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Marquette-Wisconsin rivalry pits childhood friends against each other

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Sam Hauser defends Bronson Koenig of the Wisconsin Badgers. He will reunite with childhood friend Trevor Anderson when Marquette plays Wisconsin Saturday.

Sam Hauser defends Bronson Koenig of the Wisconsin Badgers. He will reunite with childhood friend Trevor Anderson when Marquette plays Wisconsin Saturday.

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Photo by Wire Stock Photo

Sam Hauser defends Bronson Koenig of the Wisconsin Badgers. He will reunite with childhood friend Trevor Anderson when Marquette plays Wisconsin Saturday.

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When Trevor Anderson remembers “the good old days,” he pictures a Nerf basketball hoop hanging in Sam and Joey Hauser’s parents’ bedroom.

“We’d just play tournament games in there all day,” Anderson said. “We would just be throwing each other around, we’d be sweating afterwards, we’d have scratches all on us.”

Roughly a decade later, Anderson, a redshirt sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be part of something much larger than a Nerf tournament when the Badgers go up against Sam Hauser’s Marquette Golden Eagles.

“It’s going to be pretty weird, honestly,” Sam said. “I don’t know anything other than being his teammate, so seeing him in a Badgers jersey and me in a Marquette jersey is going to be a little weird.”

Sam and Anderson represent a common phenomenon: childhood or high school acquaintances ending up on opposite sides of the Wisconsin-Marquette struggle. As teammates at Stevens Point Area Senior High School, the two sophomores played integral roles in the Panthers’ state titles in 2015 and 2016.

Before his senior year, Sam committed to Marquette, which went against the grain in Stevens Point, a town of 26,000 in the middle of the state where nearly everybody roots for Wisconsin. At a press conference in October to announce Joey’s commitment to Marquette, Sam said the two brothers plan to “(turn) a lot of Wisconsin fans into Marquette fans.”

“They weren’t really Marquette fans before, but now that me and Joey are coming here, they’re both (Badger fans and Marquette fans.)” Sam said.

Anderson sees things a little differently. He said he assumed most of the people in Stevens Point are still Badger fans, but the people coming to games will not be choosing one team over the other.

“People are going to be more Hauser or Anderson fans,” Anderson said. “In a game that special, when you’re playing against your high school best friends, at the end of the day you want both sides to perform well … Most people from Stevens Point are just proud of all three of us.”

The two teams’ familiarity with each other doesn’t just apply to players from Wisconsin. Marquette power forward Theo John and Wisconsin guard Brad Davison are both from Minnesota, but go back just as far as Anderson and Sam do.

“I’ve been with Brad since elementary school and consider him my best friend and my brother,” John said. “I love playing with him and hate playing against him.”

John and Davison are a little more used to being on opposite sides than the Wisconsin duo is. Davison attended Maple Grove High School, which frequently clashed with John’s Champlin Park team.

“In our four years of high school, both teams were very good,” John said. “We were in the same conference and those games would be packed.”

There was still plenty of time to play together in the summer when high school basketball ended and the summer basketball season began. Both players competed on the Howard Pulley AAU team, which gave them the chance to learn each other’s games inside and out.

Anderson, who transferred to Wisconsin after a year with University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, is just as familiar with Sam’s game. Although he’s not able to play, Anderson will be able to provide a full scouting report on his childhood friend to the rest of the Badgers.

“You can’t give him any breathing room,” Anderson said. “A lot of people just label him as a shooter … but he’s a hell of a defender as well. I would say he’s their best defender right now, far and away.”

Meanwhile, John came of age in University of Minnesota territory during a time when the Gophers weren’t good enough to challenge the Badgers or any other perpetual Big Ten contenders. Any extra meaning is about personal competition with Davidson.

“He’s always been a rival,” John said. “Whenever I play against him, I see him as a rival. It may be more spoken in Wisconsin, but any team we’re going against I consider a rival.”

After the game, whichever side loses can expect plenty of friendly chirping from his counterpart on the other side of Interstate-94.

“I know (Sam) joked with me this year if he hits a three, he’s going to talk a little crap at the end of the bench, so hopefully he doesn’t hit one by me,” Anderson said.

When asked if he chided Davison over his commitment to Wisconsin, John said, “Always, always. We’re best friends; there had to be (trash talk).”

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