Big Ten M5: 03.05.14 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 5th, 2014

morning5_bigten

  1. Credit Indiana senior forward Will Sheehey for having some self-awareness when he was asked about his team’s NCAA Tournament chances. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Week said it feels like the team is in the midst of making a run, but that they still have plenty of work left to do. With how bad Indiana’s non-conference schedule was and the fact that the Hoosiers had a 4-8 conference record as recently as February 15, it’s a small miracle that they’ve even put themselves in the position to talk about landing a spot in the field of 68.
  2. In what has become sort of a running M5 tradition, here’s more talk of Michigan State and its latest injury news. While head coach Tom Izzo isn’t going to have Keith Appling miss anymore games, it is possible that he may cut the senior point guard’s minutes if he continues to be ineffective. It’s kind of a lose-lose situation for Izzo. On one hand, he has to let Appling continue to get reps so he’s not rusty for the postseason; on the other hand, if he’s not the same player he was prior to getting hurt (which he clearly is not), then do you take the chance of having a senior leader only playing limited minutes? The Spartans have until the middle of March to figure it out, but time is running out on this team.
  3. Ben Brust has been recognized as one of the best shooters in the Big Ten and for his ability as an undersized rebounder. But when Bo Ryan likens the Wisconsin senior to a mosquito, it’s hard not to scoff. The comparison makes sense, however, as Ryan explained how Brust can frustrate bigger opponents on the defensive end. The Badgers possess a certain grittiness on that side of the ball, and it all starts with Brust and fellow guard Josh Gasser both being able to take on players who are bigger and more athletic than they are.
  4. Many think that Michigan wrapping up the regular season Big Ten crown last night is enough to give John Beilein the Coach of the Year award. That’s not to say that Nebraska head coach Tim Miles doesn’t also offer a compelling argument. It is Miles who deserves the award if the Huskers make the NCAA Tournament, according to the Omaha World-Herald‘s Lee Barfknecht. It will be interesting to see how this and many of the other postseason honors play out. Miles has sped up the Nebraska rebuilding plan and then some, but Beilein dealt with the loss of a potential lottery pick in addition to losing two others starters now playing in the NBA.
  5. Things just keep getting worse for Purdue. First Sterling Carter tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season, and now promising redshirt freshman Jay Simpson has also seen his Purdue career come to an end. Simpson was recently diagnosed with the heart ailment hypertrophic cardiomyotrophy (HCM). This is the same disease that ended the lives of players such as Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis. Simpson had to be taken out of the game on February 23 against Nebraska despite not appearing to have suffered an injury, but very luckily the disease was discovered before tragedy struck.
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Why Not Frank Kaminsky as Big Ten Player of the Year?

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on February 25th, 2014

As the saying goes, “basketball is a game of runs.” This season’s Wisconsin team is a prime example of that notion. The Badgers started the season with 16 straight wins, including impressive victories over Florida and Virginia. Then they hit a midseason lull to lose five of six games, dropping their conference record to a middling 4-5 by the start of February. After winning its last five games, Wisconsin appears to have righted the ship. Through it all, it has been seven-foot junior Frank Kaminsky who has remained consistently effective during the ups and downs. Lately, he’s also added “clutch performer” to his resume. On Saturday, the junior big man scored 20 points at Iowa, including two key baskets to build a lead and some clutch free throws to seal the game away. Kaminsky has not only led his team back to a placement in the top three of the standings, he’s also leading the league in terms of overall efficiency.

