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A Judgmental Women’s Thoughts on the Wisconsin Basketball Team

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Dec 6, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Steven Crowl (22) high-fives forward Tyler Wahl (5) during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

I am, what most would call, a very typical female sports fan. Don’t get me wrong; I understand sports, especially Wisconsin basketball. And I’m not the girl who refers to teams by their jersey colors or players by their numbers, nor do I ask 20 questions about basic rules or make dumb comments about obvious things. 

What I mean when I call myself a typical female fan is that, while watching a game, I notice things and form opinions that men often don’t see, i.e., appearance, mannerisms, accessory choices, etc.

I have been a big Wisconsin basketball fan since middle school. Upon meeting my husband and beginning to watch games with him, he realized I had a lot of random opinions. He is generally interested in my takes and looks forward to my thoughts at the start of each season. While he might not always agree, he’s generally entertained. 

So here’s my shot at seeing if anyone else finds any humor in my judgemental thoughts on the Wisconsin basketball team. 

*Note: All of these comments are intended to be light-hearted, and I have withheld sharing this because I fear hurting anyone’s feelings. I know these players are real kids with much more talent and potential than I would ever dream of having, and I in no way think anything negative about them. 

No. 1: Steven Crowl’s Hair…Yikes

Dec 6, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Max Klesmit (11) and forward Steven Crowl (22) celebrate their win over the Maryland Terrapins at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s kick it off with my longest-standing opinion, Steven Crowl’s hair. 

While it has come a long way since he first started at UW, it still looks like the kind of haircut an elementary school kid gets. Many players have what appears to be a fresh cut every single game day. Do they invite Steve to those haircuts? 

Honestly, though, his hair fits what I think his personality is. A sweet, shy, maybe a little sheltered guy that all Wisconsin basketball fans have a soft spot for.

No. 2: My irrational love Jordan Davis

Jan 3, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Jordan Davis (2) passes the ball against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the first half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve had an irrational love for Jordan Davis for the last two years. As someone who grew up with a set of twins in my friend group, I know the rivalry between them can be intense. Watching Jordan become Johnny’s No.1 fan without appearing to be jealous absolutely warmed my heart. 

My husband and I attended the Battle 4 Wisconsin charity softball game over the summer. Jordan participated while Johnny did not, yet the children yelled out from the stands to Jordan, “Where’s Johnny” or “Say hi to Johnny for me.” 

As I was thinking how bad it would suck to still be overshadowed by your twin who has moved on to the NBA, Jordan kindly responded and showed no signs of bitterness whatsoever. 

And if that wasn’t enough, Jordan performed incredibly at the charity softball game. Based on his technique, it was VERY apparent that this guy was not a baseball/softball player. VERY clear. Yet he made some pretty damn impressive plays, despite the ugly form. 

I want nothing but the best for this kid and hope to see more growth from him as the Wisconsin basketball season continues.

No. 3 Markus Ilver’s Face

Oct 30, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers Markus Ilver (35) rebounds the ball against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds during the first half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Markus Ilver is a really tough one for me, and the only reason I have for my animosity is his face. 

Does anyone else think that Ilver constantly looks like he’s on the verge of a nap? 

They show him on the bench or in the huddle, and I’m always doing a double take to ensure he’s not asleep. Even when he’s on the floor, he looks bored. It might just be me, but I can’t unsee it. 

No. 4 Carter Gilmore and Troy Bolton’s Dad are Doppelgangers

Jan 10, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Carter Gilmore (14) looks to pass the ball during the first half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Lastly, Carter Gilmore and Troy Bolton’s dad are doppelgangers. Many of you have already weighed in on this in my husband’s Twitter poll. For reference, 54% of the voters agreed with me. 

If you don’t know, I am referring to the character coach Jack Bolton (Troy Bolton’s dad) in High School Musical. 

It’s important to note that I watched High School Musical the day before my husband posted the poll. (I was introducing my daughter to a Disney classic, so you can stop judging why a 28-year-old woman is watching HSM on a random Monday night). 

So that was on my mind upon watching the Wisconsin basketball game the next day. I’m also what most would consider a High School Musical connoisseur, so I feel like my opinion weighs a little bit heavier than the middle-aged men who voted, having never seen the movie. 

I’d like to clarify that this is in no way an insult. Watching the movie as an adult, I thought to myself, “Troy Bolton’s dad is kinda hot.” 

So Carter, apparently, you have the potential to be a good-looking basketball-coaching dad someday.

Final Thoughts on the Wisconsin Basketball team

As I said, this is all meant to be light-hearted. I mean, absolutely no hate for any of these guys. 

