On Friday, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s and women’s basketball teams made the trip to Indianapolis, Ind. to face the assembled conference media in person for the first time in well over a year.
The UW contingent for Big Ten Media Day consisted of head coaches Greg Gard and Marisa Moseley as well as players Brad Davison, Jonathan Davis, Tyler Wahl, Sydney Hilliard and Julie Pospisilova.
Moseley, at her first Big Ten event, was up first for the Badgers and started off by thanking the conference for combining the men’s and women’s media days into one which, well, yeah...it’s a great idea. It makes it easier for writers to cover both events and brings greater equity to the conference.
She went on to talk about how tough the Big Ten is and how Wisconsin has an uphill battle to be competitive in the conference and make a run in the NCAA Tournament. She is confident that the Badgers can get there though. “I wouldn’t take this job if I didn’t think we could do that here as Wisconsin,” Moseley said.
Before being head coach at her alma mater Boston University, Moseley was an assistant coach at UConn under Geno Auriemma. Predictably, she took a lot of lessons from her time in Connecticut including having the expectation to win.
“Everything we do, creating really competitive environment, then just creating a culture to be able to sustain that winning mindset. Not kind of just a flash in the pan, but year in, year out getting the right type of people to buy into something that’s bigger than themselves.”
Moseley went on to praise Hilliard, who she said had been working on her three point shot so she can become a three-level scorer. “She led us in assists last year. I’m excited for her to be able to do a little bit more of that as well as scoring. Just all around a great kid. I’m excited for her to be a Badger,” Moseley added.
The Badgers, who have been in a constant state of rebuilding for a decade, will try and set a foundation for future success.
“I think for us success is going to be measured in how much we come together as a team. We build our culture and that foundation, then we really set forth kind of the identity we talked about before, really solidify that.”
The Badgers brought in transfer PG Katie Nelson, who played for Moseley at BU, and it should help the team out greatly, “We didn’t necessarily have a floor general on the court. Syd did a great job last year, but I think being able to give her a little bit of help was important,” Moseley said.
Gard and the men’s team were also in Indy on Friday and there was obviously a lot to talk about there too. The roster has a ton of new faces, but still features a couple of familiar ones too. While this season probably won’t end with a deep NCAA Tournament run (or any run at all, tbh) it will set the groundwork for the next couple of years in the hopes of Wisconsin returning to the Sweet 16 and beyond.
Gard knows that his team looks different this year, but there is an excitement in the unknown:
“I know there’s not a lot of returning, recognizable, household names. At the same time what I’ve watched develop from last spring into the summer and then so far this fall is watching a lot of younger guys become old and take their next step in their leadership, in their voice, and obviously in their production on the court.”
“Really an exciting group, I think a talented group. I think we have a chance to have some depth. Obviously we’re very early in the stages of putting that all together. There’s going to be growing pains as we go through it.”
Davis and Wahl will be expected to take on a much larger leadership role this season and Gard said that they are already filling the leadership void, with help from Davison. “We’re extremely delighted [Davison’s] back in our locker room. He’s really been a great resource and mentor for our young guys,” Gard said.
"Johnny and Tyler have been waiting for this opportunity..." pic.twitter.com/xQCINDVOZ9— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) October 8, 2021
Gard was asked about big man Steven Crowl and his development and, after listing off a bunch of talented returning Big Ten big men, noted that Crowl will have help down low this season:
“The best thing for Steven was the experience he got last year every day in practice. It will be by committee. He’ll have some help there with Ben Carlson, we have a grad transfer in Chris Vogt that will help up front as well along with some other guys that will be in the mix, too. He won’t do it alone.”
Gard discussed the open point guard position too. “We’ve got some very exciting guys.” Notes Chucky Hepburn, Lorne Bowman and Jahcobi Neath will all be getting reps as the floor general. Gard also suggested that Davis could handle the ball a little as well. Both Davis and Wahl praised Hepburn’s defense and grittiness.
You can watch the full interview sessions with the men’s and women’s teams right here.