MADISON, Wis. – A very happy birthday indeed to Greg Gard.
No. 17 Wisconsin’s head coach received quite the gift from his team: a come-from-behind 90-70 win over Oklahoma on Saturday at the Kohl Center.
During the first half, though, it looked like the game would spoil his day instead of making it. After connecting on just 14 of 33 shots from the field before halftime, the Badgers needed every one of the remaining 20 minutes to complete the comeback.
“We’ve seen the gauntlet of competition and what we’re going up against down the road here in the next few weeks,” Gard said after the game.
Here’s what else Gard had to say about the win:
- “Defensively, we had some issues with the dribble handoffs and the weaves and giving up too much in the paint. I thought by going to a little smaller lineup and figuring that out we were a little better.”
- “I don’t want to be dependent on scoring 90 points each time, so, defensively, we’ve got to figure those things out and get better in that area.”
- “They hit some threes early. That spread us out. We reacted to the threes and got a little extended at times, and then, obviously, some miscommunications. We were better in the second half, we were better as the game went on, but I thought that we need to be on point right from the start.”
- On his message to the team at halftime: “We have to take more pride in what we do. All the time, all the work we do defensively, we can’t have seven point-blank layups at the rim. We have to do a better job of communication in transition … just those things—the attention to detail, things we work on every day. Have pride in all the work you put into it. You made yourself into a pretty good defensive team, this is not the time to have a regression.”
- On Nigel Hayes: “I think what we’ve seen is him understanding and the team understanding what makes him and us our best. And it’s ironically one in the same. His ability to play 18, 15, 12 feet in—he has a unique skill set in terms of his size, his quickness, his strength. He’s a hard matchup. The further he gets away from the basket, the hard-matchup scenarios level off or dissipate. (We need) him to be active in the post, attacking the basket and facilitating from there.”
- On Ethan Happ: “He doesn’t have to shoot a jump shot. He’s quick enough and strong enough and he’s surrounded by enough good shooters and understands what he’s good at … he plays to his strengths. I think that’s really a credit to him. He’s around the rim on the glass — almost a double-double again.”
- On D’Mitrik Trice: “He’s really, from day one, done a great job of coming in and just fitting in and doing his job. He hasn’t gotten consumed with anybody else or consumed with how many minutes (he gets).”