The Swing: Jan. 22, 2018

On this week’s episode of “The Swing,” Zach and Jesse look back at the upset win over Michigan, discuss Kobe King’s role, talk about the impact a game like Saturday could have on recruiting and answer your Twitter questions.

2:33 — Wisconsin showed it could play with the top teams in the country

8:08 — Fact or fiction

1) The Michigan win was the most important home victory of the Greg Gard era.
2) Wisconsin played its best game of the year in beating Michigan.
3) I was wrong to pick against Wisconsin.
4) Ethan Happ’s offensive performance vs Michigan was better than his defensive effort on Brazdeikis.
5) Kobe King will average more minutes the rest of the season than Khalil Iverson.

26:01 — Toughest place to play in the Big Ten

34:55 — Twitter questions

Wisconsin 64, (2) Michigan 54: Last word

MADISON — Wisconsin handed No. 2 Michigan its first loss of the season on Saturday with a 64-54 victory at a sold out Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Ethan Happ

Wisconsin’s All-American played like it in the biggest game of the year to date. Happ had 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to help spring the upset. It did take him 22 shots to get his points, but Happ was relentless even after things weren’t going his way. At least four of his shots got blocked, but he kept coming. And it wasn’t just on the offensive end. The senior threw his body all over the place, including diving for and grabbing a loose ball at a key moment down the stretch. His efforts helped hold freshman Ignas Brazdeikis, who came in averaging 15.8 points, scoreless in 23 minutes. Happ also turned the ball over just once, a marked improvement from recent games.

The good: The fight

Effort and energy have been a hallmark of Wisconsin basketball for more than 20 years, but at times this year the second part of that equation has been missing. That wasn’t the case against the Wolverines. The game was far from pretty, but the Badgers continually worked and worked and worked. There was very little standing around on offense and Wisconsin made life difficult for Michigan at the other end. As Brad Davison said after the game, when the team brings that type of energy for 40 minutes it is a tough group to beat.

The not so good: Shooting in the paint

The Badgers struggled much of the game from inside the paint. Some of that is the fact 7-foot-1 Jon Teske was in there blocking four shots, but Wisconsin, including Happ, missed too many shots close to the basket. Officially, the Badgers were 10 of 19 on layups, but when counting all shots in the paint they were under 50-percent.

Stat of the game: 16

That’s how many turnovers Michigan had, tying a season-high. Coming in, the Wolverines were giving the ball up less than 10 times per game. Wisconsin turned the mistakes into 19 points.

What they said:

Greg Gard on his team losing four of five but never losing hope:

“This group’s mentality, even through the struggles we’ve had, have always been a fighters mentality. I’m glad to see them get rewarded for persevering and not flinching and sticking with it when things weren’t going so well.”

Video of the Game

Tweets of the Game

In Case You Missed It:

— One of the nation’s top recruits in the 2020 class — wing Jalen Johnson — attended the game and sat behind the Wisconsin bench. A Sun Prairie native, Johnson transferred to Nicolet High School near Milwaukee prior to this school year. He is the top target of the Badgers.

— It was alumni day and the Badgers recognized a number of former players during a halftime ceremony, including Josh Gasser, Zak Showalter and Ben Trust. The school also honored the 1988-89 team that went 18-12 and went to the NIT.

— Though students remain on winter break, the ones that did show up, along with some of the older folks sitting in the student section, rushed the court after the win. It’s the first court storming since last February when an unranked Badgers squad upset No. 6 Purdue.

— Kobe King played 31 minutes — the second-most of his career. Those are starter type minutes even though he didn’t start. His final line won’t jump out at you — he had six points and five rebounds — but it was another sign that he’s becoming a bigger and bigger part of what the Badgers are doing.

— On the flip side, Khalil Iverson started but played just nine minutes. It’s the fewest he’s played since moving into the starting lineup at the beginning of last season. The senior may be the best on-ball defender Wisconsin has but he’s an offensive liability that the Badgers have proven they can win without.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (12-6, 4-3) travels to Illinois (5-12, 1-5) on Wednesday.

Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable: Jan. 18, 2019

On this week’s episode of the Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable, we’re joined by our former Badgers — Mike Bruesewitz, Josh Gasser and Zak Showalter — to look at what went wrong and right against Maryland, revisit previous big Wisconsin/Michigan games, talk about potential lineup changes and more.

The Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin also joins for the first segment to chat about sophomore Nate Reuvers and whether the Badgers can pull the upset of the unbeaten Wolverines.

15:44 — Mike Bruesewitz interview

26:29 — Josh Gasser interview

37:27 — Zak Showalter interview

The Swing: Jan. 16, 2019

On this week’s episode of “The Swing,” Zach and Jesse look back at the good and bad of the Maryland game, discuss whether a change in the lineup is needed, give their picks for Saturday’s matchup with No. 2 Michigan and answer your Twitter questions.

3:17 — Hard to wrap your head around the way Wisconsin plays at times

7:41 — Fill in the blank

1) Watching Wisconsin in the first half vs Minnesota and Maryland has been ________.
2) Nate Reuvers will be considered a __________ player by the time he leaves Wisconsin.
3) Greg Gard’s greatest strength as a coach is ___________.
4) Wisconsin could really use a _______ kind of player on this year’s team.

21:16 — ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Wisconsin as a No. 6 seed right now in the NCAA Tournament. Will they finish with a better or worse seed than that?

25:04 — Does Wisconsin need to change its lineup?

37:23 — Twitter questions

What the future holds: Running back

With the 2018 season in the books, it’s time to look ahead to 2019 for Wisconsin. Over the next few weeks we’ll be going position-by-position to see what the future holds for the Badgers.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to each player’s class in terms of what they’ll be in 2019. If someone was a sophomore in 2018, they will be called a junior here.

Running Back:

Returning: Jonathan Taylor (JR), Garrett Groshek (JR), Nakia Watson (RS FR), Bradrick Shaw (SR), Hunter Johnson (RS SO)

Leaving: Chris James, Taiwan Deal

New arrivals: Julius Davis

Biggest question: Who backs up Jonathan Taylor?

We know all about the greatness of Jonathan Taylor. The 2018 Doak Walker Award winner has more yards in his first two college seasons than any running back in FBS history and became just the third player in Wisconsin history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. His 606 carries over the last two years are also the most in the country. And while he’s been remarkably durable in playing all 27 possible games, having other options behind him would seem advantageous.

With Taiwan Deal (545 yards) and Chris James (108 yards) no longer around, who will play that role?

Certainly junior Garrett Groshek will continue to be involved in the gameplan, having accounted for 588 total yards this past season. But he’s more of a third-down and passing downs type of player, not someone you’re going to line up in the I-formation or other single-back sets. So, if not him, who?

The first name is Nakia Watson. Some thought heading into 2018 he could be a potential contributor but that never materialized. Instead, he spent plenty of time on the scout team and we heard very little about him for much of the season. But during the bowl practices, when the younger players got a lot of reps, he started to make some plays. Watson’s name was among those brought up by offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph when discussing younger players that were standing out, even mentioning an impressive long run the redshirt freshman had in a scrimmage. With a year under his belt and feeling more comfortable, the 5-foot-11, 231-pound, Watson could be a nice compliment to Taylor.

Another option would be Julius Davis. A 3-star recruit in the 2019 class, he became the first in-state tailback to earn a scholarship from Wisconsin in six years and turned down offers from the likes of LSU, Notre Dame and USC. Listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Davis had a big junior season at Menomonee Falls, rushing for 1,762 yards and 17 touchdowns. An injury as a senior limited him to two games, but he still rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns.

“(Taylor is) going to need some people to carry the weight when he comes out to get a quick breather. You don’t want the pace of the game to change when he leaves,” Davis said on The Camp podcast in December. “I’m definitely hoping to get some playing time and prove myself. [I want to] be one of those backs they can use even though I’m a freshman. [My goal is] just to come in, play early and help (Taylor) out, learn from him and be the best running back I can be.”

