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Foul trouble does Badgers in against Huskers

Wisconsin can’t keep Huskers off the line, drop second-straight road game as a result.

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Wisconsin held an 8-7 lead with 14:42 to play in the first half. It would be the Badgers last lead of the game, as the host Huskers fought off the Badgers 63-59 to drop UW below .500 in Big Ten play.

Nebraska was able to come away victorious despite allowing another double double from Ethan Happ (19 points, 11 rebounds) and making just two three-pointers on the night.

Instead, Nebraska got to the line like crazy in the second half and took advantage of it.

The Huskers were 21 of 28 from the free throw line, and it was a good thing for the hosts in the second half.

Nebraska went the final eight minutes of the game without hitting a field goal, yet they were able to actually extend a lead.

The loss drops the Badgers to 2-3 in Big Ten play and is the second straight road loss. Wisconsin also drops to 1-6 on the road this season.

Ethan Happ recorded a double double, but once again had little help around him on the night. Freshman guard Brad Davison also landed in double figures with 15 points, but he was just 5 of 15 from the field. Brevin Pritzl completed the double figure scorers for the Badgers with 10 points.

Wisconsin found itself finally playing some quality defense, but it couldn’t get the shooting needed to control the game. Nebraska was held to just 42.6 percent shooting from the field and made just two three-point attempts, while committing 13 turnovers.

That’s usually a recipe for Badgers success, instead the Huskers used a big run in each half to keep UW at an arm’s length and ultimately from winning.

Wisconsin did cut it close in the later stage of the second half as Nebraska suffered through an extended scoring slump and the lead was cut to 51-47 with under five minutes to play.

However, fouls caught up with Wisconsin and that four-point lead was able to somehow stretch to a seven-point lead thanks to the free throw line and Wisconsin’s inability to hit shots in consecutive possessions until it was too late.

Wisconsin will finish its three-game road swing with a visit to Mackey Arena to take on Purdue next Tuesday. Tip is scheduled for 6pm CT on ESPN.

But, what do we take away from this loss? Let’s look at the three big points of this game.

Happ Can’t Do It Himself…All the Time

Ethan Happ will never give up, and that was clear on Tuesday night. He had 15 of his 19 points in the second half while no one else on the Badgers wanted to help him.

That didn’t matter though, as his effort in the second half wasn’t enough to win the game.

Yes, Brad Davison had 15 points and Nate Reuvers put in eight points, but those points didn’t come in unison with Happ doing his thing. In fact, most of the time those points came in too few spurts to matter.

I mean, most of Davison’s 15 points came in scramble mode when the game was out of reach anyway.

When you look at the stat sheet and see what the Badgers did defensively, this should’ve been a win for Wisconsin. When you look at everyone not named Happ on offense, you see why the Badgers lost this one.

It’s as simple as Happ can’t be the only one to show up on both ends of the court for most of a half and have the Badgers win.

Free Throws Again?

Free throws have been a pain-point for the Badgers over the last two years and they continue to be in 2017-18 as well. That was certainly highlighted in Tuesday’s loss to Nebraska.

Nebraska had 28 attempts from the free throw line, while the Badgers only got to the charity stripe 10 times. It doesn’t matter how poor the Huskers would’ve shot, they were likely to have more points from the line than the Badgers could’ve even attempted.

In a game that saw so many scoring droughts, allowing a team to just salt the game away from the line while not hitting shots is brutal to watch. That’s what happened on Tuesday night and it was no fun indeed.

Everyone keeps waiting to see this free throw issue get corrected, but it just doesn’t seem like it is going to get fixed. Not finding an answer for nearly three years is certainly frustrating.

What Else Can Gard Do?

There has been a lot of hand-wringing and arm-chair coaching suggesting that Greg Gard is just an awful head coach.

But, bagging on Gard the head coach makes little sense. Put yourself in his shoes with the injuries he has and what exactly would you do different that would make this team suddenly click?

Chances are you don’t have an answer, and that’s because Gard has literally thrown the kitchen sink at this season and nothing is sticking.

Free throw woes? You don’t think their all working on that?

Scoring droughts? You don’t think Gard has a feel for when they are coming?

I think you get the point here…and at some point it is on the players who are given opportunities to do something with them.

Gard has literally given everyone on the roster a chance to show they belong on the court and few outside of Davison, Happ and on occasion Ford and Pritzl are actually taking advantage of the playing time there for the taking.

Are there little in-game things that Gard can learn from for himself? Sure.

But, harping on those things like they are the difference between this group winning and losing right now is just asinine.

At some point, ownership of what is happening on the court belongs to the players who are out there. If there was an easy answer and Gard didn’t have it, that would be one thing, but he’s trying to find an answer in a very tough situation and that’s all you can ask from a coach.

Players not showing up when they get an opportunity is on them, not the coaching staff.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers basketball lands pair of 4-star players in 2021 class

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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.

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Carlson commits to Badgers 2020 basketball class

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It appears the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers basketball class has come to a close.

A day after forward Steven Crowl committed, we now have word that top target Ben Carlson, a fellow Minnesota native, has committed to the Badgers as well.

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.

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Badgers add 4-star center to 2020 basketball class

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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.

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Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks

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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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