Frank Kaminsky is the most efficient player in the league. (Getty)

Frank Kaminsky is the most efficient player in the league. (Getty)

Back in November, fellow Big Ten microsite writer Brendan Brody wrote that Kaminsky could follow in the footsteps of former Badger Jared Berggren and other bigs in Bo Ryan’s system by taking a significant leap in production with his expanded role. Hopes were already high because of returning starters Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, and Sam Dekker; but Kaminsky, a three-star prospect who had provided spot duty for two seasons in Madison, was regarded as the unknown commodity in the starting lineup. He had shown some indications that he was capable of taking on a bigger role, but his capabilities were regarded as suitable for a “pick-and-pop” forward most typical of Wisconsin’s big men. With the departures of Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz from last year’s team, there was also significant concern that Kaminsky would not be a reliable rebounding presence on the blocks. He’s done nothing but blown all of these misconceptions out of the water, exhibiting a developed footwork skill set that has allowed him to score either directly under the basket or create a layup from 10 feet away. When Bo Ryan needs a bucket now, he instructs his players to get the ball to Kaminsky on the blocks.

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Watch Out: Wisconsin’s Offense is Clicking Again

Posted 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:

Ben Brust and the Badgers seem to be firing on all cylinders at the right time. (Photo credit: Brian Snyder/Reuters).

Ben Brust and the Badgers seem to be firing on all cylinders at the right time. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

  1. 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. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 02.17.14 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on February 17th, 2014

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  1. Over the years, we’ve grown accustomed to getting Tom Izzo’s take on various subjects. He was very vocal when Illinois had fired head coach, Bruce Weber, and he usually doesn’t hesitate to offer his opinion about the general state of college basketball. So what’s the newest topic that Izzo has been sounding off about? Twitter. “We used to be able to go to a game and have a bad game, leave the game and you never heard about it,” Izzo said this week, when asked about his take on Twitter, during a post-game press conference. Generally speaking, Izzo’s players haven’t really gotten into trouble with their usage of their 140 characters on Twitter, but that doesn’t stop their coach from sharing his opinion.
  2. John Groce is trying his best to make changes in Champaign, but they haven’t yielded any results over the past few weeks, as the Illini have lost nine out of ten games. Having said that, the players appear to be hanging in there with their coach through the tough times. “The effort that they continue to give, the way they’ve fought, the fact that they come with their hard hat on every day, that motivates me,” Groce said. The offense has stumbled since early January, after they started the conference season with a 2-0 record. At this point, the best they can really do is show some improvement with their younger core of players – Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill – over the next few weeks. By doing that, at least the Illini could set themselves up for a decent season next year.
  3. The hits keep on coming for the Hoosiers. After getting pummeled by the Boilermakers on the road, Tom Crean indefinitely suspended sophomore forward, Hanner Perea over the weekend. Crean said, “The first things I told him were that we loved him and wanted to support him. We are disappointed in him but also disappointed for him. He knows he made some terrible choices which have turned into big mistakes.” Even though Perea has only averaged 3 PPG, the loss might affect the Hoosiers team more negatively off the court, than on the court. With the loss at Purdue, the Hoosiers need a couple of big wins over the next three weeks if they hope to make a run at the NCAAs.
  4. Nik Stauskas had only averaged 10 PPG over four games leading up to the big game against Wisconsin on Sunday. Before the game, John Beilein was urging Stauskas to increase his shot attempts to make sure he could shoot out of his slump. ”He can do this,” Beilein said on Friday of Stauskas dealing with aggressive defenses. Against the Badgers, Stauskas struggled early on against the staunch defense from Josh Gasser and ended up with just 11 points from 11 shot attempts. This slump could very well only last a few more games before the sophomore sharpshooter heats up again in March, just in time for the NCAA tournament.
  5. After four years in the Big Ten, Aaron Craft may have thought that he had seen it all, but he might have seen something different during his last trip to Champaign on Saturday. The Orange Krush tried to make fun of Craft by adding, what they might have considered funny, details to the flyer that was handed out to the students before the game. It was a failed attempt because he scored 14 points in just 25 minutes as the Buckeyes continue to keep their hopes alive of receiving a top-5 seed in the NCAAs.
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Key Questions for Michigan State at Wisconsin

Posted by Alex Moscoso and Brendan Brody on February 9th, 2014

Michigan State‘s visit to Wisconsin today might have been a possible match-up of the top two Big Ten teams a few weeks ago. Now, it’s a tale of two different teams. While the Spartans sit atop the league standings, the Badgers has lost five of their last seven and are hoping to avoid dipping below .500 in the conference. Big Ten microsite writers Alex Moscoso and Brendan Brody ask each other questions about this match-up in order to preview what may happen when they take the court.

