Oct 30, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers Connor Essegian (3) looks to pass the ball against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds during the second half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Three Things: Wisconsin Basketball vs. Wake Forest

Wisconsin looks to keep its momentum from the Battle 4 Atlantis as they take on Wake Forest in the BigTen vs. ACC challenge. Wisconsin couldn’t pull out the win and lost this one 78-75. Here are three things from the loss. 

Defensive Struggles

A surprising first takeaway from this game was the defensive effort from the Badgers. Right from the tip, Wake Forest started the game 3/3 from behind the line. Wisconsin gave up 77 points with Wake Forest shooting 54% from the field and almost anytime Wake Forest needed a big-time bucket they got one. Tyree Appleby finished with 32 points. Hard to win a game for this Badger group when they aren’t locked in defensively. 

Big Shot Chucky

This is what the Badgers were expecting from Chucky Hepburn entering the season. When Wisconsin needed a bucket tonight they looked no further than the second-year point guard. Highlighted by his half-court buzzer-beater heave to end the first half. Chucky had a career-high with 6 threes. 

Every good Wisconsin team in recent memory has had a guard that can bail them out late in the shot clock. Traevon Jackson, Bronson Koenig, Brad Davison, etc. Without superstar Johnny Davis, many people, including myself, thought Chucky would be that guy this year. After a slow start to the year, it seems like Chucky has started to find his groove. 

Wisconsin Big 4? 

Wisconsin certainly has figured out who their main scorers are. Chucky Hepburn, Steven Crowl, Connor Essegian, and Tyler Wahl combined for 67 of the Badger’s 75 points. Including all 41 points in the second half. 

While it is good to see a plethora of Badgers contributing in the scoring column, you hope to see more production from guys like Max Klesmit and Jordan Davis. I think it’s fair to ask the question, should true Freshman Connor Essegian be in the starting lineup? Let me know what you think Badger fans. 

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 Griffin Gamble on Twitter, @gamble_griffin3

Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard is shown during the second half of their game Monday, November 7, 2022 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat South Dakota 85-59. Uwmen07 17

Wisconsin Badgers Basketball: Early Season Grades

Wisconsin Badgers Basketball: Early Season Grades

The Wisconsin Badgers basketball season is well underway, with UW getting off to a solid 5-1 start.  Their showing at the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis was admirable, winning games against Dayton and USC and being just one final rebound away from beating the then-third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in overtime.

The overall depth has shined in the first few games, with new additions to the regular rotation providing meaningful contributions.  Let’s grade each of the Badgers’ regular contributors. These grades take into account not only current performance but also expectations coming into the season. Only players who have seen action in each of the first six games are included.


The Wisconsin Badgers Starting Five

Oct 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Wisconsin Badgers players Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, and Tyler Wahl speak to the media during the Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Chucky Hepburn  C-

Chucky came into the season with high expectations and is one of the clear leaders of this team. While he’s averaging a solid 9.7 points per game, his less-than-average start was highlighted by the performance against Dayton.  Hepburn was 1-of-10 from the field with 2 points, one assist, and three turnovers.  Not only was his production low, but he also displayed a lack of leadership and couldn’t perform as one of the top players.  

This performance spilled into the next day, where it took great games from his fellow starters to keep the Kansas contest close.  It must be stated that his showing against USC was far better, and he has continued to be a huge asset on the defensive side of the ball.  Chucky Hepburn will have to be better for this team to thrive this season.

Max Klesmit  B

A new addition to the Badgers, Max Klesmit, has provided a massive jolt to the defensive side of the ball and performed admirably offensively.  A transfer from Wofford, Klesmit has fit well into the starting lineup and has added much-needed production shooting the ball.  He is averaging 40% from the field and 46.7% from the 3-point arc. Perhaps his most important contribution, though, was a block with 3 seconds left on the clock against Dayton to help seal the victory.

