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Badgers HC Greg Gard deserves credit for making adjustments vs Iowa

The Badgers found ways to overcome the Iowa counters to a healthy win on Wednesday.

The Wisconsin Badgers had a strong 64-52 win against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Wednesday, marking their first win over five points since December 30th.

However, despite the final score, the Badgers weren’t always ahead, as they started with some sloppy offense, committing five turnovers within the first five minutes, which aided the Hawkeyes to a 10-4 lead.

What was the issue?

Wisconsin wasn’t able to beat Iowa’s press during that stretch, which created fastbreak opportunities for the Hawkeyes off turnovers.

But, the Badgers were ultimately able to overcome their early offensive woes and put together a strong performance, shooting 52% from the field, and committing just six turnovers over the last 35 minutes of the game, which has been their M.O. all season long.

How did head coach Greg Gard adjust to the early Iowa pressure?

“Don’t throw it to them,” Gard reminisced jokingly. “That’s the first thing. And then, some angles and things. I thought we got straight across from each other. We talked about 45-degree angles up the floor. Connor got too extended up the floor at times.”

At halftime, Gard urged his players to be more aggressive, rather than just running to the corner, allowing Iowa to have strength in the backcourt during their press.

“And, at halftime, we talked about getting back and when you need to be a release point, you can, but we can’t run and hide in the other corner and have us outnumbered. And then, we were aggressive with it.”

As a result, the Badgers easily broke the press several times, creating favorable matchups in the halfcourt, where they were able to draw fouls in transition or score baskets.

“We were able to convert a few times [where we] either got fouled in transition [or] got a basket. We were able to kind of put them on their heels a little bit that way where they couldn’t be as aggressive with it.”

The Badgers ended up shooting 18 free throws on the day, making just 10 of them, but showcasing their aggressiveness, which hadn’t necessarily been there over the second half of the season.

Gard has been subject to criticism for much of the year for a variety of reasons, of which some are certainly justified. However, he outcoached Iowa’s Fran McCaffrey, which was an integral part of Wisconsin’s victory.