Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable: Feb. 15, 2019

On this week’s Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable, our former BadgersJosh Gasser, Mike Bruesewitz and Zak Showalter — talk about two tough losses, what they would say to Ethan Happ about his free throw shooting and whether Wisconsin still has a shot at a Big Ten title.

:50 — Jesse Temple interview

12:44 — Mike Bruesewitz interview

24:11 — Josh Gasser interview

35:21 — Zak Showalter interview

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What the future holds: Offensive line

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 the players’ class in terms of what they’ll be in 2019. If someone was a sophomore in 2018, they will be called a junior here.

Offensive line:

Returning: Tyler Biadasz (JR), Cole Van Lanen (JR), Logan Bruss (RS SO), Jason Erdmann (SR), Kayden Lyles (RS SO), Tyler Beach (RS SO), David Moorman (SR), Josh Seltzner (RS SO), Alex Fenton (RS SO), Michael Furtney (RS FR), Blake Smithback (RS SO), Andrew Lyons (RS FR)

Leaving: Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel, Jon Dietzen, David Edwards

New arrivals: Logan Brown, Joe Tippmann

Biggest question: How do you replace four starters?

Wisconsin will have four new starters along the offensive line when it takes the field Aug. 30 at South Florida. That may seem like a daunting prospect but those around the program don’t sound overly worried.

Unlike after 2014, the last time there was this much turnover along the line, there is confidence that 2019 won’t be the struggle that 2015 was. That group featured four redshirt freshmen starters by the end of the season, including guards Beau Benzschawel and Michael Deiter, as the Badgers ranked 95th in the country in rushing. Last season they were rated sixth with Deiter and Benzschawel heading the group as seniors.

“I’m very confident in the guys that are coming back,” said Benzschawel, who is now prepping for the NFL Combine. “You won’t have anything to worry about. They know what they have to do. They just have to keep doing it and they’ll be just fine. I’m not worried about the upcoming line at all.”

Let’s start with what we know. The return of Bidasz is huge. One of the top rated centers in the country, he almost put his name in for April’s NFL Draft. Instead, he returns as the anchor and leader of the line after starting the last 27 games.

He’ll likely be joined on the starting unit by Cole Van Lanen at left tackle. The junior started just one game last season, sharing snaps with Jon Dietzen, but he graded out as the second-best tackle in the country, according to Pro Football Focus. With Dietzen walking away from football due to injuries, the job is all Van Lanen’s.

On the other side, it seems like it’ll be Logan Bruss’ job to lose. He started the final three games of the year in place of an injured David Edwards and the Badgers didn’t miss a beat on the ground averaging 296 yards.

The two guard spots are a little more unclear, but a safe bet would have senior Jason Erdmann on one side and redshirt sophomore Kayden Lyles on the other.

Erdmann has started just one game in his career, but has appeared in 41 and shared snaps with Dietzen at left guard in 2017. He also played a major role in Wisconsin’s jumbo packages last season as a tight end.

Lyles spent 2018 on the other side of the ball to help an undermanned defensive line, but practiced along the offensive line during bowl prep and will be back there full-time in the spring.

Both Erdmann and Lyles are also capable of playing center.

There is some uncertainty behind the presumed starting five. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Beach could be the No. 3 tackle, while senior David Moorman figures to be in the mix at the guard spots. Before suffering a season-ending injury in fall camp last year, redshirt sophomore walk-on Blake Smithback was being talked about among potential backup centers. Josh Seltzner, another redshirt sophomore that walked on, could end up as a backup at guard.

The Badgers are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of Logan Brown. The first five-star recruit to sign with Wisconsin since 2007, the massive tackle from Michigan may be in a position to push for a spot in the two-deep when practice begins in the fall.

Projected depth chart:

LT: Cole Van Lanen (JR), Logan Brown (FR)
LG: Jason Erdmann (SR), David Moorman (SR)
C: Tyler Biadasz (JR), Kayden Lyles (RS SO)
RG: Kayden Lyles (RS SO), Josh Seltzner (RS SO)
RT: Logan Bruss (RS SO), Tyler Beach (RS SO)

The Swing: Feb. 13, 2019

On this week’s episode of “The Swing,” Zach and Jesse look at what’s ailing Wisconsin in late losses, talk about Ethan Happ’s free throw shooting woes, discuss Brad Davison’s inability to get charge calls and answer your Twitter questions.

