This story is the second of a two-part series regarding player evaluations for the 2018-’19 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team. Part one touched on Wisconsin’s MVP, most improved player, and players we are ready to see more from. This segment will focus on players who have lacked consistency for head coach Greg Gard. .
The Wisconsin Badgers provided an appropriate response to a heartbreaking overtime defeat against Marquette two Saturdays ago.
Wisconsin put up 69 first-half points en route to a convincing 101-60 win over Savannah State on Thursday, improving to 9-2 overall.
Savannah State is obviously a less than impressive opponent. However, the manner in which the Badgers fell to Marquette called for a feel-good victory.
Emassing 100 points for the first time since scoring 103 against North Dakota in 2013 clearly satisfied that requirement.
The no. 16 Badgers have positioned themselves nicely, and will most likely be in an ideal spot when Big Ten play fully commences.
However, it goes without saying that Wisconsin missed a golden opportunity in Milwaukee against the Golden Eagles. A victory would have boosted the Badgers’ resume significantly.
Wisconsin likely would have ascended into the top 10 of the AP Top 25 as well if it beat Marquette.
The first edition of Badger player evaluations focused on the many positive individual aspects of Greg Gard’s team. Part two will take a look at players who need to display more consistency for Gard.
Both of Wisconsin’s losses, specifically against Marquette, brought these individual areas of concern to light. So, without further adieu, here are the players whose unreliable production have hurt the Badgers at times.
Players lacking consistency: Brevin Pritzl
In order for Pritzl to appropriately fill his intended role, the junior guard needs to be a reliable shooter off the bench. When Pritzl has his shot going, he is an ideal sixth man for Gard.
Pritzl playing well gives Wisconsin even more depth at the guard position. Specifically, Pritzl can really help the Badgers’ long-range shooting.
The guard established himself as a capable shooter during his sophomore campaign last season. Pritzl notched double-digit scoring totals in 16 of Wisconsin’s games, and averaged 8.9 points overall.
The guard also shot 36 percent from 3-point range, making him the Badgers’ second best shooter from deep one season ago.
Although, even last season, Pritzl was an extremely-streaky shooter. This season, we’ve seen more of the cold-shooting Pritzl than the hot one.
In over 20 minutes per game, the guard is averaging 5.7 points per game. Pritzl has been pretty non-existent as of late, which has reflected regression.
Pritzl scored 16 points in Wisconsin’s season-opening game against Coppin St. Two games later, the guard accumulated 17 points versus Houston Baptist. Since then, Pritzl has scored a total of 30 points in eight games.
Pritzl converted at least three 3-pointers on 10 different occasions during the 2017-’18 season. The guard has done so once so far this season, and it was in Wisconsin’s first game.
Though the Badgers haven’t struggled without Pritzl’s contributions, it’s evident his production makes a difference.
While it has improved from a scoring standpoint, Wisconsin still finds itself in scoring droughts every so often. Pritzl is capable of providing a spark off the bench to ignite the whole offense, and potentially minimize those droughts.
Pritzl has a nice shot. His shot even looks good when he isn’t hitting anything. Rather than physical, it is definitely more of a mental issue for the guard.
Pritzl having his head on straight more often would undoubtedly aid Wisconsin offensively.
Players lacking consistency: Brad Davison
Look, I’m really not here to bag on Davison. The sophomore guard’s work ethic on both ends of the floor is truly incomparable.
Davison is a high-energy player who gives 110 percent in every phase of the game. His scoring capabilities, to go along with probably the best ability to draw offensive fouls in the country, give Davison an extremely impressive skill set.
Even though the guard is coming off a massive 24-point outing, it is worth mentioning him here.
Surprisingly, Davison has been a bit passive at times this season. I say surprisingly because the reputation built by Davison since he arrived in Madison is anything except passive.
Regardless, this season, there have been many occurrences in which Davison has passed the ball, instead of taking an open shot or driving to the rack.
Davison is an efficient passer, so this isn’t always a bad thing. Still, we saw what Davison is capable of against Savannah State, and we’ve seen it many times before.
Davison’s confidence throughout a game increases when he is involved. Specifically when he is forcing the issue and looking for opportunities to score.
For lack of a better word, it seems Davison has been complacent a little more than he needs to be this season. To put it simply, Wisconsin is a better team when Davison is assertive.
Davison averaged 12.1 points per game during an injury-plagued freshman campaign. Additionally, he attempted 9.3 shots per game last season. So far, Davison is averaging 9.4 points and only 7.5 shots per game this season.
Wisconsin’s offense is better when Davison is a major part of it, and it struggles when he is not. For example, the guard put up a goose egg on 0-3 shooting in the Badgers’ loss to Marquette.
I don’t imagine occasional complacency and passiveness will be an ongoing issue for a passionate player like Davison. Especially after seeing him convert 8-11 field goals in Wisconsin’s last game.
Ideally, the brilliant outing will put him right back on track. No-shows similar to Davison’s performance against Marquette, or his five-point, 1-4 shooting effort in the Virginia loss don’t bode Wisconsin well.
Players lacking consistency: Khalil Iverson
Like Pritzl and Davison, Iverson has statistically regressed since last season. Also identical to the previously mentioned guards, Iverson scored 0 points in the Marquette loss.
On a positive note, Iverson’s rebounding has slightly improved since his junior campaign.
The senior’s production, especially from defensive and rebounding standpoints, are pivotal to Wisconsin’s success. Currently, Iverson’s 5.4 rebounds per game are second best on the team.
Although, scoring wise, the senior is averaging 3.5 points less per game than last season (5.1).
I’ve always felt as if Iverson could do more offensively. And it truly makes no sense to me how the 6’5 senior hasn’t scored more than seven points in a game this season.
Iverson is undeniably the most athletic player on Gard’s roster. He has made highlight reels countless times with aggressive dunks, or behind-the-back alley oops.
Happy Friday every OMG KHALIL IVERSON HELLO pic.twitter.com/4o6WvhIdna— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 2, 2018
The senior scores almost all of his points in the paint. When he does so, the buckets come easy and effortlessly. Which leads to me wonder why he doesn’t try to score more often near the rim.
This season is Iverson’s final go at collegiate basketball. It would be nice to see Iverson reach his potential, and consistently do damage down low.
Doing so would obviously make the Badgers a more balanced, dangerous team than they already are.