Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky: The Next Jared Berggren?

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 5th, 2013

Wisconsin does not function like most of the other perennial Top 25 teams. In this age of one-and-done factories, they actually have players that wait their turns as freshmen and sophomores before taking on bigger and more meaningful roles as upperclassmen. The latest player in this Madison assembly line is junior Frank Kaminsky. Kaminsky is the next in a long line of pick-and-pop big men to take on a larger expected role now that he’s a junior. With the graduations of senior Badgers’ Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren, Kaminsky is the only post player on the roster who has any kind of experience, and his development will be a key factor in whether Bo Ryan’s team drops from its usual 20-plus win season. With an experienced backcourt and a rising star in sophomore Sam Dekker, how much production Wisconsin gets from Kaminsky will be the difference between having simply a good or a great season.

Frank Kaminsky will play a large part in how successful Wisconsin's season is this season. Frank Kaminsky will play a large part in how successful Wisconsin's season is this season.  (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Frank Kaminsky will play a large part in how successful Wisconsin’s season is this season. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

In his first two seasons, Kaminsky has shown flashes of being able to handle an expanded role. He has no problem being aggressive on the offensive end, as he has used 21.3 percent of Wisconsin possessions when he is on the floor. He also has shown no issue taking threes despite his 6’11” stature, shooting 80 triples out of a total of 154 field goal attempts in his his two-year career. His eFG% of 51.0 percent could be better, but it sits right at about the level of another very productive former Wisconsin big man, Keaton Nankivil, who also waited his turn. In looking at the numbers of the last two big men in Ryan’s swing offense, it’s a safe assumption that Kaminsky is due for a statistical jump across the board. Nankivil went from averaging 14 minutes, 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds per game, and nine made threes, to 25 minutes, 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds per game, and 24 threes as a junior. Berggren had an even greater statistical spike between his sophomore and junior years, going from 6.9 minutes, 2.4 points, 1.1 rebounds per game, and 22 threes, to 27.8 minutes, 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds per game, and 45 made threes. It’s safe to assume that Kaminsky is next in line to make the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Rushed Reactions: #12 Ole Miss 57, #5 Wisconsin 46

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 22nd, 2013

RTC_final4_atlanta

Brian Goodman is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Kansas City pod of the West Region.

Three Key Takeaways:

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Wisconsin vs Mississippi

  1. Henderson Runs Ice Cold Before Contributing In Win: Ole Miss’ enigmatic star had the ultimate half to forget, with a bagel on 11 shot attempts before intermission. He came alive in the second half, hitting buckets, grabbing a few loose balls and icing the game with late free throws. He finished with 19 points on 21 shots, but the bigger takeaway is that it was easy to see the Rebels gain confidence once Henderson got going. While Ole Miss held it together with Henderson missing, the Rebels played a little looser once he got going in the second half.
  2. Uncharacteristic Afternoon For Wisconsin. The Badgers put on a very unusual performance, committing several mental miscues, hitting just 25.4% of their shots and letting up offensive boards by the bushel in the first half. Ole Miss’s zone especially frustrated Wisconsin, and the miscues allowed the Rebels to stay in the game despite Henderson’s arctic first half shooting.
  3. Badger Seniors Go Out With A Whimper: Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans had very good careers under Bo Ryan, but vanished Friday afternoon, shooting a combined 5-22 on Ole Miss’ defense. Bruesewitz also committed four costly turnovers and Berggren just never got going offensively. While experience is a vital part of March Madness,  the best player on the court for Wisconsin was freshman Sam Dekker.

Star Of The Game: Reginald Buckner: His polarizing teammate outscored him by ten points, but the burly Buckner was terrific inside for the Rebels, scoring nine points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds. Wisconsin had no answer for him as he continually backed down Wisconsin’s interior defense and was perhaps the biggest reason why Ole Miss was able to stay close and ultimately pull ahead. Not to be forgotten is Buckner’s frontcourt complement, Murphy Holloway, who chipped in ten points and nine boards of his own.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Rushed Reactions: #22 Wisconsin 68, #3 Indiana 56

Posted by WCarey on March 16th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center following Saturday’s matchup between Indiana and Wisconsin. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Three Key Takeaways:

