It doesn’t matter whether it was ugly or not, the Badgers secured a win over Chicago State and now sit at .500 with one more non-conference game before the new year.
The Badgers got a win over Chicago State and it wasn’t exactly the way everyone thought it was going to be. Wisconsin has been blowing out easy opponents 326-220 this season (not including Temple and Western Kentucky).
Despite everything that hasn’t been going right, they’ve at least taken care of business when they’re expected.
This win over Chicago State just didn’t feel right. Greg Gard added his name to a list of Wisconsin sport’s coaches who are all on the hot seat according to fans. Paul Chryst and Craig Counsell seem like the only safe one’s these days.
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Coming into this game, The Cougars had a 2-13 overall record. They hadn’t defeated a Division I opponent yet. They played three Big Ten teams: Iowa, Purdue and Northwestern and never scored more than 62 points and allowed over 90 to each team.
Everyone was expecting the win over Chicago State to be like the beat down the Badgers gave the Phoenix. These remaining games are tune ups for the rest of the Big Ten schedule.
It certainly started out that way. Aleem Ford was good for his normal pair of three-point shots in the first half. Ethan Happ had a nice eight points including two jumpers. Bad Davison continued to be a warrior. He left again with another shoulder injury, but was back before you knew it and was knocking down shots.
A dominating win over Chicago State was on track as the Badgers were up 41-24 at halftime. Ethan Happ was two points and three boards away from a double-double. The mindset was that the big man would get an easy bucket and three boards, record another easy double-double and we would start to see reserves.
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All of that had to be put on hold because the defense took a break almost halfway through the second half. A 9-0 run put he Cougars within nine at the 10:18 mark.
Deionte Simmons put it back to a 10-point game at the 8:03 mark as he put his point total up to 19 which would go on to be a game-high for both teams.
Simmons wouldn’t score anymore as he fouled out. One of the breaks the Badgers caught during the game. Fred Sims Jr. wasn’t doing it early on so Simmons took over and kept the Cougars in the game up until eight minutes left.
That should not have happened. Easy to say. Everyone was mentioning during the game, but seriously. Someone has to be more of a threat.
When you look at the box score after the win over Chicago State, each starter was in double-digits. Ford was able to knock down another three-pointer and Khalil Iverson turned on his second half drive for an impressive 17.
The bench needs more than eight. Nate Reuvers relied too much on the three-point shot and Aaron Moesch knocked down a pair of free throws. That’s it.
We’re seeing another different rotation used. The win over Chicago State never reached the Green Bay level so a few guys didn’t see time who probably were expecting it.
Walt McGrory has now played himself ahead of T.J. Schlundt. McGrory played 15 minutes had almost one of everything besides points. He missed a free throw and never attempted a field goal of any sort. The redshirt freshman grabbed a rebound, dished an assist, came up with a steal, turned the ball over and committed a foul.
If the guard is going to play 15 minutes it’d be nice to see him attempt a shot. I’m not sure what his responsibility was supposed to be when he entered the game, but with the amount of time he was on the court, a couple scoring attempts wouldn’t hurt.
What surprised me is that McGrory played more minutes than Reuvers. The freshman big man only played 10 minutes, but three fouls played a large role in that.
Alex Illikainen rounded out the reserves as he played a couple minutes. It’s clear now that Charles Thomas IV and Andy Van Vliet aren’t trusted in the rotation yet. They both played a combined five minutes against he Phoenix and none in the win over Chicago State.
That’s a little disappointing. Thomas was believed to have been ready for the rotation and Van Vliet has had a roller coaster of a season. He was a starter who looked like he was ready to take the next step. Van Vliet then got benched. He was taken out of the rotation and then was believed to be back, but now it doesn’t appear that way anymore.
Gard probably knows that his seat could be getting hot. Losing D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King isn’t his fault, but before their injuries things weren’t pretty at all.
There has been talk that maybe Wisconsin was too quick in offering him the job. He was still working with Bo Ryan’s guys. Now he has to do it all on his own.
The Badgers will have one more game against UMass Lowell to be ready for Big Ten Play. They will more than likely be over .500 by then. The home stand will continue as they play The River Hawks at home. Wisconsin will then play one more at the Kohl Center against Indiana before going on the road.
The win over Chicago State helped Gard keep a job and continue to give the Badgers wins that they desperately need. The win over Chicago State though didn’t seem like the way we wanted to see Bucky get it done, but at this point, we’ll take it in any way.