Jordan Davis  B-

Stepping out of his brother’s shadow, Jordan Davis has moved into the starting lineup this season and has already become one of the team’s top defenders.  His shooting can still improve as he is hitting just 23.8% of his three-point shots, a stat that will prove to haunt Davis if the number doesn’t tick upwards.  His energy and effort are clear, and he will have to keep making strides to avoid potentially losing his spot in the starting rotation.

Tyler Wahl  A-

Undoubtedly our star thus far this season has been none other than Tyler Wahl.  Leading the team in points and rebounds, Tyler Wahl has also posted the second-highest steal total with 9.  Wahl is averaging 14 points per game and is shooting nearly 38% from the field.  He continues to lead the front line and shined brightest in the near comeback victory against Kansas, logging a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.  

Tyler Wahl must continue his production and will be a key cog of this team as the season progresses.  Why an A- instead of an A?  Wahl also leads the team in turnovers with 16 on the season.  If he takes care of the ball and keeps playing well in the paint, he will likely remain at the top of most statistical categories and lead this team to its height.

Steven Crowl  C-

Steven Crowl, while somewhat productive offensively, has shown he has a great deal of room for improvement.  The tallest member of the Badgers at 7’0″, Crowl needs to finish stronger at the rim and become a more dominant force inside the paint. He isn’t afraid to take the three as he continues to find himself open at the top of the key. The issue is success, as he is shooting just 25% from beyond the arc. 

There’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be open, and in order for this team to be successful, Crowl will need to find the bottom of the net more often. His rebounding stats have been good, logging 43 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive side. 

The Bench

Oct 30, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers Connor Essegian (3) looks to pass the ball against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds during the second half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Connor Essegian  A

The highest grade of the group goes to Connor Essegian, the newest Wisconsin Badgers Freshman out of Fort Wayne, IN.  

Essegian has proven he isn’t afraid to take a shot…ever.  His confidence with the rock is unmatched, and he has the production to prove it. He has taken a team-high 24 threes and made 54% of them while shooting 46% from the field.  He has also shown defensive prowess, although this continues to remain an area of growth for him as he continues to learn Gard’s system.  Connor is becoming a star before our eyes, and if his offensive production continues at this rate, look for him to make a move into Gard’s starting lineup.

Carter Gilmore  B

The Badgers don’t have a great deal of depth at the forward position, but Carter Gilmore has shown he wants a place in the regular rotation.  A man of all trades, Gilmore is doing the dirty work.  He’s hustling on the floor, playing strong defense, and isn’t afraid to pull up from behind the 3-point line if necessary.  Only Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn have logged more steals than Gilmore, who has eight on the season. Gilmore should continue seeing minutes, and if his growth on the court matches his effort, the Badgers will see a nice return.

Isaac Lindsey  B+

Isaac Lindsey has provided much-needed depth at the point guard position.  While not originally expected to be a key contributor, Lindsey has come off the bench and given valuable minutes to a position proving to be a question mark for the Badgers. In just 38 minutes this season, Lindsey has taken 13 shots and is shooting 38.5%, including 33% from behind the arc.  His minutes will continue to be key going forward.  Look for Isaac Lindsey’s confidence to grow and his time on the court to slowly increase.


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 Rajeev Chhabra on Twitter @Rajeev_722

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games by following this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 30: Max Klesmit #11 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled going up for a shot during the second half of the game against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds at Kohl Center on October 30, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers Basketball vs. Dayton

Wisconsin started the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament with a matchup against the Dayton Flyers. Dayton started the year ranked in the top 25, so a tough matchup for the Badgers. Wisconsin pulled out the win 43-42. Here are my thoughts on the game. 

Smothering Defense

If you are a fan of offense, this wasn’t the game for you. As ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg called it “a rock fight” it was spot on. Typically a play style that favored the Badgers. Wisconsin was playing fantastic defense and forcing Dayton into quick jump shots. 

At halftime Dayton had scored only 14 points, going 2/16 from three. The badgers also forced them into 10 turnovers. The defense was the reason for the 9-point lead at the half and should be a major reason Wisconsin will have success this season. 