Sam Dekker and the Badgers have need a big win against Michigan State to stop the bleeding. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

Sam Dekker and the Badgers need a big win to stop the bleeding. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

AM: The Spartan’s offense stalled against Georgetown without Adreian Payne and Brandon Dawsen. On Sunday, Dawsen will be out, but Payne will be back in. Will the return of Payne be enough to get this offense back on track and put numbers up against the Badgers?

BB: It’s gotten to the point now where we really don’t know what roster the Spartans will have on a game-by-game basis. Just when they get Payne back, they decide to sit Keith Appling on Thursday night because of his nagging wrist injury. Even without their floor general, they still shot 12-23 from behind the arc against Penn State. Regardless of whether or not Appling plays Sunday, there’s no indication that Sparty won’t put points on the board against Wisconsin. The three-point shooting won’t be there like that every game obviously, but Payne and Matt Costello will be able to get plenty of points in the paint against a Badger unit that struggles to guard inside. In their last seven games, Wisconsin has allowed 51.5 % shooting on two-pointers. Payne will get more comfortable in his second game back, and Appling or Travis Trice should be able to get in the lane like a lot of point guards have been able to do recently against the Badgers.

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Wisconsin Looks to Remain a Factor in the Big Ten Race

Posted by Walker Carey on January 26th, 2014

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s game between Wisconsin and Purdue in West Lafayette.

Just two weeks ago, Wisconsin sat at 16-0 overall and 3-0 in Big Ten play – climbing all the way up to #3 in the AP Top 25. While several of those 16 victories had come against inferior non-conference competition, the Badgers more than proved their legitimacy with impressive victories over Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia and Marquette. Past Wisconsin teams under Bo Ryan were known for their slow and methodical style of play, but this season’s squad proved early on that it was quite different than its predecessors. Armed with an offensive-minded starting lineup of guards Ben Brust, Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson along with forwards Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin raised eyebrows nationally with a drastic contrast in style of play from the norm in Madison.

Bo Ryan Instructed His Team to a Nice Road Victory

Bo Ryan Instructed His Team to a Nice Road Victory

After an unbeaten run through non-conference play, Wisconsin continued its sizzling play through its first three Big Ten games. In the conference opener, the Badgers unloaded on an inferior Northwestern squad en route to a 76-49 victory. Facing a strong test at home against a very good Iowa team next, Wisconsin rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit  to earn a 75-71 victory. In the third Big Ten game, a red hot Illinois team invaded the Kohl Center and was thoroughly dismantled by the Badgers in a 15-point Wisconsin victory. At that point, Wisconsin’s ascendance earned the Badgers considerable national attention. For instance, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi placed Bo Ryan’s team as the #1 seed in the Midwest Regional. When the first RPI rankings for the were released on January 10, the Badgers sat atop the list. Everything seemed to be aligning for Wisconsin to be a bona fide contender in both the Big Ten and nationally.

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Checking The Panic Meter: Which Teams Should Really Worry About Their January Swoons?

Posted by Bennet Hayes on January 24th, 2014

As Brian Otskey noted earlier this week, January losing streaks have caused a number of once-top teams to tumble down, and in some cases, out of the polls. The rigors of conference play have deflowered those gaudy late December records, prompting a number of far-sooner-than-expected reality checks. Past history will tell you that some of these January slumps will be reduced to mere blips on the radar by March (e.g., the defending champion Louisville Cardinals lost three in a row in the first month of 2013), while others are indeed the beginning of a fade into college hoops oblivion. Wondering about future prospects for fading powers? Here’s a look at where the panic meter should be (10=High Panic, 1=Nothing to worry about) for five of college basketball’s most downward-trending squads.

