Best offensive player
Nate Reuvers has taken the next step many fans were hoping. Reuvers has raised his scoring average from 7.9 –> 15.3 while looking like a focal point for the offense at times. Through 6 games his FT% has gone up 21% from a year ago, shooting a rock solid 84%. With the additional post touches, Reuvers confidence is growing and that’s leading to greater consistency.
Best defensive player
Nate Reuvers seems like the most logical choice here given he’s currently averaging 2.8 BPG. Reuvers has a knack for altering shots and protecting the rim, but too often leaves his own man to chase down blocks. I am beginning to grow concerned about Reuvers ability to become a plus defender without jeopardizing the team by getting in foul trouble. It would appear he lacks the necessary core/upper body strength to be the teams anchor without fouling, Micah Potters presence should help. The team as a whole has put together a nice effort defensively.
Player Report Card
Trice : (C) Trice has been arguably the biggest offensive disappointment this season. Expected to take on more of the scoring load, Trice has only averaged 8 PPG on 35% from the field. His 1.5 turnovers a game are right in line with a year ago, while his 3.5 assists a game are up. It needs be mentioned that Trice has noticeably improved as an on ball defender.
Davison : (B+) Davison has looked like a much more confident player in this offense, showing more assertiveness at times. His scoring average is up from 10.5 –> 13.8. All while shooting 39% from 3, 51% from the field, and 94% from the FT line. Davison is doing everything Wisconsin needs him to right now. Hopefully the ankle injury isn’t something that persists.
King : (C+) King has raised his scoring average form 4.2 –> 11.2 this season. But all we’re really getting is flashes of the player King could be for Wisconsin. King isn’t hunting his own show nearly enough IMO, as he’s one of the few that can create for himslef and get to the charity stripe (4.5 attempts a game). Kobe’s ability in the post is one of the most underrated facets of his game, with footwork and patience King should be able to bully any smaller defenders that might guard him. Wisconsin needs King to become more assertive and engaged, especially in close games.
Ford : (B-) Alando Tucker can coach, need proof? Look no further than his pet project Aleem Ford. Ford’s game has made the most progress in one year of any player on the roster. Ford has raised his scoring average from 3.1 –> 10.2. Forget the slow start from 3 (25.9%) that’ll come, what Ford has added to his game this season is remarkable. Before this year Ford hasn’t show even a glimpse of being able to take someone off the dribble or playing out of the post. Now Ford is posting players, backing them down and winning with footwork. While Ford has had his issues, its important to remember this is all new to him and it can take a while for everything to straighten itself out.
Reuvers : (B+) Reuvers has been the perfect mixture of an All-Big Ten player (already won a Big Ten player of the week) and that of a foul prone big man on a team that can’t afford him to get in foul trouble. Reuvers has taken big strides but needs to be more consistent, Micah Potter should take a lot of pressure off of Reuvers when he returns.
Pritzl : (B+) Pritzl has been everything Wisconsin needed him to be as their 6th man. Brevin has raised his scoring average from 4.8 –> 8.7 ppg. His 15 point 13 rebound game against Marquette is one fans won’t soon forget. Pritzl started the season a little gun shy, but has since found his role in the offense. Pritzl has begun hunting his own shot a little more often instead of only taking what’s given to him. Lets not forget Pritzl leads the team in total rebounds, averaging 6 per game.
Potter (INC) A player who has done everything right, and deserves to be playing right now. Potter will bring another big body who is able to rebound, something Wisconsin doesn’t have nearly enough of, and also another player to stretch the floor. Micah Potter is exactly what Wisconsin is missing right now. The NCAA is a joke.
Wahl : (B-) I can’t say enough good things about Tyler Wahl. This kid does all of the little things, and is earning every minute he’s getting. Wahl finishes his screens, plays excellent defense, and keeps the ball moving on offense. Tyler was asked to step into a big role as a true freshman and has answered the call. Even though he’s been forced to play out of position a fair amount due to depth concerns, he’s held his own using his length. On offense its clear he will be a work in progress, but its important to note he’s only taking whats given to him offensively. Tyler Wahl knows his role, thats important.
Anderson : (C) Its been a welcome sight from a year ago having someone who can spell Trice and Davison at times. Anderson’s playing hard defense and his 7:1 assist to turnover ratio has been pristine, Basically Anderson is doing everything that is asked of him. One thing is clear however, Anderson is not at 100%.
McGrory : (C) Has appeared in 3 games this year, averaging 3.3 ppg 1.7 rebounds and 1 assist. On a night where Kobe King was out McGrory provided Wisconsin with a shot in the arm against McNeese St, adding career highs of 9 points 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 24 minutes. McGrory has shown Greg Gard he can provide minutes due to injury or foul trouble without negatively impacting the game even as a walk-on, a luxury not all teams have.
Hedstrom : (F) Hedstrom had his opportunity early in the year to show coach Gard he could provide minutes on a team devoid of front court depth. Hedstrom showed he wasn’t even close to being ready on either end of the floor.
2018: 60% from the charity stripe
2019: 82% from the charity stripe
2018: 68.6 PPG | 61.7 DEF
2019: 71.3 PPG | 62.2 DEF
What we’re seeing is a team thats playing good defense despite losing two great individual defenders like Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson. Its not a hole that could be filled with any one player, its taken everyone in the rotation stepping up to maintain their strong defensive presence. Rebounding is an area this team will need to clean up if the Badgers are going to improve, their opponents rank 35th in the nation in offensive rebounds.
Offensively this is a team still searching for their identity, hesitating too often and passing up good looks. A team that ranked 7th nationally in taking care of the basketball a year ago, has done a complete 180. Turnovers have been the root of the problems this team is having. Wisconsin currently ranks 133rd nationally in turnovers. While they may not have an established number one scorer, I think there is great value in having so many players contributing on offense. I think this is a team that’ll have different leading scorers most nights, but needs to establish a late game identity to take the next step.
Greg Gard should not be on the hot seat like many have suggested. Coach Gard just finished putting together a 2020 recruiting class that ranked 17th nationally and 2nd in the Big Ten. Not to mention the jump start he got on the 2021 class, signing three 4* recruits in a class that currently sits at #1 nationally (yes i know this is subject to change). Wisconsin’s recruiting model has long been the same, get old and stay old. This is something that was hard to accomplish given the 2015 class he inherited. Players like Charlie Thomas, Alex Illikainen, and Andy Van Vliet forced young players into action before they were ready. I think Greg Gard has done a great job getting the program back to what won Wisconsin many games during Bo Ryan’s tenure, and has really turned it up on the recruiting trail. Greg Gard deserves the benefit of the doubt.
5 Years, 84-49, .632 W-L% (6th best in program history)
3 NCAA tournament appearances(3rd best in program history)
2 Sweet 16 appearances, (4-3) NCAA tournament