With the game on the line, clinging on to a one-point lead Wisconsin came up with a massive stop. Led by Max Klesmit locking down Kobe Elvis on the final possession. In a game where you shoot 24% from the field and 22% from three, you better have a stellar defense on the other end. 

Bench production

A major question mark entering this season was going to be the bench production for the Badgers. Freshman Connor Essegian has answered the bell for Greg Gard. He started today scoring 11 of the Badger’s first 13 points. 

Today, Isaac Lindsey provided some impactful minutes off the bench. The former walk-on who was just granted a scholarship gave Greg Gard something to think about moving forward regarding his minutes. Lindsay scored or assisted on the last 7 points of the half for Wisconsin. At the half, the bench had 16 of the 23 points. Markus Ilver even came in the second half, kept a play alive, and knocked down two huge threes when the momentum was shifting. 

Wisconsin’s bench unit finished with 24 huge points. 

Kansas Tomorrow Morning

It doesn’t get any easier for Wisconsin as this tournament goes on. Tomorrow morning they will take on #3 Kansas. Kansas is a powerhouse and looks like a final-four contender this year. 

The Badgers will need much more from Hepburn and Wahl if they want any chance against the Jayhawks in the semifinals.

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 Griffin Gamble on Twitter, @gamble_griffin3

Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard is shown during the second half of their game Monday, November 7, 2022 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat South Dakota 85-59. Uwmen07 17

Per usual, Wisconsin Basketball will rely on defense as its calling card

Per usual, Wisconsin basketball will rely on defense as its calling card

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin basketball program has built a sustainable, winning culture around its trademark defensive principles over the past two decades. 

UW prides itself on always being in the right place at the right time, making things difficult for its opponents by following the rules of its system. Here is a link to a story that teaches coach Gard’s defensive practices.

Thus far, the Badgers have compiled a 2-0 record, winning games at home against South Dakota and Stanford at American Family Field in the Brew City Battle. And while there have been some encouraging moments offensively, Wisconsin is winning games the best way they know how – with defense.

According to KenPom, Wisconsin basketball is No. 26 in adjusted defensive efficiency to begin the 2022-23 campaign.

“They understand what we need to be good at and what’s non-negotiable,” said Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard. “Offense comes and goes.”

Through the first two games, Wisconsin’s stingy defense is holding its opponents to just 38.4% from the field and 9.7% from beyond the arc.

There are several factors responsible for the impressive start. Despite lacking the size we’re accustomed to seeing, UW is making up for its deficiencies by leaning on its defensive versatility and ability to switch seemingly any matchup.

“This group knows that our strength is in our toughness and our grittiness, said Gard. “That’s embedded in the fiber of our program. To stray from that would be foolish.”

Wisconsin Basketball defensive standouts

Oct 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Wisconsin Badgers players Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, and Tyler Wahl speak to the media during the Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Players like Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl are already considered elite defenders at their respective positions. But we’ve also seen quality defensive efforts on the wing from Max Klesmit, whose shown an impressive motor, and Jordan Davis. Not to mention Carter Gilmore has played with great energy off the bench and hasn’t been afraid to mix it up and dive on the floor after a loose ball.

With the added weight, junior big man Steven Crowl has begun establishing himself as a better rebounder/interior defender. The 7-foot center has already blocked five shots in 2022, just one season removed from swatting nine in 33 games as a starter. He also hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds against the Stanford Cardinals last week – one of the country’s biggest teams, according to KenPom.

Wisconsin’s defensive-minded brand of basketball might not be flashy, but it’s their calling card, and it gets the job done. Albeit a small sample size, the early returns on that end of the floor lead me to believe the Badgers will surprise some people this season.


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.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games by following this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

Oct 30, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers Connor Essegian (3) looks to pass the ball against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds during the second half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Basketball vs. South Dakota

The 2022-2023 season is officially underway for the Wisconsin Badgers as they hosted South Dakota. My thoughts on the season opening win. 