One wildcard is Bradrick Shaw. He suffered two significant injuries in the 2017 season finale against Minnesota and did not play in 2018. It’s unclear if he’ll be able to resume his career or if he’s played his final snaps. The senior has played in 21 games, rushing for 822 yards and nine touchdowns.

As for fullback, Wisconsin loses the ultra productive Alec Ingold, who scored 21 touchdowns during his career. The most likely replacement is redshirt sophomore Mason Stokke. He’s still relatively inexperienced at the position but Taylor called one of his plays in the Pinstripe Bowl — when he blocked two guys on one snap — very Ingold-like.

Sophomore John Chenal and true freshman Quan Easterling could be options behind Stokke.

Projected depth chart:
1) Jonathan Taylor (JR)
2) Nakia Watson (RS FR)
3) Julius Davis (FR)

Third-down back
1) Garrett Groshek (JR)

1) Mason Stokke (RS SO)
2) John Chenal (SO)

Comeback effort comes up short for Wisconsin

Wisconsin rallied from a 19-point deficit in the second half but couldn’t finish the deal in a 64-60 loss at No. 19 Maryland on Monday night.

The Badgers were in that big hole thanks to another inept shooting night in the first half. Just 11 days after putting up 14 points in the first half in a loss to Minnesota, coach Greg Gard’s team managed just 15 points in the first 20 minutes of the game against the Terrapins. The struggles included going 0-for-8 on 3-pointers and hitting just 26.9-percent overall from the field.

But just like it had against the Gophers, Wisconsin made a run.

Trailing by 18 with 10:38 to play, the Badgers chipped away thanks to the suddenly hot shooting of sophomore Nate Reuvers. He had all 18 of his points in the second half, including hitting 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, two of those misses came in the final minute and both were relatively clean looks at the basket. One would have give the Badgers a 1-point lead and the other would have tied the game.

Instead, Maryland escaped with a sixth-straight victory and the Badgers fell for a fourth time in five games.

Sophomore D’Mitrik Trice had 13 points and five assists, while sophomore Brad Davison added 11 points and four assists. Senior Ethan Happ was held largely in check, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

The loss dropped Wisconsin to 11-6 on the year and 3-3 in Big Ten play.

Things don’t get any easier for the Badgers, as they’ll welcome No. 2 Michigan, one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the the country, to the Kohl Center on Saturday.

Purdue 84, Wisconsin 80 (OT): Last word

MADISON — Wisconsin dropped a second-straight home game, falling to Purdue 84-80 in overtime on Friday night at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Ethan Happ

Happ did his part on offense, scoring a team-high 31 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. That included 18 in the first half when he went 9 of 10 from the field. It was the fourth 30-plus point game of Happ’s career and the third this season.

The good: Brad Davison

The sophomore guard has found his shot. He hit all three 3-pointers he took on Friday night and has now made his last six from the outside. Since starting the season 10 of 35 from beyond the arc, Davison has gone 16-for-23 in the last six games.

The not so good: Turnovers

Greg Gard touted his team’s lack of turnovers during a press conference this week, noting they were among the top-5 in fewest turnovers in the country. On Friday night, though, the Badgers continually killed themselves with largely unforced errors. They turned it over a season-high 17 times and Purdue turned those mistakes into 20 points. Happ was responsible for nine of them, which was a career-high.

Stat of the game: 17

That’s how many offensive rebounds Purdue managed to grab, including seven for freshman Trevion Williams alone. The Boilermakers didn’t convert a lot of those opportunities into second-chance points but it forced the Badgers to continually expend more energy on defense. The 17 were a season-high for a Wisconsin opponent and the most allowed since giving up 20 in an overtime win at Nebraska on Feb. 9, 2017.

What they said:

Davison on the loss:

“That’s another loss on our record that we definitely beat ourselves. It’s something we talked about in the locker room. Coming out, we need to find a way to come out with a sense of urgency and be our own energy from the start. Those are all things we pride ourselves on with [making] free throws and [limiting] turnovers. It’s a learning opportunity.”

