Wisconsin got a big taste of its own medicine on Tuesday night, getting beat down bad by Iowa just one game after doing the beating down to Illinois.
It leaves the Badgers at 3-5 in Big Ten play and struggling to find any real rhythm on the season and likely gives the final blow to any lingering hopes of a late run to another NCAA tournament.
But, what did this game teach us? Let’s take a look at our three takeaways from the game.
Iverson needs to take this offense over
After coming out and staying hot against Illinois, the Badgers opened the game in a massive funk on both ends of the court.
It resulted in a 12-2 run to start the game for Iowa and Wisconsin shooting just 3-17 to start the half. However, Iverson decided to take the team on his back and it resulted in getting UW back in the game.
The junior took over point guard duties with most of the starting backcourt in trouble and Iowa going all 2-3 zone on the Badgers. It resulted in Iverson putting up 13 of his 17 points in the first half. He also shot 6 of 8 from the field in the first half.
But, Iowa adjusted to what Iverson was able to do well in the first half and frustrated him in the second half. They turned him in to a jump shooter only and Iverson ended the night shooting just 7-16 from the field.
Iverson’s night wasn’t just defined by playing well on offense for a half either, he was also the facilitator when the offense was stagnant and had a solid effort on the defensive side of the ball (something we’ll talk about later). Iverson finished with 4 assists and 7 rebounds to go with his 17 points.
With Wisconsin down 12 at 29-17 with 6:36 to play, Iverson took this team on his back. He hit a pair of shots and a free throw in three straight possessions, putting the Badgers down just seven.
After the 3-17 start to the game, Wisconsin finished off the half shooting 9 of 14.
It’s no coincidence that Iverson getting hot and attacking the basket freed up everyone else either. It’s also no coincidence that as soon as he was taken out of the game in the second half by Iowa that things went from bad to worse.
Gard would be wise to find a way to have the offense run through Iverson on the perimeter and Happ on the block, but also get Iverson free to the hoop more often. It was UW at its best against Iowa.
Gard’s Lineup Insanity
As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Yet, that’s exactly what Gard seems to be doing every game when he trots out Alex Illikainen and TJ Schlundt off the bench. On Tuesday, the two combined for 17 minutes on the court and exactly nothing but a headache to show for it.
They combined for no points, no rebounds, no assists, no turnovers, no nothing…except for Illikainen’s 0-2 night from the field (which included an airball three-point attempt).
I know this much, Gard is literally throwing everything out there and seeing what sticks. That’s what happens when a coach runs out of an idea of what to do with a team.
A lot of this is on players who should be showing up and contributing in big ways, but some of this is on a coach who can’t seem to motivate a team to show up consistently from one game to the next.
We get that Gard is limited in what he can do in terms of personnel, but I’d rather see a bad game and a learning experience from a freshman like Nate Reuvers than a third-year player playing like a freshman would any day of the week.
Gard’s choice of an almost exclusively all-bench lineup for about 5 minutes of this game was brutal and Illikainen and Thomas’ defensive deficiencies were a huge part of that.
Congrats to Thomas for turning his opportunity in to success, scoring 10 points and pulling in 5 rebounds in 17 minutes played. But, that is a needle in the haystack of his career to date.
Maybe it’s a glimmer of hope, but we’ll see if Gard falls in to the trap of thinking this means Thomas needs more minutes consistently or not..because a quick look at his overall defensive night suggests the numbers aren’t as good as you’d think.
Then again, what choice does Gard have with a lineup full of people who don’t take opportunities and run with them like Thomas did?
Wisconsin’s defensive deterioration
There is no bigger indictment of this team than its defensive effort (or lack there of) on the season and especially on Tuesday night.
If there is a hallmark of Badgers basketball since the arrival of Dick Bennett, it has been that success comes from defense first. Even the back-to-back Final Four teams were built on defense driving everything else.
You could make the case that is happening again in 2017-18, only not to success but to failure.
