The Wisconsin Badgers are motivated to prove the naysayers wrong.
Last year’s 20-15 record (9-11 Big Ten) was a wakeup call for Greg Gard and company, as many fans wanted Athletic Director Chris McIntosh to make a move, similar to what he did to overhaul the football program by firing Paul Chryst midseason and hiring Luke Fickell.
It was the right move to keep Gard after last season’s finish. Last season was supposed to serve as a transitional year, as the team lost Johnny Davis to the NBA Draft, and senior leader Brad Davidson ran out of eligibility, so who could the Wisconsin Badgers have hired that would have made people happy?
This season after was going to be Wisconsin’s year, as the team had an influx of young recruits coming in. Namely John Blackwell and Nolan Winter, who have contributed coming off the bench this season.
What’s been the catalyst for the Wisconsin Badgers’ start this season
After last season, Greg Gard sought another playmaking guard to pair with Chucky Hepburn and Max Klesmit. AJ Storr transferred to Wisconsin after spending the 2022-23 season for St John’s, where in 33 games, he averaged 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.8 assists.
At Wisconsin, Storr has increased his role and improved his numbers from last season. Storr is averaging 14.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 0.9 in a starting role while shooting 44 percent from the field.
Not just Storr, but Wisconsin has more depth this year than in years past. The additions of highly-touted freshman Nolan Winter and John Blackwell have not only given Wisconsin more firepower offensively, but the emergence of Blackwell for the Wisconsin Badgers forced Gard to take sharpshooter out of the regular rotation for a couple of games.
However, Essegian can still play that Swiss-army knife role with the best of them. In Wisconsin’s 88-72 victory over Nebraska on Saturday, in 12 minutes of action, Essegian scored 12 points on 4-of-7 from three. This comes on the heels of Essegian only getting in at the end of the game against Iowa on Jan 2.
This Wisconsin Badgers team has it all: depth, experience, and the ability to play team-oriented basketball. Wisconsin’s offense has changed from years past, as they aren’t the same offense that likes to slow it down and feed the post. This team plays fast and efficient basketball, which has helped them get off to a fast start in Big Ten play, but make no mistake, the rest of this season for the Wisconsin Badgers will be a rock fight, as the opponents and games will only get tougher but with how talented this team is, there should be no doubt this team will find its way into the big dance once again.
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