While the Big Ten football season is just about to kickoff in a week, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team is also starting up in anticipation of their impending season in just over a month.
The Badgers return the vast majority of their team from a year ago, and added some talented freshmen into the mix as well in hopes of winning a second straight Big Ten title.
Today local media had the opportunity to speak with head coach Greg Gard, and the starting senior backcourt of D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison on Zoom.
Up first was the head man himself, Greg Gard.
Gard opened the Zoom call by talking about the the importance of his core group of veterans that are returning. In a precarious off-season, the team was forced to be innovative in terms of training, but Gard felt as though the players put in the work to become better.
Gard also talked about doing more physical endurance and conditioning, as well as mental challenges, with less opportunities to play on the court as much as normal this off-season.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 14, 2020
Coach Gard mentioned that the team is not taking anything for granted, and that his players have really embraced that attitude given everything that has transpired over the past year. Furthering that message, Gard stated that his message to the team after receiving their rings was “nothing is more important that the first drill of the day” especially in these unprecedented times.
Gard also talked about the young group of freshmen (seven in total) that joined the team this year, and he appears to be excited about the group. He noted that each of the players is talented and that the group has a lot of differing characteristics that should help the team out down the road.
With so much uncertainty this season with COVID Gard said that the team will “need all hands on deck,” and that with the NCAA’s recent decision to allow players to retain their year of eligibility, all of the freshmen could be called upon.
A lot of "what-ifs" in terms of scheduling still due to COVID. Gard said that those decisions will be medically driven.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 14, 2020
After coach Gard spoke, it was D’Mitrik Trice who stepped up the mic.
The fifth-year guard from Ohio came out the gates discussing how impressed he was by the work his teammates put in. He talked about how the team needs to keep that same mindset that they finished with last year, and instill that fire in the younger players.
While last season was great, the point guard said that they “need to build that back up.” With so many upperclassmen back, Meech feels as though this group could be very good, but that it is a new season and they need to make it happen.
D'Mitrik Trice is up next. The senior point guard said that the team "hit our mark" in terms of this off-season, and he excited to finally be back.— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 14, 2020
Last but not least, Brad Davison spoke with the media. Entering his final season on campus, the senior shooting guard from Minnesota, like Trice, mentioned the grind of conditioning this off-season. He relished the time with his teammates, and he felt as though it helped him be in better shape heading into the season.
One of the team’s leaders, Davison brought up on multiple occasions that the team needs to continue “trusting the process” (Editor’s note: go Sixers) to build off of the successes of last year. While he has moved forward and is super excited for this season, he couldn’t help but discuss what could have been last year.
Davison on not being able to take part in the NCAA Tournament last year:— BOOky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 14, 2020
"I don't know if I'll ever get over it." He went on to say that he has since flipped his mindset to "maximizing what is in front of us."
Overall the players seem in good spirits to get things started, and as Davison put it so eloquently “put the pieces together to make a beautiful picture.”
Check out the Bucky’s 5th Quarter Instagram page for ongoing photos and videos from practice in the coming days.