3-Point Shooting

Wisconsin finished last season as the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten. Without the presence of Johnny Davis’ 19.7 points per game, the Badgers will rely heavily on their outside shooting. Tonight was a nice start in that direction as the badgers went 9/15 from 3 in the first half. With the improvement in Wahl’s shooting, Crowls ability to step outside, all five Badgers on the floor at a given time can shoot it from deep. 

New Faces?

There are some new faces for Badger fans to get used to. Max Klesmit is a transfer from Wofford that will start. Kamari McGee will come off the bench and play some point guard, he is a transfer from UW-Green Bay. Finally, Freshman Connor Essegian who will also come off the bench and provide some scoring. 

Klsemit looked really solid in his Badger debut. He is a transfer that didn’t go nationally recognized but I think is and will prove to be one of the biggest impact transfers this season. I would love to see more minutes from Connor Essegian, especially in non-conference games like this. I believe he will be pivotal for this Badgers offense that will look stagnant at times. Greg Gard will have to live with the defensive mistakes, because Essegian belongs on the floor more. 

Improvements

A few familiar Badgers have really improved their games this offseason and it shows. Tyler Wahl didn’t shoot it well tonight, but he has improved his outside game and play making ability. Steven Crowl looks much stronger and more comfortable in the post. Chucky Hepburn picked up where he left off last season and is looking like that next great Wisconsin point guard. 

Overall, a nice start to the season and this seems like it will be a fun team to watch all year. Come back for more Badger Basketball recaps all season long.

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 Griffin Gamble on Twitter, @gamble_griffin3

Wisconsin Basketball: 2022-23 Season Preview

Wisconsin Basketball: 2022-23 Season Preview

Madison, Wis. – Last season, media pundits quickly wrote off Greg Gard and the inexperienced Wisconsin Badgers, selecting them to finish 10th in the Big Ten preseason polls – a prediction that, in the end, couldn’t have been more wrong.

UW went on to win the Big Ten regular-season title, their second in three years, by doing what they do best: Taking high-percentage shots, not turning the ball over, playing disciplined defense, and getting to the free-throw line more than their opponents

It also didn’t hurt having the Big Ten Player of the Year and first-team All-American, Johnny Davis giving everyone buckets.

2021-’22 Season Performance

  • Record: 25-8 (15-5)
  • KenPom Team Rating: No. 37
  • NET Rating: #25
  • Postseason Appearance: NCAA Tournament (R32)

For more than two decades, Wisconsin has been a recruit-and-develop program. One that’s heavily reliant on internal options stepping up and filling the gaps when major contributors exhaust their eligibility – and they’ve done a pretty damn good job of winning basketball games along the way.

Yet, nobody wants to believe in the Wisconsin Badgers until they see it for themselves.

Over the past 15 seasons, UW has started the year unranked in the AP Top 25 poll six times. In five of those six instances, the Badgers finished the season ranked. Fast forward to 2022-23, and Wisconsin is projected to finish in the bottom third of the league (9th) – which isn’t shocking whatsoever.

It has gotten to the point that being underestimated and proving the doubters wrong has become a rite of passage for the Wisconsin men’s basketball program.


Wisconsin Offseason Exits

Mar 17, 2022; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis (1) answers questions during practice before the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin basketball mantra is to get old and stay old. And anyone who watched UW last season knows that couldn’t have been further from their reality. In fact, the 2021-22 team was the youngest and most inexperienced Greg Gard has coached during his tenure.

Needing to capitalize on his breakout sophomore season, Johnny Davis declared for the NBA draft and wound up being selected in the lottery by the Washington Wizards (go get them checks, Johnny). A foundational piece of the program gone after just two seasons – which is damn near uncharted territory for the Badgers.

In addition to losing a first-team All-American, Wisconsin will be without its Ironman, Brad Davison. He was second-team All-Big Ten last season and finished as the program’s all-time leader in career three-pointers/charges taken. The Minnesota natives shooting, tenacity, and leadership will be missed.

