Ethan Happ collapsed triumphantly to the floor near midcourt following the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s overtime victory against Minnesota Saturday.
Happ played 38 minutes during the game, so the redshirt-sophomore forward deserved a break — even if it was immediately after the game. After practice Monday, Happ said the move was no dramatization of what he felt in that moment.
“That was all natural,” Happ said.
Happ and the Badgers will have to shake off that fatigue by Tuesday night, when UW (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) welcomes Pennsylvania State University (11-9, 3-4) to the Kohl Center. Four of UW’s starters — minus senior forward Vitto Brown who was slowed by an injury — logged more than 35 minutes in the win.
The trip home from Minneapolis did little to subside Happ’s post-game pain. He said he received an elbow to sternum that became sore quickly, and added that falling off stage at “The Barn” didn’t make things any better.
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Happ said UW strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland has the team rotate between ice baths and hot tubs to limit fatigue.
“Any competitor wants to just keep playing,” Happ said. “Our bodies aren’t feeling great, but after adrenaline kicks in and you start getting up and down [the court], it all goes away.”
UW assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft said they may be tired, but it shouldn’t affect the Badgers’ performance against PSU.
“Our guys have been through this before,” Krabbenhoft said.
PSU also recently sweated out a close victory over Minnesota, but has lost its last two games — including at the buzzer against Indiana before getting blown out by No. 20 Purdue Saturday.
“They’ve always played hard under coach [Patrick Chambers],” Krabbenhoft said. “For us, it’s just the next opponent. We’ll prepare for them and respect them as much as we do every opponent we play next. I just think the intensity at which they play is always really high.”
PSU ranks 12th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (71.8 points per game) and is 11th in scoring defense (69.7 ppg). Also, the Nittany Lions shoot just 40.9 percent from the field, which ranks last in the league. PSU has the worst rebounding margin in the conference at -.8 per game, as well.
Still, UW head coach Greg Gard sees a much improved team from the last few seasons.
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“They’re playing better together,” Gard said. “In the past, they depended on one guy to get 25 points.”
That is certainly not the case this season, though. Shep Gardner leads the Lions in scoring (12.3 ppg), while freshmen Lamar Stevens (11.6 ppg) and Tony Carr (11.4 ppg) caught the attention of Gard during the recruiting process.
Sophomore Josh Reaves leads the Big Ten in steals (2.5 per game), which helps the PSU offense attack in transition, something the Lions fancy, especially if they are able to execute their zone press and force turnovers.