Wisconsin 89, Yale 61: Last shots

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin had a weekend full of taming Bulldogs. They opened their season on Friday against South Carolina State, defeating them 85-50. On Sunday, the Bulldogs of Yale came to the Kohl Center and were turned away by score of 89-61.

Ethan Happ registered another double-double for Wisconsin, but also had a bit of an injury scare and continued woes at the free-throw line for the Badgers. Khalil Iverson stepped up to lead Wisconsin in scoring with 17 points after not attempting a shot on Friday night.

Yale got a strong performance from forward Blake Reynolds. He finished the night with 14 points on a very efficient six-of-eight shooting. Yale falls to 0-2 on the season.

Here are 14 last shots for D’Mitrik Trice’s 14 points scored on the evening.

1. Wisconsin has shown in both games this season that they’re able to score with numerous players. After Happ was the leader for Wisconsin against South Carolina State, Iverson scored a career-high 17 points as Wisconsin’s high scorer against Yale.

2. “I thought he [Iverson] was really energized from the start,” head coach Greg Gard said about the effort Iverson gave Sunday evening. “He really accepted the challenge Khalil [Iverson] didn’t shoot on Friday and had some turnovers. It’s the anniversary of his father’s passing this past week and I think that weighed on him and I could tell. I thought today he was his old self and rightfully so. I know that’s a difficult time having gone through it myself and I’m 20-plus years older than him.”

3. For the second game in a row, Wisconsin managed to be extremely balanced with their offensive output. In both games this season they’ve had four players reach double-figures. Against South Carolina State Andy Van Vliet, Brevin Pritzl, Trice, and Happ all scored 13 or more points. When Yale came to town Van Vliet, Trice, and Happ all scored at least 12, but Iverson was the fourth as opposed to Pritzl, who finished with six points and six rebounds.

4. Happ had another strong night for the Badgers. Early on, Yale was very determined to double-team him any time he touched the ball in the post. He did an excellent job of passing out of those situations to open teammates on the perimeter. He finished the night with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes, for his second double-double in as many games.

5. Although his state line looks good Happ definitely has a few areas where he needs to continue to work offensively. He had a few blown opportunities near the rim that need to be finished against better competition. Happ also struggled from the free throw line, finishing four-of-eight from the charity stripe. In the first game against South Carolina State, Happ went four-of-nine from the line. Leaving points at the free throw line will come back to haunt the Badgers eventually.

6. Outside of Happ, Wisconsin had a productive night on free throws, shooting 16-of-18, with the lone misses coming from Van Vliet.

7. Happ left the floor at the halftime buzzer walking gingerly to the locker room. He did start the second half, however he had a sleeve on his knee, which was not present previously.

8. “It was the defensive possession before [the half] and I was sliding with [Miye] Oni,” Happ said about the tweak. “I just felt something in my knee. I got back up and once the adrenaline came down a little bit I felt something but I’m fine now and that’s all that matters.”

9. Wisconsin wasn’t afraid to shoot from distance on Sunday evening. They took 22 shots from behind the arc, hitting seven of them. That final number was boosted by a four-for-four stretch that started with roughly eight minutes remaining in the game. Prior to that they were a dismal 3-for-16 from deep.

10. “At times it was too quick,” Gard said about the three-point selection against Yale. “I thought specifically on a couple offensive rebounds, and I’ll have to go through the tape to see exactly how open we were, but I thought there were a couple times when we had offensive rebounds and we could have made it hurt a little bit more and we took quick shots that maybe weren’t that open or we weren’t set or depending who took it.”

11. Van Vliet had the most attempts from three-point range, shooting two-of-five from behind the arc. In all, 11 of the 13 players that saw the court attempted at least one three-pointer. The two who did not were Matt Ferris and Aaron Moesch. They combined for one total shot in seven minutes after the game was already in hand.

12. There will be nights when Wisconsin is able to shoot lights out from distance, and that very well could win them a game or two. The flip side of that is things could very easily go the other way and getting three-point happy could cost them a game when they go cold.

13. Yes, that means even Happ took a three-pointer. It was the first of his career and was taken at the 14:18 mark of the first half.

14. Wisconsin is in action next on Thursday night when Xavier University is at the Kohl Center. The Musketeers opened the season ranked 16th. Tip-off is at 7:30pm.

