The winless streak for Wisconsin basketball against ranked opponents is extended to six games after a 73-69 loss to Purdue in West Lafayette. I’m deflated. Here’s the breakdown:
D’Mitrik Trice – C
10 PTS, 4 AST, 2/10 FGM/A
Simply put, Trice couldn’t buy a bucket. ‘Meech’ missed his first seven shots as Eric Hunter and Aaron Wheeler absolutely swallowed up the Badger point man.
When he was able to slither free, he was his usual self otherwise, doing his best to dribble into the holes of the defense and create. But his whiffed three-point attempt in the game’s final minute while guarded by Wheeler set the sun on the Badgers’ odds to win in Mackey Arena.
Brad Davison – B-
15 PTS, 38 MIN, 3/8 FGM/A
Davison was the leading scorer for the Badgers but almost all of that production came in the first half. He excelled in finding open spaces, but never found his shooting rhythm in the second half. This could be a direct function of his minute load–a regulation season-high of 37–or just another example of Davison’s streaky shooting.
What’s more concerning is his slipping offensive IQ. Though the result had likely been determined, his three-point brick with under 10 seconds to go slammed the door in the Badgers’ face and befuddled Badger fans nationwide.
A season ago, when Davison’s outside shot wasn’t falling, a classic post-up attempt was due. Even when he has posted up this year, it’s likely resulted in an iffy fadeaway attempt. Davison seems content to jack up threes whenever the going gets rough, and he’s not the only Badger to respond this way.
Tyler Wahl – B
7 PTS, 10 REB
There was little fun in watching the Wisconsin basketball team struggle to run their offense successfully, but the hustle and effort of Wahl is always a treat. He’s developing a valuable nose for the ball and seems to be understanding his role with the team more so every day.
Despite Wahl being one of two Wisconsin basketball players to record a non-negative plus/minus, his offensive role is still limited to finding scraps and hitting open threes in the flow of the game. After a scoreless first half, Wahl came out with a couple of timely finishes in the second to help keep the Badgers in the game.
Aleem Ford – B-
The other Wisconsin basketball player with a non-negative plus/mines? Ford, who registered the Badger’s only positive value in the category with +1 in his 28 minutes.
It may be time to look away from Trice or the bigs as the primary offensive options on the team and it’s unclear why Ford doesn’t have a bigger role. His silky smooth pull-up jumper down the stretch in the second half may have been the prettiest Badger bucket of the game, and his pull-up game is one of the most dangerous weapons on the team.
But that’s never been how Gard operates his offense and that certainly isn’t going to change before the Badgers play Iowa for the second time on March 7th.
Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter – C+
Reuvers: 11 PTS, 2 REB, 2 BLK; Potter: 11 PTS, 3 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK
Considering the fact that starting center Trevion Williams and 7’4” backup Zach Edey both dominated the Wisconsin front court equally, it felt appropriate to make this a partner quiz.
Both put up modest offensive numbers but were dominated on the glass. Whenever Williams was rolling to the rim, Reuvers and Potter would step up and contest the ball handler, but would then be out of rebounding position. Their minuscule rebounding numbers and greater seasonal struggles are a team product, but both–especially Reuvers–need to be tougher on the inside, defensive IQ can only take you so far.
I mentioned Edey earlier but it’s worth noting that he absolutely manhandled Reuvers and Potters alike. Edey didn’t just out-size the Badgers, he constantly got interior positioning and forced the entire gravity of the Badger defense in his direction.
Scarier is the fact that the two went 1/6 from three-point range. Reuvers especially has been ice cold this season, and for one of the best shooting big men a year ago, this season has been incredibly disappointing.
Johnny Davis – C-
2 PTS, 2 BLK, 1/4 FGM/A, 16 MIN
16 minutes marks Davis’ lowest participation in a game since the January 15th matchup against Rutgers and his third-lowest minutes total of the season. But it’s not particularly clear why.
His defensive activity in the first half led to two blocked shots and though he struggled with his shot, his absence for a majority of the second half is a mystery. Davis had been averaging almost 27 minutes a game in the Badgers’ last five and I find it hard to believe that the Badgers had better offensive options in the final ten minutes against the Boilermakers.
Nonetheless, his offensive contributions were minimal, and while the game grades try to take into consideration effort and non-box score impact, Davis wasn’t on the floor enough to receive a higher than average grade.
Trevor Anderson – N/A
2 PTS, 8 MIN
Another curiosity considering how important Anderson had been to the Wisconsin basketball team in his reserve role through February. Likely just a precaution considering Anderson’s recent return from injury, but considering how heavily the Purdue defense was collapsing on Trice’s drives and pick-and-rolls, another playmaker could have alleviated some of that pressure.