By Mitchell Speltz – 11/16/2021
The Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) encountered their first real test of the season on Monday night in the Gavitt Tipoff Games against the Providence Friars (3-0) from the Big East. The night didn’t start well even before the game began as leading scorer Johnny Davis (Bruised Heal) was ruled out along with backup point guard Jahcobi Neath (Lower Body). It was a tough stretch of 1/12 shooting to finish the first half that put the Badgers down 34-23 heading into the break, and it would be a hole they couldn’t dig out of. The Badgers shot just 32% for the game and a more dreadful 5/27 (18%) from the three-point line. Brad Davison led the team with 25 points and Tyler Wahl had a career-best 16 but the rest of the team produced just 17 points on 6/32 shooting. Greg Gard’s team will get a week off to get healthy and reset before they head to Las Vegas for the Maui Invitational.
- If there was one known weakness coming into the season, it would be Wisconsin’s potential to struggle shooting three-pointers and that came true on Monday against Providence. Brad Davison had three of the five made triples for the Badgers, otherwise the rest of the team was 2/16. Am I hitting the panic button for their offensive performance? No. This is a young team, most of which had yet to see any action against a meaningful opponent and now we’ll see how they respond to adversity going forward. In addition, the early foul trouble of Steven Crowl and Chris Vogt in the first half made offense harder to come by and it very much affected the team defensively as well, especially against Providence big-man Nate Watson who finished with 24 points for the Friars.
- As bad of a night as it was offensively, Wisconsin hung around in the game thanks to another strong defensive effort. The Badgers held Providence to 63 points, and most of the time, that’s an amount that will give you an opportunity to win. The team forced 15 turnovers and showed various moments where they frustrated Providence on offense. Brad Davison told Tyler Wahl after the game this is the best defensive team he’s been a part of and that means something coming from a player who is now in his fifth year in the program. The offense will see better days ahead, but for now, this team is going to rely much on its defense while they go through growing pains.
- This is a loss that probably isn’t going to sit well with several Badger fans, and you hope it isn’t a sign of things to come, at least offensively. But this game should serve as an early reminder that this is a young team that is going to go through frustrating times. Wisconsin’s average age for their normal five starters this season is 19.8 compared to 22.6 last season, which is a major adjustment for Greg Gard. They’re also tied with Nebraska with the most underclassmen in the Big Ten with 12. There is still much to figure out about this team, but for the time being, temper expectations.
AT THE PODIUM:
- “Without Johnny (Davis), Jahcobi (Neath), and having both our bigs in foul trouble is always going to make offense harder to come by. But I like the way we still competed and better days are ahead” – Brad Davison on playing shorthanded
- “Losses at this point of the season aren’t fatal. We don’t want to get content with this feeling but now we’ve got an important tournament coming up where we can show all the improvements we’ve made” – Davison on the message after the loss
- “We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half. I’ve always liked the competitiveness and energy of this group but now we’ve got a lot of things to clean up and improve” – Greg Gard on the loss