Badgers top South Carolina State 85-50; Last shots

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin Men’s Basketball team opened up the 2017-18 regular season with a 85-50 win over visiting South Carolina State University Friday night at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin was led by Ethan Happ with 20 points and 11 rebounds on the evening. South Carolina State’s Donte Wright finished with a team-high 13 points for the Bulldogs.

This was the first meaningful game for a group of relatively new Badgers. There were definitely nerves early, but the experience of Happ showed throughout the night leading Wisconsin to the win.

Here are 13 last shots for guard D’Mitrik Trice’s 13 points:

1. Happ showed more against South Carolina State than he did in the entire preseason slate. At times in the exhibition matchups it looked as if he was taking a step back, hoping to help his teammates grow. Friday night he was able to enforce his will at the offensive end early and often, scoring 12 points in the first half. He finished with a double-double, totaling 20 points and 11 rebounds.

2. The one thing Happ did struggle with on the night was shooting from the charity stripe. He shot four-of-nine from the foul line. As a team, Wisconsin finished 11-18 on free throws, but a respectable seven-of-nine removing Happ from the equation. That’s a number the Badgers can live with against South Carolina State, but it’s something that could come back and haunt them against a more talented team.

3. While Happ led the team with 20 points, he was one of four Badgers that reached double-figures. Andy Van Vliet had a terrific game in his first game as a starter, finishing with 18 points. Guards Brevin Pritzl and Trice finished with 17 and 13 points, respectively. Both of them were three-of-six from three-point land.

4. Van Vliet was a key factor in stretching South Carolina State’s defense. The Bulldogs primarily played a zone defense, which is something Wisconsin had not seen in the previous two exhibitions against Northern Iowa and UW-Stout. Van Vliet was able to expose openings in it as a three-point shooter, going four-of-five from beyond the arc. He also hit back-to-back threes as part of a 10-0 run that stretched Wisconsin’s lead to 22 with 7:23 remaining, essentially putting the game out of reach.

5. “It feels good to have a game like that,” Van Vliet told the media after the game. “Obviously, there is still stuff to work about, coach has been on me too for defensive reasons and I know I have to work on that and be more aggressive. I feel good about tonight and finally being on the floor.”

6. Pritzl, like Happ and Van Vliet, reached double-figures in scoring in the first half. His smooth shooting stroke is something that should be much more prevalent this season than it was last year for Wisconsin. He knocked down six of the 10 shots he took and was two-of-two from the free throw stripe.

7. “Ethan has got on me about taking shots,” Pritzl said after the game. “I’m a good shooter so I’ve kind of listened to him a little more. I’ve got to be a little more aggressive.”

8. If Pritzl can continue to shoot as well from behind the arc as he did Friday, the Badgers will want him to be even more aggressive with his shot selection.

9. Freshmen Kobe King and Brad Davison both made their collegiate debuts against South Carolina State and they looked like freshmen. That’s not a slight to either of them, as they both played solid games, however it was evident there was nervousness for both during the game. King finished with six points on three-of-six shooting to go along with three rebounds and an assist. Davison had five points on one-of-three from the floor. He added in two assists and a pair of steals as well.

10. There will be nights throughout the season where one of, if not both, the freshmen will explode and reach double-figures in scoring for Wisconsin. There will also be nights like Friday for them. Developing talent takes time, but it’s something that will be worth it in the end with both the young guards.

11. Davison is going to be a player that Wisconsin fans love as long as he is on campus. He’s also going to be a pain in the neck for fans of the other 13 Big Ten schools. He’s a very scrappy defender that will pester opponents. Davison isn’t afraid to take a charge or dive for a loose ball. There will be a time in his career at Wisconsin when the reason the Badgers win a game is thanks to his hustle.

12. “I will say this, thank god we don’t have to beat Wisconsin to win our conference,” South Carolina State head coach Murray Garvin said after the game. The Bulldogs were overmatched Friday night by the Badgers, but they certainly did not lie down for them. Garvin was proud of the way his team fought Friday night and he had every reason to feel that way. In the end, Wisconsin’s talent won out.

