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Preseason Preview: Wisconsin

Bench

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Wisconsin Badgers
17-18 Record: 15-18 (7-11 B1G)
Postseason?: Nope! And it was glorious
17-18 KenPom: 70
Date: December 08, 2018
Location: Fiserv Forum
Coach: Greg Gard (4th season)
Projected KenPom Range: 25-60
Projected Conference Finish: 7/14 in the Big 10

Departures from 17-18
TJ Schlundt: 2nd Man off the Bench: 8.0 mpg, 0.9 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .222 FG%, .222 3P% (Graduated)
Andy Van Vliet: 3rd Man off the Bench: 7.7 mpg, 3.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.3 tpg, .462 FG%, .522 3P% (Transferred to William & Mary)
Aaron Moesch: 5th Man off the Bench: 6.0 mpg, 1.2 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .778 FG%, 1.00 3P% (Graduated)
Matt Ferris: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 6 games (Graduated)
5% of scoring, 6% of rebounding, 4% of assists, 4% of steals, 4% of blocks, 9% of 3PM

Arrivals:
D’Mitrik Trice: Starting PG, returns after missing 23 games due to injury
Kobe King: Backup SG, returns after missing 23 games due to injury
Trevor Anderson: Transfer PG from UW-Green Bay
Taylor Currie: 3-star C, ranked #205 by 247 Composite
Tai Strickland: 3-star PG, ranked #302 by 247 Composite
Joe Hedstrom: 3-star, Walk-on C
Carter Higginbottom: Walk-on PG

Probable Starters:
PG: D’Mitrik Trice: 6’0” 187 lb RSSO: 31.5 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.3 tpg, .380 FG%, .300 3P% (only appeared in 10 games due to injury)
SG: Brevin Pritzl: 6’3” 198 lb RSJR: 29.3 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .397 FG%, .356 3P%
SF: Brad Davison: 6’3” 206 lb SO: 31.2 mpg, 12.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.8 tpg, .405 FG%, .355 3P%
PF: Khalil Iverson: 6’5” 217 lb SR: 30.4 mpg, 8.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.0 tpg, .546 FG%, .000 3P%
C: Ethan Happ: 6’10” 237 lb RSSR: 30.8 mpg, 17.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5 spg, 1.1 bpg, 2.8 tpg, .528 FG%, .091 3P%

Probable Bench:
Aleem Ford: 6’8” 220 lb RSSO SF
Kobe King: 6’4” 203 lb RSFR SG
Nate Reuvers: 6’11” 240 lb SO PF
Trevor Anderson: 6’2” 201 lb RSSO PG
Taylor Currie: 6’8” 226 lb FR C
Tai Strickland: 6’2” 172 lb FR PG

Probable Benchwarmers:
Alex Illikainen: 6’9” 235 lb SR PF
Charles Thomas IV: 6’8” 250 lb SR PF
Joe Hedstrom: 7’0” 223 lb FR C
Walt McGory: 6’3” 200 lb SO SG
Michael Ballard: 6’4” 197 lb RSSO SG
Carter Higginbottom: 6’0” 183 lb FR PG
Owen Hamilton: 7’0” 266 lb SO C (Redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)

