Quoteworthy in Madison.
There was plenty of buzz around the UW campus this weekend – and it started already Thursday night.
With a pair of 2-1 victories over Big Ten rival and No. 1 in the country, Minnesota, Wisconsin (16-8-2, 7-4-1) handed the Gophers (19-4-5, 8-2-2-0) their first two losses in league play along with their first defeat since way back on Nov. 24th.
The sweep over Minnesota was the first of such at home for Bucky since back in 1999. Wiscosnin did take two-of-two in Minneapolis in 2009, but it’s the first time UW has swept a No. 1 team in the nation since knocking off the Fight Souix twice exactly 10-years ago at the Kohl Center.
There is no doubt the play of junior goalie Joel Rumpel was a big reason for the victories this past week. He stopped 28 of 29 in the second game of the set and overall, stopped 59 of 61 shots during the series.
Here’s a few quotes from coach Mike Eaves and players.
EAVES: “We were a much better team tonight (Friday). Things that we didn’t do last night we did. We moved our legs, we won more races, and we got to those races and when there was a battle we won more battles, not all of them but we won more tonight. We got really fine goaltending and we got some timely goals.”
On goaltender Joel Rumpel stepping up his game: “He’s big, he’s athletic, that was always his strength, but his attention to detail has helped him elevate to another level and give us and him the numbers that he has. And that’s where his game has grown and how he’s gotten better.”
RUMPEL: “I don’t know. It’s kind of a weird feeling for goaltending. You just get in a groove and the puck just seems bigger, reading plays before they happen. Just being on the ice more, battling hard in practice towards the end of the season helps a lot. That’s about it.”
FRANK SIMONELLI: “Big picture, it’s awesome. Just in general, what an event tonight at the Kohl Center. Sold-out crowd. It was awesome to be a part of and a memory everyone on this team will remember forever. No. 1 team comes in town, we get the sweep. It helps us in the standings, we get six points. It means a lot to us and that’s big for our team and in the locker room it means a lot.”
Game-Winner for Trae Jackson
Another big win for Wisconsin comes at home inside the Kohl Center.
With a 60-58 win came a last second miracle from junior guard Traevon Jackson. UW improved their RPI and record to 4-1 against the AP top-25 this year. Wisconsin has now defeated Michigan State (8), Florida (11), Iowa (22) and Illinois (23).
While Jackson stole the show late, it was mainly the play of freshman Nigel Hayes who scored his third straight game in double-digits with 14 points off the bench. Josh Gasser added 11 points and hot three BIG three pointers for Wisonsin. He also pulled down six rebounds.
Here’s a few quotes from after Sunday’s win.
BO RYAN: “Well, we got the screen that we wanted and we were able to make a play off it. What didn’t happen against Ohio State was we didn’t space. There was an Ohio State player that helped on the ball on Trae (Jackson) and that offensive player that the guy was guarding that helped didn’t space, so we couldn’t get the ball to him in a good shooting position. So this time we used a rub screen that we had used on the other side of the floor earlier when Frank (Kaminsky) hit the three. So when the ball goes in, it was a pretty good call, right?”
“Well, he is a guy that has earned that spot. He proved it last year with some big plays. But what happens is if teams take that away from him his job is to get it to the open guy. His decision-making has been a little sporadic at times, but in a last-second situation, if it starts in his hands, I feel very confident that we are going to get something. It doesn’t mean he has to end up taking the shot, but he was wide open on that pull-up.”
MICHIGAN STATE COACH TOM IZZO: “I give credit to Wisconsin. They’ve got a helluva team. They went through a tough time and that’s what happens in this league. Everybody is going to go through some tough times. I give us a lot of credit that we played again with some people that probably wouldn’t get in the game. Guys rallied around each other and we executed that last 3-pointer as well as we’ve executed any play in 10 years. Give Payne credit. He hit a big shot being dead tired. I’m proud of my guys. Disappointed we didn’t find a way to win it. I’ve watched two years worth of (Traevon) Jackson making game-winning shots, so I put my best defender on him and give the guy credit. He made another one. He has the courage to take them. As I told him after, he made a big play.”
JOSH GASSER: “Yeah, we had to, playing against a team the caliber of Michigan State, how physical they are. If you take a possession off, they’re going to make you pay for it, especially on the glass. They’re so physical, so strong and athletic, if you don’t block them out and put a body on them, you’ve got no shot. We definitely had to bring a little extra energy, a little extra effort that way, but it’s not just against them. We’ve got to do it every game, night in and night out, and that’s something we’ve got to continue to develop.”