13. Wisconsin is in action next Sunday afternoon from the Kohl Center against Yale. Tip-off is at 4pm.

Wisconsin tops Northern Iowa 69-38 in exhibition

MADISON | The Wisconsin Badgers opened the home portion of their preseason schedule on Wednesday night with a 69-38 victory over the University of Northern Iowa in an exhibition matchup. Wisconsin got a strong effort out freshman Kobe King, who was the game’s high scorer with 15 points.

The Badgers only return one starter from the 2016-17 season in forward Ethan Happ. Happ got off to a slow start in the first half, but finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes on the night. As a team, Wisconsin was not very sharp early, failing to score for nearly the first three minutes of the game. They trailed 10-2 at the 13:20 mark of the first half.

After that it was all Badgers as they were able to pull away against the inferior Panthers, cruising to the 69-38 win.

Here are 15 last shots for King’s 15 points on the evening.

1. Wisconsin trotted out a starting lineup of D’Mitrik Price, Brevin Pritzl, Khalil Iverson, Andy Van Vliet, and Happ. Of those five, only Happ was a regular starter last year for the Badgers.

2. “I think it’s meshing together nicely, but it’s definitely taking time and it’s going to take some more time,” Happ said of the new starting lineup. “Especially having certain guys in at certain moments of the game. We’ve been really fortunate with the trip overseas and then to have the scrimmage against Missouri and now this. The more reps we get as a team, that’s going to help us a lot.”

3. Early on, it looked as if the Badgers hadn’t played together much yet, which is mostly true. While the team did play exhibition games in Australia and New Zealand over the summer along with a closed exhibition against Missouri last week, they’re still feeling each other out.

4. Wisconsin went nearly the first three minutes without a bucket. Happ started the scoring for them at the 17:01 mark to cut the early Northern Iowa lead to two points. UNI then scored the next six to make it 10-2 at the 13:20 mark of the first half. McCloud had all 10 of those points for the Panthers. He didn’t score again the rest of the night.

5. After the slow start, Wisconsin got things rolling once King and fellow freshman Brad Davison checked in. The two guards book-ended a 17-0 run for the Badgers. The run started with five straight points from King and ended with a Davison three-pointer. It was evident that they provided a much-needed spark off the bench for Wisconsin.

6. “We settled down, we were nervous,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard said about his team’s slow start. “I could tell by looking at Van Vliet, Iverson, and Pritzl on the bench before the starting lineups, you could tell they had the look like ‘I’m starting my first game in the Kohl Center.’ They all admitted that they were a little nervous, and rightfully so. This is a big step for them to do that.”

7. With the starting lineup being 80% new compared to last season, there’s a chance that it becomes a fluid situation. If King continues to give Wisconsin the same effort and production that he gave on Wednesday night, it will be awfully tough to have him continue to come off the bench on a regular basis. He might be better off in the starting lineup at points this season.

8. Wisconsin went 10-of-24 from behind the arc against UNI. They used eight different players to knock down those 10 three-pointers, including Happ. Happ had not attempted a three-pointer last season, but attempted two Wednesday night, knocking one down from straight away early in the second half.

9. “He’s worked at it, but I know he understands that his game isn’t attached to his ability to shoot threes,” Gard said about Happ’s game from deep. “I don’t know if I have anything up my sleeve for him to run for him for a three yet. Maybe he’ll try and talk me into it.“

10. Iverson and Aleem Ford were the two Badgers to hit multiple threes against UNI. They both shot two-of-four from behind the arc.

11. Defensively, Wisconsin really locked down in the second half. The half began with Wisconsin leading 35-18. Northern Iowa scored the first seven points of the half in the first two minutes. They didn’t hit another field goal until there was 3:43 left to play. Over that stretch they missed 17 consecutive shots, only scoring three points on free throws. Wisconsin stretched their lead from 10 points to 32 points in that time.

12. The Badgers did play good defense over that stretch, but Northern Iowa did miss shots that a typical team found on Wisconsin’s schedule would normally make. If you’re a Panthers fan, it was an especially tough half of basketball to watch.

13. One area where the Badgers thrived was creating points off turnovers. They forced 16 turnovers on the night, turning them into 25 points. Conversely, the Badgers turned the ball over 11 times, but UNI was only able to score six points off those miscues.

14. Wisconsin will be in action next on Sunday when they host UW-Stout in their third and final exhibition of the preseason.

15. The regular season beings for Wisconsin on November 10, when they host South Carolina State University at the Kohl Center.