Wisconsin Stopped the Hoosiers Again

Wisconsin Stopped the Hoosiers Again

  1. Indiana is still deserving of a #1 seed. Even with the setback to Wisconsin, the Hoosiers still have one of the best resumes of the country. Indiana was the outright regular season champion of the toughest conference in college basketball. The Hoosiers won road games at Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan. It has as much, or more, talent as any team in the country. A record of 27-6 is not usually the record of a #1 seed, but college basketball this season has been anything but the usual. Indiana should still be a #1 seed and it should still absolutely be viewed as a strong contender to get to the Final Four.
  2. Wisconsin is the definition of a team. The Badgers certainly do not have any guys who can be considered “stars,” but what they do have are eight players who contribute to every game. Point guard Traevon Jackson is a true point guard who is always looking to make his teammates better. Shooting guard Ben Brust is always a threat to catch fire from deep at any time. Forwards Jarred Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz , and Ryan Evans are all seniors who bring the Badgers extremely tough and disciplined play in the post. Freshmen Sam Dekker and George Marshall along with sophomore Frank Kaminsky come off the bench and routinely make an impact for the Badgers. While there are certainly teams in the Big Ten who have a lot more individual talent than the Badgers, there might not be a team who plays together as well as the Badgers. Wisconsin’s ability to play together as a unit makes it a tough team to beat and a team that should never be taken lightly.
  3. Wisconsin certainly has Indiana’s number. With Saturday afternoon’s victory, Wisconsin has now won 12 consecutive games over Indiana. While a majority of those wins came when Indiana was down, it is still quite the amazing statistic. Indiana is viewed by many as the best team in the country, but Wisconsin has defeated the Hoosiers twice this season in fairly commanding fashion. The Badgers’ physical style of play coupled with their deliberate attack on offense frustrates almost every team they play and it could certainly be one of the reasons for their utter domination over Indiana. This is definitely a streak that should be followed as next season comes around because it will be fascinating to see if Wisconsin will be able to top Indiana yet again.

Star of the Game. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin. The senior forward was all over the place for the Badgers. He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. Evans also supplied Wisconsin with very capable defense against Indiana’s Christian Watford who is always capable of an offensive explosion. Jared Berggren (11 points and five rebounds) and Sam Dekker (11 points off the bench) were also considered, but Evans was clearly the best player on the court for the Badgers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your DVR: Week of 03.04.13

Posted by bmulvihill on March 5th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

For some teams, the Championship Fortnight (as Kyle Whelliston would call it) begins this week. For most others, this is the final week of the regular season. Many teams sit squarely on the bubble and need to impress in their final two contests to show they deserve to be in the Tourney. We’ve waited all year for March. It’s finally here and all indications tell us it’s going to be a wild month. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

Illinois at Iowa – 7:00 PM EST, Tuesday on BTN (***)

illinois john groce

It looks like John Groce and Illinois are in but a couple more losses might change the equation

  • This is a hugely important game for both teams. At 7-9 in the Big Ten, Iowa is need of two wins to make its case for an at large tournament bid. They close the regular season at home against Illinois and Nebraska. If they can pick up the two victories and get to .500 in conference, Fran McCaffery and company make a decent case to get in. For Illinois, it looks like they will get in however they can ill afford to drop their next two games. In addition to this game at Iowa, they must travel too Ohio State. A loss against the Hawkeyes puts a ton of pressure on John Groce’s team heading into the last game of the season, so this one is critical. Look to see if Iowa’s size bothers the Illini. Illinois is a much better two-point shooting team than they are at three-point shooting team. However, getting points inside against Iowa’s length could be tough to come by. Regardless, Brandon Paul, Tracy Abrams, and D.J. Richardson must be aggressive in taking the ball to the basket and trying to get to the line. If Illinois is settling for jumpers on the outside, they will lose. Iowa needs to win this game with defense. Their offense just isn’t strong enough to win it for them. Protecting the ball and playing good defense without fouling are their top priorities. If they are turning the ball over and fouling, Illinois will win. The team that wins the free throw battle should come out on top in this match-up.

#13 Ohio State at #1 Indiana – 9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (****)

  • In the first match-up this season between these two squads, Ohio State had no answer for Cody Zeller and Victor Olidipo. They combined to go 16-of-21 from the field and 17-of-21 from the line, grabbed 16 rebounds, and scored 50 of the 81 points. Throw in Christian Watford’s 20 points and IU’s front line obliterated OSU. If the Buckeyes want any chance to win this game in Bloomington, they must get way better defense from Evan Ravenel, Amir Williams, DeShaun Thomas, and LaQuinton Ross. Offensively, they can’t run with Indiana, however OSU’s half-court offense is suspect at best. So while their defense must create turnovers and get out on the break, they must be careful not to turn this game into a track meet. OSU’s ability to win this game sits squarely on the shoulders of their frontline. They need better defense and more scoring. If they can get that, they have a chance to win. Otherwise, this could be a blowout. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Wisconsin Has the Best Defensive Backcourt in the Big Ten