Georgetown: Panic Meter=10

John Thompson III, Markel Starks And Georgetown Suddenly Have Their Backs Against The Wall

John Thompson III, Markel Starks And Georgetown Suddenly Have Their Backs Against The Wall

With Jabril Trawick not expected back anytime soon (broken jaw), and Josh Smith out indefinitely due to academics (don’t forget that Greg Whittington’s “indefinite” academic suspension a year ago eventually caused him to miss the Hoyas’ final 19 contests), Georgetown is clearly undermanned right now. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has been brilliant, and Markel Starks intermittently so, but finding offensive contributions from players who aren’t 6’2” guards has proven impossible since Smith‘s suspension began. With the 10-day forecast looking especially gloomy — top-15 teams Creighton, Villanova and Michigan State are up next for JT3’s club – Georgetown’s season could be very close to finished by the time Super Bowl Sunday arrives. Even if the Hoyas can get Smith and Trawick back by early February, a challenging closing stretch awaits: Six of Georgetown’s final seven opponents are currently ranked in KenPom’s top 75. It’s probably not the way Georgetown wanted to find March peace, but Hoyas’ fans may finally avoid their annual NCAA Tournament heartbreak.

Wisconsin: Panic Meter= 1

If you play basketball in the Big Ten, you are going to lose games. The league is simply too strong top-to-bottom to cruise the entire winter without resistance. Yes, Michigan and Michigan State – losses are coming for you as well (beginning for one of the two on Saturday). In any case, Wisconsin should be just fine. Aside from some struggles from three-point range (likely temporary), the uber-efficient Badgers’ offense has continued to roll, even through their current three-game losing streak. The defense could stand to improve marginally (55th nationally in defensive efficiency), but there is just too much offensive firepower in Madison for Bucky’s train to go too far off the tracks.

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Otskey’s Observations: Episode VIII

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 15th, 2014

RTC national columnist Brian Otskey (@botskey) gives his weekly observations on the game in his column, Otskey’s Observations. 

A Cause for Concern or Just a Speed Bump for Wisconsin?

Sam Dekker struggled on Tuesday but don't expect that to continue. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

Sam Dekker struggled on Tuesday but don’t expect that to continue. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

Wisconsin’s 75-72 loss at Indiana on Tuesday night was surprising in many ways. For one, it marked the first time since the 1995-96 season that the Badgers have given up at least 70 points in three consecutive games (h/t @nickfasuloSBN). It was an uncharacteristically poor defensive effort from a historically good defensive team under the tutelage of Bo Ryan. Wisconsin could never seem to get a stop when it needed one and allowed Indiana to shoot 51.6 percent from the floor for the game. Coming into the contest, Bo Ryan was 14-3 all-time in head-to-head matchups against Indiana head coach Tom Crean. Crean had never beaten Ryan while at Indiana and the Hoosiers had dropped 12 consecutive games to the Badgers dating back to 2007. In a strange twist of fates, perhaps Ryan’s best team ever fell to Crean’s least talented team in the last three seasons. While Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson did yeoman’s work for Wisconsin, Sam Dekker and Ben Brust had off nights. Dekker, Wisconsin’s leading scorer and rebounder, totaled only 10 points and three rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Brust was cold all night from the three-point line, but tried to adjust, attempting a season-high seven shots from inside the arc, most of those curling to the basket off screens. It was a strange night in Bloomington and something just didn’t feel right. I am inclined to think this is just a bump in the road for Wisconsin and I would expect a much more focused defensive performance at home against Michigan this coming Saturday.

Creighton Ascending in the Polls Despite Grant Gibbs’ Injury

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Unbeaten Watch: Will Wisconsin’s Winning Streak End in Bloomington?

Posted by Jonathan Batuello & Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on January 14th, 2014

The unbeaten watch continues on Tuesday night as the Badgers visit Bloomington to handle Yogi Ferrell and company. No game is a gimme in the Big Ten and Bo Ryan’s teams have traditionally given fits to Tom Crean’s offense. Jonathan Batuello and Deepak Jayanti from the Big Ten microsite address two key questions about this week’s Tuesday night special.

