Six games have already passed on the Wisconsin basketball season. Now that the Thanksgiving break is over, the college basketball season will begin with full force. Through six games, Wisconsin basketball sits at 4-2 on the season and is coming off winning the Fort Myers Tip Off tournament. It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster so far this season. Here are my early thoughts on how the season is going so far.
The Wisconsin Basketball Defense Is Improving
The Wisconsin Basketball defense was really bad the first four games of the season. The Badgers gave up no fewer than 68 points. Tennessee and Providence were good opponents, but giving up 76 points to Arkansas State and 68 to a bad Robert Morris team was unacceptable.
Greg Gard also laid into this team, specifically his upper classmen after the Providence game. I was in the camp that defended Gard doing that,. A coach with his tenure and his experience wouldn’t do that if he thinks his team would not respond. There was too much experience on this team to play that poorly.
Wisconsin basketball responded very well this past week as they only allowed 41 points to Virginia and 61 to a good SMU team in Fort Myers. As a result, they had enough offense to win both games. It seems like they have figured it out the defensive side. That is important as their three game gauntlet of Marquette, Michigan State, and Arizona loom beginning next week.
John Blackwell is Going to be a Stud
If you’ve read my pieces in the summer and fall about this team, you know how excited I was about this freshman class. I also said it was going to be hard to see John Blackwell see consistent minutes, but he would end up being a good player in this program.
Not only has Blackwell cracked the rotation, but he has been one of the best players on this team so far. Through six games, Blackwell is averaging 10 points and four rebounds in 18 minutes. He’s also shooting 48% from the field.
What I like most about his game so far is he moves well without the ball. I’m not sure if that’s something he learned when he got on campus, but he’s doing the little things that will get him minutes especially since Chucky Hepburn is going to play 30 minutes a night. There was talks about Wisconsin getting a steal in Blackwell early and it’s showing already.
Wisconsin Basketball is Settling in a 10 Man Rotation
I thought the Badgers would settle in with a nine man rotation throughout the summer and fall. After the Fort Myers Tip Off, it seems like the Badgers are settling in on a 10 man rotation. The bench group of Gilmore, McGee, Blackwell, Connor Essegian, and Nolan Winter played well this past week. The offense did not struggle either despite a few players being defense first.
Connor Essegian looks to still be recovering from a back injure in the season opener, which is likely why Kamari McGee played significant minutes. However,r he played well with the minutes he got and deserves to stay in the rotation for now.
We will see what the rotation looks like once Essegian is fully healthy because I don’t see Gard going with 10 players once Big Ten play begins. For now, I like the rotation and they are playing well as a unit.
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