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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, June 08, 2023
Ethan Happ

Ethan Happ turned in his best performance from the free-throw line Saturday, making 8-of-11 attempts.

Happ's hard work finally paying off at the free-throw line for Wisconsin

WASHINGTON — On multiple occasions this season, redshirt sophomore Ethan Happ has had to run extra sprints in front of teammates at the end of a Wisconsin practice. The Badgers end every practice with free throws and at times, when players miss, head coach Greg Gard has made the culprits run.

Happ has gotten used to the extra workout.

But in Wisconsin’s 76-48 victory over Northwestern Sunday afternoon, Happ made 8-of-11 at the free-throw line, by far his best percentage this season with at least four attempts. Not only does that give Happ confidence, but it inspires confidence in his teammates as well.

“For him to kind of step up there with some confidence, it really helps us too. We came into halftime up 17,” redshirt senior Zak Showalter said. “If we’re not making free throws, we’re up 10. That’s a completely different game.”

Happ has made it a habit to practice free throws both before and after practice. And all throughout the year, he has made adjustments to his free-throw stroke. Of late, Gard has spent some extra time working with his First Team All-Big Ten forward. Gard’s added attention has coincided with Happ’s worst free throw shooting stretch of the season.

Coming into Saturday, Happ had made just two of his last 15 attempts. In UW’s last six games he made only 8-of-26.

Happ says his last adjustment came a week and a half ago when he started holding the ball out in front of his body a little looser and letting his arms dangle a bit more. Now he just tries to focus on having the same routine every time he steps to the charity stripe.

“I’m feeling more confident with it, so it’s definitely helping out,” Happ said.

Asked if Happ changed anything in Saturday’s victory, assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft said, “Nope. Nada. The ball went in. Simple as that.”

Twice on Saturday, the 49.3 percent free-throw shooter hit both shots on a trip to the line. With every make, the Verizon Center crowd cheered louder and louder.

“He went 8-of-11 at the line?” senior forward Vitto Brown asked. “Man, I can’t really remember him missing that much, so that’s awesome.”

Wisconsin is hoping Happ’s hard work at the line continues to pay off.

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“He works so hard on his free throws before and after every single practice,” senior guard Bronson Koenig said. “So it’s nice for him to start finally sinking them when it counts. And obviously, that brings a lot to the team as well.

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