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, Nov. 18, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
A helping hand
The craziness that is college football continued Thursday night as No. 5 Louisville fell for the second time this year, losing to unranked Houston, 34-10. It was an absolute mauling by the Cougars defense, which sacked Heisman Trophy front runner Lamar Jackson 11 times and held the top-ranked scoring offense in the country 39 points below its average.
The loss knocks the Cardinals out of the chase for the College Football Playoff, which in turn helps No. 7 Wisconsin. And the Badgers can thank a former player, Houston defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, for his role in removing another potential impediment to Wisconsin becoming the first two-loss team to make the final four.
Not just a huge night for Tom Herman but #Houston DC Todd Orlando also probably making himself some more money too.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 18, 2016
It was always going to be tough for Louisville to make the playoff, simply because the committee was never going to take two teams from the ACC. So unless Clemson lost again, the Cardinals would be on the outside looking in, unable to even play in the conference title game. But what the loss does take away is the worry that the committee would be so infatuated with Jackson and Louisville’s explosive offense, that the eye test would overwhelm a less-than-impressive resume. That’s gone now.
Houston 24, Louisville 0. Barring a miracle we won't get what we deserve – Lamar Jackson vs Alabama. Cant wait for Bama- Wisconsin! 45-0?
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) November 18, 2016
In reality, though, the upset doesn’t change much for Wisconsin. The Badgers still need to beat Purdue, Minnesota and then whoever comes out of the Big Ten East in the conference title game to have a shot. Still, the Cardinals falling flat on their face makes one less team that Wisconsin has to jump in the end.
Depth on display
The Wisconsin basketball team got back to its winning ways Thursday with a 69-51 win over Chicago State. It came just two days after suffering a 13-point loss at Creighton. And while there is plenty to be critical of — Nigel Hayes scored just three points on 1-of-8 shooting — the Badgers were able to show off the depth so many have heard about this offseason.
Not only did Wisconsin’s bench outscore the Cougars, 33-4, it put up just six points less than the starters. Sophomore Kahlil Iverson had a career-high 11 points, including a pair of high-flying dunks. But he wasn’t even the most impressive guy off the bench. That honor belonged to true freshman guard D’Mitrik Trice.
…and if you just want to watch Khalil Iverson dunks, we've got that too.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 18, 2016
Lightly recruited due to his size, Trice has that cliche “it” factor. In 23 minutes of action, the brother of former Michigan State star Travis Trice dished out seven assists, the most by a Badgers guard since Bronson Koenig had nine in the Big Ten title game in 2015.
“That’s why we recruited him,” coach Greg Gard said afterwards. “He just has a feel for it, and does some things that you can’t coach.”
Trice has natural leadership ability that he sowed on the football field as a quarterback, and it seamlessly carries over to the basketball court. And though it’s such a small sample size, it could be argued that the Badgers are a better team when Trice is running the point, allowing Koenig to be the off-guard, something Gard implemented several times in the game.
“It puts Bronson in other positions, in other scoring opportunities on the floor,” Gard said. “It doesn’t allow defenses to load to him as what it does with the ball in his hands at the top.
“We saw Bronson get a lot more aggressive attacking the basket when he was over at the two. And D’Mitrik does a good job of finding guys, too.”
That’s been clear through three games. What’s also very clear is Trice is an absolute steal for the Badgers. They didn’t actually offer him a scholarship until April 7, a time when many guys have already signed their national letters of intent. It came down to Ohio State and Wisconsin, with the latter winning out.
"D'Mitrik Trice does what a good point guard should do, make everyone around him better." – Greg Gard pic.twitter.com/6KwNr4ZBbJ
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 18, 2016
It’s impossible to know exactly what Trice is going to become, but the early returns couldn’t be more encouraging for the Michigan native. He has already passed junior Jordan Hill as Koenig’s backup and could find himself on the floor even more if he continues to play like he has.
Few true freshmen have been instant impact guys at Wisconsin since former coach Bo Ryan and Gard arrived in 2001, but Trice’s play is pointing toward him becoming one of those few.
Shooting remains an issue for Hayes
It’s still very early in the season — the Badgers have played just three games — but the shooting struggles Hayes dealt with at the end of last season have not gone away. Wisconsin won by 18 on Tuesday night despite Hayes shooting a woeful 1 of 8 from the floor, 0 of 2 from beyond the arc and just 1 of 4 from the free-throw line, finishing with three points, his lowest total since he managed just two points as a freshman in the national semifinal against Kentucky in April 2014.
The effort came in just 16 minutes of action, a light load for Hayes after playing 36 in the loss to Creighton two nights earlier. Some of his shooting issues could be tied to that. But so far this year, he’s hitting 38 percent from the field and 29 percent from long distance, and that can’t be explained away.
Those are not the numbers of an All-Big Ten player like Hayes was a year ago, nor that of a preseason Big Ten Player of the Year like Hayes was named last month. But the ultra confident senior will continue to put up as many shots as anyone else on the team. And if Wisconsin is going to to capitalize on the opportunity in front of them, those shots are going to have to start finding the bottom of the net.
Levy’s proudest moment
DeAndre Levy isn’t wrong.
The late Joe Paterno is a “dirtbag,” just like Levy called him in a recent article from Men’s Journal. Though the Penn State coach claimed ignorance to the atrocities committed by his longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, it didn’t absolve him of wrong doing while alive nor after his death, no matter what his legion of delusional fans in Happy Valley will try to tell you. But Levy’s decision to call his inadvertent hit on Paterno in 2006, one that broke the coach’s leg, his proudest moment at Wisconsin isn’t a great look for the Milwaukee native.
“That dirtbag, man,” said Levy of Paterno. “We’ve gotta stop prioritizing sports over humanity. Just because somebody can throw a football or coach football, they’re excluded from their wicked acts.”
Levy doesn’t care what people think, and the Detroit Lions linebacker will say and do what he feels. And in this case, it was rip a horrible man that many think allowed Sandusky to abuse young boys for decades just to keep the football empire he built going. It’s a disgusting and contemptible act, and Levy didn’t shy away from saying exactly what so many were thinking.
Call it classless if you want — and many Penn State people have — but others will call it what it really is: the truth.
- Outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel are rounding into shape after being slowed by injury
- Leo Musso was an afterthought the last three seasons, but that’s no longer the case for the senior safety
- Badgers thriving with “next man up” mentality
- Bradrick Shaw has seen the ball a lot more the last two weeks, and that’s bad news for opponents
- San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey getting closer and closer to Ron Dayne’s career rushing mark