Mackey Arena has been a house of horrors for the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program. Mix in a down year for the Badgers and one of the best Purdue teams in decades and you get a 78-50 no-doubter by the No. 3 team in the nation.
Vince and Carsen Edwards nearly did the Badgers in alone, as the two reached over the 20-point mark respectively and combined for 41 points in the win.
Wisconsin was done from the opening tip on though, as Purdue ripped off a 12-0 start to the game before a pair of Nate Reuvers free throws broke Wisconsin’s early scoreless streak. However, it didn’t get much better as Purdue lead by as many as 21 points in the first half.
Purdue was up 32-11 with 4:32 left in the first half, but the Badgers did battle back (sort of) to go in to the half on an 11-7 run to make it a 39-22 Boilermakers lead at the half.
Ethan Happ struggled in the first half, but tried to put the team on his back. He finished the game with a team-high 15 points and had six rebounds and seven assists. But, he also finished with seven turnovers and it set a bad tone for the Badgers.
Wisconsin turned the ball over 20 times and never got themselves in the game because they couldn’t sustain anything thanks to said turnovers.
The loss drops the Badgers to a woeful 18-71 against Purdue in West Lafayette and drops them under .500 on the season (9-10, 2-4 B1G). UW will look to get back to winning ways after three-straight losses on the road and will come back to the Kohl Center to take on Illinois on Jan. 19 at 6pm on FS1.
Badgers hold Haas, Matthias down, still can’t win
If you would’ve told me that Isaac Haas and Dakota Mathias would be held to a combined 4 points, I would’ve told you the Badgers were going to at least be in the conversation to win this game. The two came in averaging 28.1 points combined, but each managed just two points in this one.
Rather than that being a good sign for the Badgers, UW forgot about defending the rest of the Boilermakers and the results were just awful.
Wisconsin couldn’t find a way to figure out curls or screen and rolls by anyone else, especially backup big man Matt Haarms. The Dutch product came off the bench and dominated UW’s defense for 10 points in 18 minutes played.
Ethan Happ was no help and trailing players were simply not long enough to deal with Haarms or either of the cutting Edwards’ for the Boilermakers. As much as people want to harp on the offensive side of the ball, Wisconsin’s inability to do the fundamental things on defense is really what’s killing this team.
That was certainly on full display in this one for Wisconsin.
Purdue was more aggressive on both ends
Wisconsin’s youngsters would do well to put the tape of this game on over and over again the rest of this week. No, not because it’s a painful reminder of how pathetic they looked, but as a reminder of what being aggressive does for a team.
Purdue played physical, strong and confident basketball from the start and it showed on both ends.
Excuses are running thin for Gard and Co.
Simply put, this loss was as embarrassing as the Big Ten opener against Ohio State and one could argue that Greg Gard hasn’t figured any way to motivate
One positive is that Gard seems not to be giving up on this team. According to the ESPN broadcast he could be heard clear as day . Ethan Happ came out motivated and tried his level best to get this team back in the game, but had little help in that effort.
Some of it could be down to lack of depth in the backcourt, with two of four main players down. Some of it can be chalked up to Brad Davison not being able to use one arm for most things. Some of it can be chalked up to a junior class that is producing nothing.
But, the sad part is the last part — Gard was responsible for bringing all of Brevin Pritzl, and Charlie Thomas. None of them are consistent scorers and none of them can be counted on to help Happ on a nightly basis.
Missing on this class is hurting the team as we’ve previously talked about, and the lack of development is on Gard and the players too. It’s one thing to see one or two of a five-man class not work out, but all five?
Iverson and Pritzl have shown promise at times this season, but they are the best this class has had to offer and they are role players at best on a team that needs them to be stars.
If there was a bright spot in this game it was the play of freshman Nathan Reuvers. He looked confident while shooting from deep and never gave up on the game despite the feeling that it was over from the get-go. Yet,
Not only did he have 8 of Wisconsin’s 22 points in the first half alone, he found himself unafraid to get physical with bigger players like Isaac Haas on the other end of the court. But, it appeared that Gard was never comfortable with Happ and Reuvers on the court at the same time.
Sure, Happ wasn’t on target in the first half, but he was playing well with Reuvers at times and allowed the freshman some open looks from beyond the arc. Instead of figuring out how to pair those two, Reuvers was hardly seen down the stretch when he could’ve been used the most.
Gard needs to figure out how to pair Happ and Reuvers to his advantage and he needs to find a way to get the guys to hustle the way Purdue did. It was like watching a team of athletes against a team stuck in mud all night long.
Wisconsin’s turnovers were only compounded by an inability to get back on basketball, something that few teams before it since Dick Bennett came to town struggled with.
All of those things add up to a coach who is running out of time and desperate for answers. Does he have them in the offseason? At this point that is what the rest of this season is about — showing how this team can grow and learn from this bad year and move forward.
If he can, this will be a blip on the radar. If he can’t, it’s huge trouble for a proud program and Gard is in some serious trouble himself.
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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