WHO: North Dakota Fighting Sioux (1-0) vs. No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers (3-0)
WHERE: UW-Madison – Kohl Center (17,230 capacity)
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 19; 7 p.m. (BIG TEN NETWORK)
Bowling Green and Oral Roberts (Thursday and Saturday) are the other two opponents on the docket for Wisconsin basketball this week. It’s a busy one for coach Bo Ryan and the Badgers who tonight in Madison, try and start the season 4-0 for the 11th time under the current coach’s tenure.
This will be the sixth time overall Wisconsin has faced North Dakota, with the Badgers holding a career 5-0 record over the Sioux, fighting out of the Big Sky Conference.
Five current Fighting Sioux seniors were part of the North Dakota basketball team that played at the Kohl Center four seasons ago. Then No. 25 Wisconsin won that contest 85-53. One of those seniors is Wisconsin native, Troy Huff, who came off the bench to score a team-high 21-points. He will be someone the Badgers need to put on lock-down, tonight.
Huff knows all too well about the history of Wisconsin hoops. His Mother will likely be in attendance tonight. Theresa, starred at UW from 1979-83 and graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,879) and rebounder (1,201).
Wisconsin comes into the contest with North Dakota off a quality road win in Green Bay, Saturday night.
Frank Kaminsky scored a team high 16 points. The Badgers got 13 from Sam Dekker to help them rally for a 69-66 win. Down seven in the second half, and again late in the game after a 7-0 run from guard Kiefer Sykes, Wisconsin overcame a career-high 32 points from the Green Bay junior guard. His potential game-tying 3-pointer bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
It was the first Badgers fans had seen of guard Bronson Koenig, who played 23 minutes, was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field including a 3-point make, nabbed a steal and blocked a shot.
“I thought Bronson Showed a lot of poise,” Ryan said. “That’s a good team we played in an environment that was very electric.”
“He’s improving in practice. After he scored 10 straight against our guys (in practice the other day) I thought it was maybe a good idea to move him over to our side.”
“He’s learning how to play defense the way we need him to.”
In his press conference Monday, Ryan talked a bit about the 3 games in 5 days.
“It is what it is because of so many factors we have to deal with,” he said. “We talk enough about scheduling every year. This is just how it fell on the schedule. You’d like to have a day in there, but you have to be doing well what you are doing. Three opponents in 5-1/2 days means it better be about doing what you are trying to get done, and not the opponent.”
“The only thing we know is that we are 3-0 and what we’ve taken from it is waiting to be seen. (The players) have answered the bell. Some (teams we’ve played) were more athletic, some more experienced, some better in other ways, but our guys find a way.”
Asked about who might have been a surprise so far this season, Ryan didn’t hesitate.
“If you don’t appreciate what Nigel (Hayes) has given us, then you haven’t been around this game,” Ryan said. “He’s done things that maybe a lot of people haven’t expected. It’s a surprise in that he’s been able to handle things so well.”
It’s hard to look back at the Green Bay win and not mention Junior forward,Frank Kaminsky.
Kaminsky led the badgers with 16 points, while adding a career-high 8 rebounds and a career-best 4 blocks. He also chipped in 2 steals and an assist. His 16 points was the second-highest scoring total of his career. His block of Sykes on a drive late in the game sealed the win for Wisconsin.
After two quality wins to start the season, one coming in an upset at home over the then No. 10 ranked Florida Gators, the Wisconsin Badgers (No. 12, 3-0) themselves, were put on upset alert in Green Bay, Saturday night.
Tuesday brings much of the same story for Bo Ryan’s team who’ll try to defeat a senior-dominated team in North Dakota.
After the Badgers win in 2010, Ryan had nothing but good to say about the then freshman, Huff, who’ll lead the team into Madison tonight.
“Active, he’s just active,” Ryan said. “We didn’t have to worry about the other players when he had the ball. We needed to squeeze just a little harder. He was active. That’s the way he should be. That’s the way all players should be.”
The Fighting Sioux shot the lights out in their opener, going 57.3 percent from the floor in their opening game 110-69 win over Minnesota Morris, last Wednesday.
Senior Aaron Anderson scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor (3-of-3 from 3-point range). Anderson was one of five players in double figures followed by Lenny Antwi (18 points), Huff (18 points), Quinton Hooker (17 points) and Jaron Nash (15 points).
Wisconsin is the only Big Ten school UND has played since making the move to Division I prior to the 2008-09 season.
Since suffering that 85-53 loss to the 25th-ranked team in the country nearly four years to the date, that senior quintet has laid a sound foundation for the UND men’s basketball program.
Collectively, that group has won 52 games, two conference tournament titles (Great West) and appeared in three CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournaments. And, the Big Sky coaches were so impressed by their first year in the league, that they picked the Green and White to finish second in 2013-14.