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 22nd, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

During the preseason, it was clear that the Big Ten was loaded and well respected by the pollsters because four teams – Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State – were ranked among the top-15 in the nation. Despite the conference’s depth, the historically overlooked Wisconsin Badgers received some well-deserved respect and were also ranked in the Top 25. But after Josh Gasser’s season-ending injury before the season even started combined with four non-conference losses – Florida, Creighton, Marquette, and Virginia – Ryan’s team dropped out of the rankings and had to sort out their issues with the backcourt. Big Ten Nation of course was well aware that Ryan has never finished worse than fourth in the conference since he took over in Madison. The conference season re-ignited the Badgers and now they stand once again as one of the top teams in league play with a 10-4 record. Despite the lack of offensive firepower due to Gasser’s injury and the departure of All-America guard Jordan Taylor, his backcourt mates Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson have locked down some of the best guards in the conference to make Wisconsin a strong contender for the Big Ten title and beyond.

Ben Brust is one of the best defensive guards in the Big Ten.

Ben Brust is one of the best defensive guards in the Big Ten.

Before we discuss Brust and Jackson’s defensive impact, let’s review the numbers to prove that they are the best defensive backcourt in a league filled with offensive talent. The Badgers rank first in two key defensive categories: opponents’ effective FG% (41.1%) and opponents’ long-range shooting (26.2% 3FG). All of the top guards in the Big Ten – Trey Burke, Keith Appling, Jordan Hulls and Andre Hollins – have been a victim of this killer defense from the Badgers’ backcourt. Ryan’s teams have always been known for their intensity on defense and they ranked second in those categories during 2012 as well. Their opponents shot 29% from three last season, still three percent higher than this year. This boost in Wisconsin’s perimeter defense has resulted in the Badgers allowing just 0.91 points per possession compared to 0.96 last year. This shows that Brust and Jackson have been a great duo who understand their roles and execute Ryan’s defensive game plans very effectively.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big Ten M5: 02.08.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 8th, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. Tom Izzo‘s teams have traditionally been known for their intensity on the glass but the Spartans head coach is concerned with that aspect of his team this season. The Gophers out-rebounded MSU 38-28 on the glass on Wednesday night during their loss to the Spartans in East Lansing. “It’s a major concern for me,” Izzo said when asked about his thoughts after the game. Branden Dawson is one of the best rebounding wings in the Big Ten with 6.6 RPG but despite this athleticism, the Spartans are only fifth in the Big Ten in terms of rebounding margin.
  2. Speaking of rebounding and presence in the paint, the Wolverines’ best forward may be freshman Mitch McGary. After struggling during the early part of the conference season, McGary has come along very well over the past few games especially after Jordan Morgan’s injury against Illinois two weeks ago. The 6’10” forward is averaging 6.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG but has fit in very well lately in the half-courts sets, primarily being involved with the pick-and-roll plays with Trey Burke. Morgan may not be 100% healthy for a few more days and McGary can take advantage of this time period to further cement himself into John Beilein’s rotation.
  3. It is easy to forget the hill that Indiana head coach Tom Crean had to climb over the last four seasons to bring the Hoosiers to the top ranking in the nation. “As you get better, it is always making sure they appreciate how hard it is to be in a spot like this, and the reason that they are is their work ethic is so strong,” Crean said about this season. Despite Indiana’s loss to Illinois on Thursday night, they are still one of the favorite for the national title and Crean’s positive attitude is one of the main factors behind this turnaround.
  4. Defense is always the main priority of Purdue head coach Matt Painter. After allowing 172 total points during their consecutive losses, the Boilermakers beat Penn State on Tuesday night and await the Michigan State Spartans this weekend as they stay afloat with a 12-11 record. “Any time you’ve struggled just trying to get a win, you want to get the car back on the road,” head coach Matt Painter said. “You need something positive. Hopefully, we can build off it. That’s what you want to do. Freshman center A.J.Hammons has played a huge role in Purdue’s wins during the conference season as he is averaging 11.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG.
  5. Bo Ryan‘s Badgers somehow find a way to keep winning in the Big Ten and they did just that over a gutsy win over Iowa in double overtime on Wednesday night. “You’re up a possession, you’re down a possession, it was crazy,” said junior guard Ben Brust about the hard fought game. Senior forward Jared Berggren almost had a triple double with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, just can’t seem to catch a break as they were very close to beating a quality opponent on the road but fell short to Minnesota on Sunday and to the Badgers for the second consecutive game.
Share this story

Previewing Wisconsin-Ohio State: All Eyes on Deshaun Thomas

Posted by jnowak on January 29th, 2013

Here are a few coinciding items pertinent to Tuesday night’s Wisconsin-Ohio State game:

  1. Wisconsin is one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten.
  2. Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is one of the best, if not the best, scorer in the Big Ten.
  3. Beyond Thomas, Ohio State doesn’t have much consistent scoring to rely upon.
This man is the focal point for Ohio State every game. Wisconsin should have that in its scouting report Tuesday.

