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Vulnerable Wisconsin has to ‘get better at a lot of things’

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Vulnerable Wisconsin has to ‘get better at a lot of things’


PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The reason why the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team lost its fourth straight for the first time in six seasons was obvious to the Badgers, so despite utter domination for by Rutgers for 40 minutes, after the game they kept on referring back to the first 83 seconds.

“We knew coming into the game they were trying to throw that first punch,” Wisconsin senior forward Steven Crowl said. “They always do every time I played them.”

Yet it didn’t take long for the Scarlet Knights to run Wisconsin out of the gym. Because, frankly, of late that’s exactly what runs like the 9-0, four Badgers-turnover start by Rutgers in a 78-56 blowout loss at Jersey Mike’s Arena have done.

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A 12-2 first 4 minutes, 8 seconds at Penn State on Jan. 16, a 15-2 second-half run at Nebraska on Feb. 1, a 14-6 run to open the second half against Purdue on Feb. 4, a 10-1 first-half run by Michigan on Wednesday and then another run Saturday; Game changed. Game over. Whatever it is, whenever it comes, Wisconsin (16-8, 8-5 Big Ten) can’t muster a win when it falls into that big a hole.

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Saturday, though, was the worst of all of them. Though the Badgers couldn’t do enough to win in any of those five games (all five of their losses in 2024), Wisconsin had at least shown some ability to claw back when allowing a big run in the first 10 minutes of a half. Elite teams — to win at an elite level — have to do that. 

“We’ve had that confidence at times this year, when you’re at home and start good and everyone starts hitting shots and it just continues to roll,” Crowl said. “That’s what happened for them. We didn’t shut it off at all.”

The Badgers completely folded against the Scarlet Knights (13-10, 5-7). It seems like almost a full season ago that Wisconsin did the opposite, coming back from 15-4 deficit and 1-of-12 start on its field goals in a 69-61 win over SMU to win the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Nov. 22, 2023 that sparked Wisconsin’s season turnaround. 

Months later, a new low for Wisconsin came within a game where it seemed hopeless and confused against the utter domination of the 12th-ranked team in the Big Ten fresh off a loss against the last-place team in the conference (the Wolverines) Wednesday — all because it hasn’t been able to respond when teams strike big. And for that reason, No. 11 Wisconsin’s season that seemed destined to end as a top seed in the NCAA Tournament has entered a critical stage to salvage that.



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Wisconsin guard Chucky Hepburn drives to the basket against Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi during the second half Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.

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It’s not like Wisconsin didn’t know that Rutgers would pressure them. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said the team had practiced the press break each of the last two days leading up to Saturday’s loss. Yet for some reason, point guard Chucky Hepburn got caught for a rare 10-second violation, players didn’t come to the ball to help the inbounder and players who have spent next to no time handling the ball in the backcourt were the best options the Badgers can get open to push past the mid-court line.

“We worked on it,” Essegian said. “I feel like we’ve usually been pretty good with pressure. I don’t know why we weren’t real good today.”

At one point of the first half, Hepburn was locked up as graduate forward Tyler Wahl looked to inbound the ball following a made basket by the Scarlet Knights. With the five-second count ticking, Wahl had no choice but to throw the ball in with Rutgers’ Mawot Mag easily stealing the errant pass away at the 8:33 mark of the first half. Yet a miss by Mag and rebound by Wahl, who finally had a seam to take it up the court, was perhaps the Badgers’ only chance amid a moment of total discombobulation.

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Wisconsin turned the ball over 11 times in the first half. That’s compared to just one in the second half. But erratic play like that from an opponent, as well as an early advantage on the scoreboard, has an effect on teams as it did on Rutgers.

“And then the basket starts to look extremely big,” Gard said.

Gard said after the game that the 3-point defense was “the least of the problems today” after Rutgers hit 10 3s on 58.8% shooting from deep. He also said after Wednesday’s loss that the reason for the Badgers’ losing streak wasn’t due to phycological factors, just mistakes that it needs to correct and still hasn’t.

But Crowl admitted after the game that when teams gain the type of momentum that they do early in games or halves — especially on their home floor — the mental aspect of fighting back into a game is highlighted more. Wisconsin shot 32.8% from the field and 23.8% from 3 in a season-low offensive output.

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“When you give them confidence like that, it kind of takes away your confidence almost,” Crowl said. “We’ve got to be more mentally tough than that.”

Crowl said he hasn’t seen any anxiety on the court. He echoed what Wahl said following the Michigan loss that a season that will always have ups and downs is simply in a down. The message, while repetitive, has recent history to back it up. Yet 2018 is the last year that a down stretch has led to four straight losses, not even among six losses in seven games early in the conference schedule last season.

For some of their season lows to be sparked by such a short stretch at the start of the game, as Wisconsin said following the game, is troubling for a team that has at times considered itself among the elites in the country. For that, he Badgers have shown across their losing streak they’re more vulnerable than previously thought.

All it has taken to throw them off entirely is something all teams — including Wisconsin — expect: A run.

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“We got to get better at a lot of things,” Crowl said, “and a lot of that goes into making those comebacks.”



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Wisconsin

City by City: Hibbing, Mountain Iron, NW Wisconsin

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City by City: Hibbing, Mountain Iron, NW Wisconsin


Hibbing, MN- The City of Hibbing and Essentia Health are teaming up to launch a new community survey. The survey just opened and asks residents to provide feedback and share their experience with the town’s walkability. The survey will also allow residents a chance to contribute to the development of future landscaping and opportunities. It’s available online and can also be done in person at the library.

