This year has been a difficult transition for University of Wisconsin men’s basketball forward Ethan Happ after the recent loss of his former teammates Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter.Almost nine months have passed since the fateful day in March when the Badgers shocked the College Basketball world beating No. 1 seed Villanova. When Nigel Hayes’ layup bounced off the backboard to fall gracefully into the net it seemed to hang there for a lifetime. But unfortunately for the Badgers, this elation would disappear almost as quickly as it came.Men’s Basketball: Badgers drop another close contest to TempleThe University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (4-6, 1-1 Big Ten) fell 55-59 to Temple (7-2, 0-0 AAC) last night Read…A difficult defeat in Wisconsin’s next match against Florida had many questioning what the future of the team would entail. Key contributors Hayes, Brown, Koenig and Showalter were all in their final seasons and only one senior, forward Aaron Moesch, remains with the team.The stakes for this team to succeed are high: Wisconsin has made the NCAA tournament an incredible 19 consecutive seasons. But, the possibility of increasing the streak to 20 seems to grow more and more unlikely with each game that the Badgers play this season.Early in the year success has been limited: The team is currently 4-7 in regular season play with only one win against a power conference opponent. The team has lost four of their last five games and are starting to look for anything to gain some positive momentum.Happ has been taking on the majority of the weight for this team all by himself. Despite averaging a solid 16.2 points a game, Happ alone has not been enough to lead Wisconsin to success.Former Badger star Jordan Taylor continues successful career abroadThere are countless athletes that have come through the University of Wisconsin over the years to play for the Badgers. Read…With so much on the line this season, and so much of the pressure falling on Happ to continue the success that Wisconsin basketball has been building over the past two decades, there is a lot of stress that falls on the junior’s shoulders. It is in these moments when Happ thinks back to his former teammates and realizes how much he misses his old support system. “I miss having [Brown], [Hayes], [Showalter] and [Koenig] around cause when I’m really struggling I can lean on those guys,” Happ said. “Now I do feel that I have to play [a] complete [game]. I can’t gamble, I can’t foul out. I have to play a complete 40 minutes and I have to play a very productive 40 minutes.”The redshirt junior has been averaging more minutes and field goal attempts than at any point in his career. Unfortunately, this increased usage has led to a decrease in efficiency for the forward as his field goal percentage has dropped from .586 last year to .536 this season.This is in large part due to opponents using heavy double teams on Happ throughout games. While last year this strategy would have been ineffective as Ethan could simply rely on teammates Koenig and Showalter to hit open shots when facing pressure, this team simply doesn’t have the same depth of talent this year.Two freshmen are currently starting on Wisconsin, Brad Davison and Aleem Ford, while freshmen Kobe King and Nate Reuvers are getting significant minutes. In fact, Reuvers just recently had his redshirt removed in an attempt to bolster an uncharacteristically weak Badger front court. The veteran presence has had to come from players who came off the bench in previous seasons like Khalil Iverson, D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl. Despite the challenges that come with an inexperienced team, Happ remains optimistic.“I mean there is a lot of guys and they’re not all young guys” Happ said, “Brad is an obvious choice just cause of the toughness that he’s shown. His shot’s been there so I see him being like a [Showalter] Josh Gasser type of player. But as far as skill wise I mean I think Aleem can really take a jump here in the next year or two.”Both Ford and Davison began the year on the bench but earned their way into the starting lineups. Head Coach Greg Gard’s decision to give these players heavy minutes in critical situations may be partly to hasten the experience and development from Wisconsin’s younger pool of talent.Men’s Basketball: Badgers look to turn season around as Big Ten play beginsMonday night, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team continue the early season portion of their Big Ten schedule with Read…Unfortunately for Wisconsin, things are only going to get harder this season after it was announced on Saturday that Trice would be out for an indefinite period of time and that King would miss the remainder of the season. King will undergo knee surgery in the immediate future, but he is eligible for a medical hardship waiver.Hopefully Wisconsin can regain its form as a powerhouse in the basketball world as the season goes on. Regardless of this team’s success, it is important to recognize the accomplishments of Wisconsin basketball coaches and players that made excellence not only desired, but expected over the past two decades.
