After a weekend that started with a dreadful 71-61 loss to Georgetown, Wisconsin ended with an exciting 74-73 win over VCU on a Bronson Koenig go-ahead layup. As we saw in these games and the Badgers’ first three contests, Wisconsin has really struggled to defend the paint, with two of their starting forwards, Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown, consistently getting into foul trouble.

In his first year starting for the Badgers, Brown has averaged 10.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and shot over 90% from the free throw line. His shooting has improved and aggression have improved, but his defense is still a work in progress down low. With a 7’3″ wingspan, Brown should be able defend most big men straight up. Still, he has struggled to stay out of foul trouble in every game this season.

Monday after practice, I sat down with Brown to talk about New York City and the turnaround in the locker room with only one day to prepare for VCU’s press, but specifically Wisconsin’s interior defense. Brown explained the up and down weekend to me: “This weekend was kind of rough for me, but I definitely learned a lot from it from a team aspect and an individual aspect. I’m excited to work on it in practice and put it into play against Prairie View.”

There was no doubt during our conversation that Brown knew his team and he personally have been lacking on defense. I asked Brown specifically what needs to be worked on, and he replied, “I think it just starts with being lower, working on feet quickness…We’re getting exploited on the guard switches.”

Both Happ and Brown have also struggled to hang with bigger players down low and keeping their positioning. Brown cited similar concerns later on, explaining, “As for in the post, just standing stronger. We’re letting guys back us down too much.” But, as Bo Ryan has explained that the team just needs time to get through growing pains, Brown echoed a similar message: “You know, these are all fixable things.”

The Badgers take on the Prairie View A&M Panthers Wednesday night at 7 PM on Big Ten Network. Guard Zak Showalter told me after practice on Monday that the Panthers will feature a similar press to VCU and a lot of zone defense in the half court. On Sunday afternoon, Wisconsin faces their toughest test of the season so far when they travel to Norman, OK to take on the top-10 ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

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