A large portion of the talk between Greg Gard and the national media Wednesday obviously focused on the health of assistant coach Howard Moore and his recovery.
D’Mitrik Trice said that Greg Gard’s team motto of “earn the jersey” this year is all about the game being “bigger than us” in response to the tragedy involving Howard Moore and his family. Trice feels like “the right thing to do is to dedicate this season to him” and his family.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 2, 2019
Speaking to the media at the podium for his initial press conference, and in a roundtable setting for around an hour Gard would have been remiss to not mention the hardships the coaches and players have endured this off-season. While many programs may have faltered, the tragic events of this summer have brought the Wisconsin program closer together.
Greg Gard instituted a new mantra, of “earn the jersey.” The motto is in reference to taking things day by day, and doing your very best in each moment of life. Point guard D’Mitrik Trice noted that that message hit even harder this off-season, as Moore’s recovery has focused the team to see the importance in the little things, and not taking things for granted.
Jerell has also been to the practices so far. The 13-year-old isa constant reminder of what they are playing for, and that the W on their chest means more than wins and losses.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 2, 2019
While a good chunk of the media portion was spent speaking off of the court, Gard and the player representatives, D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl also spoke about what to expect from the squad in 2019/2020.
On what they improved upon this off-season?
Trice highlighted that he got stronger and worked on being able to get to the rim. Trice has been a very good jump shooter from both the mid-range, and the three-point line, but he wanted to improve at getting to the basket.
Similarly, Pritzl has been known as a shooter for the Badgers during his career, but he has looked to diversify his game this off-season. Pritzl specifically said that he feels he is “more consistent and more confident in what I am doing.” Coach Gard has also been in his ear about hunting his shot and being more aggressive on the offensive end.
Both players also mentioned improving their leadership, with Pritzl helping push true freshman Tyler Wahl in practice and off the court.
.@tjwahl01 the next @RobbieHummel?— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) October 2, 2019
We like the sound of that.
“I’ve told you before Robbie, Tyler Wahl kind of reminds me of you. Tell him something once and he picks it up. He’s diving on the floor, playing aggressively, mature beyond his freshman age.” pic.twitter.com/z7qkGmU2Ov
Players to watch...
- Newcomer Wahl brings exceptional versatility to the team according Gard, Trice and Pritzl. While he is obviously young, he is a hustle player who will lay his body on the line for the team, and they have taken notice.
- Micah Potter is a big bodied power forward that the players each mentioned as having a physical presence on both ends of the ball. Potter should be a big help in rebounding, and he brings an experience after playing at Ohio State prior to transferring.
- Aleem Ford and Kobe King. All of the Badgers present noted the physical maturation of the two players from a year ago. Trice feels like they could both be in for a big year in expanded roles.
Greg Gard speaking about the new team motto: “Earn the jersey.” pic.twitter.com/jPCWPVrDOs— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) October 2, 2019
On the offense...
Trice and Pritzl each brought up that players will need to elevate their games with Ethan Happ no longer the key cog in the offensive game plan. While Happ’s leadership will be missed, the players touched on the ways in which it can open up the offense.
Both players highlighted how the offense will be very different and more multiple with Ethan Happ no longer patrolling the post area. Will open up spacing, and require players to make plays when it’s their chance.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 2, 2019
With the void in scoring left by Khalil Iverson and Ethan Happ, players will have to step up and rise to the challenge. Trice feels as though “that will open up opportunities for other people to receive some of that spotlight” left by Happ’s departure. Trice continued by saying that it won’t be just one player who fills that void, but rather they will need to spread the floor and pass very well to win games as a unit.
Lastly on the offensive end, while the three-point line has been moved, Greg Gard doesn’t feel as though it will make an impact on what Wisconsin does really. It will be interesting to see if the change impacts jump shooters as the grind of the season rolls on late into February.
Greg Gard on the new three-point line and it’s potential impact on offenses and defenses in the B1G. pic.twitter.com/097rgfw7Gk— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) October 2, 2019
On being picked sixth in the conference...
Expectations aren’t as high across the conference for the Badgers, but the team isn’t buying it. Trice said he has always felt like he has been in the underdog role, and this is no different. “We don’t listen to what the outside world has to say, we know what we have, and we know we have the right pieces to do something big.”
Other notable tidbits...
Greg Gard on Alondo Tucker’s impact and recruiting pic.twitter.com/6640cVFifQ— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) October 2, 2019
Gard on 2020, 2021 recruiting: "Recruiting is cyclical. It is an ever changing barometer. It just organically worked itself out." Gard obviously could not go into player specifics...— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 2, 2019