Wisconsin’s first action of the season came in a scrimmage against Northern Iowa for Team Rubicon, a non-profit organization that provides disaster relief. After a rocky start, the Badgers won the exhibition by a score of 69-38.
However, the offseason rust was evident—the Badgers found themselves down 10-2 at the first media timeout, with no real rhythm offensively, as Happ missed a few close shots and there were few opportunities for open looks. Defensively, Wisconsin simply had no answer for UNI guard Juwan McCloud, who racked up 10 quick points. It was a start that Gard attributed to early-season jitters, stating that “we were nervous…they (Pritzl, Van Vliet, and Iverson) had the look like ‘I’m starting my first game at the Kohl Center’.”
After the first TV timeout, the Badgers found life, sparked by a Kobe King and-1. Wisconsin would then go on a 20-2 run, with 10 of those points coming from King himself—he would finish with a team-high 15 points, a strong showing from the freshman out of La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Another key contributor to Wisconsin’s strong first half was junior Khalil Iverson, who, though not particularly known for his shooting ability, knocked down a pair of triples and recorded an emphatic block that led to a Pritzl three on the other end. The Badgers would finish the half shooting 56% from the field and 54.5% from three, leading 35-18.
The start of the second half was déjà vu from the first—UNI started out hot, outscoring the Badgers 7-0 in the opening minutes. It wasn’t until Happ began to take over that Wisconsin got back on track—Happ showcased his classic spin move for an easy lay-up, assisted on a three, and even made a three of his own (yes, you read that right, Ethan Happ made a three-point shot). According to Happ, “If we got guys shooting like they did tonight, we’ll do alright in the Big Ten.”
One player who really made his presence felt was tonight was freshman Brad Davidson—while it’s too early to dub him the next Zak Showalter, he was all over the court similar to the now-graduated Badger fan-favorite. He didn’t have the flashiest box score, but he contributed and was effective in all areas, showing tremendous hustle on defense, and providing a spark on offense, as he finished with five points, one rebound, two assists, and three steals.
The Badgers would go on to win 69-38—a well-rounded game, defensively-strong with contributions from many players, but Coach Gard alluded to a resounding fact—that this team is “Nowhere near where we can be,” Hopeful words for the young Badgers team in what should be another exciting season.