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Wisconsin Men’s Basketball: Big Steve Emerging, Essegian Starting, More



Wisconsin basketball
Jan 17, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Steven Crowl (22) dribbles the ball under coverage by Penn State Nittany Lions forward Kebba Njie (3) during the second half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a busy week for the Wisconsin men’s basketball program, ladies and gents, but fear not because BadgerNotes can help get you back up to speed with a roundup of some important news you may have missed. 

Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Has an Alpha, and His Name is Steve

The Wisconsin men’s basketball program has stumbled to a (12-5, 4-3 Big Ten) record behind a balanced offensive attack. However, Steven Crowl and his newfound confidence have given the Badgers a potential go-to player in close games.

Over his last seven games, Big Steve has averaged 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists on 54% shooting from the field.

I’ve always felt as though Crowl had an immensely higher ceiling than people gave him credit for–the only things holding him back were his weight and confidence. Maybe it’s just me, but I sure as hell don’t feel like either of those things is an issue anymore.

Wisconsin men’s basketball is at its best when consciously getting the ball to Crowl on the low block. Give it time, but this man could become a star in the Big Ten before his career ends.

Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Goes With a Different Starting 5

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team welcomed Tyler Wahl back into the starting lineup. But this time, it looked a little different. 

True freshman Connor Essegian, who quite frankly has been a revelation off the bench, entered Greg Gard’s starting lineup and, if I were a better man, will never leave until his career in Madison is over. 

The Indiana native is averaging 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.8 assists on a blistering 45.6% from beyond the arc.

According to, the 6-foot-4 wing leads the team with a 114.0 ORTG, a 62.5% true shooting percentage, and has the highest BPM among rotation regulars. So, the move makes sense no matter which way you slice it. 

Although who starts the game is more of a formality, Essegian has undoubtedly earned the opportunity and is a foundational piece of the program moving forward. 

It’ll be interesting to see how Jordan Davis handles the transition to a reserve role. Because I’d argue there might be more shots available to him off the pine. 

Addressing the Greg Gard Slander

The Wisconsin men’s basketball program dropped three straight games before righting the ship Tuesday night against Penn State. Even though UW played those games without Tyler Wahl (their best two-way player), the vocal minority of the fanbase started calling for the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year’s seat to get warmer. 

And while I know this collective thought process is just the football program’s offseason success spilling over into the Wisconsin men’s basketball team, I can’t help but take the bait.  

This man has won two of the past three Big Ten regular season titles and seemingly outperforms expectations every season. 

And I can acknowledge that, at times, there have been concerning trends, but every time something has surfaced, he’s found a way to straighten things out and get the train back on the tracks. 

If you don’t like UW’s brand of basketball, I get that; it’s an acquired taste. And call me old-fashioned, but I love watching the Wisconsin men’s basketball team win games. 

Final thought: Chris McIntosh extended Greg Gard’s contract through 2027 this past offseason. That extension increased his base salary, provided additional compensation bonuses, and upped his termination buyout. Coach Gard isn’t going anywhere, nor should he.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author and the Owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.