A Healthy Aleem Ford Ready To Impact Wisconsin

A Healthy Aleem Ford Ready To Impact Wisconsin

Basketball

A Healthy Aleem Ford Ready To Impact Wisconsin

IOWA CITY, Iowa – With only a couple practices and some pregame warm-ups under his belt, Aleem Ford – with the University of Wisconsin medical staff’s blessing – proclaimed himself ready to go for the 2018-19 season.

Never mind he was ruled out for a couple of months after a knee injury required surgery in mid-October, Ford proved to himself he could play after he poured in 19 points (7-for-9 shooting) in a closed scrimmage against Iowa State in late October before his injury.

It took a couple of runs up and down the court, but the redshirt sophomore has locked himself back into being one of Wisconsin’s biggest perimeter weapons.

After playing a total of 14 minutes in three games in the Bahamas, Ford scored in 12 points in 21 minutes in UW’s 79-75 victory over NC State, doing all his damage by going 4-for-7 from 3-point range and grabbing three rebounds.

“He was still on the pitch count but we didn’t hit the limit,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “I think as he gets back into practice more, he’ll get more comfortable and be better.”

Ford started in 20 of Wisconsin’s 33 games last season, averaging 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and shooting a team-high 40.9 percent (45-110) from 3-point range. His 45 threes ranked as the fifth-highest freshman total in UW history, but his summer was focused on ball handling, defense and expanding his game beyond the perimeter.

Gard said Ford’s overall game took a big step forward in the offseason to the point where Ford was more comfortable on defense, handling the ball, and becoming a more versatile scoring threat.

He showed that in his scrimmage against the Cyclones in Platteville, going 4-for-6 on two-point shots and 2-for-2 on his free throws. He suffered his left leg injury the next day in practice.

“Before he got hurt … he was playing really well,” Gard said. “He played really well against Iowa State in the closed scrimmage we had and unfortunately those things happen. Hopefully he can get back to the flow and the pace he was playing with before that (injury).”

Three games behind the rest of his teammates, Gard admitted Ford sensed a little uncomfortableness Tuesday with the speed of the game and the environment. Some of that rust has likely been knocked out this week after Ford went through his third full practice on Wednesday.

Wisconsin (6-1) could use some of that shooting tonight against No.14 Iowa (6-0) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes are shooting 46.9 percent from the field on the season, slightly better than what the Badgers have shot through four road/neutral games (46.2 percent).

Thus far, only two of those shots have come off Ford’s fingertips. After seeing a rusty Ford swing momentum in the second half Tuesday, his teammates know the sophomore is just getting warmed up.

“We expect a lot more games like (Tuesday),” point guard D’Mitrik Trice. “Just for him to come in, not practicing much since he’s come off his injury, to be thrown into the fire into that type of environment and have that type of game, just shoot the ball with confidence, it just shows a lot about him. I think this is just the beginning for him.”

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