5:16 — Ethan Happ’s free throw shooting is mostly mental

10:16 — Sold or not sold
1) Three straight games of subpar shooting from three has me concerned.
2) The late-game issues hampering Wisconsin in the last two games are fixable.
3) Ethan Happ’s free throw struggles will impact how I view his overall career.
4) Wisconsin will capture a share of the Big Ten title.

23:06 — Why isn’t Brad Davison getting charge calls? Is he getting a bad reputation?

33:33 — Twitter questions

(11) Michigan State 67, (20) Wisconsin 59: Last word

MADISON — No. 20 Wisconsin fell for a second straight game, this one an ugly 67-59 loss to No. 11 Michigan State Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Cassius Winston

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard called him one of the best point guards in the Big Ten, and Ethan Happ said he’s the perfect player to run Michigan State’s offense. Both were right as the junior had a game-high 23 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Spartans. It included back-to-back 3-pointers in the final five minutes of the first half to help erase a seven-point Wisconsin lead. Winston is a top candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year and showed it on Tuesday.

The good: Wisconsin’s bench in the first half

The Badgers bench has been up and down this season, but it delivered in the first half. The trio of junior Brevin Pritzl, senior Charlie Thomas and freshman Kobe King combined for 13 points, a couple of blocks and two steals. Pritzl had a five-point possession on his own, drilling a couple of technical free throws and then hitting a 3-pointer. King saw the most time in the second half, and while he had just two points, Gard was complimentary of his defense.

The not so good: Outside shooting

Michigan State wasn’t going to let Wisconsin win the game from the outside. The Spartans, because of their ability to largely play Happ one-on-one in the post, kept tight to the Badgers’ shooters and didn’t allow for many kick out opportunities. Guards D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison were both shooting better than 40-percent from beyond the arc coming in but managed to go 2 of 10. Forward Nate Reuvers helped out by going 3-for-6 but as a team Wisconsin hit just 6 of 20 from deep.

Stat of the game: 0-for-6

That was Happ’s free throw shooting line for the night. It dropped his season average to 44.5-percent.

What they said:

Gard on Happ’s struggles at the line:

“You support him as much as you can. Obviously, nobody’s put more time into it, utilized more resources than what he has to try to help remedy that and improve that.

“You’ve got to continue to chip away and hope there’s a breakthrough.”

In Case You Missed It:

— Happ scored 20 points and in doing so topped the 2,000 mark for his career. He became just the fourth player in Big Ten history to managed 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

— Davison’s 3-pointer with 10 seconds left was Wisconsin’s first field goal since the 6:02 mark. That’s 5:52 without a made basket during the most crucial part of the game.

— Despite the loss, Wisconsin didn’t lose ground in the chase for share of the Big Ten title. Michigan fell at Penn State, leaving five teams within two games of the Wolverines and Spartans, who currently lead the race at 11-3 in conference play.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (17-8, 9-5) hosts Illinois (9-15, 5-8) next Monday.

Wisconsin drops in AP poll, Marquette holds steady

Wisconsin’s loss at Michigan didn’t hurt it too bad in the Associated Press top 25.

In the most recent poll released Monday, the Badgers dropped one spot to No. 20. That came after a week in which Wisconsin got a win at Minnesota but came up short against the Wolverines on Saturday. It snapped a six-game winning streak and left the Badgers two games back of Michigan for first place in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin’s next opponent — Michigan State — fell two spots to No. 11. It was the second-straight week the Spartans had fallen in the poll and they’ve lost three of their last four games. They’ll come to the Kohl Center on Tuesday night in what could serve as almost a must-win game for the Badgers’ conference title hopes.

In total, six Big Ten teams were in the poll, tied with the ACC for the most among all conferences. Michigan was the highest at No. 6, with Purdue coming in at No. 12, Iowa at No. 21 and Maryland at No. 24.

