Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers open in-state stretch with Milwaukee

UW leading scorer Jon Leuer will try to keep Wisconsin’s winning streak against the Panthers alive.[/media-credit]

Although one team wears its name on the front of its jersey, the state of Wisconsin just isn’t big enough for four Division I men’s basketball teams.

Starting today, Wisconsin begins a three-game series – to be played over the course of six days – against its in-state foes, starting with UW-Milwaukee and followed by Marquette and UW-Green Bay.

“[Other in-state schools] come in with their best effort, without a doubt,” assistant coach Lamont Paris said. “It’s an opportunity for them to prove themselves. It’s important for the state and important for all the schools involved and a good test, it’s always a good challenge.”


The Kohl Center serves as the first stop for the Panthers (6-5, 1-1) as they embark on a three-game road trip, and when they arrive to face the Badgers (6-2), a handful of former teammates or colleagues will clash as opponents.

UW-M head coach Rob Jeter served under UW head coach Bo Ryan’s tutelage for over a decade. Jeter played for Ryan at UW-Platteville from 1987-91 and captained the 1991 national championship team before becoming an assistant coach under Ryan for 10 years at UW-Platteville, UW-Milwaukee, and Wisconsin.

The pair also reunited in the summer of 2009 to coach Team USA at the World University Games to a bronze medal.

More than that though, senior guard Wquinton Smith is a former high school teammate of UW-M’s Mitchell Carter, while senior forward Keaton Nankivil once played alongside the Panthers’ Jerard Ajami in high school, as well.

Despite the familiar faces and old alliances, Nankivil says any warm welcoming will be saved for the post-game.

“We’re a very business-like team. [It’s the] same scouting reports, same routine,” he said. “But at the same time it’s nice – I played high school basketball with one of the guys; I’ve played with a few of them in the summers. It’s always fun to see them, but you save that for after the game.”

“It’s a mixed feeling, but we’re going to handle it like every other game.”

Despite being in separate conferences, the two teams have crossed paths in each of the last 18 years, with Wisconsin coming away victorious at every meeting except the first. But Wisconsin can’t afford to overlook UW-Milwaukee after losing to UW-Green Bay, another Horizon League member, 88-84 in overtime last year.

The biggest threat that stands in the Badgers’ way is 6-foot-7, 230 pound forward Anthony Hill, who recently became the country’s 11th player to post at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in one game.

Hill leads the Panthers in both categories so far this season, averaging 14.9 points and 6.18 rebounds per game. The big man has also converted on 54.3 percent of field goals in the process.

Although UW-M boasts several other capable scoring threats, UW will be zeroing in on Hill all evening, according to Paris.

“We’re going to make it hard for him to touch the ball inside, and when he does touch the ball, we’re going to contest every shot,” Paris said of Hill. “They’re going to score some points either way, but you got to try and make them take difficult looks and really exhaust themselves to catch the ball.”

The Badgers’ big man, senior forward Jon Leuer, will probably garner some attention from the Panther defense as well after averaging a double-double in his last two games against NC State and South Dakota, en route to earning Big Ten Player of the Week honors.

Leuer’s average of 20 points per game is fourth in the Big Ten, while his 7.8 rebounds are sixth. After eight games, Leuer is living up to his tag as the team’s leading man.

“He’s playing great,” Nankivil said. “It looks like he understands what we need from him. He’s been aggressive, he’s consistent and there’s not enough you can say about his play so far.”

Wisconsin is coming off of an encouraging 76-61 win over South Dakota last Saturday, in which the Coyotes kept the Badgers on their toes for most the game. UW didn’t lose it’s cool, however, and still managed to win comfortably.

In that contest, the Badgers coughed up seven turnovers but were able to trim that number to two in the second, while also cooling down the Coyotes’ hot shooting hands, as well.

With every nagging detail, the Badgers have shown an ability to patch things up quickly, and that fact has the team feeling good.

“We didn’t play our best game and we still won pretty handily, so that’s nice,” freshman shooting guard Josh Gasser said. “We made a few mistakes defensively, but we all know what we did wrong. We turned the ball over in the first half, and we rebounded from that pretty well.”

When you don’t play your best game and you still win, it’s always a good sign, but we got to get better still.”

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