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.”

D’Mitrik Trice to get his first career start in place of an injured Bronson Koenig

Wisconsin will be without their starting point guard when they take on Michigan Thursday night.

The team announced that senior point guard Bronson Koenig will miss the game as he deals with a calf strain that has hampered him since first injuring it against Penn State on Jan. 24.

“The medical staff made a decision (on Wednesday),” coach Greg Gard told UWBadgers.com “We knew it was unlikely he was going to play and then (we) made a final determination (Thursday) morning.”

In Koenig’s place will be true freshman D’Mitrik Trice, who is averaging 5.5 points and 1.6 assists per game.

“He’s ready for this moment,” Gard said. “I’ve said all along he’s wiser and older than his freshman year says in the program. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Trice said Tuesday he was preparing like he was going to start, and he spent the entire week as the No. 1 point guard with Koenig sitting out.

“(I) just have to go out and do what I need to do to help my team win,” Trice said of his role. “Whether that’s pass the ball, come off screens and find open guys or knock down the 15-footer, hit an open 3 here and there and just direct the offense.”

Koenig had seen his performance drop off significantly since the injury, making just 7 of 31 shots from beyond the arc and shooting under 30 percent from the field overall.

“We know it’s huge loss,” senior Nigel Hayes said this week. “As I’ve always answered when another team loses a key player, other players will step up. That’s just what happens.

“We know what Bronson does. Bronson takes his shots. All that means is there are more shots for someone else, another opportunity for someone to step up.

“Trice has been playing well. Brevin (Pritzl) has been doing well. Gives more opportunities for Jordan (Hill) and those guys to step up and try and make something happen.”

Entering the day, No. 11 Wisconsin (21-4, 10-2) owns a 1/2 game lead in the Big Ten on Purdue and Maryland.

Koenig misses Tuesday practice with leg injury, expected to play vs Michigan

MADISON, Wis. — Following Sunday’s 66-59 loss to Northwestern, Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard noted that the left calf injury to senior guard Bronson Koenig was affecting his performance. That’s why he was given the night off from Tuesday’s practice.

This season, Koenig is averaging career highs in field goal percentage (.418) and points (13.4), not including his freshman year. But after suffering the leg injury Jan. 24 against Penn State, Koenig is just 14-of-55 (.254) from the field and averaging 8.8 points per game.

University of Wisconsin officials say the injury won’t keep him from playing in Thursday night’s contest at Michigan, however. But freshman guard D’Mitrik Trice is ready to step up if necessary.

“I’m preparing for that, definitely,” Trice said following Tuesday’s practice. “You never know with Bronson [Koenig] and whatever’s going on with him. I know I’m praying for him and things like that, but I’m definitely preparing with that mindset.”

Trice has been a source of confidence for coach Greg Gard this season, averaging 17.1 minutes per game, hitting 42.6 percent of his field goal attempts.

Koenig has not been available to speak with reporters this week to discuss the injury.

Badgers fall to Northwestern 66-59 at home, Koenig scores just 2 points

MADISON | The Badger men’s basketball team’s 19-game home winning streak is over. Wisconsin’s shooting woes finally got the best of them as Northwestern invaded the Kohl Center and beat the 7th ranked Badgers 66-59 on Sunday night.

Bronson Koenig scored just two points on 1-8 shooting. Northwestern ended the first half on a 19-3 run to take a 31-22 lead into the locker room. Wisconsin started out the second half on a 10-0 run as Northwestern went 0-8 to start the second. But Wildcat Bryant McIntosh took over scoring 25 points. Northwestern gets its much coveted signature win. The Badgers fall to 21-4, 10-2 in the Big Ten, a game ahead of second place Maryland and Purdue with six games left in the regular season.

Playing without leading scorer Scottie Lindsey, the Wildcats (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) shot 48.3 percent from the floor in the second half, dropped seven 3-pointers and locked down on sophomore Ethan Happ with double teams over the final 30 minutes every time he touched the post.

Wisconsin senior Nigel Hayes scored 13 points to lead the Badgers.

 

The Badgers finished the game one of its last seven, the only make coming on a meaningless D’Mitrik Trice three-pointer at the buzzer

The Badgers will play at Michigan on Thursday night at 6.