Can Tom Crean's Hoosiers end the Badgers' winning streak? (AP).

Can Tom Crean’s Hoosiers end the Badgers’ winning streak? (AP).

When the Badgers visited Bloomington last year, they held a potent Hoosiers’ offense to just 59 points and dominated the game defensively. Can Indiana figure out a way to score against the Ben Brust/Josh Gasser/Traevon Jackson backcourt? If not, where will they find offense?

JB:  We’ve all heard about Tom Crean’s struggles against Wisconsin, but  it isn’t just his Indiana teams that Wisconsin has held down. The Badgers are going for their 13th straight win against the Hoosiers (the most for any program consecutively against them ever) and have held them to 60 or fewer points in eight of those 12 losses. It seems Bo Ryan’s defense causes fits for this squad and the trio of guards will certainly cause issues again (even with Yogi Ferrell having a great year). Wisconsin has held opponents to an effective field goal rate of 44.3 percent and Indiana isn’t superb shooting the ball anyway (50.5%). So, quite frankly, Indiana won’t be scoring a lot. To get some baskets against the Badgers’ defense, it will need to corral some offensive rebounds (it ranks in the top 10 with 12.8 offensive boards per game) and use its athleticism in transition. If it doesn’t do those two things, the Hoosiers will struggle to break 60 points once again this year.

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Takeaways from Wisconsin’s Win Over Iowa

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on January 6th, 2014

With sub-zero temperatures dominating Sunday across the Midwest, the Wisconsin vs. Iowa match-up in Madison had the intensity of a cold-weather bruiser football game. Previous to Sunday night’s game, the average margin of victory over the past five meetings between these two teams was 3.8 PPG. Last season’s double-overtime thriller at Wisconsin is one such example, and this year’s thrilling 75-71 Badgers win was must-see television throughout. It was a tale of two halves for Bo Ryan’s team because the Badgers were dominated for the first half, entering the locker room facing a 35-24 deficit. But as national title contenders tend to do, Wisconsin buckled down defensively in the second half and pulled off the big win to stay unbeaten. Let’s example the positives and negatives of the Badgers’ performance yesterday.

Bo Ryan's Badgers showed that they can beat tough teams despite their weaknesses.

Bo Ryan’s Badgers showed that they can beat tough teams despite their weaknesses.

  1. Wisconsin’s lack of interior presence was exposed by Iowa. Frank Kaminsky (6.0 RPG) and Sam Dekker (6.4 RPG) had no answer for Iowa’s Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White in the first half as they were outrebounded 27-16 on the glass. Rebounding and toughness in the paint is a concern for these Badgers because they don’t have a designated forward whose job is simply to defend and clean up the glass. Jared Berggren was that player over the past two seasons, but Kaminsky can’t fill those shoes because, despite what he adds with his offensive versatility, he gives it back in terms of rebounding. With Mike Gesell and Devyn Marble consistently attacking the basket, the Badgers couldn’t control the weak side, and as a result, Iowa’s front line was able to feast on easy baskets. This will continue to be a concern for Bo Ryan when the Badgers face stronger front lines such as those at Michigan State and Indiana. At this juncture, there is no good solution for the problem except to ask the guards to play tougher perimeter defense to ensure their men don’t beat them off the dribble. Players who can beat Josh Gasser or Ben Brust off the bounce have an open lane to score easy baskets because Kaminsky is not a dominant defensive force inside. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 01.06.14 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on January 6th, 2014