I’ve never put my opinions on the internet, which makes me a little uncomfortable. Remember, I’m a girl and a pretty soft one at that. So if you hate my opinions on the Wisconsin basketball team, consider going easy on me. 


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis.

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4 Reasons Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Will Miss the NCAA Tournament

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Greg Gard Wisconsin Men's Basketball

After another grueling loss in the Kohl Center Sunday night at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s tournament chances are on life support.

As an optimistic UW fan, this was a tough lede for me to type. But even I’m ready to throw in the towel.

A squad as offensively challenged as the Wisconsin men’s basketball team needs to be smart, scrappy, and tough-minded. On top of this, they need to convert free throw attempts at a high rate, limit turnovers, rebound well on both ends, and take high-percentage shots. Unfortunately, these are all things UW has struggled with in Big Ten play.

It hasn’t been a pretty season at all, and because of that, here are four reasons why the Wisconsin men’s basketball team will fall short of the NCAA tournament in 2023.

Poor Free Throw Shooting

After Sunday night’s loss, the Badgers are now shooting a cumulative 65% from the charity stripe. Honestly, the only guy I feel confident in at the line is Connor Essegian. But the freshman sharpshooter isn’t the issue, it’s the guys who get to the line more frequently. Chucky Hepburn, Steven Crowl, and Tyler Wahl. Crowl and Wahl are shooting just a lick over 60%, while Hepburn is at a 71% clip. It’s not like these aren’t big free throws either — most come down the stretch of tight finishes. Good teams make free throws, and UW hasn’t hit that mark.

Remaining Schedule

The Wisconsin men’s basketball team now sits at two games under .500 in the Big 10 and 13-9 overall. With tough games remaining against Purdue, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa, and Rutgers to name a few, it’s tough to envision the team losing less than at least three games. And with very few top-tier wins during the season (The Kansas win would have been huge), UW’s strength of schedule isn’t anything to write home about. Wisconsin currently sits 67th in the Kenpom adjusted ratings, with a 46th-ranked non-conference strength of schedule and a 19th-ranked overall strength of schedule. As it sits, their best win this season would be the victory at Marquette.

Lack of Offense and Depth

The Badgers rotation realistically only goes 6-7 guys deep before they begin grasping at straws. The only player that has shown the ability to create his own shot consistently has been Hepburn. As a team, the Badgers have shot 36% from deep this season, good for 70th in the NCAA. Not good enough for a team that relies so heavily on it.

Tyler Wahl has been uncharacteristically bad — especially since returning from injury — at finishing in the post, and Crowl now receives double teams, which hampers his ability to control the game down low. Mix in Connor Essegian’s growing pains (even though the future looks bright), and Jordan Davis’ and Max Klesmit’s inability to get to the hoop or consistently knock down threes and you have a team that can’t hang with the big boys of the Big 10.

Lack of Toughness, Physicality, and Basketball IQ

What i’ve noticed always seems to separate Wisconsin men’s basketball teams from the rest is their peskiness. They are tough, physical, and outsmart you on the court.

However, the 2023 squad hasn’t been up to their own standard. They currently rank 345th in the country in offensive rebound percentage, are averaging 8.9 turnovers per game, and don’t seem to have the dive on the floor for loose balls mentality like past groups.

Whether it’s coaching, player mentality, lack of depth, or simply players being in the wrong positions at the wrong time, it has come back to haunt them. Don’t get me wrong, every rotation player has found their niche in 2023, but it simply feels like there are a few pieces missing.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Trent Tetzlaff on Twitter @ttetz5.

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How Can Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Right the Ship?

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Wisconsin Men's Basketball Team Forward Tyler Wahl
Jan 28, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) reacts to a foul call during the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. — Greg Gard and the Wisconsin men’s basketball program (13-8, 5-6 Big Ten) are in a rut. The Badgers have lost six of their last eight games and are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in 24 years. 

Perhaps the most troubling part is that UW hasn’t played with the same passion, grit, and cohesion we’ve seen that helped the Badgers overcome talent gaps in the past. 

With the Big Ten season halfway through, here are a few areas Wisconsin men’s basketball can clean things up to right the ship.

Get Tyler Wahl Back on Track 

Honestly, I don’t see a route for the Wisconsin men’s basketball team to figure out things on offense—scoring will continue to be challenging. But UW can be markedly better/more efficient if they figure out how to get Tyler Wahl back on track. 

Wahl’s regression in the low post has been a real head-scratcher, to say the least. 

