MADISON – One day before Wisconsin played its second Big Ten game, against visiting Rutgers, guard D’Mitrik Trice chatted with two reporters outside the UW locker room.
The discussion turned to Trice’s white-hot shooting – he was at 58.3 percent from three-point range at the time – and whether teams would eventually start trying to force him away from the right wing, an area from which he was flourishing.
“That’s something that is in the back of my mind,” Trice said at the time. “But until then I’m just going to stick to what I’ve been doing.
“It has been good to me so I don’t want to go away from it.”
Virginia had effectively forced Trice into more difficult shots and he finished 0 for 2 from three-point range and 2 for 9 overall in UW’s 53-46 loss in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Marquette’s coaches decided they had to prevent Trice from getting to the right wing for jumpers and/or drives and guard Markus Howard did all he could to force Trice to the left side.
Trice was limited to eight field-goal attempts, his second-lowest total of the season, in 41 minutes. His lowest total this season is seven, in 27 minutes against Houston Baptist.
He hit just 1 of 6 three-pointers, 3 of 8 shots overall and finished with seven points in UW’s 74-69 overtime loss to the Golden Eagles.
“That was definitely something we keyed in on in preparation,” Howard said of forcing Trice to the left side of the floor. “He is terrific going up with his right hand.
“We saw in scouting that was primarily where he was getting most of his shots. We wanted to be sure to try to eliminate that. I felt we prepared the right way and we executed that pretty well.”
Savannah State (3-8), which visits the Kohl Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, doesn’t appear to have the personnel to deny Trice. But Big Ten opponents likely will attempt to set up a roadblock on the right wing and force Trice to his left until he proves he can score just as effectively on that side of the court.
“There is always something I can work on, in every game,” said Trice, who is shooting 55.4 percent from three-point range and 48.2 percent overall. “Basketball is a game of imperfections. I learned a lot from what Marquette tried to do with me and ball screens, forcing me left and trying to get it out of my hands.
“There’s definitely things I can work on but I used it as a learning experience.”
Of the eight shots Trice took at Marquette, four came from the right side, two came from the top of the key and two came from the left wing.
His only make from the right side was a jump hook on the baseline over Sam Hauser. He hit 1 of 2 three-pointers from the top of the key, with the basket off a set play that featured a double screen by Ethan Happ and Aleem Ford.
Trice missed an open three-pointer from the left wing but buried a tough step-back jumper from just inside the three-point line from that side. That basket gave UW a 51-48 lead with 10 minutes 21 seconds left in regulation.
He also had an impressive pass to Happ for a basket after driving hard from the left wing.
“I think Meech is fine going to his left,” UW assistant coach Dean Oliver said. “There’s a lot of moves we’ve worked on going to his left. That is not a major concern.
“That is fine by us. He has worked on going either direction. He has the ability to go either direction.”
Oliver acknowledged the Badgers were prepared for Marquette’s defensive game plan but didn’t execute as well as they needed.
“We didn’t do what we planned to do,” he said. “I’d say the preparation was there but the execution wasn’t. It is hard to mimic what a defense is going to do exactly.
“And then you throw in the pressure of the game and the atmosphere that we played in and you’re going to have a little bit of slippage. That is what happened.
“But I don’t think it was a huge factor in missing shots or missing guys.”