It’s hard to imagine Saturday evening going much worse for Brad Davison.
The sophomore guard on the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team was held scoreless while playing 32 minutes of a 74-69 overtime loss at Marquette. A 91-percent foul shooter entering the game, Davison went 0 of 3 from the line down the stretch in regulation and was involved in a controversial play in the extra session.
There was plenty of blame to go around for the Badgers after the defeat, but Davison deserved his fair share of the heat. Some fans were even calling for UW coach Greg Gard to rework his lineup so Davison would spend less time on the floor.
The question asked over and over after a loss that dropped the Badgers to 8-2 heading into a game against Savannah State (3-8) on Thursday at the Kohl Center: What’s wrong with Brad Davison?
“Nothing’s wrong with Brad,” UW assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft said. “He’s just got to continue to be Brad, be the heartbeat and soul of this team and that’s never changed, it’s never wavered. Just go out and continue and play and take shots when they’re there.”
Davison wasn’t made available to reporters following the loss to Marquette, so Tuesday was his first chance to answer questions about the incident in overtime.
UW was trailing 65-63 when Davison switched onto Marquette star Markus Howard and pursued him around a staggered screen. On the second one, set by Golden Eagles freshman Joey Hauser, Davison reached out with his left hand and connected with Hauser’s groin area.
After reviewing the play, officials assessed a flagrant 1 personal foul on Davison. According to the official rules of the game, “a flagrant 1 personal foul is a personal foul that is deemed excessive in nature and/or unnecessary.”
Had a flagrant 2 been assessed, Davison would have been ejected from the game. A flagrant 2 “is a personal foul that involves contact with an opponent that is not only excessive, but also severe or extreme while the ball is live.” An example cited in the rule book is “any contact by the offending player to the groin area of an opponent which is not clearly accidental.”
Davison said Tuesday he wasn’t trying to hurt Hauser. The two have known each other since they were children because their fathers — Jim Davison and Dave Hauser — were teammates and roommates at Minnesota-Duluth. Brad Davison apologized to Joey Hauser on the court and followed up with a text message to clear the air.
“It’s bad that it looks that way,” Davison said. “I was just playing the game as hard as I can, trying to get over a screen. Sometimes things happen.”
Meanwhile, Davison went 0 of 3 from 3-point range and is now shooting 28.6 percent (10 of 35) from beyond the arc. Since going 4 of 6 in a win over Xavier on Nov. 13, Davison has missed 19 of his last 24 attempts over the past eight games.
Krabbenhoft said he’s not worried because the sample size is still relatively small. Three more conversions along the way, Krabbenhoft noted, would put Davison at a respectable 37 percent on the season.
Still, Davison was frustrated by his perimeter shooting against Marquette because he thought all three looks were solid.
“I’ve got to hit ‘em,” Davison said. “I’m not going to make any excuses for myself. There’s been a lot of shots that I should hit this year and I haven’t yet. I’m going to keep the faith, keep trusting my work and trusting my shot. I know the shots will fall.”
It appears Davison is dealing with an injury of some sort, though he declined to confirm that. He took a hard fall while trying to take a charge against Rutgers last week and got up holding his lower back.
In addition to a left shoulder injury, Davison struggled with “reverse hip pointers” for much of his freshman season. The problem spots on the back of both sides of Davison’s hips led to shooting pain every time he hit the ground hard, which he did often while attempting to take charges.
“It’s a long season,” Davison said. “There’s always things. You always have aches and pains and bruises but again, I don’t want to make any excuses for myself. I’m fully capable of playing better and being healthy for game time.”
One thing Davison did admit Tuesday was he’s had a hard time adjusting to his new role with the Badgers. He played point guard most of last season but has shifted back to shooting guard now that D’Mitrik Trice is healthy, meaning Davison has the ball in his hands a lot less.
Davison was on the court for 53 of UW’s 72 offensive possessions vs. Marquette. He didn’t touch the ball on 24 of those 53 possessions and finished with a season-low three field goal attempts.
“It’s definitely a challenge, something I’ve never really done before, something I’m not necessarily used to,” said Davison, who is averaging 7.9 points, down from 11.2 as a freshman. “But it’s something I’ve got to get used to. It’s good for the team that we have a lot of different guys this year, which is a luxury to have, so it’s something that I’m going to have to get better at, keep watching film, keeping trying to find where it clicks for me.
“But at the end of the day, whether I have the ball in my hand or not, I’ve just got to try to find ways to help my team win and be successful.”