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Badgers Basketball

Mackey Arena continues to be house of horrors for Badgers basketball

Wisconsin continued its struggles at Mackey Arena, getting blown out by Purdue to extend its losing streak three-straight.

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Mackey Arena has been a house of horrors for the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program. Mix in a down year for the Badgers and one of the best Purdue teams in decades and you get a 78-50 no-doubter by the No. 3 team in the nation.

Vince and Carsen Edwards nearly did the Badgers in alone, as the two reached over the 20-point mark respectively and combined for 41 points in the win.

Wisconsin was done from the opening tip on though, as Purdue ripped off a 12-0 start to the game before a pair of Nate Reuvers free throws broke Wisconsin’s early scoreless streak. However, it didn’t get much better as Purdue lead by as many as 21 points in the first half.

Purdue was up 32-11 with 4:32 left in the first half, but the Badgers did battle back (sort of) to go in to the half on an 11-7 run to make it a 39-22 Boilermakers lead at the half.

Ethan Happ struggled in the first half, but tried to put the team on his back. He finished the game with a team-high 15 points and had six rebounds and seven assists. But, he also finished with seven turnovers and it set a bad tone for the Badgers.

Wisconsin turned the ball over 20 times and never got themselves in the game because they couldn’t sustain anything thanks to said turnovers.

The loss drops the Badgers to a woeful 18-71 against Purdue in West Lafayette and drops them under .500 on the season (9-10, 2-4 B1G). UW will look to get back to winning ways after three-straight losses on the road and will come back to the Kohl Center to take on Illinois on Jan. 19 at 6pm on FS1.

 

Badgers hold Haas, Matthias down, still can’t win

If you would’ve told me that Isaac Haas and Dakota Mathias would be held to a combined 4 points, I would’ve told you the Badgers were going to at least be in the conversation to win this game. The two came in averaging 28.1 points combined, but each managed just two points in this one.

Rather than that being a good sign for the Badgers, UW forgot about defending the rest of the Boilermakers and the results were just awful.

Wisconsin couldn’t find a way to figure out curls or screen and rolls by anyone else, especially backup big man Matt Haarms. The Dutch product came off the bench and dominated UW’s defense for 10 points in 18 minutes played.

Ethan Happ was no help and trailing players were simply not long enough to deal with Haarms or either of the cutting Edwards’ for the Boilermakers. As much as people want to harp on the offensive side of the ball, Wisconsin’s inability to do the fundamental things on defense is really what’s killing this team.

That was certainly on full display in this one for Wisconsin.

Purdue was more aggressive on both ends

Wisconsin’s youngsters would do well to put the tape of this game on over and over again the rest of this week. No, not because it’s a painful reminder of how pathetic they looked, but as a reminder of what being aggressive does for a team.

Purdue played physical, strong and confident basketball from the start and it showed on both ends.

Excuses are running thin for Gard and Co.

Simply put, this loss was as embarrassing as the Big Ten opener against Ohio State and one could argue that Greg Gard hasn’t figured any way to motivate

One positive is that Gard seems not to be giving up on this team. According to the ESPN broadcast he could be heard clear as day . Ethan Happ came out motivated and tried his level best to get this team back in the game, but had little help in that effort.

Some of it could be down to lack of depth in the backcourt, with two of four main players down. Some of it can be chalked up to Brad Davison not being able to use one arm for most things. Some of it can be chalked up to a junior class that is producing nothing.

But, the sad part is the last part — Gard was responsible for bringing all of Brevin Pritzl, and Charlie Thomas. None of them are consistent scorers and none of them can be counted on to help Happ on a nightly basis.

Missing on this class is hurting the team as we’ve previously talked about, and the lack of development is on Gard and the players too. It’s one thing to see one or two of a five-man class not work out, but all five?

Iverson and Pritzl have shown promise at times this season, but they are the best this class has had to offer and they are role players at best on a team that needs them to be stars.

If there was a bright spot in this game it was the play of freshman Nathan Reuvers. He looked confident while shooting from deep and never gave up on the game despite the feeling that it was over from the get-go. Yet,

Not only did he have 8 of Wisconsin’s 22 points in the first half alone, he found himself unafraid to get physical with bigger players like Isaac Haas on the other end of the court. But, it appeared that Gard was never comfortable with Happ and Reuvers on the court at the same time.

Sure, Happ wasn’t on target in the first half, but he was playing well with Reuvers at times and allowed the freshman some open looks from beyond the arc. Instead of figuring out how to pair those two, Reuvers was hardly seen down the stretch when he could’ve been used the most.