Bronson Koenig catches fire late, helps No. 17 Wisconsin past Michigan 68-64

MADISON — Senior Bronson Koenig scored 16 points, including 13 in the second half, as No. 17 Wisconsin took care of Michigan 68-64 on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

Trailing 49-43 after back-to-back 3-pointers by the Wolverines, the Badgers went on a 15-0 run started by a put-back lay-up by senior Zak Showalter, sustained by a personal 10-0 run by Koenig, and finished by a 3-pointer from senior Nigel Hayes to give Wisconsin a 57-49 lead — its biggest of the game.

Michigan didn’t go away, though, and got within two points in the final seconds before a pair of Koenig free throws sealed the deal.

Koenig finished 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, tying former Badgers guard Kirk Penney for the third-most 3-pointers (217) in a career at Wisconsin.

The run led by Koenig was the second one the Badgers needed. Ai Zak Irvin jumper with 12:11 left in the game gave the Wolverines an 8-point lead, their biggest of the night. At that point, Wisconsin was 1 of 8 from the field after halftime, and the offense was stagnant. But a free throw from freshman D’Mitrik Trice, followed by a 3-pointer off his second missed free throw, jump-started the Badgers to score 38 points over the rest of the game on the way to their 17th straight win at home.

Wisconsin shot 37.9 percent in the first half, but were much better in the second, hitting 54.2 percent of their shots, including 12 of their final 16 attempts.

Hayes and senior Vitto Brown each had 13 points, while sophomore Ethan Happ added 11.

Irvin led the way for Michigan with 20 points.

Among the bigger stories of the game were the fouls. Three Michigan players ended up fouling out, and Wisconsin spent the final 14:26 of the game in the bonus. The Badgers didn’t exactly take advantage, going just 14 of 24 from the line, including 4 of 10 for Hayes.

The win moved the Badgers (15-3, 4-1) into a tie for first place in the Big Ten with Maryland. Wisconsin will travel to Minnesota on Saturday.

Hayes, defense lead the way for Wisconsin in a 73-59 win against UW-Green Bay

MADISON | Nigel Hayes scored 24 point, and Zak Showalter added 16 as No. 14 Wisconsin took care of UW-Green Bay 73-59 on Wednesday night at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin used a 20-7 run midway through the second half to open up a 24-point lead before coasting down the stretch for the win.

The game was marked by a strong defensive effort from the Badgers, who held Green Bay’s two leading scorers — Charles Cooper (4 of 11) and Trevor Anderson (1 of 6) — to just 13 points, with a lot of credit going to Showalter, who had a career-high six steals on the night.

“We’ve been working at getting in gaps ad nauseam in practice for pretty much the last three months,” Showalter said. “It’s something coach (Greg) Gard has really stressed. I’ve tried to work on that and just be able to get my hands on the ball as much as possible. Some nights you’re able to do it, and some nights you get called for ticky tack fouls. Tonight I was able to do it.”

Offensively, it was another strong outing for Ethan Happ. The sophomore scored 14 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out a career-high 6 assists, including a pair on fast break opportunities. He also, for the first time in his career, hit a jump shot from outside the paint.

Happ’s teammates joked that it was the loudest the Kohl Center had ever been when the show went down, but he’s hoping it’s not a one-time occurrence.

“I want to get it to the point where (the crowd doesn’t) have to do that every time I make shot,” Happ said. “Hopefully down the road it’s jut a normal clap.”

Wisconsin got the win despite an off night from guard Bronson Koenig, who went 1 of 9 from the field and didn’t hit a 3-pointer in a game for just the third time in the last two seasons.

The win pushed the Badgers to 10-2 on the year. They’ve got a 9-day break for final exams before taking on Florida A&M on Dec. 23 in the final game before Big Ten play starts.

Bronson Koenig scores 17 as Wisconsin takes out in-state rival Marquette 93-84

Nigel Hayes couldn’t care less about the Wisconsin-Marquette rivalry. The senior has repeatedly said throughout his time in Madison that it’s just another game on the schedule, and his tune didn’t change on Saturday in the wake of the Badgers 93-84 win against the Golden Eagles in Milwaukee.

“This rivalry doesn’t mean much to me. I’m from Ohio, so I don’t really care,” Hayes said. “I just look at it as another game that we have the ability to go out and win against a good team.”