Team news, match facts and manager quotes ahead of the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium.Arsene Wenger will seek to guide Arsenal to a record 12th FA Cup triumph when they face Aston Villa on Saturday and become the most successful manager in the history of the grand old competition.Yet as the Frenchman homes in on winning the trophy for the sixth time — one more than his former Manchester United sparring partner Alex Ferguson — Wenger promises the landmark does not concern him. Pitted against famished Premier League opponents Villa, who are desperate for success after a 19-year trophy drought and faced a relegation battle this side, Wenger’s side are ready to retain the trophy they won last year against Hull City.A sixth FA Cup win for Wenger would create a record in the modern understanding of a manager, though Villa’s manager/secretary George Ramsay oversaw six FA Cup victories between 1887 and 1920 and was the driving force behind their success.Wenger has had the same kind of impact at Arsenal since he arrived in 1996, but says setting an individual landmark does not particularly bother him. To do so, though, Wenger will have to get the better of Tim Sherwood, who helped secure Villa’s top flight status and has led them to a first FA Cup final in 15 years. TEAM NEWSShay Given is set to be fit for Aston Villa’s first FA Cup final in 15 years after returning to training following a groin injury.The goalkeeper was a doubt after missing the Premier League finale as Villa lost 1-0 to Burnley on Sunday but could return against Arsenal at Wembley. Aly Cissokho (groin), Kieran Richardson (calf) and Jores Okore (knee) have also trained but Ciaran Clark (knee) is out while Libor Kozak remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a broken leg. Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck will miss out after failing to recover from a knee injury.Manager Arsene Wenger has a number of selection decisions, such as whether to field goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and forward Theo Walcott from the start. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Debuchy (both hamstring) and captain Mikel Arteta (ankle) are in contention after returning to training following recent injuries.MANAGER QUOTES Arsene Wenger on Arsenal’s chance to become the most succcessful team in the history of the tournament with 12 final wins. “It’s not easy. I would love to do it but I’m not honestly focused on that. I’m more focused on the fact that we have fought so hard to get there. Now we want to finish the job. Personally I am always the same when I go into a big game like this. I have always the same pressure. I just want to do it.Tim Sherwood: “They are the holders of the trophy and it is going to be very difficult for us, but we are not just there to make the number up, but to give them a good game. The boys performed on a big stage against Liverpool and we thoroughly deserved to win that game and we are hoping we can do the same against Arsenal.”Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey: “Hopefully we can win the FA Cup this year. Then that’ll be two things in two years so hopefully we can just keep that run of winning things going. Back-to-back finals are not an easy thing to achieve. In the second half of the season we have shown the form that we need throughout the season to win this league. We certainly showed that we are capable of going on these big runs and not losing too many games. If we can just show that consistency throughout the season then we’ll be challenging for the Premier League, and that’s what we’ll be looking to do next year.”MATCH FACTSAston Villa have kept just two clean sheets in their last 21 FA Cup matches. Aston Villa have played in the FA Cup final 10 times, winning seven.They last won the FA Cup in 1957, beating West Bromwich Albion (in the semi-finals) along the way.This will be Arsenal’s 19th FA Cup final, a record for any team, and have won a joint-high 11 FA Cup finals.Olivier Giroud has scored seven and assisted four goals in his 13 FA Cup appearances, and has scored in each of his last three games against Villa.Only George Ramsay (6 with Aston Villa) has won the FA Cup as a manager more times than Arsene Wenger (5). Each of the last three times Arsenal have faced second tier opposition in the semi-final they’ve gone on to win the trophy (1998, 2003 and 2014).Arsenal and Aston Villa have been drawn together 10 times in the FA cup with the Gunners winning seven and the Villans three.Overall there have been 13 matches with three draws.The last FA Cup meeting between these two sides came in 2012 when Villa led 2-0 at half-time only to see the Gunners overturn the deficit in a seven minute period in the second half to record a 3-2 win.Arsenal have won 22 and lost just three of the last 34 matches in all competitions against Aston Villa (W22 D9 L3). All three of those defeats came at the Emirates. Christian Benteke has scored three goals in his last three appearances against Arsenal.Danny Welbeck has scored four goals in his last four appearances against Aston Villa.Mesut Özil has two goals and two assists in three appearances against Aston Villa.Eight of the last nine FA Cup matches involving Aston Villa have been settled by a one-goal margin.Six of the last eight have seen a 2-1 scoreline. All eight FA Cup finals at the new Wembley have been won by a one goal margin.16 of the last 21 FA Cup finals have seen only one team find the net. Four of the five in that run where both sides have scored have been won by the team conceding first.–