WASHINGTON — The old man prefers Kendrick Lamar, the young man partial to Drake.
But they make beautiful music together: In the seven games in which Wisconsin Badgers senior point guard Bronson Koenig and freshman point guard D’Mitrik Trice have each logged at least 22 minutes together this season, Bucky sports a a record of 6-1.
“I mean, I love playing off the ball,” Koenig told Land of 10 after the Badgers (24-8) raced past Indiana, 70-60, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament Friday night at the Verizon Center. “I love getting screens and everything, not having to bring the ball up every single time.
“He just takes a little pressure off me, and the whole team, because he can do a lot of things and facilitate and make shots and make plays.”
The old dude/young dude double act works. Works like a freaking charm. Trice netted 13 points and three treys in 31 minutes against the 10th-seeded Hoosiers (18-15), crossing the 30-minute mark for only the second time this season. It seemed to put some pep into the road-weary legs of Koenig, as well, as the senior logged a third straight game of double-digit points (16) and at least four 3-point makes.
“We have tweaked a few things and moved some people around a little bit,” said coach Greg Gard, whose Badgers draw Northwestern (23-10) Saturday in the semifinals.
“I think the one thing that’s helped is D’Mitrik in the lineup helps us move the ball more, too. It gives us another ball-handler on the floor. I probably played three guards more here in the last couple weeks. Just as he’s matured, I’ve watched him in that position. It’s helped to take maybe some of the pressure off the guys that have to do the ball-handling responsibilities.”
Share the load.
Share the wealth.
‘We know how good Bronson is, what he’s turned into. And he’s trying to do the same thing by passing the torch, if you will.’
— Badgers forward Nigel Hayes
“(It) definitely makes us better,” said forward Nigel Hayes, who put up 10 points and nine boards. “Bronson is more of an attacking guard and Trice is more of a facilitator. When he’s at the point, he gives Bronson a break from having to deal with the defender and taking control of the ball most of the time. He gets to play off and create and attack for himself and be the recipient of a lot of extra passes that either we make from the wing or from the post.
“We know how good Bronson is, what he’s turned into. And he’s trying to do the same thing by passing the torch, if you will.”
Indiana came in Friday’s quarters as a sleeper pick to make unexpected March noise in D.C., having averaged 95.5 points over its last two contests — wins at Ohio State and against Iowa in the league tourney.
Only the Hoosiers wound up looking as if they’d struggle to reach half that for much of the night. Badgers forward Ethan Happ (14 points, 12 rebounds) spent the tilt twisting Thomas Bryant (two points three turnovers) into a crimson pretzel, while the backcourt trio of Koenig, Zak Showalter (12 points) and Trice accounted for six steals and helped force the Hoosiers into 12 turnovers.
“I think that’s what makes this team great — everyone does something different, I believe,” Trice said. “Just having shooters in there and rebounders in the paint really helps this team be who we are.
“And then having (Koenig) to be able to go off the ball allows him to be ready to shoot (and) things like that. It takes a little bit off his legs, bringing the ball up the court, so it’s always good to have him on the court with you.”
Or beside you, helping to keep the March beat going. The kind you can dance to.