But perhaps remembering what was said by Marquette’s Henry Ellenson a year ago — that the Golden Eagles proved who the best team in the state was with their 57-55 win in Madison — Hayes finished by saying what many Wisconsin fans were probably thinking.

“We had a little bump last year in the road,” said Hayes, who finished his career 3-1 against Marquette. “(But) big brother always rises back to the top where he’s supposed to be.”

And that’s exactly where the Badgers were following an intense and hard-fought game that saw them erase a 5-point halftime deficit, lead by as many as 18 and then close things out at the free throw line.

“You see how consistent we can be. When we are consistent, we’re pretty effective,” coach Greg Gard said. “But you also see the times where we’re not (and) how much more we have to grow and how much better we can get.”

Playing without sophomore Ethan Happ for much of the first half due to two quick fouls, the Badgers were able to keep things close despite four 3-pointers by Katin Reinhardt off the bench. But when Happ returned after the break, that’s when things started to swing in Wisconsin’s favor, and it showed on the scoreboard.

The Badgers outscored Marquette 35-12 in the first 13:16 of the second half to take a 70-52 lead, and the Golden Eagles never got closer than eight the rest of the game.

Guard Bronson Koenig had 17 points and six assists to lead a Wisconsin offense that put up its most points ever in the 123 meetings between the two schools, hitting on 58.2 percent of their shots for the game, including going 8 of 18 from beyond the arc.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Badgers, who won their fifth straight game. Hayes ended up with 17 points, Vitto Brown had 15, Zak Showalter added 11 and Happ also had a 11 in just the second half. Wisconsin also got a big lift off the bench from Khalil Iverson, who scored a career-high 16 points on 5 of 6 shooting, and was a terror on defense, blocking a pair of shots.

Marquette was led by guard Markus Howard, who had 22 points, while Reinhardt scored 16.

With the win, Gard improved to 24-10 as Wisconsin’s coach, including a 9-2 record this season.

The Badgers will face UW-Green Bay on Wednesday at the Kohl Center.

A year later, the Badgers know who they are as they face Marquette

MADISON | A year ago at this time, the Wisconsin basketball team was struggling. Like, really struggling. Having to replace five members from back-to-back Final Four teams will do that. Add in the uncertainty around coach Bo Ryan’s status, and the losses to Western Illinois, Georgetown and UW-Milwaukee begin to make sense. By the time they met Marquette in Madison on Dec. 12, the Badgers had already suffered as many losses (4) as they had the entire season before.

“We were pretty disorganized,” senior Bronson Koenig said of what the team was like at this time last year. “We didn’t really have an identity at that time. It was early. We held the ball a lot. We did a lot of one-on-one. We didn’t move the ball.”

And that resulted in a 57-55 loss to the Golden Eagles at the Kohl Center. Afterwards, Marquette’s freshman star Henry Ellenson said they came to town looking to show everyone that they were the best team in the state, and that’s what they did. It was hard to argue with him at the time. With the Badgers running an offense designed for talent they didn’t have, lacking leadership in the locker room and guys getting frustrated by a lack of playing time, things were bad.

“We thought we were getting it back on track,” guard Zak Showalter said of a win at Syracuse that preceded the back-to-back losses to Milwaukee and Marquette. “(But) we were still clearly struggling. Still took a while to get the ship righted.”

Three days after the Marquette game, and following a win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Ryan stepped down as coach, making his long-time assistant Greg Gard the interim coach. Gard implemented several strategies to turn things around, most notably going back to the “Swing” offense that Ryan had made famous, expanding the rotation and pushing for the experienced players to become leaders in the locker room and on the floor.

There were signs of progress but things didn’t hit rock bottom until a loss at Northwestern dropped them to 1-4 in Big Ten play. A frustrated Nigel Hayes lit into the team, which allowed everyone to get whatever they were thinking off their chest. It was a turning point in a season that would see Wisconsin win 11 of their next 12 games and make the NCAA tournament for an 18th straight season.

Now, just two days shy of a year since the last time the Badgers and Golden Eagles faced off, they meet again, this time in Milwaukee. And while many of the names are the same on Wisconsin’s roster, the team is much different. The 17th ranked Badgers know who they are and have an identity that mirrors some of the better teams that Ryan had in his 15 years as coach. They aren’t a finished product, but they’ve shown in the last four games — where they won by an average of 29 points — that they understand how they have to play to be successful.

