College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning until practice tips off.

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Wisconsin guard Brad Davison (34) looks for room to pass as Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill., Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.

The college basketball season starts in 50 days. At least the games do. Practices will begin much sooner — like this month sooner. So with college hoops literally right around the corner, I asked beat writers from across the Big Ten for a little insight on the teams they cover. Up first is Wisconsin beat writer Jim Polzin from the Wisconsin State Journal.

How will Wisconsin move on in the post-Ethan Happ era?

The Badgers will obviously look a lot different, especially on offense. Wisconsin relied so heavily on Happ to either create for himself in the post or find his teammates on the perimeter. It should be a more balanced, free-flowing system this season, and I think the coaches are excited at the prospect of having five shooters on the floor at once. The last few seasons, opponents didn’t have to worry about Happ and Khalil Iverson outside the paint. Now, Wisconsin has the potential to spread defenses out a bit. That’s not to say Happ and Iverson won’t be missed on both ends of the floor.

Is there a newcomer that could have an immediate impact this season?

Junior forward Micah Potter will see a lot of time in the frontcourt, an area where Wisconsin isn’t real deep anyway. Potter played quite a bit during two seasons at Ohio State before transferring, and he seems to be a good fit in Wisconsin’s system. I don’t know that he’s going to put up big numbers, but the Badgers are counting on him to contribute.

What’s the next step for Brad Davison?

It’ll be interesting to see how Davison — and even D’Mitrik Trice, for that matter — evolve now that Happ is gone and Wisconsin will need more from them on offense. Davison started last season cold from the perimeter, got hot in the middle of the season and ended it cold. What killed Wisconsin down the stretch was that both Davison and Trice struggled with their shooting. The Badgers need both players to be more consistent from the perimeter and find away to attack the rim a bit more.

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