Futility and Rutgers basketball have been like Siamese twins, tied together by the hip for the past 15 years.
The Big Ten season is finally at the doorstep, and everyone is chomping at the bit to get things underway.
Final exams might have taken up much of the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers’ (11-2) time over the past week, but Friday night, in UW’s final tune-up before Big Ten conference play, the Badgers passed any possible test, breezing by Florida A&M (2-11), 90-37. After UW’s victory over Green Bay last Wednesday, the Badgers had the weekend off to prepare for finals.
Before dipping into Big Ten play for what should be an eventful conference season, the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2) host Florida A&M (2-10) Friday night in a matchup that could get ugly. The Rattlers have just two wins on the season and haven’t won a single game against a Division I opponent thus far.
The Badgers came into Green Bay with wins against Butler (3-7), Tennessee State (3-5), Illinois State (3-6) and Mississippi Valley State (3-5), while UWGB had gone 8-1 up to that night, with the one loss coming at the hands of the No. 2 team in the country, Notre Dame.
Ethan Happ spent the entirety of his summer working to improve his jump shot. But it wasn’t until a zero-degree day, with snow lining the Madison sidewalks, that the sophomore forward showed off his work. “It gave me a little bit of a chill feeling,” Happ said of the first basket he’s made outside of the paint while at UW. Happ’s jumper, with just over nine minutes to play in the first half, came in the midst of No. 14 Wisconsin’s (10-2) best offensive stretch of the night.
In what was arguably Wisconsin’s (4-8) most well-played game of the season, the Badgers could not pull off the upset Sunday and knock off in-state rival Marquette.
After less than two minutes of action in No. 17 Wisconsin’s (9-2) victory over Marquette (7-3) Saturday afternoon, sophomore forward Ethan Happ picked up his second foul in as many minutes.
At the opening tip-off, the ball hung in the air longer than Ethan Happ expected—just long enough for Novak Topalovic to tap the ball back and steal the first possession for Idaho State.
Everything went right for the No. 17 Badgers (8-2) Wednesday night as they dispatched the Idaho State Bengals (1-8) by a score of 78-44 with next to no problems. UW got things started quickly, racing out to a 19-3 lead in the first half of the first period.
Six days a week during the summer, sophomore forward Ethan Happ continued practicing until he made 500 jump shots. Every workout Ethan Happ conducted this offseason continued until the sophomore forward made 500 jump shots.
Senior forward Nigel Hayes received some important advice yesterday from an unlikely source hours before his Badgers faced off against Oklahoma. “Play hard, aggressive, find your teammates,” Hayes’ mother told him on a phone call prior to UW’s matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday afternoon.
The No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (6-2) might have returned more than 99 percent of their scoring and minutes this season, but stability in their roster construction has not translated to stability in the team’s rotation. While the Badgers’ bench has been incredibly productive early on this season, through eight games, five different Badgers have been the first reserve to enter a game, be it alone or alongside another teammate. Junior guard Jordan Hill and sophomore forward Alex Illikainen were the first Badgers to enter UW’s season opener against Central Arkansas.
Playing mostly a backup role, outside of one start in the game at UW-Milwaukee, sophomore forward Marsha Howard has been a sparkplug for this young Badgers team. Wisconsin (2-5) has been struggling to find its identity all season. After a pair of early losses, a down-to-the-wire loss against Saint Francis and a close victory over Butler University, the Badgers don’t necessarily possess the record they wish they did.
For a long stretch of No. 17 Wisconsin’s (5-2) practice Monday afternoon, members of the UW scout team sported pinnies specifically in preparation for tomorrow’s game against the No. 22 Syracuse (4-1). The mesh jerseys were appropriately orange as the Badgers worked on attacking the Orange’s infamous 2-3 zone. Monday was the first time the Badgers took out the orange pinnies, but after an overtime win against the Orange last season, a nearly identical Wisconsin team feels confident and prepared going up against the unique Syracuse defense. “I think we are a lot more confident this year than last year,” sophomore forward Charles Thomas said.
After suffering a plague of closeout mishaps and blowout losses to open the season, the Wisconsin Badgers scratched and clawed their way to a win Sunday evening.
The Badgers have a long history of scheduling brutal matchups in the early-goings of their seasons, and 2016 is no exception as they have a potentially hellacious slew of opponents waiting in the wings out west at the Maui Invitational. No. 9 Wisconsin’s (2-1) first matchup should be a relative cakewalk Monday against the Tennessee Volunteers (1-1), which is in just its second season under head coach Rick Barnes.