The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team had a tough week, losing each of their three games, while having to adjust their entire schedule after their weekend game against the Northwestern Wildcats was postponed due to COVID-19 reasons.
Wisconsin eventually rescheduled to just two days later, but it wasn’t an easy road, as head coach Greg Gard acknowledged that Wisconsin didn’t know what would happen before Saturday afternoon, which required flexibility and an alteration of schedule.
“There was a lot of unknowns, specifically before we got to Saturday afternoon [on] if we were going to play, when, time, and all those type of things. So, you just stay flexible,” Gard said. “We weren’t in school yet, so that helped, so we could move things around a little bit. It’s not a situation I’d want to go through again, so I told the team, ‘that’s on me’”.
However, it occurred in the early evening, which wasn’t Gard’s preference either, because the team had to immediately fly out for Maryland.
While Gard understood that the team had no choice, due to no other possible alternative, he took the blame for putting his team through this situation.
“Although we had no choice, [I] shouldn’t have put them in that position because we’re at a disadvantage when we have to do that. But, it was either that or you’re not playing the game and it’s going to be a no contest and there was no other agreement or alternative that could be reached,” said Gard.
Wisconsin’s decision became even tougher due to the non-conference game that the Badgers lost earlier in the season, placing one less game on their schedule already.
“I felt, after losing one non-conference game already, due to the storm that came through late in December, that we needed to play,” Gard said. “I didn’t want to go down as a no contest, but we couldn’t find any other date to put it. So, it is what it is, you know.”
The worst part: the Badgers weren’t even at the halfway point of the season, providing significant time for a potential reschedule, which didn’t happen at a later time because of the extended domino effect.
“I think the most discouraging thing is that we’re still we’re not even at the halfway point yet of the conference. And we couldn’t find an alternative,” said Gard. “[They didn’t want to] make the domino effect bigger than it was and start moving other games and other teams. Iowa, us, [and] Nebraska, were really the three other teams that were impacted by it. They didn’t want to go beyond that. And some of the options that I presented required other teams to go to shift a little bit. So, like I said, it is what it is.”
However, Gard has been supportive of his players who’ve had to endure this situation, and bounced back with a good practice.
“They’ve been good. You know, they’re so resilient,” Gard said. “They bounce back. And we went through the film yesterday, and that’s a quick turnaround. You got to get ready for another good team. That’s what this league fortunately or unfortunately, as I’ve said, there’s no get-well games.”
Gard has also noticed a trend in the Big 10 of many teams experiencing ups and downs for whatever reason, with Purdue being the main separator in the conference.
“If you watch the other scores around the country, or around the league, and it’s just so, so tight, so much parity. I think there’s one elite team at Purdue thus far [in the Big 10]. The rest of us are good. And we’ve all had to battle different issues, whether it be health-wise or whatever.”
Fresh off a disappointing week, the Badgers will get some much-needed normalcy, as their next game is scheduled for Thursday at Ohio State.