Notes:
• It has been a long time since Marquette fans have gotten to see a Badger squad as hapless as last year’s group. They ended their 19 year NCAA tournament streak, finished with a sub .500 record, and suffered two of the biggest blowouts in Kohl Hole history…..one of which was to Marquette! Unfortunately, it looks like the Badgers will be bounce back in this upcoming season. They return everyone of importance from last year’s squad, get two key players back from injury, and add a couple of freshmen and a transfer that should at least provide them much better depth than the walk ons they were throwing out into games last season.
• For the past four years, the Badger everyone has been talking about is Ethan Happ. He’s a throwback to days when back to the basket centers were dominate and highly coveted. Even ten years ago, Happ would have been drafted after his freshman year. With the NBA moving away from traditional big men, Happ is stuck coming back for his redshirt senior season and should continue to put up big numbers at the college level. Happ led the Badgers in almost every major statistic: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. It is fair to say that the entire offense runs through Happ. He is adept at backing his defender in deep to the post and then either scoring on a jump hook or dishing out to a three-point shooter if the defense collapses. Last year, Happ had very few shooters to pass to but the return of Trice and King should change that. Happ often must do too much on offense for a back to the basket big and as a result can be turnover prone. Marquette was able to force him into five turnovers last season.
• It’s impossible to know, but the Badgers might have kept their tournament streak alive if not for a pair of injuries during the non-conference season. The first is starting PG D’Mitrik Trice. He had a very impressive and efficient freshman year but struggled in the ten games he played in last season. His 3P accuracy dropped significantly from the 42% he shot in his first season all the way down to 30%. He did a good job of controlling the ball but wasn’t getting the assist numbers that you would expect. If he can return to freshman year form, then he will be a formidable presence bringing the ball up for Bucky. The other injury was backup SG Kobe King. King was named Mr. Basketball of Wisconsin in his senior year of high school. In his first few games, it looked like he was going to be a significant contributor off the bench. He is a scoring guard with both slashing and shooting ability. He missed his first seven three- point attempts but was starting to find a rhythm before his injury. He should see plenty of time spelling Trice, Brevin Prtizl, and Brad Davison.
• A player I have always thought was criminally misued in the Badgers’ system is rising senior Khalil Iverson. Iverson is a freak of an athlete with a PF skillset in a SG’s body. He can break opponents down in isolation, bully smaller guards, and his thunderous dunk was the lone bright spot for Bucky in their blowout loss to Marquette last season. What he lacks is any semblance of a shot. He had six career 3PM going into last season and then proceeded to go 0-24 from range. He has the motor and athleticism to be an effective contributor on both ends of the floor but his lack of shooting makes him a poor fit for the Badgers’ system. Watching him and Ed Morrow matchup this season is going to be a sight to behold.
• Iverson will play a lot of PF next season, but he is a better fit at the wing. When he does slide over to the wing, Aleem Ford will be the man who steps in to that PF position. Ford is much more of what you would expect from a Badger PF. He’s tall, not overly athletic, but can hit the three with alarming accuracy. What he doesn’t bring is any sort of inside presence. Despite his height he only managed 2.8 rebounds a game and showed no ability to guard post players effectively. Iverson and Ford are almost mirror images of each other and Gard will have a challenge of figuring out how those pieces fit at the 4 position.
• This of course leaves us with the great flopper himself, Brad Davison. When King and Trice went down, true freshman Davison was the one who stepped up the most. He’s tough, gritty, scrappy, plays with heart, and pretty much all the other adjectives you commonly hear about talented white guards. He also is a master of the flop. Don’t believe me? Just check out the game winning foul he drew in the game against Western Kentucky. A casual look at the Bucky fan forums showed that by the end of the year, even they thought Davison flopped too much. Still, as easy as it is to hate Davison (and it is EASY), he is talented basketball player. He was one of the only players for the Badgers who could consistently step up and make shots. He even showed some skill as a distributor. With better talent around him, he should be expected to take another step in his game.
• Depth was the main problem for the Badgers last season. Nate Reuvers was the only quality player they had on their bench. Walk ons like TJ Schlundt and Aaron Moesch were getting significant minutes. That should not be a problem this season. They have Reuvers and King back. If Gard doesn’t do the Badger thing of redshirting all freshman big men, Taylor Currie has the look of a player that can contribute off the bench right away. Former Green Bay Phoenix and Hauser brother teammate Trevor Anderson also had a very good season at Green Bay before transferring to the mother campus. In short, Gard will actually have options off his bench this season.

Prediction:
• This will be a much-improved Badger squad from last season. They should be fully healthy, with a ton of depth, and an All-American center anchoring them in the post. They should be expected to make the tournament this season. However, this season is the best team that Coach Wojo has ever had to work with. Meanwhile, this is probably the fourth best Badger squad that he has had to face. Combine that with homecourt advantage and Marquette should win this one handily, though it will be closer than last year’s 19-point embarrassment. Wisconsin stays it in it early, but Marquette wins by a dozen.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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