According to Synergy, Wahl averaged 0.992 points per possession on post-touches last season – placing him in the 80th percentile among all division one players. He was one of the best low-post scoring options in the Power 5 from an efficiency standpoint. 

The Minnesota natives shooting splits went from an impressive 51.6% from the field and 57% on two-point baskets last season to an underwhelming 41% and 43.4% in 2022-23.

Some of Wahl’s struggles could be explained by his ankle injury, increased role in the Wisconsin men’s basketball program, and being the top player on the scouting report. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward has also seen a substantial uptick in usage — going from 20.7 USG% to a team-high 29.6% this season. 

Potential Solutions

But on the other hand, Wahl simply needs to be better and stop forcing the issue. Greg Gard needs him to play within the framework of the offense, improve his shot selection, and take a back seat to his teammates if he doesn’t have a great matchup that night. 

“You don’t have to force things when we don’t get exactly what we want,” UW head coach Greg Gard said. “The post is – as you’ve heard me call it so many times – a playmaking position. That doesn’t mean you have to shoot it.”

His teammates must also move better without the ball on offense to allow him room to work in one-on-one situations.

Wahl is the best and most versatile defender in the Wisconsin men’s basketball program, and nobody is disputing that. But if the offense is going to find its way, UW will need more from its senior forward. 

Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Must Stay Together + Lock In Defensively

Like it or not, the best way for the Wisconsin men’s basketball program to start winning close games has more to do with defense than offense. 

Before Tyler Wahl’s injury, the Badgers defense held opponents to 61.2 points per game. Since then, UW has allowed 66.3 points per game on a much higher field goal percentage. 

If Wisconsin men’s basketball is going to turn their season around and make a push for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the toughness and grit we’ve seen this group play with needs to become consistent again. 

“I think the No. 1 thing is you got to get back to being who you are,” Gard said after a recent loss. “That was a conversation we’ve had with these guys; we talked about where have we strayed from who we are. You can’t fix everything, but the number one thing … was what we were not doing defensively.”

Even though the rotation is tight, UW has to ride its horses and play with a sense of urgency every night — knowing the outcome of a close game could be the difference between them going dancing or making the NIT.

Get to the Charity Stripe

It was Bo Ryan’s golden rule that Wisconsin men’s basketball needed to make more free throws than their opponents attempted. 

And although UW is a low-possession team, that hasn’t been the reality for the Badgers this season. UW has shot fewer free throws than its opponents – and they’ve also made less. Not exactly a recipe for success. 

Wisconsin is No. 348 in the country in free throw attempts and No. 13 in the Big Ten in both FT attempts and makes. And if the low number of trips to the FT line wasn’t enough — the Badgers are ranked No. 12 in the Big Ten in free throw percentage as well (65.8%).

The offense as a whole isn’t going to be fixed with one wave of a magic wand, instead, it will come from cleaning up areas on the margins. More attempts from the charity stripe would go a LONG way in helping this offense — especially in close games. 


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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Three Things: Wisconsin Basketball vs. Ohio State

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Wisconsin basketball came into tonight’s matchup against Ohio State, desperately needing a win. Having lost six out of their last seven games, the Badgers played a great game in Columbus. They get the win 65-60; here are three things from the win.

 

Strong First Half

After what was Wisconsin basketball’s worst half of the year last time out against Illinois, scoring only sixteen points. They knew a much better start would be crucial to a victory tonight. Starting with an 8-0 run, the badgers took control in the first half, scoring 43 points and building a sixteen-point lead behind the excellent play of Chucky Hepburn, Steven Crowl, and Connor Essegian. Starting strong and gaining a lead allows Wisconsin to settle in on the defensive end and withstand those cold spells on offense. As we saw in the second half, Wisconsin went scoreless for over six minutes. Thanks to the excellent start and big lead, they were able to sneak out with the win.

Big Steve

Wisconsin basketball big man Steven Crowl has been the most impressive improvement so far this season. The big man has gotten more assertive, more skilled, and gained confidence. He arguably has been the Badger’s best player as of late, and he continued his excellent play tonight. Big Steve finished with fourteen points and nine rebounds. He has been such a pleasant surprise for Wisconsin basketball this year.

Free Throws

A common struggle for Wisconsin basketball has been from the free throw line. For a team that has spent most of their games within a couple of scores. To struggle so severely from the free throw line is a serious issue moving forward. A team that struggles offensively needs all the “free” points they can get. One of the worst in the Big Ten at just 66%, Wisconsin went 13/22 tonight. Shoutout to Chucky Hepburn, who rattled in a few clutch free throws at the end of the game.

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Griffin Gamble on Twitter, @gamble_griffin3

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