Marquette has owned the Badgers as of late, winning two of the last three meetings at the Kohl Center alone heading in to Saturday’s rivalry matchup. A less than full-strength Badgers team going against a red-hot MU team didn’t look good on paper heading in to the game.
It was even worse than expected as the game went along though, with Marquette blowing out the Badgers 82-63 at the Kohl Center and extending the streak to three of the last four in Madison.
With both D’Mitrick Trice (right foot surgery) and Kobe King (a knee injury suffered in practice on Friday) announced as out indefinitely on Saturday morning, the prospects for beating the visitors from Milwaukee were low to begin with. But, the Badgers just couldn’t keep up with the sharp-shooting perimeter game of Marquette.
The Eagles shot 14-22 from beyond the arc, with Andrew Rowsey leading the charge. The junior scored a game-high 24 points and was 5-6 from beyond the arc. Wisconsin countered by only hitting 4 of 12 three-point attempts on the game.
Even when Brevin Pritzl got hot and led the Badgers to within six points twice early in the second half, it didn’t matter. Marquette had quick answers and would stretch the lead right back to double digits.
Rowsey was joined in the 20-point club by fellow guard Markus Howard (23) and Sam Hauser also contributed 16 points in the winning effort.
Wisconsin was led by Brad Davison’s 20 points, 11 of which came at the free throw line. Ethan Happ had 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Pritzl was able to chip in 10 points in his return to the starting lineup.
The problem is that was all the Badgers had on offense and they played some of the worst defense we’ve seen from a Badgers team in decades. In fact, the win was Marquette’s largest over the Badgers since the 1982-83 season.
It was certainly a showpiece for the visitors and a loud statement of where these programs currently stand.
Will Anyone Follow Davison’s Lead?
No one can say Brad Davison is not a leader for this Badgers team. He led UW is scoring on Saturday, but his effort was also exceptional. With both Trice and King out, Davison was forced to basically play every minute of this game and it was an all-out effort from the freshman. He added three rebounds, four assists and a steal to the 20-point effort on the offensive end of the court and could be seen hustling after balls even when he had nothing left to give.
The problem was, few others came along for the ride. Happ wasn’t scoring when Davison needed the help, fellow freshman Nathan Reuvers struggled through a 2 of 8 day from the floor and Aleem Ford and Kahlil Iverson combined for just eight points.
Davison is doing a rare thing and stepping up as a leader in his first season. Will anyone follow his lead is the big question? The answer so far this season seems to be no one wants to also step up along side of him in the backcourt and that’s troubling.
Where is the 2015 Class?
When you have a 5-man class in college basketball, you better hit on that class. One look at the Badgers roster this season shows a severe deficit from that class.
Sure, it was nice to get 10 points from Pritzl, but Iverson hasn’t been a consistent scorer to compliment anything up front. That’s not to make any mention of the fact that both Aaron Moesch and TJ Schlundt are getting playing time over Charlie Thomas and Alex Illikanen. Need we make mention of the fact that Illikanen came in to Madison as a 4-star recruit alongside Pritzl?
There was supposed to be stretch-four in the mix as well with Andy Van Vliet. He’s still on the roster, but he was the first one out of the starting lineup as he struggled shooting from distance and keeping up on the defensive end of the court. It’s been an utter disaster from this group.
With a young group of players having to step up, now would’ve been the perfect time for the guys in their third year in the program to step up. Instead, that group is largely shrinking under the weight of this season. Minutes are there to be had for anyone willing to step up, yet this group isn’t doing that.
If you want to know why the Badgers are 4-7 this season, look to a lack of anything from a class that should be the backbone of a team steadying itself and at least playing good basketball. We certainly can’t say that after the start this team has had and the run of awful basketball that has been played in December so far.
Gard Has Chance to Show His Chops as a Head Coach
Tough times make the man, and the Badgers are hitting some of the toughest times they’ve seen since the Kohl Center opened back in 1998. Wisconsin has no home court advantage anymore, as Ohio State and Marquette have come to the Kohl Center and just destroyed the Badgers — something that was a rarity for more than a decade or so.