And if those weren’t big enough holes to fill, the reigning Big Ten regular season champions also lost their top three reserves in Chris Vogt (this one is big), Ben Carlson, and Lorne Bowman – leaving the rotation in flux heading into the new season.


MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 30: Max Klesmit #11 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled going up for a shot during the second half of the game against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds at Kohl Center on October 30, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers Basketball: Wings Preview

Wisconsin Badgers Basketball: Wings Preview

The Wisconsin Badgers will kick off their basketball season on November 7th against South Dakota.

The Badgers are facing some roster shakeups after losing some key contributors. Wisconsin will be looking for a new starter at the shooting guard position this year, and one of their transfers may be the man for the job.

Let’s take a look at the wings for the Wisconsin Badgers’ 2022-23 season.

Max Klesmit

Klesmit, a transfer from Wofford, could be the potential starting shooting guard. The junior guard comes to Wisconsin after two standout seasons at Wofford. Klesmit shot a combined 45 percent from the field, including nearly 35 percent shooting from beyond the arc in his two seasons with the team.

It’s unclear at this time who will be the starting shooting guard. Although, Klesmit has put up two productive seasons and an excellent performance in the Badgers’ Red vs. White scrimmage. Those performances should carry him to earning the starting spot at shooting guard.

Jordan Davis

Davis heads into the 2022-23 season as a junior. The 6-foot-4, 202-pound wing played in 27 games for the Badgers last season and averaged 6.5 minutes per game off the bench.

After contributing off the bench last season, Davis will look to solidify his role this year as a starter. His scoring ability and athleticism will allow him to make an immediate impact in the Badgers’ starting lineup.

Jahcobi Neath

Neath, a senior guard, is entering his second season with the program. The 6-foot-4, 194-pound guard appeared in 23 games for Wisconsin last season, including one start. Neath averaged 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

Neath was a contributor off the bench last season for Wisconsin and will see some time in that role once again. If Neath finds himself in the second unit, he will bring some solid defense and rebounding for that group.

Connor Essegian

Essegian is an exciting prospect for Wisconsin. The true freshman showed out in Wisconsin’s Red vs. White scrimmage, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-4 guard showed promise as a shooter in high school, averaging 24 points per game while hitting 41% of his shots from deep in his senior year.

He’ll be an intriguing player for the Badgers this season as he may earn a chance to make an impact off the bench as a true freshman. If he replicates his shooting from the scrimmage, Essegian could see a decent workload for the Badgers.

Isaac Lindsey

Lindsey, a sophomore wing, comes into this season looking to make an impact off the bench. The Wisconsin native appeared in five games last season and scored his first points in a win over Illinois State.

The Wisconsin native just earned a scholarship with the program, a sign that he has improved from his redshirt freshman year. Lindsey’s development will be a key item to watch this season. His shooting ability is intriguing, making him a valuable depth piece off the bench.


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 Jake Maier on Twitter. @JakeJMaier.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games for FREE by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

Oct 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Wisconsin Badgers men’s head coach Greg Gard speaks to the media during the Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Basketball: 3 Bold Predictions for the 2022-23 Season

Wisconsin Basketball: 3 Bold Predictions for the 2022-23 Season

Madison, Wis. – Before the Wisconsin Badgers return to the court Monday, November 7, against South Dakota at the Kohl Center, BadgerNotes makes three bold predictions for the 2022-23 season…


Wisconsin finishes as a top-100 three-point shooting team

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 23: Chucky Hepburn #23 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after Steven Crowl #22 made a three-point shot against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half of the game at Williams Arena on February 23, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard isn’t oblivious to the difficulties his program faced on the court last season, specifically as it pertained to the offense.

Last season, the Badgers ranked 319th out of 358 division one programs in three-point shooting percentage (30.6%) and connected on just 6.5 threes per game (No. 262 in the country) – not good, not good at all.

