Trice, King healthy this time around

UW pair help­lessly watched 2017 thrash­ing

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Sports - Jeff Potrykus

MADI­SON – Wis­con­sin team­mates D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King felt help­less.

“It was hard to watch,” Trice said. “They came in here and re­ally handed it to us.”

King added: “I had my MRI in the morn­ing and then I came and watched the game from the locker room.

“I think I was still in shock. I didn’t re­ally re­al­ize I was go­ing to miss the rest of the sea­son. And on top of that, with

us los­ing. … It hurt that I couldn’t be out there to try and get us a win.”

The date was Dec. 9, 2017. UW, al­ready strug­gling with a 4-6 record, took the Kohl Cen­ter court to face in-state ri­val Mar­quette with Trice and King in street clothes and headed for sea­so­nend­ing surg­eries.

Trice had been the start­ing point guard for all 10 games. He was third on the team in scor­ing (9.4 points per game) and had 23 as­sists and only 13 turnovers be­fore a bro­ken foot ended his sea­son.

Af­ter a slow start King had shown signs of life and was shoot­ing 45.7 per­cent and av­er­ag­ing 19 min­utes per game, in­clud­ing al­most 28 in the pre­vi­ous three games. A knee in­jury suf­fered in prac­tice prep­ping for Mar­quette ended his sea­son.

UW ap­peared dis­jointed on both ends of the floor and suf­fered an ugly 82-63 loss to Mar­quette. The Golden Ea­gles shot 63.6 per­cent from three-point range (14 of 22) and 52.7 per­cent over­all (29 of 55) and the Badgers didn’t have the fire­power to keep pace.

The teams are set to meet at 4 p.m. Satur­day at Fis­erv Fo­rum, and with Trice and King healthy, No. 16 UW (8-1) is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent team from the one that fin­ished 15-18 last sea­son.

“We’re a way more ex­pe­ri­enced team than we were last year,” Trice said. “You can see the com­po­sure – never too high, never too low. Just that even-keel men­tal­ity and keep­ing the guys to­gether at all times, whether we’re down 15 or up 15.”

Trice’s all-around game has im­proved, par­tic­u­larly his three-point shoot­ing. He shot 41.8 per­cent from three-point range as a fresh­man but slumped to just 30 per­cent in 10 games last sea­son. He is at 60 per­cent this sea­son (30 of 50), best in the na­tion.

He is se­cond on UW in scor­ing (17.0) be­hind Ethan Happ, is third in re­bounds (3.8) and has 22 as­sists and 12 turnovers.

“I’m prob­a­bly not sur­prised be­cause I’ve al­ways thought (tech­ni­cally) he did some things re­ally well,” UW coach Greg Gard said of Trice’s jumper. “Ro­ta­tion was good. Form was good. He had the fun­da­men­tal com­po­nents. It was just a mat­ter of get­ting stronger and get­ting rep­e­ti­tions. And he is tak­ing good shots.

...

“But there’s other ar­eas of his game that have grown – de­fen­sive abil­ity, de­ci­sion-mak­ing. There have been (nights) when the ball doesn’t go in and he has still been able to help us.”

King, who wasn’t cleared for full­con­tact work un­til July, has been a valu­able con­trib­u­tor off the bench and is av­er­ag­ing 5.6 points and 2.2 re­bounds and is shoot­ing 52.8 per­cent.

As King has grown more con­fi­dent that his left knee is sound, he has shown signs of be­ing able to post up smaller guards for high-per­cent­age shots.

“Last year that was some­thing I was re­ally com­fort­able do­ing,” he said. “This year just com­ing back I wasn’t as com­fort­able. I didn’t have as much pop.

“Hope­fully I can work back into the block and get some touches in there.”

Gard was asked af­ter prac­tice ear­lier this week to re­visit the 19-point loss, a game in which the Golden Ea­gles hit eight of their first 13 shots to build a 19-8 lead.

“I think we were dis­jointed,” Gard said, re­fer­ring to hav­ing to ad­just to the loss of Trice and King. “That was be­cause of the guys that had just got­ten taken out of the lineup the day be­fore, but also part of it was how well (Mar­quette) played. They hit shots early, got some con­fi­dence early and we were climb­ing up­hill.

“You’ve seen what they’ve done this year. You’ve got two of our more ath­letic play­mak­ers with the ball in their hands.

“We’re ob­vi­ously happy to have them back.”

GE­OFF BURKE / USA TO­DAY SPORTS

UW’s Kobe King (left) and D’Mitrik Trice weren’t on the court much to­gether last sea­son as they suf­fered sea­son-end­ing in­juries.

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