It isn’t good news for a program that is supposed to have its share of high-valued recruits on the roster. There are five players on the Badgers roster that were part of the 247Sports’ Top 247 in their respective classes. One can say only Brad Davison and Nathan Reuvers – both freshmen – are even close to showing the potential that their recruiting rankings showed.
That’s a major problem, one that requires quality coaching to overcome. Now is a good time for Gard and his staff to show their coaching chops.
But, so far that has been a questionable situation in 2017. There was the inability to see Davison needed to start from the beginning, the reliance on the likes of Thomas and Illikanen up top early on and now the desperation of taking the redshirt off of Reuvers (even though that was the right move).
Those haven’t been good decisions made.
Wisconsin also has a major problem this season — no one is developing.
This is supposed to be a program built on developing players while others are starring. Where has that been this past year? It sure appears non-existent from what we’ve highlighted before.
Right now the fanbase is searching for answers, and so too is Gard. Sure, he may say there wasn’t any time to prep a rotation for tonight with the losses of King and Trice, but that’s a flimsy excuse for getting blown out. It only works if you are losing a close game, and Wisconsin has done plenty of that before the month of December.
Gard hasn’t found an answer and he really needs to quickly in order for the Badgers to avoid missing out on the NCAA tournament for the first time in nearly 20 years. If he can right the ship, get something resembling quality consistent play, perhaps the season is salvageable. If not, you can bet the questions about Gard as the right man for the job are going to grow from a Twitter minority to a majority in the fanbase.
Such is the nature of what Dick Bennett and then Bo Ryan built in Madison.
There’s little excuse for the talent that was brought in to this program to be executing in such poor fashion. It’s time for Gard to pull out some real coaching magic. Does he have it in him?
Badgers basketball lands pair of 4-star players in 2021 class
Witnessing a win over the Northwestern Wildcats must have done the trick, because two of Wisconsin’s biggest targets in the 2021 class both committed on Sunday.
First to commit was the more surprising name, as Top247 point guard Chucky Hepburn.
The No. 23 ranked point guard and No. 141 ranked player in the country per the 247Sports composite rankings chose the Badgers over offers from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Creighton. He also was beginning to see interest from some of the bigger names in college basketball, but chose to pick a team that had been on him for awhile.
“I called coach Gard 30 minutes ago and committed,” Hepburn told Badger247. “The education part was really great. I loved all the academic advisors are part of the basketball program and how they work with them.
“With the basketball side, I fit perfectly with the system they run. I feel like the assistant coaches will help me get where I want to be, because they all played professionally before.”
But, not long after that news broke, word of the biggest target on UW’s list committing would break as well.
Wisconsin would add 4-star forward Matthew Mors to the mix as well.
Mors comes to the Badgers ranked as the No. 115 player in the country and the No. 22 power forward in the nation as well.
The Badgers had been on Mors since his eighth grade year and the persistence paid off, despite other offers across the Big Ten and Big 12 coming to him.
Mors chose Wisconsin over names like Creighton, Iowa State, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, TCU, and more.
With these two pledges, the Badgers have solidified their 2021 recruiting class rather early and they hit on all their top priority prospects as well.
Hepburn and Mors join fellow 4-star player in 6-8 power forward Chris Hodges. With three 4-star players to their name, the Badgers currently own the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
Yes, Wisconsin isn’t likely to own that No. 1 ranking by the end of the class, but there’s no doubt that the Badgers have done something special in the 2021 class.
It is a huge statement for head coach Greg Gard after the program missed out on some massive in-state names in the past few classes. Many had begun to wonder if the Badgers could ever hit on big targets with Gard as the head coach.
Those thoughts should be put to rest with this class and how the Badgers closed out the 2020 class prior to this.
It should also be noted that assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft was the lead recruiter on each of the last four overall commitments for the Badgers, including 2020 names Steven Crowl and Ben Carlson.
