MADISON — The Badgers wrapped up their final exhibition game today with a 86-58 win over UW-Platteville. With the game against a Division III opponent, the Badgers learned a lot more about their bench and the full rotation rather than the starting lineup.
Andy Van Vliet and Brevin Pritzl still finding roles
Andy Van Vliet and Brevin Pritzl were both figured to have a role last year. As everyone knows, freshman year did not quite pan out for either of them. Pritzl had his season derailed by an injury and the NCAA ruled Van Vliet ineligible.
With both of them now being in the fold for the 2016-17 season, many wondered what they will bring to the table and what their roles will be going forward.
In Sunday’s scrimmage against UWP, neither Pritzl nor Van Vliet registered any minutes in the first half. Jordan Hill, Alex Illikainen, D’Mitrik Trice, Khalil Iverson, and Charlie Thomas all subbed in before Pritzl and Van Vliet. Initially, at least, it seems as if they have less of a role than expected.
Andy Van Vliet’s minutes contained a lot of up and downs. He made a really nice post move that shook his defender, created space, and faded away and hit a jumper. Later, he shot a three that hit the backboard and none of the rim. Another one of his three point attempts clanked off the backboard before hitting the rim. The inconsistency from shot to shot, and how it can look so pretty and so ugly from possession to possession, looked a lot like Sam Dekker’s sophomore year. Van Vliet was very active on the boards, especially with tips on the offensive end. In Van Vliet’s 12 minutes, he had eight points and eight rebounds.
Pritzl saw even less time than Van Vliet, only playing eight minutes. Pritzl missed both of his shot attempts but got to the line, converting all four of his free throws. Pritzl had a couple of turnovers, however, he did miss a full year of basketball, so it may take him a little time to get readjusted.
Khalil Iverson and Charles (Charlie) Thomas shine
With Pritzl and Van Vliet reemerging, many people have forgotten about the other freshmen from last year.
Khalil Iverson had three dunks on Sunday and they were all highlight plays. Khalil created two of the dunks for himself, one off of a steal at half court, and one on a nice move that shook his defender and then attacked the basket.
Even more encouraging, Iverson hit a three that he stepped right in to and shot comfortably and confidently. If Iverson can ever consistently hit a three point shot he’s going to be a terror to guard.
Charles Thomas (formerly known as Charlie Thomas) racked up 10 boards and scored five points in 15 minutes. His activity on the boards received praise from Greg Gard following the game.
“In the eyes of the coaching staff today, Charlie Thomas took a step forward,” Gard said.
D’Mitrik Trice continues to impress
Trice has received plenty of reps with the starting group, and today he continued to gain the trust of his coaches although he’s just a true freshman.
With every day that goes by, it seems like Trice is becoming a more reliable backup point guard option for the Badgers.
Although he only had two assists on the day, his passing was a lot better than the numbers showed. Trice set up teammates for easy buckets all day. He had two strong drives with kick-outs to Aleem Ford for wide open three-point attempts, neither of which he made. Later, he had a beautiful cross court lob pass to T.J. Schlundt that he was able to knock down (he made the same pass to Pritzl once, but Thomas deflected it). Trice also put a lob for an alley-oop right on the money to Van Vliet.
Trice netted his only jumper of the day and had a really strong take to the rim that probably could’ve been the and one; however, the refs called it on the ground.
Trice is undersized, but you don’t need great physical tools do what he does. Trice takes care of the ball, distributes the ball well, and runs the offense like a senior.
Woes at the free-throw line
The Badgers did an outstanding job at getting to the line, attempting 39 free throws. With some poor shooting at the line, the Badgers would leave a lot of points on the court.
Most alarmingly, the two players with the most misses were the two guys that will get to the free throw line the most: Nigel Hayes was 3/6, Ethan Happ was 2/8.
As a team, the Badgers only shot 56.4% from the line.