MADISON- The annual red and white scrimmage is meant to be fun and allow families to come out and watch the Wisconsin men's basketball team for the first time as they continues to prepare for the new season.
But with sky-high expectations entering the season, backed up with a lofty No.4 preseason ranking, the 8,002 fans who packed the Kohl Center Sunday afternoon wanted to get their money’s worth.
They did and with a little bit of controversy thrown in, as Coach Bo Ryan waved off what appeared to be a game-winning 3-pointer shot by Duje Dukan that would have given the red team a 59-57 win over the white team.
Prior to Dukan hitting his three with 1.1 seconds left in the game. Bronson Koenig knocked down what turned out to be the actual game winner with 2.8 seconds left when he hit a jump shot to the left of the free throw line.
After Koenig’s basket, Zak Showalter tried to hit Traevon Jackson along the sidelines but Jackson had trouble handling the basketball as it went off his hands. But Ryan overruled the call to allow the red team one more chance at possibly winning the game, leading to Dukan’s shot.
“The ball at the end, even though they were down one, if the ball would have been given to the white it would have been over,” said Ryan. “A little controversy but it was an inadvertent whistle, so the red gets the inbounds pass. It was bobbled slightly to the floor. We looked at the review and it wasn’t off in time so the white still won by one and that’s the final decision.”
“It’s definitely a Coach Ryan move,” added sophomore Vitto Brown. “He just wanted to see if we could play some defense in a clutch moment.”
Dukan disagrees with the decision with a little tongue-in-cheek.
“I’m going to count it as a win,” Dukan said with a smile.
Koenig struggled in the first half with his shot but was a key player for the white team by scoring five crucial points in the last two minutes of the game. Koenig first started with a three, which tied the game up at 52 at the 2:20 mark.
In total there were four lead changes in the last two minutes of the scrimmage, which had a 20 minute running clock expect for the final two minutes of each half.
Dukan finished second on the red team in points behind Frank Kaminsky (23 points) with 15 on 5-of-6 shooting in 34 minutes, along with hitting both of his 3-point attempts in the game.
Hayes and T.J. Schlundt paced the white team with 14 points each. Schlundt in particular looked impressive from 3-point range where he went 4-for-4 and overall from the field was 5-for-7.
“He was open, I can't believe they left him open," Ryan said of Schlundt's performance. "He's going to hit those shots."
Brown and Koenig also reached double figures for the white team with 11 and 10, respectively.
Being guarded by two-time all-conference defense Josh Gasser, Jackson scored only two points on 1-for-9 from the field. Jackson did have three assists to two turnovers in 32 minutes of action. Gasser had a game-high eight assists.
Position BattlesWith Ryan having an idea of who is starters will be and who his top three players are off the bench for this year, the scrimmage gave him another chance to look at two key battles. One being at the guard position between Showalter and Jordan Hill and the other battle at the forward position between Brown and true freshman Ethan Happ. Happ got the start for the red team and finished with three points on 3-for-4 from the free throw line and led the red team with eight rebounds. Brown finished the game with 11 points (5-for-11), had a team-high eight rebounds and the white team’s only block, showing some aggression during his 37 minutes. “Vitto was good, Vitto was really good today,” said Dukan. “He was really hitting the glass hard and that’s what we need out of him. You can definitely see he worked on it during the summer time.”
It appeared that Happ was potentially ahead of Brown when camp opened up considering the sophomore was slowed by a toe injury.
“Vitto’s just happy to be out there coming off his injury, getting better every day,” said Ryan. “We need his energy.”
With this performance for the 6-8 Brown, it’s a strong confidence boost as he continues to improve.
“It lets me know that I’m able to get that spot if I just go ahead and get it,” Brown said.
The battle between Showalter and Hill was even throughout the scrimmage as Showalter scored the first five points for red, finishing with six. Hill finished with seven points in 17 minutes and at one point scored five points on consecutive possessions to give the red team a 44-41 lead.
Both Showalter and Hill finished with two assists but Hill had one turnover. Showalter was more active on the glass with five rebounds, which tied him with Kaminsky for second on the team.
Extra Points: Ryan had no update on Sam Dekker, who injured his ankle last week in practice. Dekker went through shooting drills prior to the scrimmage, but did not participate … De Pere (WI) senior shooting guard, and Badgers commit, Brevin Pritzl, was in attendance … Five-star center Diamond Stone was also in attendance. Stone is taking his official visit to Wisconsin this weekend.