Mt Iron, MN- The Spring Gardening Spectacular will be held on March 28. Hosted by St. Louis County Extension the event features stations and speakers on all things gardening. Topics this year include growing cut flowers, soil testing and how to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Those who register before February 25 will get early bird pricing. The event will be held in Mountain Iron at the community center starting at 9 a.m.

Northwest Wisconsin- Representative Tom Tiffany announced his district office is taking submissions for the 2024 Congressional Art Competition. All students in the 7th congressional district are welcome to submit their work. This year’s theme is “A Day in the Life of Wisconsin”. Entries can be mailed or hand-delivered to his office in Wausau. Work is due April 5. The chosen work will hang in the U.S. Capitol building.

Tips: If there’s something going on in your neighborhood that you think we should know about, send us an email at CitybyCity@NorthernNewsNow.com, and it might be featured as we go around the Northland City by City.

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Previous Day: City by City: Wisconsin, Duluth, Copper Harbor



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Wisconsin Potawatomi leader calls for bipartisanship in State of Tribes speech

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Wisconsin Potawatomi leader calls for bipartisanship in State of Tribes speech


MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The leader of the Forest County Potawatomi tribe on Thursday called on Wisconsin lawmakers and other state leaders to search for bipartisan solutions to problems including human trafficking and affordable housing.

James Crawford, chair of the Potawatomi, delivered the annual State of the Tribes address in the Assembly chamber. In addition to Assembly members, other attendees included leaders from the state’s 11 other federally recognized tribes, state senators, Wisconsin Supreme Court justices, Attorney General Josh Kaul and Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski.

“Despite our differences, Wisconsin’s tribes and our states leaders can and must continue to collaborate and work together for the greater good,” Crawford said.

He thanked lawmakers for working to increase Medicaid reimbursements for tribes, ensure access to indigenous foods, and pass bills designed to increase affordable housing and make foster care more attractive and affordable.

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“There is still much more than needs to be done,” Crawford said. “Find the time to set aside your differences and not be afraid to reach across the aisle.”

He specifically called on the Legislature to do more to address the problem of human trafficking in tribal communities, while thanking Kaul for forming a task force on the issue.

(Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)



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Wisconsin coach Greg Gard lobbies for mentor Bo Ryan to get into the Naismith Hall of Fame: ‘It’s a no-brainer’

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Wisconsin coach Greg Gard lobbies for mentor Bo Ryan to get into the Naismith Hall of Fame: ‘It’s a no-brainer’


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MADISON – Greg Gard chuckled before he could attempt to respond to the question:

How would you state your case for Bo Ryan to be voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame?

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“I mean, it’s a no-brainer,” the Wisconsin coach said. “You look at the numbers.”

Gard, who worked under Ryan for more than two decades – at UW-Platteville, UW-Milwaukee and finally at Wisconsin – probably can recite many of the numbers from memory.

“Platteville alone,” Gard continued, “and I was there for six of those (seasons).

“The further you get from it you realize those may never be duplicated. They were video game numbers.”

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Tom Izzo of Michigan State among those pushing for Bo Ryan to join the Naismith Hall of Fame

Gard and other coaches, including Tom Izzo of Michigan State, have been quietly pushing for Ryan, 76, to be inducted.

“Tom obviously recognizes the validity of Bo being in,” Gard said. “And I know Tom has been a proponent and a voice to help with this, as have others.

“I think for those that really understand it and know the history and step back and really look at it, it’s a no-brainer.”

Ryan moved one step closer last week when he was named among the 14 finalists for the 2024 class.

“Yes, we have been very vocal,” Gard said. “Probably more than ever and consistently more than ever.

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“I think I’ve been able to talk to a lot of people that have given me insight how to keep that at the forefront.”

Ryan’s résumé is in the hands of the North American Honors Committee. That committee includes 24 voting members and is composed of Hall of Famers, basketball executives and administrators, members of the media and other experts in the game of basketball.

A finalist must receive at least 18 votes to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

The class is to be announced April 6, during the Division I men’s Final Four in Arizona.

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“We’ve got to make another push now,” Gard said. “I know he needs 18 votes, so we’ll continue to push that forward and hopefully by April 6 when they announce the inductees that he is one of them.”

Bo Ryan’s résumé boasts impressive numbers

In case anyone has forgotten the impressive résumé Ryan compiled in 31-plus college seasons, here are some snippets:

His overall record was 747-233, a winning percentage of .762.

His teams qualified for the national tournament – NAIA, NCAA Division III or NCAA Division I – in all but four seasons, twice at UW-Platteville and twice at UW-Milwaukee.

He led Platteville to Division III national titles in 1991, 1995, 1998 and 1999 and those teams finished a combined 119-5 (.960).

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Platteville was the winningest NCAA men’s basketball program of the 1990s regardless of division with a record of 266-26 (.908).

Ryan guided UW to 14 NCAA berths in 14 seasons and reached the Final Four in his last two full seasons. UW never finished outside the top four of the Big Ten during that run.

“We can sit here because we’re biased and say it’s a no-brainer,” Gard said. “But when you step back and really look at the numbers and the consistency of it, there’s no doubt it’s Hall of Fame worthy.”

Gard and his players were in Iowa City preparing to face the Hawkeyes when the finalists for the 2024 class were announced.

Gard called Ryan to chat.

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“He did not know,” Gard said. “So, he was a little speechless. Which was good. It’s rare you find him speechless.”

Will the next time come in April?



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