In Case You Missed It:

— Prior to the game, Wisconsin honored Tyler Trent with a moment of silence. A former Purdue student, Trent earned notoriety for his fight against cancer and being named an honorary captain of the Boilermakers football team this fall. Trent passed away earlier this week.

— Davison drew a charge in the first half. It was the first one for him since drawing four in a win over NC State on Nov. 27.

— Happ scored in doubles figures for a 40th straight game. That’s tied for the second-longest streak for a Wisconsin player in the last 35 years.

— Sophomore Aleem Ford shot his first free throws of the season on Friday, going 2-for-2.

Khalil Iverson picked up his fifth foul in overtime, fouling out for just the second time in his career.

— Purdue’s Carsen Edwards scored a game-high 36 points. It was the third-highest total in his career.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (11-5, 3-2) travels to Maryland (14-3, 5-1) on Monday.

Report: Wisconsin OC Joe Rudolph interviews for head coaching job

Wisconsin’s coaching staff could be in for a shake up.

According to Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman, Badgers’ offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph recently interviewed for the head coaching position at Temple and it was said he was “impressive.”

Rudolph just finished his fourth year as the OC, offensive line coach and associate head coach for Wisconsin. It’s his second stint with the Badgers, having spent 2008 to 2011 as the tight ends coach. He also played for Wisconsin in the early 1990s.

Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was originally hired as Temple’s new coach, but following Wisconsin’s 35-3 whipping of the Hurricanes in the Pinstripe Bowl, Miami coach Mark Richt stepped down and they hired Diaz to replace him.

The Temple job could be a good landing spot for Rudolph. He’s originally from Pennsylvania and coached at Pitt with Chryst for three seasons. He’s also spent a large majority of his time as a college coach recruiting Pennsylvania and Ohio.

If Rudolph were to get the job, Chryst would seemingly have a very good replacement for the offensive line spot already on staff in Bob Bostad. Though he’s coached the inside linebackers the last two seasons, Bostad was a highly successful tight ends/offensive line coach for Wisconsin from 2006-2011 before spending four seasons with two different NFL teams.

Wisconsin hasn’t had the same coaching staff in back-to-back years since 2008-2009.

The Swing: Jan. 8, 2019

On this week’s episode of “The Swing,” Zach and Jesse discuss what they saw the last few games, whether Wisconsin can compete for a Big Ten title, answer your Twitter questions and more.

:48 — The Minnesota game is going to be hard to forget

3:20 — How will Wisconsin deal with Hack-a-Happ?

11:47 — Fact or fiction

1) The back-to-back losses changed my opinion of this team’s ceiling
2) Brad Davison is still receiving blow back from officials for the NC State game
3) In his current role, redshirting Tai Strickland would have been a better choice
4) D’Mitrik Trice’s current cold streak has me concerned

29:05 — Is Wisconsin a legit Big Ten contender?

35:15 — Twitter questions

44:06 — Better chance of winning a national title in the next 15 to 20 years: Wisconsin football or basketball?

Joe Thomas to be inducted into College Football HOF

Wisconsin has another former player headed to the College Football Hall of Fame.

It was announced Monday morning that offensive lineman Joe Thomas will be a part of the Class of 2019.

A standout at left tackle for Wisconsin, Thomas earned the Outland Trophy in his senior year of 2006. He was a unanimous first-team All-American that same year and was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick in his final two seasons.

Making his senior year more impressive was the fact he played at all. Thomas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Wisconsin’s bowl game on Jan. 1. But come the Sept. 2 opener against Bowling Green, Thomas was in the lineup. With Thomas as one of the captains, the Badgers went 12-1 in Bret Bielema’s first season.

Thomas went on to be the No. 3 overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played 11 years, earning 10 Pro Bowl nods and was a first-team All-Pro six times. Thomas retired prior to the 2018 season.

His induction will give the Badgers 10 former players in the Hall of Fame, along with former coach Barry Alvarez.