Wisconsin has been terrible on defense against any sort of competent opposition so far this season. That was certainly the case on Tuesday night, as Wisconsin had no answer for the inside duo of Tyler Cook and Luka Garza.
Iowa’s big men combined for 34 points, 21 rebounds and shot 68.1 percent from the field on the night. As a team, the Hawkeyes shot 52 percent as a team.
It’s been a trend all season though, as UW is 11th in the Big Ten in opponent field goal percentage. They are allowing opponents to shoot 47.6 percent in conference games and are dead last in the Big Ten in opponent field goal percentage overall (46.2 percent).
That is a massive problem and if you want to put your finger on one reason for this team’s struggles, it all starts with defense. It’s even trickled down to UW’s best player, Ethan Happ.
He was awful against Iowa’s movement, while Charlie Thomas wasn’t much better and simply got out-worked more often than not on the boards. It’s why the Hawkeyes had a 41-32 advantage on the boards and a 12-6 advantage in second chance points.
This team hasn’t been good on defense all season, even in most of its wins. Some of this is on coaching to say the least, because effort seems to be lacking. I’ll take making mistakes by young players as long as the effort is there and outside of Davison and Happ, the effort on defense has been largely lacking.
Can this game film correct some of those mistakes or will the team tune Gard out like it seemingly has most of this season. After all, it’s the same tune every game.
Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks
They say you can always go home, and for one former Wisconsin Badger he’s coming back to a state he called home for four years.
Former Badgers forward Jon Leuer was traded early on Thursday morning from the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange for Leuer, the Bucks gave up the 30th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft and traded away Tony Snell.
Last season, Leuer played in 41 games for the Pistons and made just one start. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his ninth season in the NBA.
Leuer is a very similar player to Snell, but comes at a much more team-friendly salary.
In trading away Snell, the Bucks free up an additional $4 million in salary this year and another $12 million next year.
This could be seen as a way for the Bucks to pony up the big money that Khris Middleton wants from the team in order to stay in Milwaukee.
As for Leuer, he is 17th on the all-time Badgers scoring list with 1,376 points to his name. He also finished his career with 551 rebounds.
Leuer’s final season in Madison was his best statistically, as he helped lead the 2010-11 Badgers team to the Sweet 16. He averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that year.
Badgers basketball land Davis twins
After missing out on the Hauser brothers late last month, the Wisconsin Badgers added a different pair of siblings on Saturday night.
Following an offer to the brother of 4-star shooting guard Johnny Davis and an appearance at a team camp this weekend, the Davis brothers announced their pledge to the Badgers according to Badger247.
It took less than a week after head coach Greg Gard gave the O.K. to offer Jordan for the pair to commit to Wisconsin.
Johnny held offers from Marquette, West Virginia, Iowa, Minnesota, DePaul, UNLV and others.
Jordan had offers from UW-Milwaukee and Green Bay, while also becoming a sought after recruit on the football field as well. Once he became serious about wanting to play basketball first, it seemed like a matter of time before Wisconsin offered.
That time came after seeing Jordan play in a camp last weekend.
It also came because it was time to figure out if Johnny was serious about the Badgers or not.
With the July evaluation period coming up, Wisconsin’s coaching staff put the final chips in the middle with this recruitment and it appeared to pay off.
Johnny joins as the No. 141 ranked player in the country and the No. 14 ranked combo guard in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
The twins will join Detroit, Mich. native Lorne Bowman in the 2020 class.
Wisconsin still has one scholarship available in the class as well, which is likely being held for 5-star and Wisconsin native Jalen Johnson.
After missing out on talented in-state players over and over again, this was a major win for Gard and his coaching staff considering how hard schools like West Virginia and Marquette were after Johnny’s commitment.
As for Jordan, it appears the coaching staff believes he is improving enough to get a scholarship and continue his improvement with this program.
Offers don’t come out just because it may win over a different recruit at Wisconsin. That wasn’t Bo Ryan’s style and it also isn’t Greg Gard’s style.
The trio of players put the Badgers at No. 8 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten in the 2020 class as of today.
Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional
Who doesn’t want $2 million? That’s the prize at stake for winning The Basketball Tournament and a group of former Wisconsin Badgers want in.
On Tuesday it was officially announced that the Kohl Blooded team — spearheaded by former Badgers point guard Kam Taylor — will be the No. 2 seed in the Columbus regional.
They will take on No. 7 seed Mid-American Unity, which is making its second appearance in the TBT after a year off. That group represents teams from across the Mid-American conference.
As for the Badgers, the roster will be made up of some very strong names from the past. The headline names include members of the back-to-back Final Four teams in Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown. Also joining will be Jordan Taylor, Ryan Evans, Trevon Hughes and recent grad Charles Thomas. You can see the full roster here.
The regionals will take place July 19-21 in Columbus with the winner of this regional meeting seven other winners in Chicago for championship week.
All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, so you should be able to find them either streaming or on cable television.
Kohl Blooded vs. Mid-American Unity will tip at 1pm ET on Friday, July 19.
The winner will take on the winner of Red Scare (Dayton alumni) and The Region (players from Northwest Indiana) in the regional semi-final the next day.
Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis
A week after losing out on Joey and Sam Hauser, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program needs some positive momentum on the player acquisition front.
With three scholarships available in the 2020 class and two top in-state players in their sites, the Badgers coaching staff has been about as patient as possible.
On Wednesday, Badger247 reports that UW has offered Jordan Davis, the twin brother of top target Johnny Davis. It’s not a walk-on or grayshirt, but a full scholarship offer.
After two years of waiting for that offer to come, it finally did.
Jordan is an unranked player in basketball at this time, but I expect that to change once the scouting services catch wind of this offer. Johnny Davis is the No. 131 ranked player in the country, a 4-star rated prospect and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Wisconsin in the 2020 class.
With the brothers set to make a weekend visit for team camp in two weeks, this is a move that undoubtably puts the pressure squarely on Johnny Davis at this point.
Simply put, the Badgers need to know if Davis is going to commit or if they need to move on.
Offering Jordan a full ride is about the only thing left in the Badgers quiver at this point. If getting the dream of playing basketball together at the same school and in-state no less doesn’t tip the scales, at least the Badgers know they can move on.
Is it a desperate move? In some ways one could see it as such. Clearly the Badgers want Johnny in a major way and they see offering Jordan as a critical move that could separate themselves from the competition.
However, this also isn’t a coaching staff willing to just throw away a scholarship in an effort to get a coveted player to play for them. That’s simply not Greg Gard’s style.
Jordan is also a player they see as a contributor, or he wasn’t getting an offer. Plain and simple.
There’s no doubt that this move ups the pressure, like I mentioned before. But, that’s not a bad thing, as UW needs to know where they stand heading in to July’s evaluation period.
If the Davis brothers can’t commit or at least internally give the coaching staff the information that will make them feel comfortable, they need to start getting offers out to other big time players whom they’ve been waiting to offer.
Consider UW is an underdog to land in-state five-star prospect Jalen Johnson, and you have to consider this move a smart one for the long term prospects of the 2020 class.
Will the Davis twins jump at the offer to play together at Wisconsin?
Some in the recruiting world believe this was the situation that was holding Wisconsin back all along. So, don’t be surprised to see this affect the recruitment of both players in a big way.
As for Jordan, his game has also caught the attention of Iowa and Minnesota and he did have scholarship offers from both Green Bay and Milwaukee prior to this one.
What may have really held the Badgers coaching staff and others back was the fact that Jordan is also a good player on the football side and wasn’t sure which sport he wanted to pick.
It seems like UW has gotten the clue that Jordan may be more receptive to a basketball future and pulled the trigger on the offer.
We’ll see how much longer the two stay uncommitted, but don’t be surprised to see something happen following July’s AAU season.
Letting that play out and getting all the offers out there on the table is just a smart move for the twins. From there, it’s up to them and clearly the Badgers have left no stone unturned in this situation.
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