Media timeout: Q&A with Wisconsin basketball beat writer

Media timeout: Q&A with Wisconsin basketball beat writer

What difference will a healthy D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King make for Wisconsin next season?

Wisconsin’s backcourt wasn’t deep (or experienced) to start with last season, so losing two key players was a major blow. Getting Trice and King back in the lineup should make a huge difference. For starters, it will take a lot of pressure off Brad Davison, who had to move to point guard once Trice went down and played most of the season with one healthy arm. Now, Davison can play more off the ball while Trice and incoming freshman Tai Strickland man the point. King’s return will allow more lineup flexibility as well because he’s a guy who can guard multiple positions and is an athletic wing who should be able to provide some punch on offense. If he stays healthy, I’m expecting a breakout season.

Did Tyler Herro’s flip from Wisconsin to Kentucky raise any concerns about Greg Gard’s recruiting efforts moving forward?

Based on the feedback I get on email and social media, there are definitely some fans who are concerned about the state of the program from a recruiting standpoint. It wasn’t only that Herro changed his mind. Wisconsin also lost out on another top-50 recruit from the state when Joey Hauser chose Marquette over the Badgers. Those were clearly Gard’s top two priorities in the 2018 class, and he didn’t end up with either of them. Now, is that a one-year blip or the sign of things to come? I think it’s important to remember that Wisconsin’s previous class — Davison, King and Nate Reuvers — is one of its best ever in terms of rankings. But I do think the 2019 and 2020 classes are crucial ones for the Badgers.

Was last season’s finish outside the top four in the Big Ten an anomaly, the first sign of a new trend or something in between?

I’d choose Option C. Wisconsin’s run of 16 consecutive top-four finishes in the Big Ten was incredible, and I’m not sure it will ever be matched. I’m willing to give the Badgers the benefit of the doubt on last season because of the injuries, but it’s up to them to bounce back and prove 2017-18 was an aberration. With Ethan Happ leading a roster that’s basically intact, Wisconsin should compete for a top-four finish and be back in the NCAA tournament. Beyond that, it’s tough to say. Davison, King and Reuvers form a solid foundation, but it would help to land some impact players in 2019 and 2020.