We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
Today is Friday, Oct. 7, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
Chryst favors early signing period
When it comes to football recruiting, Wisconsin and Ohio State are on completely different levels. The Buckeyes and Urban Meyer regularly bring in top-5 classes, while the Badgers have never finished higher than No. 31 in the 247Sports Football Recruiting Composite Team Rankings.
So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the two are on opposite sides of a new proposal put forth by the NCAA that would create early signing periods in college football — one in June and another in December, along with the normal date on the first Wednesday of February.
“I think it would be good for us,” the second-year coach said. “I think there’s some kids that you know enough about them, and they know enough about the university, to make that decision. Therefore, they should be able to sign like other sports. There’s some kids that you want to find out more. Maybe senior year, they’re not sure and haven’t narrowed (the schools) down. Or maybe academically they’ve got to do a little bit more.
“I’m in favor of the early opportunity to sign and keeping the signing date as well.”
The June signing date has drawn the most concern from those involved in recruiting. In a sport where coaching situations at schools can change radically between June and February, locking a 17-year-old into a signed agreement just isn’t fair. The coach can leave at any time, but the player he recruited and made promises to is stuck?
Though heavyweights like Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban have voiced their feelings on the new signing periods, there is widespread belief, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Crabtree, that the plans will be approved when the Collegiate Commissioners Association meets next month.
It’s possible, and necessary, that some changes be made to the plans before they are approved — such as allowing kids out of their scholarship if a coach leaves, and making it so high school players can go on official visits earlier in the year. Both would make the new recruiting calendar tenable for coaches and be a benefit to recruits, which in the end should be the goal of the NCAA.
Nothing dirty about it
Earlier this week, Michigan offensive lineman Kyle Kalis called Wisconsin’s Derrick Tindal dirty for a hit that ended the season of the Wolverines starting left tackle, Grant Newsome. Tindal apologized to Newsome on Twitter, making it clear there was no intention on his part to hurt the sophomore when he went low to take on the man that outweighed him by more than 140 pounds. But that didn’t stop Michigan fans from getting after him on various social media platforms.
@TindalIsland Cheap ass shot on Newsome…just ended his football career.
— Michigan (5-0) (@Anbar1845) October 5, 2016
On Thursday, Chryst was asked about the play and he stood up for his guy.
“There was nothing illegal, nothing dirty about that,” Chryst said. “The circumstances, the end result, no one wants to see. But there’s nothing dirty or illegal about what Derrick did.”
Pressed with a follow up question of whether Tindal could have done anything differently, Chryst maintained the junior did nothing wrong.
“He played that play clean,” he said.
It definitely was clean, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a change in the rules about taking on blockers, especially after the NCAA implemented a new rule this year that forbids players outside the tackle box from blocking defenders below the waist. Chryst mentioned the rule change without being prompted, and it seemed, at least on the surface, that he wouldn’t be opposed to eliminating hits below the waist from either side.
Oddsmakers like the Badgers
The Wisconsin basketball team will open its season five weeks from Friday against Central Arkansas, and the Badgers will do so as one of the favorites to win the school’s first national title since 1941.
On Thursday, the Bovada Sportsbook released its odds on who will win the 2017 NCAA championship in Phoenix next April.
— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) October 6, 2016
At 16/1, the Badgers have the sixth-best odds of hanging the championship banner the team came oh-so-close to two years ago in Indianapolis.
The fact Wisconsin is such a popular pick isn’t surprising. When you return every member of a team that went to the Sweet 16, and was 19 seconds away from a third-straight trip to the Elite 8, much is going to be expected of you.
The thing that did raise eyebrows were the odds for the AP national player of the year, which were also released on Thursday. With stars like seniors Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, one would think their names would be among those listed. But they aren’t. Instead, Bovada has sophomore Ethan Happ at 33/1 — one of three Big Ten players that bettors can choose from. Indiana’s Thomas Bryant is 9/1 and Melo Trimble of Maryland is also 33/1. Duke’s Grayson Allen is the preseason favorite at 6/1.
— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) October 6, 2016
Happ is definitely worthy. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season while also making the league’s All-Defensive team after averaging 12.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
But over Hayes? The guy that was a first-team All-Big Ten selection last year when he led the Badgers in scoring and assists? That’s hard to overlook even with the late-season struggles Hayes went through with his outside shot.
This year’s team is as deep as any Wisconsin’s had, but the play of Hayes could be the difference between a trip to the Final Four or an early round exit from the NCAA Tournament. He’s the team’s best player even if the oddsmakers don’t agree.
Van Vliet for 3
Over the last 15 years of basketball at Wisconsin, big men who can shoot effectively from beyond the arc have seemingly rolled through the program on a consistent basis. It was a key factor in the swing offense run by former coach Bo Ryan, the ability to have interchangeable parts — guards that can play inside and forwards that are comfortable on the perimeter.
No one did it better than Frank Kaminsky, the cog that led the Badgers to back-to-back Final Fours. But when he left after the 2014-15 season, there was no one to fill that role last season.
Happ didn’t take a 3-pointer and Hayes saw his shooting percentage from deep drop from 39.6 percent as a sophomore to 29.3 percent as a junior. Though the other starting forward, Vitto Brown, came on in the final two months and finished the season shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, Wisconsin was missing that true big man that threatened opponents from the perimeter. It doesn’t appear that’s the case anymore.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) October 6, 2016
Enter sophomore Andy Van Vliet, a Belgian national who was ineligible last season due to transfer rules. Listed as a 7-footer, Van Vliet could be a key to helping the Badgers spread opposing defenses out which should help Happ, Hayes and other big guys go to work in the paint. And if it happens, it’s just another weapon of many for coach Greg Gard to deploy as he sees fit.