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  1. Indiana’s center, Luke Fischer, will be transferring to Marquette – a move that will get him closer to home. “I am excited to say I will be transferring to Marquette University to play for Coach (Buzz) Williams and the Golden Eagles,” Fischer said on Twitter. Even though he only averaged 2.8 points per game this season, he will be missed over the next three years in Bloomington. It is likely that Noah Vonleh will enter the NBA Draft after his freshman season, which could have opened the door for Fischer to step into the role as the starting center for Tom Crean. Without Fischer, Hanner Perea will likely take a bigger role next season after the potential departure of Vonleh.
  2. As if Gary Harris‘ 26 points against Indiana in Bloomington wasn’t enough, Tom Izzo promises that the fans can expect more from the sophomore over the next three months. ”He’s a special player, and I promise he’s not even close to where he’s going to be,” Izzo said. Harris, who has been plagued with health issues, may slowly be coming back to 100% health, but should eventually improve his game with more practice. His offensive versatility was on full display at Bloomington as he shot 5-10 from beyond the arc and was active defensively with five steals. A healthy and active Harris will be the main offensive option in March when Michigan State needs to put up points against tougher competition.
  3. Before Illinois‘ game against Penn State in Champaign on Saturday, the Flyin’ Illini were honored because it is their 25th anniversary of their Final Four run in 1989. They are, arguably, the best team in Illini history, but the 2005 squad with Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head could give them a run for their money. Mark Tupper discusses which team might be the best team in Illini history. My stance on this topic: the 2005 team was about 30 seconds (close losses to Ohio State and North Carolina) away from being the first undefeated team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers squad, so I’ll take them over the electrifying Flyin’ Illini. Regardless, it will be tough to surpass either of these teams in the history books.
  4. After disappointing decisions by Quentin Snider and Cliff Alexander, John Groce‘s recruiting took a brief hit over the last two months. However, he landed a commit from four-star guard, Aaron Jordan, for the 2015 recruiting class. The 6’4″ guard will provide much needed three-point shooting for an Illini squad that doesn’t have a designated gunner on their roster. Even though Jon Ekey is shooting 38% from beyond the arc, the Illini need at least one guard to shoot 42% from the long-range to diversify their offensive sets in the future.
  5. Jarrod Uthoff‘s transfer issues have been documented fairly well over the past year and half or so. In brief, he wanted to transfer to Iowa, but there were a few issues in getting the transfer approved by head coach Bo Ryan. Uthoff is averaging 10.9 points per game as a Hawkeye, but one has to wonder if there is any friction between Ryan and Fran McCaffery over the transfer. When asked about this topic on Big Ten Media Day, Ryan responded, “I don’t even know why that would be a question, I don’t understand the question.” Setting this topic aside, both of these teams match up fairly well and both of the games should be excellent match-ups this season. Uthoff’s entrance into the game on Sunday night in Madison didn’t really trigger many boos from the crowd.
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Trending Upward: Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes is Making an Impact

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 4th, 2014

Wisconsin has been the story of the B1G thus far, as the Badgers improved to 14-0 on the season with their 76-48 win at Northwestern on Thursday night. Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky have garnered most of the attention from the rest of the college basketball world, but freshman Nigel Hayes is starting to come on strong as well. He’s emerging as a legitimate factor, giving the Badgers a tremendous athlete coming off the bench. Hayes scored a career-high 19 points in that game, and his play of late is something of which to take notice.

Nigel Hayes is starting to give the Badgers another weapon on offense (Jeff Potrykus, Journal Sentinel).

Nigel Hayes is starting to give the Badgers another weapon on offense. (Jeff Potrykus, Journal Sentinel).

“He listens, he works, he’s athletic and strong for a freshman so the combination is pretty tough to beat, and he feels that there really isn’t anything that he can’t do, but he knows he’s not a three-point shooter, so he doesn’t shoot three-point shots. He just does what he knows and he can do and what he does well. “

Bo Ryan’s quote here was in reference to his standout freshman while speaking with the ESPN crew after the win. The quote illuminates the fact that Hayes seems to know his place and is bent on fitting in and contributing wherever he can. He rarely forces anything on the offensive end, but you can see his confidence growing with each game. He’s now going aggressively to the basket, where in the beginning of the season he was more likely to have deferred to a teammate. In looking at Hayes’ numbers, you can see an upward progression as he’s gone for 15.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and a block per game in his last three outings. He has done this while shooting a stellar 63 percent from the field and getting to the free throw line 30 times. He was named B1G freshman of the week on December 30, and has a good chance to win it again after this weekend is over.

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