Herd misses playoffs for 2nd straight year


Jacob Link / Advance-Titan — The Herd’s Rob Edwards takes a jump shot at the Oshkosh Arena March 15.

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

The Wisconsin Herd won two of their final five games of the season to finish the 2022-23 season 13th in the Eastern Conference of the NBA G League.

Herd guard Elijah Hughes said the season has been full of ups and downs.

“We have gotten a lot of bruises and we have played through a lot of adversity,” he said. “We spent most of the year with a lot of different lineups and we spent a lot of time trying to figure it out.”

In the final home game of the year at the Oshkosh Arena March 21, Wisconsin defeated the Grand Rapids Gold 129-114 behind a 26-point performance from Herd center Paris Bass.

The Herd outscored the Gold 41-25 in the first quarter and maintained a 13-point lead by halftime behind 17 points from Bass. Grand Rapids cut the lead to four points midway through the third quarter, but Wisconsin responded with a 10-4 run to lead by eight points at the end of the quarter. The Herd maintained at least a double-digit lead for most of the final quarter and Wisconsin cruised to its 11th victory of the season.

The Herd had five players score over 20 points in the game, with A.J. Green scoring 25 points and MarJon Beauchamp (assigned to the team from the Milwaukee Bucks) adding 23 points. Both two-way guard Lindell Wigginton and Alex Antetokounmpo finished with 20 points in the contest and Wisconsin shot over 50% from the field.

Antetokoumnpo said his role on the team has changed from game to game throughout the season.

“I just focus on coming in and doing whatever is asked of me,” he said. “Whether it’s coming in and getting offensive rebounds, or being an energy guy off the court, whatever is asked of me I try to do it to the best of my abilities.”

The final game of the season took the Herd to Washington, D.C., where Wisconsin fell to the Capital City Go-Go 114-104 March 23. The Herd led by nine points early in the second quarter, but the Go-Go went on a 16-0 run at the end of the period to lead 46-43 at halftime.

Wisconsin climbed its way back in the third quarter to take a three-point advantage, but Capital City went on a 12-0 run late in the quarter to lead by seven points at the break. The Go-Go built a double digit lead in the final quarter to cruise to a 10-point victory.

The Herd, who only suited up nine players in the contest, were led by Bass and Jontay Porter, who each scored 23 points. Porter grabbed 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double while forward Deividas Sirvydis added 22 points. The Herd shot 41% from the floor and 30% from behind the arc.

The Go-Go were led by center Jay Huff who scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Guard Devon Dotson converted on 12 shots in the contest to finish with 27 points, and Capital City shot 42% from three-point land.

Earlier in March, the Herd split a two-game homestand against the Maine Celtics before falling to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 128-114 at the Allen County War Memorial Collegium March 19.

This season marks the second straight year under head coach Chaisson Allen that the Herd have finished at least 10 games under .500. The team finished the season with a -7 point differential, which was the lowest point differential in the Eastern Conference. Wisconsin, who had three separate losing streaks of at least four games, went 4-12 in its road games, tied for the worst road record in the Eastern Conference.

Even with all of the struggles Wisconsin had this season, five Herd players made appearances with NBA teams throughout the year. Forward Sandro Mamukelashvili, who served as a two-way player for the Milwaukee Bucks, was waived by Milwaukee March 1. Mamukelashvili signed with the San Antonio Spurs just days later and has become a starter in San Antonio. Forward Joe Wieskamp earned two call-ups with the Toronto Raptors and signed a multi-year contract with Toronto February 10.

Center Ibou Badji, one of the youngest players ever to appear in the G League, played seven games for the Herd at the beginning of the season before signing a two-way contract with the Portland Trail Blazers November 18, 2022. Guard Lindell Wigginton, who scored the second-most points this season for Wisconsin, inked a two-way contract with the Milwaukee Bucks March 7 and has played four games with Milwaukee this season. Green has been on a two-way contract with the Bucks for the entire season and has appeared in 32 games for Milwaukee.

Shortly after the final game of the regular season, the Herd announced that they will return for their sixth season in the NBA G League during the 2023-24 campaign.