On Monday night, Wisconsin dropped yet another game to a Top-25 team. This time, they lost 49-37 on the road to No. 18 Virginia. The game was a defensive slugfest, with both teams shooting very poorly. The Badgers shot 31.3% from the field, 15% from three, and 57.1% from the line. Virginia wasn’t much better. They shot 38.3 from the field and 21.4% from three.
Wisconsin was led by Ethan Happ, who had 14 points and 8 rebounds. D’Mitrik Trice tacked on 10. For Virginia, Kyle Guy had 17 points and Devon Hall had 16. No other Cavalier had more than four points.
Next, the Badgers will start conference play with a game against Ohio State on Saturday. Now on to the observations and grades.
Defensive rebounding was a problem
Missing shots is fine. Losing games to really good teams on the road is fine. What is not fine is getting completely dominated on the glass like Wisconsin did today. The Badgers gave up 14 offensive rebounds, and committed rebounding fouls or hit the ball out of bounds on several other defensive possessions. Defensive rebounding has long been a staple of this Badger program. To see them get so thoroughly manhandled in that area was embarrassing.
Defense was solid
Aside from giving the Cavaliers second chances, Wisconsin actually played very stingy defense. They forced Virginia into tough shots for most of the game. As a result, the Cavaliers scored just 48 points on 38% shooting. In addition, the Badgers didn’t allow Virginia to shoot a single free throw. In the modern college game, that is unheard of. Despite a double-digit loss, this was a very impressive performance by Wisconsin’s defense.
Nate Reuvers showed potential despite poor shooting
Through the first two games of his Badger career, Reuvers is 0-10 shooting. But he still added a lot to this team over those two games. First of all, he plays with far more energy and hustle than Van Vliet, Thomas, and Illikainen do. He took charges, boxed out, and played tough defense, despite being significantly weaker than everyone he guarded. He also did a good job tipping tough rebounds to other Wisconsin players. Reuvers is aggressive on offense. His shots will eventually start to fall. But in the meantime, it is good to see he is doing all the little things.
Perimeter shooting needs to (and will) get better
Three-point shooting was thought to be a strength of this team coming into the season. But in the four games against ranked opponents, Wisconsin has shot the ball very poorly. However, there is reason to believe that it will get better. First of all, Trice has hit 3-19 from three against ranked teams. He is too good of a shooter for that not to change. He is just picking the wrong days to be cold. We also know Brevin Pritzl, Kobe King, and Aleem Ford can shoot at a much higher level than they’ve shown. This team may never be the Warriors from deep, but they aren’t as bad as they were today.
D’Mitrik Trice: C-
He had another cold shooting day, but he had some nice floaters and mid-range jumpers. He was also good in pick-and-roll situations and had his best defensive game of the season.
Brad Davison: C-
He was only 2-10 from the field, but his toughness was once again on full display.
Khalil Iverson: D
Did he even play tonight? When I checked, it showed that he only played 11 minutes. His leading stat was turnovers (2).
Aleem Ford: C
He hit a pair of three-pointers and played good defense. Also had four turnovers.
Ethan Happ: C+
This was Happ’s worst game in a long, long time. He had turnover issues, missed bunnies, and got dominated by Jack Salt on the boards. He still finished with 14 and 8.
Brevin Pritzl: C
He played 22 and didn’t score a single point. He rebounded and defended well though. He didn’t make many mistakes.
Charles Thomas: B-
He played five minutes and had five rebounds. He forced a three-pointer, but his rebounding may give him more minutes.
Kobe King: C
He played 21 minutes and played his best defense of the season. He also had one nice bucket on offense to go along with an ugly miss.
Nate Reuvers: B-
He struggled with his shooting, but he played with energy and confidence that Wisconsin’s other backup big men don’t.
Greg Gard: D
He had some questionable lineups, like the one without Trice, Ford, or Happ that allowed Virginia to go on a big run. Also shouldn’t have let Davison play after his shoulder got hurt.
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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