Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s basketball: With poor performance fresh in his mind, Happ is looking to redeem himself in NCAA Tournament

Redshirt freshman knows he must be more aggressive going forward
Jason Chan

Redshirt freshman forward Ethan Happ stayed behind after the Wisconsin men’s basketball final practice to do some extra work. A manager rebounded and defended against him as he shot from the post for 15 minutes. 

This was hardly surprising given how hard Happ was on himself after his performance last Thursday against Nebraska in the second round of the Big Ten tournament.

Men’s basketball: Nebraska’s tough defensive effort down Badgers

“I didn’t play well, and I didn’t do what coach asked of me on either end,” Happ said after the game. “It’s got to change going forward.”


For Happ, that change starts with adapting a more aggressive mindset. 

There were multiple times in the Nebraska game, both offensively and defensively, where Happ had opportunities to make plays in the paint, but looked rather tentative. At times he chose to pass when he should have shot and gave minimal effort in stopping opposing players from getting to the basket.

Both Happ and head coach Greg Gard know the forward has to assert himself as a more dominant force on both ends of the floor.

“I just want him to become more dominating, and that’s a mindset he’s got to grow into,” Gard said. “There are times when he can overpower people, and he’s not quite yet comfortable doing that yet.”

Becoming a more dominating player, however, is easier said than done.

Happ knows what it takes to start becoming that player. A big part of it is improving his awareness and assertiveness on the floor.

“Offensively, I need to kick it out if they double me a little quicker and more decisive on what I’m going to do,” Happ said. “Defensively, I have to be a rim protector, which is kind of new to me … I have to become more assertive down low.”

Junior forward Nigel Hayes has been right along side Happ in the frontcourt all season long and has confidence in what he’s capable of doing on the court.

It’s just a matter of doing it and doing it well.

“[Happ] needs to do what he’s been doing, but do it better,” Hayes said. “You really don’t have much time to change anything.”

Men’s basketball: Happ’s emergence vital in Badgers’ midseason resurgence

It’s more important than ever for Happ to perform up to his potential and return to being the aggressive player that helped ignite the University of Wisconsin’s seven-game winning streak in the second half of the season.

After a redshirt season where Happ watched his teammates carry Wisconsin to a second-straight Final Four, the pressure is now back on the big man to help carry this team, even when the odds are against them.

“[Last year], I was just kind of there eating cookies and doing homework,” Happ said. “That was a lot of fun, but I’m sure this will be more fun if we can make a deep run.”

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