Certainly, Marquette (7-2) will provide a stiff challenge. The game always seems to be close and this Golden Eagles team has plenty of weapons offensively. But it’s also an opportunity for Wisconsin to show how far they’ve come and make a statement.

“You want to have that pride of being the best team in the state,” Showalter said. “I think last year, obviously, we slipped (on) a couple in-state games, and we don’t want that to happen this year.”

Badgers blow out Idaho State 78-44

MADISON, Wis. — Bronson Koenig scored 21 points, Ethan Happ had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 17 Wisconsin blew out Idaho State 78-44 on Wednesday night.

The game was never in question. Idaho State missed its first seven field-goal attempts and finished the half with 12 turnovers, 15 missed shots, 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Badgers (8-2) scored the first 10 points and opened up a 21-3 lead as the Bengals (1-8) could only muster a single 3-pointer in the opening 11 1/2 minutes. Wisconsin led 35-16 at halftime.

Nigel Hayes also scored 11 points for the Badgers, who had a 44-14 edge in points in the paint and outscored Idaho State 23-5 in points off turnovers.

Wisconsin has now won four straight games and get set for a showdown at in-state rival Marquette (7-2) Saturday December 10th at one o’clock.

 

Wisconsin rolls past Prairie View A&M 95-50

MADISON — Prairie View A&M was no match for No. 16 Wisconsin (5-2) on Sunday, as the Badgers drilled the Panthers 95-50 at the Kohl Center.

Player of the game: Nigel Hayes

It wasn’t overwhelming, but the senior played exactly the way the Badgers need him to. Hayes didn’t take a single 3-point shot, instead working his way inside on the block and taking high percentage looks. He was a perfect 5 of 5 from the field on his way to 17 points and four rebounds. He got to the line eight times and hit seven of them.

Hayes rejected the notion that there was any intention to avoid shooting from the outside, with him simply saying he wanted to work on making lay-ups. But his actions said something different, and that’s a good thing for Wisconsin. As long as he continues to struggle with his shot from the outside, Hayes needs to attack the game like he did on Sunday.

The good: Shooting

After a tough night shooting the ball in the title game of the Maui Invitational, the Badgers bounced back with their second-best effort from the field this season. Wisconsin hit on 55.9 percent of its shots, a significant jump from the 38.2 percent the last time we saw them against North Carolina.

The not so good: Silly turnovers

The turnover numbers weren’t big — Wisconsin had just 11 of them — but the ones they did have seemed to aggravate coach Greg Gard to no end. After one throwaway by Vitto Brown, the normally reserved Gard jumped around in disgust. Later, after an Ethan Happ giveaway, the coach pounded his fists on the ground.

Turnovers have been a problem for Wisconsin this year, and the effort to get them fixed appears to be a major point of frustration for Gard.

Stat of the game: 20 of 27

That’s the Badgers free throw numbers on the afternoon — both season-highs. How often they’re getting to the line, along with hitting at solid rate, is usually a good indicator of how the offense is working.

Quote of the game:

“This is an example of how efficient he can be, and how efficient we can be, when we don’t settle for jump shots at times, don’t settle for early 3’s and you really try to attack the paint.

“Very happy for Nigel to perform like that. That’s who he can be when really locks into that type of mode.”

— Wisconsin coach Greg Gard on the game by senior Nigel Hayes

Video of the game:

Odds and ends:

— Wisconsin had six players in double figures: Nigel Hayes (17), Ethan Happ (12), Bronson Koenig (11), Zak Showalter (11), Khalil Iverson (10) and D’Mitrik Trice (10).

— After going 1 of 13 from the field in the title game in Maui, Koenig had 11 points on 5 of 10 shooting, though his struggles from beyond the arc continue. He was just 1 of 6 on the day, leaving him at 24.6 percent on the season.

— Hayes and Koenig were each presented with a ball before the game to celebrate going over the 1,000-point mark in their careers. Hayes topped the mark last season, while Koenig went over it during the Maui Invitational last week in Hawaii.

What’s next?

Wisconsin hosts Syracuse on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.