Of course, we won’t know for a while how these big recruiting numbers stack up once they get on the floor for some time. But, winning on the recruiting trail like this puts the Badgers in a much better spot to be competitive for a very long time than previously thought.
Carlson commits to Badgers 2020 basketball class
It appears the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers basketball class has come to a close.
The four-star center chose the Badgers over a who’s who of basketball offers in the Midwest including Ohio State, Xavier, Stanford, Purdue, Creighton, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa State, Kansas State, Wake Forest, and others.
Much like Crowl, Carlson took his official visit to Madison earlier this month for the Central Michigan football game.
Carlson comes to the Badgers as the No. 15 ranked forward in the entire country per the 247Sports composite rankings, the No. 82 ranked player overall and with a .967 grade from the composite.
He was high up the Badgers list for a long time, even as they targeted other highly rate options at forward like Jalen Johnson. However, as the board began to shake out, it was clear the Badgers wanted Carlson no matter what Johnson or anyone else was going to do in this class.
It appears that the relationship that Carlson formed with the current roster while on his visit is what put the Badgers over the top in this lengthly recruitment.
“A big focus was on getting to know the players, so I hung out with them a lot,” Carlson told Badger247. “They talked about how the coaching staff tells you straight-up how everything is going to be, they don’t sugarcoat anything. They told me about how much they liked it there.”
“I had a pretty good idea of how Wisconsin was going in,” he continued. “The biggest thing was getting to know the players and I really liked them. I know about the history and the campus, but getting to know the players was big for sure.”
Adding this type of nationally known name to an already big class is huge for the Badgers. In fact, UW has the No. 4 ranked class per the 247Sports composite team rankings.
It would be the highest the Badgers have ever finished in the rankings, with the 2006 class under Bo Ryan the next highest at No. 20 in the country.
Wisconsin is getting easily one of the most skilled big men in the class and an instant impact type of player. What has been a question mark up front could easily be a strength of this team quickly thanks to Carlson and Crowl’s commitments to the class.
Badgers add 4-star center to 2020 basketball class
What could be a historic recruiting class for the Wisconsin Badgers got another boost on Tuesday as 4-star center Steven Crowl verbally committed to the Badgers.
He went on his official visit this past weekend and apparently it was all he needed to see.
Crowl has since cancelled trips to other contenders like Colorado, Iowa, and Northern Iowa. He also had an offer from the in-state Gophers and was thinking about a visit there.
However, his official visit for the Central Michigan football game weekend was all he needed to pull the trigger on a commitment to Gard and the Badgers.
Crowl joins an already loaded Badgers 2020 class that includes in-state star Johnny Davis and his twin brother Jordan Davis, as well as the No. 25 ranked point guard in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings, Lorne Bowman.
This class also already has preferred walk-on Carter Gilmore, who chose that offer over other mid-major D1 offers and saw his recruitment pick up considerably in the July evaluation period.
While his name wasn’t a hot one on the recruiting trail, he was a late riser and currently sits as the No. 102 ranked player in the class overall and the No. 17 center in the nation per the 247Sports composite rankings.
The St. Paul, Minn. native is also continuing the pipeline of players coming from the cross-border rival Gopher state. He comes from the same AAU program — Minnesota D1 — that produced both Tyler Wahl and Nate Reuvers.
With Crowl in the fold, Wisconsin has added 12 players from the state of Minnesota in the 247Sports composite era, according to Badger247.
When you take a look at Crowl’s film, what you see is someone that has begun to both physically and mentally mature. He’s got the skill set that UW likes out of their bigs as well, with a nice looking shot from the outside.
However, what you also see on tape is someone that may need to take a year to adjust to the college game and that may be perfectly fine with the coaching staff as they still will have Nate Reuvers and Tyler Wahl to work with up front as starters.
It will be interesting to see how Crowl digests the speed of the college game early on. If he can adjust to that and the physicality, he may indeed find himself in the rotation quickly though.
He is certainly in the mold of what has become the classic Wisconsin big man.
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.
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