitting behind the Wisconsin bench. He was recognized during the game as well as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

— Former Wisconsin forward Duje Dukan, currently playing with the Chicago Bulls’ D-League team, was also at the game.

Gard: ‘I don’t know when (or) if’ Bronson Koenig will return

Wisconsin’s offense could certainly use a boost from a healthy Bronson Koenig, but it’s unclear whether the Badgers will get that when they host Maryland on Sunday.

The senior guard was held out of Thursday’s 64-58 loss at Michigan due to a calf injury suffered against Penn State on Jan. 24.

“I don’t know,” coach Greg Gard said when asked if Koenig would be available for the game against the Terrapins. “It’ll be day-to-day. It has been — and will be — in the medical staff’s hands. They’ll tell me what his status is each day.

“I don’t know when (or) if (he’ll return). I don’t know any more than I did before the game that he wasn’t going to play (Thursday night).”

In the five games after the injury, Koenig hit just 7 of 31 shots from 3-point range and was shooting under 30 percent overall — both figures a steep decline from his career numbers. And it just so happens the injury coincides with the Badgers dip in production on the offensive end.

After shooting under 40 percent in two of their first 20 games of the season with a healthy Koenig in the lineup, the Badgers have been under that figure in four straight games — the longest such streak for the program since the start of the 2003-2004 season. And after averaging more than 76 points per game to start the season, that number is down to 60.8 over the last six.

Koenig’s replacement on Thursday, true freshman D’Mitrik Trice, was up and down, handing out four assists with just two turnovers, but also shooting a dismal 2 of 15 from the field.

“He got himself in some positions where he had to take tough shots,” Gard said. “I’ll break it down shot-by-shot of what was good and what was not. I thought he got himself in trouble at times, too. But he also found himself open a few times, too, and you got to knock down shots when you have the opportunity.”