Last year, Wisconsin coaches told then-freshman forward Nigel Hayes that he was the worst rebounder in the country.While the statements were obviously hyperbolic, for the forward position Hayes plays, his rebounding last year was subpar, as he averaged only 2.8 rebounds per game coming off the bench for the Badgers.Now, as a sophomore and starter for Wisconsin, Hayes looks at improving his rebounding as a priority for the 2014-2015 season.“Our assistant coach, Coach [Gary] Close, always gave me a hard time about it last year, telling me I was a ‘terrible rebounder’ and ‘the worst rebounder in the country,’” Hayes said. “So this year going around I wanted to make improvements and rebounding was one of those.”Hayes’ improvements were on display in the Badgers’ opening game against Northern Kentucky, as the sophomore from Ohio posted 10 rebounds, which was good for the second most on the team.A big reason Hayes was able to be so dominant on the glass was the size advantage he had inside. At 6-foot-8, Hayes isn’t the biggest of forwards, but Northern Kentucky didn’t have a single player on the floor that matched Hayes’ height.This size differential created a matchup nightmare for the Norse, with Hayes and senior forward Frank Kaminsky combining for 21 rebounds on the night. Overall, Wisconsin out-rebounded Northern Kentucky 42-28 and won the game by a score of 62-31.“I would say it’s a pretty good start for the first game,” Hayes said.It was a pretty good start that Hayes and the Badgers only built upon in Wisconsin’s second weekend matchup against Chattanooga.In Sunday’s 89-45 rout, the Badgers out-rebounded the Mocs 48-21 while being led, once again, by Hayes and Kaminsky. The duo down low each posted a double-double with Hayes recording 15 points and 13 rebounds and Kaminksy posting 15 points and 10 rebounds. The double-double was the first of Hayes’ career and Kaminsky’s second in two games this season.Hayes was once again dominant on the glass. In fact, he was so dominant that in the first half, Hayes out-rebounded the entire Chattanooga team 10-9.The Mocs not only had no answer for the Badgers on the boards in the first half, where they were out-rebounded 25-9, but they had no answer for the entire game, and Hayes’ play caught the eye of Chattanooga head coach Dave Bezold.“I was really impressed with Nigel Hayes,” Bezold said. “Watching a lot of film on him, you can tell he’s slimmed down, lost a lot of weight and toned his body. He’s a phenomenal player. I know [Sam] Dekker and Kaminsky get a lot of the press, but Hayes, that’s a ball player.”Along with Hayes and Kaminksy down low, sophomore forward Vitto Brown also made his own rebounding contributions this weekend on both ends of the floor as he slowly finds his role on this Badger team.Brown, who only appeared in 14 games for Wisconsin last season, recorded eight rebounds in 26 minutes of playing time over the course of the weekend.With his offensive game still in need of refining, Brown believes being scrappy and doing the dirty work on the floor is how he makes the team better in the limited minutes he plays.“I expect to go in now,” Brown said. “Last year, I wasn’t sure when I was going to get in the game. So knowing that I have a role on the team getting rebounds and doing that dirty work, I’m more confident.”Even though his numbers in the box score won’t jump out, Brown’s great athleticism and 7-foot-3 wingspan are sure to create problems for other teams as the season goes on, as they allow him to be factor inside at all times.“I just want to come in and make a positive impact on the game,” Brown said. “I think getting offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds allows our team to have more opportunities to score.”Wisconsin has been known for its consistently stout defense, and a large part of being a strong defensive team is being a strong rebounding team, as a rebound ends a defensive possession.At this point, while only two games into the regular season, the Badgers look to be a force on the court in both aspects, and in doing so, have created a strong foundation of dominance on the inside to build on as this season progresses.
VAN METER, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Friday she would override local school districts and require students to spend at least half of their education time in classrooms despite concerns the move could endanger children and teachers as the number of coronavirus cases increase in the state.Reynolds’ decision will invalidate plans implemented by some districts including Des Moines, the state’s largest school system, to limit in-person classes to one day a week for most students with online learning on other days. The governor’s actions are in line with the fervent recommendations of President Donald Trump, who has said it’s essential students return to classrooms despite surging numbers of virus cases in much of the country.“One of the most important milestones in our recovery effort is getting Iowa students back to school,”Reynolds said at a news conference. “And while we all know this school year will be different than ever before, its critical that we prioritize bringing Iowa’s children back to the classroom safely and responsibly.”Reynolds said districts could seek waivers from the 50% requirement to the state Education Department, which would consider making exceptions if there are surging local numbers of virus cases. There will be no change in the Education Department’s recommendation that districts not require that students and teachers wear masks in school, Reynolds said.The governor issued her order a little more than a month before schools are expected to resume and amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases. In the last 24 hours, Iowa had 879 new confirmed coronavirus cases and five more deaths, according to state statistics reported Friday.