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Wisconsin Badgers Basketball Preview: Biggest questions to answer



The 2018-19 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball season is almost upon us. After an 82-70 exhibition win over Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Friday, the games will count for real starting with a visit by Coppin State on Tuesday, Nov. 6. 

That game will air on BTN Plus and be available via the Badgers radio network as well. 

As we inch closer to the season, many familiar faces will be back. Heck, UW returns just over 94 percent of its scoring from last season. 

Despite all that returning talent, the Badgers of 2017-18 were a team that broke a famous streak — missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years. 

So, what will be different in 2018-19? Wisconsin will start the season nearly 100 percent healthy. UW will have guards D’Mitrick Trice and Kobe King back and will only see sophomore forward Aleem Ford on the shelf to start the season (he is expected back during the season). 

After watching the exhibition game and knowing all that troubled the Badgers last season, let’s explore the biggest questions that face the Badgers heading in to the season opener. 

Where will the outside scoring come from? 

This has been an ongoing issue for the Badgers, one that doomed them time after time last year. Simply put, UW’s swing offense is predicated on getting an inside-out game going. 

It didn’t work last season and if the exhibition game was any indication there’s a lot of work to be done there heading in to 2018-19 as well. 

Wisconsin was just 4 of 16 from deep with Happ, Iverson, King and Trice each getting one deep ball to go down. Now, it was nice to see Happ extending his shooting range, but Davison, King and Trice all need to show they are more deadly than the combined 3 of 9 they shot in that game. 

If that trio can’t get going from beyond the arc, it could be trouble for the Badgers this year. The smart money says that a healthy Davison and King are a good combination to get going from deep, but we need to see it in action to be confident in it actually happening. 

How quickly will the backcourt rotation settle itself?

One thing was clear in the Badgers exhibition game — UW’s coaching staff has little idea what rotation makes the most sense. Of course, the exhibition game is time to experiment, but at one point the Badgers had four guards and Happ on the floor and had played six guards overall in the first 10 minutes of the game. 

It appears the likely group of starters will be D’Mitrick Trice and a healthy Brad Davison along with either Kobe King or Brevin Prtizl getting looks as a starter as well. 

But, could the Badgers take one of those spots away in hope of getting Ethan Happ, Khalil Iverson and Nathan Reuvers on the court together too? 

What about Prtizl’s defense and tenacity? There’s also Green Bay transfer Trevor Anderson and freshman Tai Strickland who looks to be a primary backup to Trice. 

How do you fit all of those pieces together to a cohesive unit in the backcourt? 

Will Happ have help on the inside? 

For most of the 207-18 season it was as Happ goes, so go the Badgers. There was very little help on the inside either, with a physically overmatched freshman in Nathan Reuvers thrown in to the mix because they had no one else they could trust up front. 

Reuvers responded by averaging a decent 5.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks while playing an average of 16.6 minutes per game. 

Wisconsin hasn’t been able to trust either Charlie Thomas or Alex Illikanen and judging by the fact that neither showed up in the exhibition game until it was well in hand, that appears to be the case in 2018-19 as well. 

The good news is that Reuvers adds some outside shooting help when paired with Happ. If the two bigs can co-exist it could be a good thing for the Badgers in 2018-19. 

But, the Badgers front court needs to be more than a two-horse race. This is where senior Khalil Iverson comes in to play. His offensive inconsistency was a big hinderance last season and that needs to change, because his ability to slash and get to the rim is badly needed. That was on full display in the win over Oshkosh on Friday, as Iverson basically lived at the rim and poured in 13 points. He was just 6-12 shooting from the field, but that’s a bit misleading as a lot of “missed” shots came as he was crushed going to the basket. 

This threesome seems to be the Badgers only group of front court players that will see significant minutes in 2018-19, as recruits Taylor Currie and Joe Hedstrom will likely redshirt this year. 

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Badgers Basketball

Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks



They say you can always go home, and for one former Wisconsin Badger he’s coming back to a state he called home for four years.

Former Badgers forward Jon Leuer was traded early on Thursday morning from the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange for Leuer, the Bucks gave up the 30th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft and traded away Tony Snell.

Last season, Leuer played in 41 games for the Pistons and made just one start. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his ninth season in the NBA.

Leuer is a very similar player to Snell, but comes at a much more team-friendly salary.

In trading away Snell, the Bucks free up an additional $4 million in salary this year and another $12 million next year.

This could be seen as a way for the Bucks to pony up the big money that Khris Middleton wants from the team in order to stay in Milwaukee.

As for Leuer, he is 17th on the all-time Badgers scoring list with 1,376 points to his name. He also finished his career with 551 rebounds.

Leuer’s final season in Madison was his best statistically, as he helped lead the 2010-11 Badgers team to the Sweet 16. He averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that year.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers basketball land Davis twins



After missing out on the Hauser brothers late last month, the Wisconsin Badgers added a different pair of siblings on Saturday night.

Following an offer to the brother of 4-star shooting guard Johnny Davis and an appearance at a team camp this weekend, the Davis brothers announced their pledge to the Badgers according to Badger247.

It took less than a week after head coach Greg Gard gave the O.K. to offer Jordan for the pair to commit to Wisconsin.

Johnny held offers from Marquette, West Virginia, Iowa, Minnesota, DePaul, UNLV and others.