Marquette stayed put at No. 10 following its 1-1 week that saw the Golden Eagles lose to St. Johns and then beat No. 13 Villanova at home.

Wisconsin OL Jon Dietzen retires from football

Wisconsin will need to replace four starters from its 2018 offensive line.

The Badgers already knew they had to replace three with Beau Benzschawel and Michael Deiter graduating, and David Edwards leaving early for the NFL. Now, they’ll also need to fill the void left by Jon Dietzen, who announced on Twitter he was giving up football due to injuries.

Dietzen would have been a senior this fall and had started 32 games in his career. That included 12 this past season at left tackle, though he was only a part-time player, sharing snaps with Cole Van Lanen. That was in an effort to keep him as healthy has possible.

Even if Dietzen did play in 2019, it likely would have been back at left guard, the spot he occupied his first two years in the program. That would have allowed Van Lanen to be the full-time starter at left tackle.

Without Dietzen, the Badgers will likely turn to senior Jason Erdmann or redshirt sophomore Kayden Lyles at the two guard spots.

(Watch) Mark Johnson’s jersey retirement ceremony

For the first time in Wisconsin hockey history a retired jersey hangs from the rafters of the Kohl Center.

Prior to their game Saturday night against Ohio State, the Badgers honored all-time goal scoring leader, and hero of the 1980 USA Miracle on Ice team, Mark Johnson by making him the first player to have his jersey retired at the school.

Here is the full ceremony from a special night for No. 10.

No. 19 Wisconsin falls at No. 7 Michigan

No. 7 Michigan pulled away in the final minute to beat No. 19 Wisconsin 61-52 in Ann Arbor on Saturday, ending the Badgers winning streak at six games.

Senior Ethan Happ had a team-high 18 points, but had just four in the second half on 2 of 9 shooting. Foul trouble allowed him to play just 26 minutes, the second-fewest for him in a conference game this year.

Sophomores Brad Davison and Nate Reuvers each had nine points, with guard D’Mitrik Trice added eight.

Michigan was paced by guard Charles Matthews, who broke out of his recent slump to score 18 points, including 16 after the break. Center Jon Teske had 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Milwaukee native Jordan Poole had 10 points and nine rebounds.

The game marked the first time since Jan. 29, 2013 that Wisconsin didn’t make a single free throw. The two attempts the Badgers got were also the fewest since then.

With the loss, Wisconsin drops two games back of Michigan for first place in the Big Ten. The Badgers will host No. 9 Michigan State on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable: Feb. 8, 2019

On this week’s Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable, our former Badgers — Mike Bruesewitz, Josh Gasser and Zak Showalter — talk about the six-game winning streak, Brad Davison’s play, Ethan Happ’s celebration after the Minnesota victory and the chances UW can grab a piece of the Big Ten title.

13:41 — Mike Bruesewitz interview

25:12 — Josh Gasser interview

36:27 — Zak Showalter interview

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard says questionable play involving Brad Davison wasn’t malicious

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said guard Brad Davison did nothing malicious in a video that went viral after the Badgers beat Minnesota 56-51 Wednesday night.

The clip appears to show Davison moving his foot under Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy as the latter went up for a rebound early in the game. No foul was called, but the Gophers, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, contacted the Big Ten on Thursday to determine whether one should have been.

Gard was asked about the play right after the game but said he hadn’t seen it live. When it was brought up again on Friday, the fourth-year coach made it clear he didn’t view the play as dirty.

“We don’t teach to that mode and I know (Davison) doesn’t have any of that intent with him,” Gard said. “He just plays the game extremely hard.”

Davison has drawn the ire of fans from other teams in his first two seasons with his style of play, including his willingness to throw his body around with little regard for his safety. But Gard doesn’t buy the idea that he would do something that could potentially hurt another player.

“Brad plays the game extremely hard,” Gard reiterated. “…I’ve never seen [any player in the Big Ten] try to do something to intentionally injure somebody or violate the spirit or the integrity of the game.”