Badgers Down Under Was a Success

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 16: Khalil Iverson
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 16: Khalil Iverson /

The Badgers Down Under was an overall successful trip. The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team went 4-1, saw five different starting lineups and bonded quite well. Hopefully this brings the Badgers together as a team for when the season starts up.

The Badgers Down Under started on August 15 in New Zealand. After two games there, they went to Australia and concluded with three more. Now the Badgers are back on the main land and have a great idea about how the chemistry is going to work once camp starts.

The Badgers are going to be searching for new faces now that everyone from the final four trips are gone. It’s reassuring to know that they have an All-American center returning. After that, it’s going to be a competition.

We had a feeling once the Badgers Down Under trip started, they were going to experiment with different starting lineups. That’s the best thing a young team needs right now. Everyone has a chance at making the team so they will need to be able to work with each other.

That ended up translating to five different leading scorers during the Badgers Down Under trip. Pritzl led the way in game one. Andy Van Vliet was the guy in game two. Kobe King was the star in game three. Despite the loss, D’Mitrik Trice led the Badgers in game four. Another freshman, Brad Davison, led all Badgers in the final game.

I said it earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Trice looks like he is going to be the leader. Jordan Hill is gone. Trice needs to take over and he’s done a wonderful job of that so far.

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I think it needs to be said all the way until the start of the season to relax Badger fans. I know how he performed last season when Bronson Koenig went down. It was painful to see. But he’s maturing and has a whole offseason with this team.

The first thing noticed during the Badgers Down Under is that Pritzl is ready to be a shooter. After battling injuries and playing behind more experienced players, the guard from De Pere is ready to play alongside Trice. Wisconsin is known to live and die from the three. Pritzl will fit in just fine.

Speaking of three-points, Van Vliet can stretch the defense. It’s too bad we only have two full season with him. If he looks the way he did Down Under though that gives Bucky a 6-10 and 7-0 players in the front court.

ICYMI, here’s the Belgian Bomber knocking down shots:

If the Badgers like the starting lineup of Trice, Pritzl, Van Vliet and Happ, there’s one remaining spot left. It seems to be Khalil Iverson’s for now. Kobe King has other ideas, but experience and height might keep him from starting. That didn’t stop the freshman from shining Down Under though.

King went off in the third game for 18 points when the freshmen decided to take over the Badgers Down Under trip. It would be a long shot for him to get the start, but it’s certainly a possibility for him to be a regular in the rotation.

The basketball team even lost a game. That’s not a bad thing. They now know what it’s like to lose as a team and have to recover from it. Trice dropped 18 which is a nice thing to see. King contributed another 18 while Happ and Van Vliet recorded double-digits. A good thing to read on the UW page is that Happ stole the ball and Iverson finished with a dunk. We’ll be seeing a lot of that this year.

The Badgers Down Under trip then concluded with a nice win over the Sydney Kings on the 22nd.

It was Brad Davison’s night to shine. He dropped 23 points putting his five-game average to 11.2 ppg. Davison gives the Badgers hope that there’s going to be a lot of depth in the backcourt.

The Badgers lost their experience after the 2014-15 season and then again this spring. Wisconsin now only has one senior on the team. That gives a lot of hope for the future. Don’t get me wrong, Bucky will be back in the tournament again this season, but next year we might see them back in the top-10.

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Everyone saw playing time during the trip. Even the guys who will and might not play this season. That came in game two when it seemed like they couldn’t miss from behind-the-arc. They now know what it takes to be a Badger.

Wisconsin played from behind. They blew out a team. They lost and then came back to cap off a nice trip with a win. Greg Gard said everything was a complete team effort.

"We’ve gotten contributions from a lot of different areas. I’ve seen some guys that are new to the program take big steps here in the last 10 days that we’ve been here. I’ve also seen guys that have been in the program take big steps forward."

It’s only late August, but nothing is going to take this experience away from the players. From exploring different countries and cultures to playing ball, the Badgers Down Under was nothing but a success.

A big shout out to the Badgers men’s basketball Twitter page for getting us all excited about college basketball. Those guys are real social media experts. Now we have to wait just under three months. At least we can rest easy, knowing that the Badgers will have multiple ideas about what to do with such a young team.