MADISON — Wisconsin Badgers guard D’Mitrik Trice returned to practice in limited fashion on Wednesday afternoon, a promising event for Greg Gard’s squad.
Trice worked during the possessions segment of practice, but according to a UW official during the afternoon session, was still not cleared yet for Friday’s game vs. Illinois at the Kohl Center (8 p.m. CT, FS1).
“We’ll see,” Gard said when asked about his hopes for Trice. “I’ll visit with our training staff here after practice and see what they’re recommending, where he’s at, how he feels here today after practice. We haven’t been given a definitive time yet—how soon it will be, how much it will be, when it is when he does get a chance to come back. He is on somewhat of a pitch count here today so we tried to limit it and ease him back in.
“Obviously, he’s missed a lot, so it’ll take some time even when he probably does come back or get the full release to get back into a flow.”
Trice averaged 9.4 points and 2.3 assists across in UW’s first 10 games but has missed the last nine after having surgery on Dec. 11 to fix a fracture in his right foot (the fifth metatarsal bone, to be exact). The injury was suffered during Wisconsin’s 59–55 loss at Temple on Dec. 6.
When asked how he looked, Gard said he thought Trice looked “fine” but also noted his sophomore point guard and “experienced ball handler” brings “a presence” to the team.
“I could tell timing was a little off,” Gard said. “You expect it to be, there’s no way it would not be having missed a month and a half.”
Trice’s return could help ease the burden on true freshman Brad Davison, who has taken on more responsibilities as a point guard and ball handler in the sophomore’s absence.
“It was awesome, just to have someone else that can bring up the ball,” Davison said on Wednesday when asked about Trice’s return. “Good to have one of our leaders out there on the floor. Always good to get to play with one of our brothers again.”
Against Purdue on Tuesday evening, Davison committed seven turnovers—all in the first half—during 30 minutes of playing time in Wisconsin’s 78–50 loss at Mackey Arena. In another road match-up at Rutgers, the true freshman—who continues to play through a left shoulder injury—committed five.
How much of an impact Davison has had on the team cannot be understated, with the Minnesota native ranking second in scoring (11.7 points per contest) and contributing 2.3 assists per game, but he is also second on the team in turnovers (40).
“That’s asking an awful lot of a freshman to be in that position,” Gard said when asked how Trice’s return could help relieve Davison’s stress, “and to deal with the injury he has sustained, that’s a lot for a normal freshman to be the only point guard, when really the plan was not to be there that much.
“I think if it’s not somebody of Brad’s personality and Brad’s perseverance, I don’t know if the average Joe could handle that, what has been put on his plate, so that’s a credit to Brad of what he’s played through and how much has been put on his shoulders—no pun intended.”
Davison also noted that whenever Trice does return, it could open more opportunities for Wisconsin to thrive.
“I think it gives our team a whole new dimension because we can move some guys around to different positions, give people some different looks and that’s a big weapon at this level.”