Without Johnny Davis, who consistently got to the free throw line, those shooting splits aren’t going to cut it if UW’s going to contend in the Big Ten this season.

Wisconsin will have a much more balanced approach that relies on knocking down shots on the perimeter – and call me crazy, but I honestly believe we’ll see a marked improvement.

I’m not projecting Wisconsin to become the Golden State Warriors by any means, but they have more than enough players who, on paper, can provide perimeter shooting.

Players like Hepburn, Klesmit, Davis, Crowl, Essegian, Ilver and even Lindsey all have the ability to be above-average shooters – and with the offense likely running through the low post more this season – I believe those shooters will get plenty of open looks.

For Wisconsin to wind up in the top 100, they’ll need to shoot roughly 35% from beyond the arc, just above Wisconsin’s seven-year average on threes (34.6%) during the Greg Gard era.

I’ll eat my words if the shooting doesn’t look any better than last season, but my gut tells me three-point shooting won’t be UW’s Achilles heel in 2022-23.


Wisconsin basketball finishes with a higher adjusted offensive efficiency rating than last season, Per KenPom 

Oct 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Wisconsin Badgers players Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, and Tyler Wahl speak to the media during the Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Without Johnny Davis and Brad Davison, Wisconsin loses 48% of its scoring from a year ago, but the big question is, how will the offense function without an All-American leading the charge?

My answer probably won’t excite you, but I expect Wisconsin’s offense to be a well-balanced, committee approach – much we’ve seen in the past.

UW’s formula for winning games will remain the same as its always been. Don’t over-dribble, move the ball, find the open man, touch the post, play inside-out and set up open threes.

Who steps up?

Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl are the most logical options to take a noticeable step forward and become stalwarts for UW’s offense to lean on heavily this season. Add in a sprinkle of Big Steve on the low block and perimeter shooting from Max Klesmit and Jordan Davis, and the Badgers should be in good shape.

There are also several intriguing high-upside rotational pieces like Connor Essegian and Markus Ilver that could raise this team’s ceiling if everything breaks right.

I may take some heat for this, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Wisconsin’s offense is better than it was last season – at least from an efficiency standpoint.

According to KenPom, the Badges finished with an adjusted offensive efficiency ranking of No. 62 – which is slightly worse than Wisconsin’s seven-year average (56.8 Adj. O) during the Greg Gard era.

Davis was a high-usage, ball-dominant wing player that didn’t necessarily have terrific shooting splits. This season, I expect we’ll see a tradeoff in production, which is important, in favor of greater efficiency, at least on offense.

I predict Wisconsin will finish with a higher adjusted offensive efficiency, without Johnny Davis, by returning to a more balanced, systematic approach.


Connor Essegian becomes the 6th man as a true freshman 

I have always been a big fan of Connor Essegian’s game and figured he’d become a significant contributor to the program at some point in his career. Given his performances in France and the reports coming out of camp, it looks like he’ll be a part of the rotation from day one.

Essegian has a swagger about him as a scorer that I love. If I had a shot as fluid, aesthetically appealing, and pure as his, I probably would too. His ability to provide instant offense and give UW a true five-tool shooter ensured him meaningful minutes – even as a true freshman.

“He [Essegian] does so many things offensively you can’t teach; we will help him with his defense,” said Gard. “I think what I’ve seen from Connor is an increased level of toughness, which is the first step towards being a better defender,” Gard said. And the other thing is he understands the rules and concepts; now they have to become habits and instincts so he can play faster and more aggressive.

I think it’ll take some time to acclimate to the college game, specifically on defense (he needs to be average), but when that happens, I wouldn’t be shocked to see his minutes shoot up and become the unofficial sixth man by the end of the season for the Badgers.

I’d love to see Essegian playing behind Klesmit and Davis, grooming him for what I believe will be a featured role in the offense down the road. I cannot overstate how much I love his fit at Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Basketball: State of the Union Address

 


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 basketball news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games by following this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark