To watch Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ play is to step into basketball’s past. In this modern age of big men who can stretch the floor or just as easily beat their defender off the bounce, the 6-foot-10 redshirt sophomore does most, if not all, of his work down low.
Happ has never attempted a 3-pointer and he’s only made two field goals outside of five feet. Instead, he boasts an arsenal of post moves, displaying a light touch and deft footwork. The 11th-ranked Badgers â?? despite the presence of two seniors in Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig who had higher profiles entering the year â?? are undoubtedly Happ’s team. As he goes, so do they â?? something that was apparent four days prior to Wisconsin’s meeting with Michigan, when Happ was held to nine points on 3-for-8 shooting with four turnovers in his team’s 66-59 loss to Northwestern at home.
For the first half of Thursday night’s game at Crisler Center, that version of Happ â?? an outlier â?? was nowhere to be seen.
The player that is ranked sixth in Ken Pomeroy’s Player of the Year Rankings and will be a consensus All-Big Ten selection? He showed up, and he was having his way with the Wolverines.
Happ contributed on 27 of his team’s 31 first-half points, assisting for nine while scoring 18 on 8-9 shooting. In a two-minute stretch, he managed to single-handedly erase a six-point Michigan lead. First, he blew past freshman center Jon Teske, drawing a foul and knocking down both free throws. Then he stole the ball from Teske at half-court, threw it down for a dunk, and promptly beat Teske two more times on offense, scoring once and drawing a second foul.
It wasn’t just Teske who fell prey to Happ, though. Sophomore forward Moritz Wagner was blown by a couple times, while Happ managed to get loose on a couple cuts, catching the Wolverines napping. Michigan, meanwhile, stuck with its initial defensive gameplan: …
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