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Wisconsin basketball: guarded optimism?

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How does the play of Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice stack up with the rest of the B1G guards?

NCAA Basketball: Richmond at Wisconsin Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

For the past decade, basketball has been trending towards the play of guards. Everyone on the floor has to be able to shoot from three now whether or not you are 6-feet tall or 7-feet tall. College basketball, in particular, has been a guard dominated realm. Since 2010, the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four has been a guard seven of the 10 times. Even when a big man won the award it was still a guy who could shoot: Duke’s Kyle Singler, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Louisville’s Luke Hancock.

The other names on the list include UConn’s Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo and Ryan Arcidiacono and Duke’s Tyus Jones. All NCAA Tournament legends and many went on to have excellent NBA careers.

This year, the B1G is a little different in that it is dominated by an impressive crop of big men. Kaleb Wesson, Jon Teske, Nate Reuvers, Daniel Oturu, Luka Garza and Kofi Cockburn are taking things back to the future as big men leading their teams in scoring (Cockburn is second on his team by 0.3, but the point stands).

Wisconsin v Ohio State Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

However, this doesn’t mean guard play is less important, in fact, I’d argue it makes guard play even MORE important. If every team has a good big man than the team that dominates on the perimeter and in the backcourt will be the best. Makes sense, right?

After the Badgers lost to Illinois on Wednesday night my text thread of all Badgers fans was lit up for the following 16-20 hours with takes on Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice. There were cries of “they’re not good enough for the B1G” to “well, they’re exactly who we thought they were” to “things will turn around...maybe.”

It was around hour 18 that I decided some more research needed to be done to see if Davison and Trice have been “good enough” for B1G guards this season. So I wandered on over to ol’ KenPom.com and picked out the top two guards for each B1G team and then looked at some cold, hard data.

(All stats as of 1/9/20)

B1G Guards 2019-2020 Season

Players Minutes % ORtg %Poss eFG% ARate TORate PPG APG TOPG
Players Minutes % ORtg %Poss eFG% ARate TORate PPG APG TOPG
CJ Fredrick (Iowa) 56.3 130.2 15.9 67.2 19.5 15.6 10.3 2.9 1.8
Trent Frazier (Illinois) 73.2 116 14 46.3 11.8 11.2 9.2 2.1 0.9
Aljami Durham (Indiana) 67.9 115.2 19.8 53.2 19 20.3 11.3 2.8 1.9
Myreon Jones (PSU) 74.5 115.2 20.8 55.3 17.8 15.2 14.3 2.9 1.7
Cassius Winston (MSU) 72.5 115 29.2 51.7 40 16.6 18.9 6.3 2.7
Anthony Cowan (Maryland) 82.8 113.9 24.7 48.3 26 15.2 16.7 4.1 2.2
Brad Davison (Wisconsin) 74.5 111.9 15.7 48.1 12.5 11.3 8.5 1.9 0.9
Zavier Simpson (Michigan) 79.1 108.7 25.6 52.7 47.3 24.1 11.4 8.9 3.5
Eric Hunter (Purdue) 77.6 108.1 20 51.5 20.7 20.2 10.9 3.2 2.1
CJ Walker (OSU) 63.8 107.8 17.1 52.3 23.8 23.4 7.2 3.2 1.7
Aaron Henry (MSU) 63.7 106.9 19.4 53.6 19.2 21.8 10.2 3 2.1
Jahaad Proctor (Purdue) 73.7 106.1 20.1 42.8 14.6 9.4 11.2 2.1 0.9
Devonte Green (Indiana) 48.6 105.6 24.5 51.6 20.9 18.2 12 2.5 1.9
Geo Baker (Rutgers) 67.3 104.8 22.1 48.5 24.5 19.3 11.4 4 2.2
Cam Mack (Nebraska) 84.2 104.4 23.1 50.6 38.1 18.8 12.8 6.7 2.7
Eli Brooks (Michigan) 77.3 104.4 18.3 52.7 13.8 16.3 10.9 2.6 1.6
Gabe Kalscheur (Minnesota) 81.3 104.4 18.5 51.5 8.6 14.6 12.9 1.5 1.5
Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois) 79 103.7 24 49.2 18.3 18.6 15.3 3 2.6
Marcus Carr (Minnesota) 89.2 103.3 27.6 42.4 36.6 19 15.5 6.9 3.3
D'Mitrik Trice (Wisconsin) 77.8 103.2 20.2 47 22.1 16.3 10.1 3.3 1.7
Eric Ayala (Maryland) 66.3 103.2 19.8 46.3 15.5 18 9.9 2.1 1.7
Luther Muhammad (OSU) 60.8 103 15.3 49.4 11.1 20.1 6.7 1.5 1.3
Boo Buie (Northwestern) 46.2 100 28.1 50 27.9 17.1 10.8 2.6 1.8
Pat Spencer (Northwestern) 66.6 96.6 26.1 46.9 33.7 20.1 10.6 4.1 2.4
Joe Toussaint (Iowa) 42.2 95.5 28.3 40 27.9 21.8 7.5 2.7 1.9
Jamari Wheeler (PSU) 57.5 94 12.3 56 18.6 35.6 3.8 2.8 1.9
Dachon Burke (Nebraska) 67.6 93.9 23.6 46.3 8.5 10.1 12.2 1.1 1.2
Montez Mathis (Rutgers) 54.3 88.8 19.6 40.2 9.8 16.4 7 1.2 1.1

(Any of the numbers that are in bold are KenPom national leaders.)

We have 28 different guards to look at here and I’ve chose some of their key offensive stats. Those are: percentage of minutes played, offensive rating, percentage of possession used, eFG%, assist rate, turnover rate, points per game, assists per game and turnovers per game. Out of the 28 players, these are the rankings for Trice and Davison in the conference.

Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice Rankings

Players Minutes % ORtg %Poss eFG% ARate TORate PPG APG TOPG
Players Minutes % ORtg %Poss eFG% ARate TORate PPG APG TOPG
D'Mitrik Trice 11th 20th 14th 20th 11th 9th 20th 8th T-7th
Brad Davison 7th 7th 25th 19th 23rd 4th 23rd 24th T-1st

Outside of the turnovers and minutes played categories...these aren’t exactly world beating numbers from the Badgers two veteran guards. Hell, these aren’t even Illinois beating numbers!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about the defensive side of the ball, Drew? Well, good question! I didn’t dive in the defensive numbers yet, but I’d like to so we can see if these two are at least pulling their weight there. Davison is often thought of as a “defensive stopper” but his defensive box plus/minus is 3.3 which doesn’t put him anywhere near the top-20 in the conference (No. 20 Geo Baker of Rutgers is at 4.6) and Trice is sitting at 3.0 so he’s also out of the conversation.

After poring over these stats for the past few days I’ve come to the conclusion that, as of right now, Davison and Trice aren’t good enough to help the Badgers make the NCAA Tournament. Trice is too inconsistent and Davison hasn’t been aggressive enough. Neither of them get to the free throw line as often as they should, which is a shame because they are both excellent free throw shooters, and they both often settle for long jumpers because they can’t get into the lane against quicker defenders.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 16 Xavier at Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Both of them are capable of helping the Badgers win games, Davison is a great rebounder for his size/position and Trice is liable to go off for 20+ points if his three ball is dropping, but neither player is going to take Wisconsin to the next level or, sadly, keep them at their current level.