Red/White scrimmage recap

MADISON | Sunday afternoon the world caught a glimpse of the 2017-2018 Wisconsin Men’s Basketball team in the annual Red/White scrimmage. The team looks much different than Badger fans are used to. Typically, Wisconsin is filled with experience, however that’s not the case this year with only Ethan Happ returning from last year’s starting five.

At the scrimmage, the most impressive player was freshman Kobe King. King, a La Crosse, Wi native, lead both squads in scoring with 16 points in 34 minutes. He was able to showcase his scoring ability multiple ways. King got to the rim, created space in the mid-range, and knocked down shots from behind the arc. For a freshman, he showed an offensive game matured beyond his years.

While King was the leading scorer, another freshman, Brad Davison, reached double figures in the scoring column as well. He had 10 points in a team-high 35 minutes. Davison also had five rebounds and two assists.

The way things look, it should surprise anyone if King and Davison open the year as important members of the rotation, if not starters. The tandem will certainly experience growing pains, as was evident in the four combined turnovers, but they’ll be a pair Wisconsin fans will find highly entertaining as well.

INSTANT OFFENSE: Sophomore Brevin Pritzl was hot from distance early, nailing his first three attempts from behind the arc. He finished the day with 11 points. Pritzl has an incredibly pure stroke that can ignite the Badgers’ offense without warning. Whether his role will come as part of the starting five or off the bench is yet to be determined.

DOWN LOW: Another impressive aspect of the scrimmage on Sunday afternoon was how well a few of the Badgers’ big men played. While Happ didn’t have the best of days, going scoreless in 25 minutes, forwards Charles Thomas and Andy Van Vliet both had strong performances. Thomas has 14 points on six-of-nine from the floor and Van Vliet has nine points to go along with nine rebounds on the night.

UP NEXT: Wisconsin hosts UW-Stout in an exhibition on November 5 at the Kohl Center. Tip-off is at 4PM

Badgers International trip ends with a win

The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team  ended their five game trip Down Under yesterday with a 83-71 win against the Sydney Kings.

The Badgers were led by in-coming freshman Brad Davidson, who scored 23 points went 2-4 from behind the arc, and was a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Preseason All-American Ethan Happ added 15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals.

The Badgers trailed 55-50 in the third quarter before Davidson would help start two separate Wisconsin runs. He scored eight straight points for the Badgers by connecting on two straight three pointers and a layup.

He also was able to get his teammates involved throughout the second half. The Badgers grabbed a 59-57 lead late in the third quarter and never looked back.

The Badgers shot the ball 8-20 from three, good enough for 40% shooting from behind the arc. The team also shot well from the free throw line going 15-18. Wisconsin had an edge on the glass, out-rebounding the Kings 36-24, including 10 more offensive rebounds.

The Badgers concluded their trip Down Under going 4-1 and finding a lot out about their team. The Badgers started all five games with a different lineup, and had a different leading scorer every game. Ethan Happ never led the Badgers in scoring, which speaks volumes about the depth of the team.

The three Badgers freshman also proved that they can play at a high level. Brad Davidson, Nate Reuvers, and Kobe King all played well during the five exhibition games. Not only does Wisconsin have talented in-coming freshman, but they also have an abundance of depth.

https://twitter.com/BadgerMBB/status/899958811196370944

Big Ten releases 2017-’18 basketball schedule

We knew the teams that Wisconsin would face this winter on the court. Now we know the order and the day. That’s after the Big Ten released the full conference schedule Wednesday afternoon.

Thanks to the conference tournament moving up a week to accommodate its move to New York and Madison Square Garden, the Badgers will open up the Big Ten season on Dec. 2 at home against Ohio State. Two nights later they’ll be at Penn State. Then it’ll be back to the non-conference portion of their schedule with a trip to Temple on Dec. 6.

Wisconsin will pick Big Ten play back up on Jan. 2 against Indiana at home. That will be followed by five road games over the next six contests, with trips to Purdue, Iowa and Michigan State all on the docket.

Following that stretch, the Badgers will close by playing six of their final nine games at the Kohl Center, highlighted by games against Michigan (Feb. 11), Purdue (Feb. 15), Minnesota (Feb. 19) and Michigan State (Feb. 25).

The full schedule is below: