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Putting a wrap on Wisconsin’s 2018-19 season, and looking ahead

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One last roundtable chat for basketball.

Dan Sanger

Welcome to the B5Q Roundtable, and we will not see the Wisconsin Badgers in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament after their loss to the Oregon Ducks.

We brought together a few of our writers for a regular season finale roundtable in our Slack channel to discuss what happened in San Jose, what transpired this season, and what could come next in the 2019-20 campaign for Greg Gard’s program.

First, a big thanks to our team for coming together the past few months for these discussions—chats I’ve had a lot of fun moderating. Hope you all have enjoyed them as well.

First topic, gentlemen, is this:

What are your takeaways, in your opinion, from the loss against Oregon?

Drew Hamm: If the threes aren’t falling, this team ain’t winning.

Jake Kocorowski: I think we realized the team couldn’t rely on its pillar, its foundation of success—its defense—all the time.

Drew: Oregon gave up a bunch of three point attempts all season, we knew this going in, and the fairly simple game plan was to make some threes. That didn’t happen.

Ryan Mellenthin: 20 percent from outside isn’t going to cut it against anyone.

Jake: There were some open looks, they just didn’t fall.

Drew: Oregon, on the other hand, made most of their open looks.

Ryan: Nearly shot 50 percent from outside, and over 50 percent from the field.

Jake: Nothing like a 17-of-24 shooting performance in the final 20 minutes.

Drew: I’d like to think the Badgers beat Oregon in a seven game series, but that might just be me being silly. The Ducks presented a lot of matchup issues that I, and others, overlooked.

Ryan: Yeah, they reached NBA Jam levels of on fire.

Jake: Kenny Wooten slamming home dunks in the paint showcased that.

Drew: Wooten blocks on the other end also showcased that, lol.

Ryan: They are just about the hottest team in the country. The Badgers met them at the wrong time.

Drew: What’s funny is if they lost in the Pac-12 Tournament final they probably don’t make the NCAA Tournament.

Jake: So it’s all Washington’s fault.

Drew: They’re mad they aren’t the real UW.

::shakes fist at Markelle Fultz but hopes he resurrects his career in Orlando::

Ryan: Haha.

NEXT QUESTION: The season as a whole: how will you remember the 2018-19 season?

Ryan: I will remember it as the start of a new streak of tourney bids.

Drew: It was a good, yet disappointing, season. Finishing fourth in the Big Ten this year is nothing to scoff at.

Jake: Especially this season.

Drew: Losing in the first round of the Tournament is a disappointment, however. Honestly, if you ask me in two years about this season, I bet I’ll look back fondly on Ethan Happ’s career and Khalil Iverson’s late season heroics.

Ryan: Iverson’s surge made me wonder where he was before then.

Drew: This was not a championship team (of any sort), and they punched above their weight in a lot of games but lost to better teams. Iverson was too deferential in past years. He threw all that out the window when he knew his career was winding down.

Ryan: At times he was the best player on the court, was great to see him turn it on.

Jake: And as you mentioned in the B1G Roast, Drew, HE HIT A THREE!

Drew: That made me very happy. Good for him.

Ryan: This season also was a good look at what the future will bring. Trice and Reuvers showed a lot of promise.

Jake: Drew’s right where a couple years from now, and looking at the roster, this team will be thought of in much fonder terms.

Ryan: And I love King assertiveness at times. Makes me excited to see what he can do.

NEXT QUESTION: What will change the most, in your opinion, without Happ and Iverson next season?

Ryan: I think the offense will open up more. 1-5 will be able to shoot the three.

Drew: The offense, hopefully, won’t grind to a halt like it sometimes did when Happ touched the ball in the post. There will be more movement on offense and less lane clogging.

Jake: Two words. Micah. Potter. I think Potter will be an interesting piece of the puzzle.

Drew: The defense will be worse and will need to find itself quickly or risk being blown out by teams in non-conference.

Ryan: I love Happ, but sometimes I felt like he handcuffed the offense. At times they relied far too much on him, and at times, like Drew said, we slowed down too much when he was in the paint.

Jake: Like you said, Drew, the defense will need to find itself, especially with the team’s two best defenders gone. This will be Reuvers’ time to shine, and it will be interesting to see the jump between second and third years.

Drew: Potter has become sort of an interesting “cure-all” for fans looking ahead to next year. There are some who think that simply inserting him, a big that can shoot, into the starting lineup will make the Badgers a well-oiled offensive machine.

Ryan: Personally, I think Reuvers will further his game on defense, at times he was a great shot blocker and I think it will only begin to get better and consistent.

Drew: The Badgers will have no “go to guy” on offense next year unless someone makes an unexpected ‘Kaminsky Jump’ this offseason, and UW may end up missing Happ more than we thought.

Ryan: I think Trice is close to being that guy.

Drew: Reuvers being a deterrent at the rim will definitely smooth out some of the rough edges on defense to start but if he gets in foul trouble the team could struggle early.

Jake: Trice has the leadership qualities, and he actually was passing the ball around nicely if you look at his stat sheet and assists. The big thing will be hitting that consistent jumper again that made him that viable secondary option and the perfect outside complement to Happ’s inside game earlier in the year.

Ryan: His hot start was quit apparent when you look at how poorly he shot toward the end and he still shot 40 percent from outside on the year.

Jake: He won’t shoot 60 percent all year like he did earlier in the season.

Ryan: Yeah, hard to keep up that pace.

Name the one-to-two players who you want to see a huge jump from for next season?

Ryan: Kobe King and Aleem Ford.

Drew: Kobe King and Brad Davison. Although, Ford’s willingness to stick his nose in the mix and grab rebounds/loose balls near the end of the year is something I’d like to see continue.

Ryan: It seemed to take him a while to get comfortable.

Jake: That was a promising sign from Ford.

Drew: King needs to turn the aggressiveness up a notch next year. I hope he saw Iverson hunting his shot at the end of the season and thinks “I’m not going to wait until the end of my senior year to do that.”

Ryan: He really does and you have to think that he will, because more minutes have to be opening up for him.

Drew: Davison should work on moving his feet on defense so he isn’t always in these 50-50 scenarios and getting cheap fouls called because the refs don’t want to call the charge.

Jake: Working back from that knee injury, King will have that full season and offseason to continue his development.

Ryan: Should do him well.

Drew: Here’s hoping. An all-conference season out of King, while unlikely, wouldn’t be completely unexpected either.

Ryan: He’s the one guy on the team that I can see being able to create for himself both inside and out.

Drew: Indeed. He could turn into a “go-to guy.”

Ryan: Here’s to hoping.

Jake: For me, I think it’s Reuvers. There needs to be an inside presence for Wisconsin on both ends. Happ is gone. Reuvers showed he can create his #NateReuversBlockParty with his blocks. If he contributes offensively with double-digit scoring, then attacks the glass more with grabbing rebounds, he and Potter could offset a lot of lost production with Happ and Iverson departing.

Perhaps a similar question to end it, who’s the player that excites you the most for next season?

Jake: Is it the same person for you all? Because I’d say King or even Ford here.

Ryan: Kobe, hands down.

Drew: Much like my undying love for Rob Wheelwright, I will continue to bang the drum for Kobe King until he exhausts his eligibility.

Ryan: Amen.