Jordan had offers from UW-Milwaukee and Green Bay, while also becoming a sought after recruit on the football field as well. Once he became serious about wanting to play basketball first, it seemed like a matter of time before Wisconsin offered.

That time came after seeing Jordan play in a camp last weekend.

It also came because it was time to figure out if Johnny was serious about the Badgers or not.

With the July evaluation period coming up, Wisconsin’s coaching staff put the final chips in the middle with this recruitment and it appeared to pay off.

Johnny joins as the No. 141 ranked player in the country and the No. 14 ranked combo guard in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

The twins will join Detroit, Mich. native Lorne Bowman in the 2020 class.

Wisconsin still has one scholarship available in the class as well, which is likely being held for 5-star and Wisconsin native Jalen Johnson.

After missing out on talented in-state players over and over again, this was a major win for Gard and his coaching staff considering how hard schools like West Virginia and Marquette were after Johnny’s commitment.

As for Jordan, it appears the coaching staff believes he is improving enough to get a scholarship and continue his improvement with this program.

Offers don’t come out just because it may win over a different recruit at Wisconsin. That wasn’t Bo Ryan’s style and it also isn’t Greg Gard’s style.

The trio of players put the Badgers at No. 8 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten in the 2020 class as of today.

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Badgers Basketball

Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional



Who doesn’t want $2 million? That’s the prize at stake for winning The Basketball Tournament and a group of former Wisconsin Badgers want in.

On Tuesday it was officially announced that the Kohl Blooded team — spearheaded by former Badgers point guard Kam Taylor — will be the No. 2 seed in the Columbus regional.

They will take on No. 7 seed Mid-American Unity, which is making its second appearance in the TBT after a year off. That group represents teams from across the Mid-American conference.

As for the Badgers, the roster will be made up of some very strong names from the past. The headline names include members of the back-to-back Final Four teams in Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown. Also joining will be Jordan Taylor, Ryan Evans, Trevon Hughes and recent grad Charles Thomas. You can see the full roster here.

The regionals will take place July 19-21 in Columbus with the winner of this regional meeting seven other winners in Chicago for championship week.

All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, so you should be able to find them either streaming or on cable television.

Kohl Blooded vs. Mid-American Unity will tip at 1pm ET on Friday, July 19.

The winner will take on the winner of Red Scare (Dayton alumni) and The Region (players from Northwest Indiana) in the regional semi-final the next day.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis



A week after losing out on Joey and Sam Hauser, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program needs some positive momentum on the player acquisition front.

With three scholarships available in the 2020 class and two top in-state players in their sites, the Badgers coaching staff has been about as patient as possible.

On Wednesday, Badger247 reports that UW has offered Jordan Davis, the twin brother of top target Johnny Davis. It’s not a walk-on or grayshirt, but a full scholarship offer.

After two years of waiting for that offer to come, it finally did.

Jordan is an unranked player in basketball at this time, but I expect that to change once the scouting services catch wind of this offer. Johnny Davis is the No. 131 ranked player in the country, a 4-star rated prospect and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Wisconsin in the 2020 class.

With the brothers set to make a weekend visit for team camp in two weeks, this is a move that undoubtably puts the pressure squarely on Johnny Davis at this point.

Simply put, the Badgers need to know if Davis is going to commit or if they need to move on.

Offering Jordan a full ride is about the only thing left in the Badgers quiver at this point. If getting the dream of playing basketball together at the same school and in-state no less doesn’t tip the scales, at least the Badgers know they can move on.

Is it a desperate move? In some ways one could see it as such. Clearly the Badgers want Johnny in a major way and they see offering Jordan as a critical move that could separate themselves from the competition.

However, this also isn’t a coaching staff willing to just throw away a scholarship in an effort to get a coveted player to play for them. That’s simply not Greg Gard’s style.

Jordan is also a player they see as a contributor, or he wasn’t getting an offer. Plain and simple.

There’s no doubt that this move ups the pressure, like I mentioned before. But, that’s not a bad thing, as UW needs to know where they stand heading in to July’s evaluation period.

If the Davis brothers can’t commit or at least internally give the coaching staff the information that will make them feel comfortable, they need to start getting offers out to other big time players whom they’ve been waiting to offer.

Consider UW is an underdog to land in-state five-star prospect Jalen Johnson, and you have to consider this move a smart one for the long term prospects of the 2020 class.

Will the Davis twins jump at the offer to play together at Wisconsin?

Some in the recruiting world believe this was the situation that was holding Wisconsin back all along. So, don’t be surprised to see this affect the recruitment of both players in a big way.

As for Jordan, his game has also caught the attention of Iowa and Minnesota and he did have scholarship offers from both Green Bay and Milwaukee prior to this one.

What may have really held the Badgers coaching staff and others back was the fact that Jordan is also a good player on the football side and wasn’t sure which sport he wanted to pick.

It seems like UW has gotten the clue that Jordan may be more receptive to a basketball future and pulled the trigger on the offer.

We’ll see how much longer the two stay uncommitted, but don’t be surprised to see something happen following July’s AAU season.

Letting that play out and getting all the offers out there on the table is just a smart move for the twins. From there, it’s up to them and clearly the Badgers have left no stone unturned in this situation.

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