Gard needs to figure out how to pair Happ and Reuvers to his advantage and he needs to find a way to get the guys to hustle the way Purdue did. It was like watching a team of athletes against a team stuck in mud all night long.

Wisconsin’s turnovers were only compounded by an inability to get back on basketball, something that few teams before it since Dick Bennett came to town struggled with.

All of those things add up to a coach who is running out of time and desperate for answers. Does he have them in the offseason? At this point that is what the rest of this season is about — showing how this team can grow and learn from this bad year and move forward.

If he can, this will be a blip on the radar. If he can’t, it’s huge trouble for a proud program and Gard is in some serious trouble himself.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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Badgers Basketball

Full Badgers 2018-19 basketball schedule revealed

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The moment every Wisconsin Badgers basketball fan was waiting for finally arrived on Tuesday afternoon. In a special on BTN, all schedules were released for conference games. 

For the first time ever there will be 20 conference games played, with the Badgers kicking off the B1G schedule on November 30 by taking a trip to Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Wisconsin will play a second Big Ten game that week, hosting Rutgers on Dec. 3. 

The overall schedule kicks off with the Badgers hosting Coppin State on Nov. 6 at the Kohl Center. 

Highlighting UW’s non-conference schedule are matchups against fellow Power 5 opponents like NC State, Xavier and Stanford (part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament). Those were all matchups already known though. 

In between the Xavier matchup and UW’s trip to the Bahamas is a visit from Houston Baptist on Nov. 17. 

With the release of the schedule, UW will also see its annual rivalry with Marquette (Dec. 8) renewed.

As of now, there is one open date on the Badgers schedule for Dec. 13th and there has yet to be either Green Bay or Milwaukee on the schedule this season. 

It would be the first time in a very long time that neither of the other two in-state schools meet the Badgers in a regular season matchup. 

The non-conference slate will end on Dec. 29 with Western Kentucky coming to Madison.

Once the usual non-conference slate is finished, the Badgers have a pretty even ride through Big Ten play in January. 

There are challenging sections to the schedule, including a three-game swing in mid-January that will see UW play host to Purdue, travel to Maryland and then return home to play Michigan. 

However, February heats up with the Badgers having to face Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State amongst the final 10 games of the conference slate. 

The season will wrap up with UW taking on Ohio State in Columbus on March 10. 

Here’s a look at the full schedule for the Badgers:

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers land 2019 4-star SF Tyler Wahl

Badgers get 1st player in to the 2019 class and it’s a 4-star forward from Minnesota…sound familiar?

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The long-awaited first commitment of the 2019 class for Wisconsin Badgers basketball has happened.

On Thursday, 4-star 6-7, 200-pound small forward Tyler Wahl announced his verbal pledge to the Badgers.

The Lakeville (Minn.) North star visited UW unofficially on Thursday, following attendance at camps over the past week as well. Following that visit, Wahl decided it was time to wrap up his recruitment.

Wisconsin won out over offers from the likes of Butler, Iowa State, Minnesota and Northwestern and is getting the No. 125 ranked player in the country and No. 25 ranked power forward according to the 247Sports rankings.

It probably didn’t hurt UW in his recruitment to see what former high school teammate Nathan Reuvers did in his first season as a Badger. After playing sparingly early on, Reuvers became an important cog in the Badgers machine this past season.

According to Badger247, Reuvers had some advice for his former teammate if he wanted to be a Badger.

“Our relationship is really good,” said Wahl. “I talk to him at least once a week. He’s told me that they really like me. I just had to get my shot down and keep playing well.”

This past season, Wahl averaged 17.2 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game for his high school team. Lakeville North also went 22-4 and made the Minnesota state tournament.

What should be interesting is how Wahl’s decision impacts one of UW’s oldest targets in the 2019 recruiting class — Zeke Nnaji. The Badgers have been on Nnaji from the beginning, but the fellow 4-star recruit has seen his offer list blow up in the past few months.

The two are AAU teammates, and while that can be a factor, it may not be the deciding factor in Nnaji’s choice of schools in the coming months.

As for Wahl, he’s seen his shot come a long way and has shown some good defensive work during his recruitment. He screams classic Badgers forward, willing to do the little things on defense to help make the offensive side of the ball that much easier.

UW ranks No. 22 in the country with Wahl’s commitment and could reach even higher depending on what happens with Nnaji’s recruitment and the scholarships they decide to use or bank towards 2020.

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Badgers Basketball

DJ Carton surprises most, leaves Badgers off his final 6

Badgers were 1st to offer for 4-star PG, but were stunningly left off his final 6 list. Where do the Badgers go from here?

