The Wisconsin Badgers held another closed practice to the media on Wednesday ahead of their first exhibition game of the season against UW-Eau Claire this weekend.
The 2.5-hour practice involved a series of drills, as well as five-on-five action for the first time in front of the media.
Here are my notes and observations from practice No. 3.
The Badgers put an emphasis on quick ball movement early in practice, utilizing a forward at the top of the key to facilitating the offense, while the perimeter guys made quick passes and cut to the basket.
As a result, the first-team offense got several open perimeter looks, which is what this team is striving for with the new group of players involved.
Wisconsin needs to continue this offensive intensity to reach its potential on that side of the court, as it will open up lanes to the basket, as well as open shots along the perimeter.
How can this be accomplished?
A significant amount of responsibility falls on the big man, who must understand when to come up to the top of the key and do so in a hasty manner to ensure that the offense doesn’t get stagnant.
With the first-team offense, given the chemistry between last year’s returning starters, forwards Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl did a good job initially of fulfilling that role.
But, backup Chris Hodges was inconsistent with the second-team offense, leading to some struggles and less ball movement.
With reps, that should improve, but ball movement and quick passes should be at the forefront of the Wisconsin offensive approach after being heavily reliant on certain players in the past.
If Wisconsin can operate with quick ball movement, they’ll find easier shots as backdoor cutters were consistently open on Wednesday, although they weren’t always found with passes.
The Badgers have seen their struggles defensively this offseason, which could be their main problem heading into the season.
Overall, Wisconsin appears to be a switch-heavy team, meaning that the chemistry between the players on the court needs to be at a high level in order to effectively communicate responsibilities.
There were glimpses of good defensive chemistry, as guard Connor Essegian made an impressive switch on defense to guard a backdoor cutter in traffic, but that needs to be the norm if Wisconsin wants to dictate the game pace.
The first-team defense had its moments as well, as guard Max Klesmit continued to showcase his physicality and aggressiveness defensively, which meshes well with fellow guard Jordan Davis.
The transition between the first and second team will be imperative defensively, especially with the number of new faces and inexperienced players expecting to receive minutes.
Here were the rotations on Monday:
PG: Chucky Hepburn
SG: Max Klesmit
SF: Jordan Davis
PF: Tyler Wahl
C: Steven Crowl
PG: Kamari McGee
SG: Connor Essegian
SF: Isaac Lindsey
PF: Markus Illver
C: Chris Hodges
PG: Isaac Gard
SG: Jahcobi Neath
SF: Ross Candelino
PF: Luke Haertle
C: Carter Gilmore