MADISON – The No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers are in the middle of a tough stretch right now, having lost four of their five last games, as well as a share of their Big Ten conference lead.
One of the key players on this year’s Wisconsin team has been freshman point guard D’Mitrik Trice, who leads the Badgers in bench scoring. Trice always seems to be calm and composed, and that did not change when he broke down some of the team’s recent issues and patterns of play.
“We’re finally putting the ball in the hole, unlike midway through the Big Ten season,” Trice said. That was of course when Wisconsin was really struggling to score the basketball.
“So now we just have to find ways to stop people,” he continued. “As a team, defensively we need to step it up.”
Like most big-time athletes, “Meech” is a huge competitor, and when asked what the toughest part of this five-game stretch has been, his answer was simple.
“Definitely losing, that’s been hard. When you’re winning, everything is great. We’ve hit a couple bumps in the road, but we have to get back on track, and I feel like we’re doing that. We’re just getting back to it, putting everything back together.”
Trice also tends to remain optimistic, an important trait in a young player, but knows the Badgers need to keep working.
“We need to fight a little bit more,” said Trice. “I think we got a little bit separated from what we normally do, and we have to get back to what we do, playing Wisconsin basketball.”
A rare freshman already in the rotation, another huge part of the process is learning from your older teammates. Wisconsin is a very experienced team with a foursome of seniors in the starting lineup, two of whom have really helped Meech along the way, starting point guard Bronson Koenig and shooting guard Zak Showalter.
As a constant observer, it’s pretty easy to tell that Trice is an interesting combination of Koenig and Showalter. Playing point guard, he obviously has the ball-handling skills and court leadership. In addition, Trice possesses the defensive abilities and grit of a Showalter, necessary to play in the Badger program.
“Whether it’s Bronson’s shooting and leadership ability, or it’s Showy’s toughness. I’ve learned a whole bunch, and I couldn’t ask for a better senior group to learn from.”
Trice works extremely hard, asking his teammates when he has questions, bringing it every practice, and even consistently staying after to work on his already solid jumpshot. That being said, Koenig and Showy do what they can to help the process and point guard of the future as well.
“At the same time, they’re doing a great job of telling me everything that they see, communicating, being good guys on and off the court. This is just a good group to have as leaders, and to mentor me.”
Even with the recent slump of play, Trice remains confident in the team and the chance at a share of a Big Ten title. Purdue leads the conference by 1.5 games and has clinched at least a share of the Big Ten. If the Badgers can win their next two games and the Boilermakers lose their final game of the season, Wisconsin would share the Big Ten title with Purdue.
But above all, Trice and his experienced teammates all still believe that, although it won’t be easy, all of their biggest team goals are still in place.
” We can (still) win a Big Ten championship, get into the (NCAA) tournament and win it; National Championship is still intact.”
“We’re still fighting for something, definitely.”