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The Wisconsin Badgers saw what no team in college basketball did in point guard D.J. Carton back in 2017. They were the first to offer the budding recruit and were after him hard, but in the end it didn’t apparently matter.

On Friday, Carton announced his list of final six schools via his Twitter account:

Missing from that list were the Badgers, a move that surprised many. Instead, it was Indiana, Iowa, Marquette, Michigan, Ohio State and Xavier that made the cut.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort on the Badgers part to say the least. Wisconsin put the full-court press on him early and often, sending Greg Gard and others to just about every AAU game and got an in-home visit with him in recent months.

So, why didn’t the first high-major team to offer make the list?

It could have had something to do with UW taking 2018 point guard Tai Strickland and thus having a pretty loaded backcourt for the foreseeable future. Strickland was added to the mix late in the 2018 recruiting process due to his skill set, but also because there was clearly a lack of depth in the Badgers backcourt.

That’s not to say Carton wouldn’t have been in the mix, but as a 4-star player he also was going to get opportunities to not have to compete so hard for immediate playing time.

Not seeing Carton in the top six is a bit stunning, given what UW has put in to his recruitment from the get-go. But, unlike years past, the Badgers are not a team stuck without options. The signing of Strickland helped them avoid a crushing blow like going all-in on Carton and not actually landing him at all.

UW also has been heavily looking towards the 2020 class, where there are a number of quality backcourt options out there. One name that UW has been heavily linked with in that class is point guard Reece Beekman out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His grandparents went to Wisconsin and he is a big-time academic person along with a quality point guard in his class.

So, while it may sting to see a guy that UW put so much effort in to not include them in the final mix, this isn’t a situation like missing out on Diamond Stone or Kevon Looney — guys that the Badgers were heavily all-in on and ultimately had to scramble to replace.

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Badgers Basketball

Nigel Hayes pushes for boycott for pay while revealing Badgers nearly did it in 2016

Hayes hopes to spark major change in college athlete pay, while also pushing for a boycott that nearly happened at UW in 2016.

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Nigel Hayes has been an outspoken advocate for the movement to get players in the NCAA to get paid. He’s even still named as a plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA.

On Tuesday, Hayes, who is currently playing for the Sacramento Kings, was part of a panel titled “Future of College Sports: Reimagining Athlete Pay.” It was a panel to help facilitate a discussion around athlete’s pay in college sports.

But, it wasn’t what Hayes had to say around that part of the topic that caught the eye of many. Instead, it was what he revealed about the 2016-17 Wisconsin Badgers that made people take notice. Hayes revealed that he spearheaded a potential move to boycott a high-profile game early in the season.

That game was the matchup with a then-ranked Syracuse Orange team as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

According to Hayes, the idea was proposed by him in a group chat and that the majority of the team was in favor of the bold move. However, Hayes indicated that everyone had to be on board for such a move to happen.

“I knew 90 percent of the guys were on board from the get-go, before I asked the question,” Hayes told USA TODAY Sports after the panel discussion. “But I let them know that if one of you guys says no, we won’t do it because, obviously, we’re a team and we’re going to stick together.

Obviously that didn’t happen and the Badgers went on to win the game 77-60 in front of a packed home crowd at the Kohl Center.

It certainly would’ve been a huge headline-grabber, and Hayes believes that hindsight for those teammates who voted no would change their minds.

“In hindsight, I think those guys that said no would change their mind now. That’s usually what happens. The guys who don’t go on to the NBA, once they leave college, they look back and say, ‘Wow, I was exploited — and now I have nothing to show for it.’ … So, I think we missed our opportunity, but hopefully this word gets out and it will inspire a group of kids that in college now or will be in college.”

Is that really what those former teammates believe, or is Hayes just speaking for them in a way that helps his cause? What we don’t and likely will never know is just how many of his teammates really were against the move and just what those players believe about their college experiences.

Clearly that is a call by Hayes for someone to take up the cause he championed time and again while he was in college. Will someone do it and will it spark the change that Haye believes in?

“With all the money that’s being made that the players are not receiving, there’s going to be a point where the players don’t play,” he said. “It’s going to take the right player or the right team in the right big-game setting … but if you want to get something done, boycott it. That’s the best way to get anything done. … I think it’s something that if we did go through with it, we’d probably be having a very different conversation right now.”

Those are bold statements and there certainly are huge risks involved. College athletics is clearly at a cross-roads and what happens in the next few years may go a long way towards determining its future. Part of that future appears in the hands of the NBA and what it does with expanding the G-League opportunities to younger players and what it does with the path to the draft as well.

What Hayes revealed in this interview is that he clearly has an agenda and isn’t afraid to push people in today’s college game to do what he advocates for.

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