With a game against Georgetown and a potential national championship rematch with Duke looming this weekend at the 2K Sports Classic in New York City, the Badgers will look to continue to push their ugly season-opening loss further into their rearview mirror when they take on North Dakota at the Kohl Center Tuesday night.
Wisconsin (1-1) rebounded from its loss to Western Illinois with a convincing 92-65 victory over Siena Sunday night. Junior guard Bronson Koenig set a career-high with 23 points, while junior forward Vitto Brown added a career-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
“Obviously, we’re not really used to losing, especially the first home opener. [Saturday’s practice] was a little bit different, but it wasn’t any different in the context of watching film and breaking everything down,” Koenig said after the win against Siena. “Our coaches don’t sugarcoat anything, so they tell us what we need to do. I thought we had a great day of practice, defensively at least. Then we came out tonight with more energy.”
The Badgers will look to build off that win against North Dakota (1-0), who opened its regular season with a 99-69 victory over Division III Minnesota Morris last Friday. Freshman guard Cortez Seales led the way for UND, scoring 27 points on 11-15 shooting in his debut.
The UW defense will look to keep him and the rest of the North Dakota offense in check. After getting carved up by Western Illinois Friday, the Badgers fared better defensively against the Saints. Still, they did benefit from the fact that the Siena offense was ice cold for most of the night, making just 18.8 percent of its shots from 3-point range.
“Like I said before, our coaches do a great job of breaking down the film and showing us what we need to work on,” Koenig said. “I thought we had a great day of practice on the defensive end, so the little things like staying in the stance and being in gaps. I thought we did a better job today, because you couldn’t really get much worse than Friday. We still have a long way to go though.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Kohl Center. The Badgers will be heavy favorites, but head coach Bo Ryan knows that each game presents itself as another learning opportunity for his young team.
“I said it earlier, we’re gonna have some nights where we’re gonna look pretty doggone good, and we’re gonna have some nights where it might be ‘are those guys impersonating Wisconsin basketball players?’ We might have a couple of those nights,” Ryan said. “But you got to work through them. A lot more games to play and we’ll be playing people where we can definitely learn from and get better from.”