Watch Out: Wisconsin’s Offense is Clicking AgainPosted by Brian Buckey on February 25th, 2014
Wisconsin opened the season scoring 75 or more points in 10 of its first 16 games. The offense was clicking in ways it hadn’t in the past under Bo Ryan. After that 16-0 start, however, the offense hit a rough patch, failing to hit that mark in seven of its next eight games. In three big wins over the past 10 days, the Wisconsin offense appears to be back, scoring 78 points in a home win over Minnesota, 75 in a road win at Michigan and 79 over the weekend at Iowa. Going back a bit further, the Badgers had also put up 75 points against Illinois, making it four of the last five contests in which Wisconsin has reached the magic number. So what has gone right for the Badgers in recent five-game winning streak? The following are several key thoughts explaining the improvement in the Badgers’ offense:
- Frank Kaminsky is back to scoring at a high rate. Before the recent two wins over Michigan and Minnesota, Kaminsky had logged four straight games with 10 or fewer points. He broke out with a dominant 25-point, 11-rebound performance at Michigan, and he also scored 17 points against Minnesota. Kaminsky has carried the team in the past two games, helping stretch the floor by scoring both from the inside and on the perimeter. Kaminsky actually did most of his damage from inside the three-point arc in the past two games, though, hitting 10-of-14 shots from two against Michigan, and adding one three-pointer. When he is aggressive and looking for his shot, Wisconsin’s offense is so much more efficient.
- Nigel Hayes is providing quality minutes off the bench. The freshman from Toledo, Ohio, has become a legitimate low post threat for the Badgers in the past few weeks, earning him two straight Big Ten freshman of the week honors. Against Minnesota he was particularly good with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line. Like Kaminsky, Hayes gives Wisconsin another must-guard threat in the paint as someone who is great at attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. He is by far the best option coming off the bench and he helps Wisconsin’s offense as a whole when he remains aggressive down low.
- Wisconsin’s three-point shooting was better than normal in the past three games. The Badgers shot over 40 percent from distance in the past two games, including 7-of-17 against Michigan and 6-of-16 against Minnesota. This was better than Wisconsin’s season mark of 37.2 percent. Ben Brust was 4-of-4 from behind the arc against Minnesota, while Sam Dekker was 2-of-2 and Josh Gasser was 3-of-4 against Michigan. Wisconsin has a team full of good three-point shooters and Ryan’s teams regularly utilize it as a major weapon. When Brust, Dekker and Gasser get open looks, the trio can be deadly. In the past few games, with Kaminsky and Hayes playing so well on the inside, the floor has opened up so that these great three-point shooters have plenty of open looks.
- Wisconsin is taking care of the basketball. When the offense is producing as well as it has during the past two games, the turnover numbers are incredible. The Badgers average just over eight turnovers per game and they were under that mark in the past two. Against Michigan on the road, Wisconsin turned the ball over just two times and against Minnesota, they coughed it up just seven times. When they value the ball like this, it makes it very hard for opponents to limit the offensive efficiency of the Badgers.