Inside the locker room: Wisconsin gets ready for Xavier

On Saturday, we went inside the Badgers’ locker room to talk to the players and coaches. Preparation for Xavier started on Sunday from assistant coach Lamont Paris, but the Badgers as a whole started preparing today. With a film session earlier in the day, the Badgers still have a lot of work left to do.

For now, here’s what the players and head coaches had to say moving forward to Sunday.


Greg Gard

On defending Xavier: “We’ll mix and match based on who they have on the floor. Obviously we pick out how we have to guard interiorly first, and then obviously on the perimeter try to match out best with their best.”

On poor shooting: “If you would have told me we were going to be 4-28 with those two guys [Hayes and Koenig], I would have said we were going on a flight home this morning. I think it showed how we’ve grown defensively. We’ve found other ways to win. I don’t think 60, 90 days ago we would’ve found those ways.”

On Xavier: “Well, they’re talented, obviously. Bluiett is as good a player as we’ve seen all year, similar to the scores we’ve seen in our league. They’re big. They’re physical. They’re deep. They can roll a lot of bodies in there. They can play, like I said before, at different paces. They’re very good and have always been very good defensively. I know Chris is using more of the 1-3-1 a little bit in recent years, and that obviously adds a little different flavor to it at times defensively in terms of what you’re preparing for. But I think it’s very similar to what we’ve seen in our league in terms of Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland –teams that are big, that are physical, that are very talented. Obviously you get to this time of the year, like I said before, you have to have something in order to keep advancing. And they obviously have a complete package. Like I said, I used all the analytics of them I can. They’re a handful. Two five-men that are very good with Reynolds and Farr. You can go on through the list. Go name by name but a very talented team that plays very well and they’re well-coached. There’s a reason they’re, are they 28-5 right now or 29-5? They’re 28-5. It’s a good team.”

Ethan Happ

On playing through adversity: “I mean, just regardless of the score, the time, just know that we’re always in the game. There might be runs for Xavier. There might be runs for us. Regardless, we’ve got to play like it’s 0-0 and keep fighting.”

On Xavier: “They’re a solid team. Obviously. They’ve only lost five games. For any team to lose five games regardless what conference they play in. They play in a good conference, too. So to only lose five games means they’re a good team and we’ll have to play our best ball to beat them.”

Zak Showalter

On Xavier: “They’re another team with physical presence inside. I think we saw it in Pitt last night. But I think this team takes it up to another level. So we’re going to have to stop that, take them out of it, and they’ve got a lot more shooters. They’ve got shot-makers, and we can’t let them get any open looks. We’ll try to do both of those things tomorrow night.”


Chris Mack

On Wisconsin’s big crowd: “We can’t worry about the crowd. I mean I don’t know how we would counteract it anyway other than stopping them from coming into the building somehow. Our contingent will be very loud. I think we’ll have more fans on Sunday than maybe we did Friday. But it’s business as usual. We’ve just got to get off to a good start, play our brand of basketball and not worry about the crowd. We’ve been pretty good on the road all year.”

On Nigel Hayes and other challenges Wisconsin presents: “Well, first of all, he’s very experienced. You know, they’ve utilized him a little bit more at the 3 this year as opposed to the 4 a year ago. But it hasn’t made him any less effective. They certainly at times will play him at the 4. In their offense they have multiple players that will post. He’s a terrific passer. Besides his passing ability, his an ability to draw fouls concerns us. So we have to do a great job defending him both on the perimeter and post without fouling. His shooting performance yesterday was probably one he’d like to forget. But you are who you are on the back of your baseball card. We know what his percentage is. We know the amount of times he shoots the ball from the 3-point line and gets to the foul line. So he’s a big challenge. He’s an All-Big Ten performer. We understand that. And Ethan Happ is a guy that maybe not a lot of people knew about coming into the year because he redshirted. Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He’s got incredible footwork for such a young player at this level. He can go right hand, left hand. He has a great feel for how to use his body and his positioning. So he’s a challenge. When you play against a Big Ten opponent you’re not going to have stiffs at the 2 guard, the small forward. You’re going to go against players that are very, very high caliber, high quality. And, again, a really disciplined system, a disciplined style of play on both ends of the floor.”

Jalen Reynolds

On size difference: “We just want to make sure we show up, me and James [Farr], back to back. Just try to get as much rebounds as we can. Obviously I play off of him, he plays off of me. So, with that together we will be alright.”

On Xavier’s physicaly toughness: “I want to mention that we’re the toughest team. We don’t want to question that, no matter the outcome of the game, and we want to make sure that they know that Xavier came out to play, and that we’re obviously the toughest team in America.”

Myles Davis

On difference in pace: “I think pace does play a little part in it. Wisconsin does like to slow the ball down. We have a certain pace that we go with. But honestly it really doesn’t matter, as long as whichever offense is clicking the best. And we try not to even pay attention to our offense or the pace. It’s all about getting stops regardless if we’re scoring ten points or if we’re scoring 50 points. So it doesn’t matter. But pace will probably play a good role here.”


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