UW MBB: Ethan Happ’s hard at work as attention grows

BY MIKE LUCAS

UWBadgers.com Senior Writer

MADISON, Wis. — After the two-hour practice, Ethan Happ didn't leave the floor with the rest of his Wisconsin teammates. Instead the redshirt sophomore center picked up a Sterling basketball and went through a shooting circuit for 30 minutes with a manager rebounding and keeping track of the makes.

"It's basically form shots and swing spots, 2s and 3s, 80 made; 40 post moves, 10 free throws, five in a row, something like that," explained Happ, who went through this specific routine two days before the Badgers entertained Indiana during a Super Bowl Sunday matinee at the Kohl Center.

During the practice itself, when the starters were on defense and matched against the scout team, Happ would stand under the basket and hoist shots with his left and right hand on either side of the rim during stoppages. He wasn't merely amusing himself, either. There was a method to it all.

"I don't want to make too big of a deal out of it," Happ pleaded. "But I think the more you have the ball in your hands and you're putting yourself in awkward positions under the hoop like that, even if you're just kind of fooling around during practice, it helps."

It's all about building muscle memory. "The more repetitions — reverses with your left hand or awkward spins with your right hand — it's going to help," he reiterated.

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The Hoosiers tried to control Happ by rotating three different low-post defenders: 6-foot-10 Thomas Bryant, 6-10 De'Ron Davis and 6-7 Juwan Morgan. They all took their turns with little success. Happ still made 8-of-10 shots and scored 20 points in Wisconsin's 65-60 win at the Kohl Center.

"He's crafty," said CBS analyst Clark Kellogg, who was courtside for Sunday's game. "There's a knack for finishing inside. It's a combination of skills. It's hands. It's footwork. It's strength. But it's also knowing where you are (in relationship to the ball), where the basket is and where the defender is.

"A lot of times guys don't handle all three of those. Sometimes guys will know where the defender is, know where the ball is and they forget where the basket is. He does all three. He knows where his defender is. He feels him. He finds him. And he knows where the hoop is."

Then it becomes a matter of finishing.

"And," Kellogg said of Happ, "he has got the ability with both hands to finish."

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