This man is the focal point for Ohio State every game. Wisconsin should have that in its scouting report Tuesday.

That, in a nutshell, is what to keep an eye on Tuesday when the two teams meet in Columbus. Wisconsin has been an enigma this season, struggling through most of its non-conference schedule before apparently getting its act together at the beginning of Big Ten play. But they’ve suffered some puzzling losses while also managing to win back-to-back games without eclipsing 50 points for the first time in 16 years. Ohio State, meanwhile, has won most of the games it’s been expected to, but faltered in most of the marquee match-ups. In a talent-laden conference like this one, that’s not going to get them very far this year. But on a smaller scale, let’s take a slightly closer look at Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas conundrum and how it impacts both these teams.

There are essentially two ways you can play Ohio State. You can let Thomas get somewhere around his scoring average — he scores a Big Ten-best 20.0 PPG — while limiting the rest of the Buckeyes. Lenzelle Smith Jr., LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson are all possible second scoring options (with all due respect to Aaron Craft, who is a terrific point guard, but that is not his role), though none have performed with any consistency. Only one of them averages in double-figures (Smith, just barely, with 10.2 PPG) and, consequently, the Buckeyes are one of just two conference teams without two players in the Big Ten’s top 30 in scoring (Purdue is the other). Yes, Penn State, winless in Big Ten play, has two players in the league’s top seven. And Nebraska, nearly as bad as the Nittany Lions, has three in the top 20. But I digress.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your DVR: Week of 01.28.13

Posted by bmulvihill on January 28th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Things are a little quiet this week with mostly match-ups between top and bottom teams in the conferences.  However, there are a few games that mean a lot to certain teams, including those in some of the smaller conferences. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

Pittsburgh at #8 Louisville – 7:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)

Pitino looks to end a three game slide to in-state rival Kentucky on Saturday (AP)

Pitino needs to stop the bleeding at Louisville (AP)

  • Louisville is in an absolute must-win situation. They have lost their last three games and have struggled at crunch time with opportunities to win. Everyone keeps saying the Cardinals still could be the team to beat in March. However, history shows that teams that lose three games in a row during the regular season rarely win the title. Only four teams since 1980 have lost three games in a row and still managed to win the whole thing – 1982-83 North Carolina State, 1984-85 Villanova, 1987-88 Kansas, and 2005-06 Florida. Only one team in history has lost four games in a row and still won the tourney – Danny Manning and the Miracles (Kansas actually lost five straight at one point that season). The reality is that Rick Pitino‘s team is a poor shooting team and unless they get that corrected quickly, Louisville should not be considered a threat to win it all. Pittsburgh on the other hand seems to be turning things around. After starting 1-3 in conference play, they have managed to rattle off four straight wins. Both teams need a win to stay within two games of Syracuse and Marquette in the Big East. Pitt has improved their shooting and offensive rebounding in the last four contests and has been able to play tough defense without putting teams on the line. Keep a close eye on how Pitt does in the paint against Louisville shot blocker Gorgui Dieng. The Panthers are not a threat from three, so most of their points will come from inside the arc. For Louisville, they need to convert their turnovers into points by simply hitting shots. While Pittsburgh is not as long as Syracuse, Villanova, and Georgetown, they are not short. So Pitino’s crew needs to get to the basket for lay-ups and dunks. Shooting over the top is not a great way to break a shooting slump. Watch Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear, as their performance on the interior will be the key to Louisville breaking their losing streak.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your DVR: Week of 01.14.13

Posted by bmulvihill on January 14th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Conference season has leveled the playing field as the remaining unbeaten teams have all lost. The Big Ten schedule is proving to be an absolute gauntlet and the Mountain West is nothing to sneeze at. Both leagues have stellar games this week along side a few other notable match-ups from around the nation. Let’s get to the breakdowns:

#1 Louisville at Connecticut – 7:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)

kevin ollie napier

  • The Louisville Cardinals are moved into the top spot in the nation after losses this weekend by Duke and Michigan and a loss by Arizona earlier last week. Their first game as #1 will be no easy contest as they head to Connecticut in a tough Big East road match-up. The Huskies are coming off a significant win at Notre Dame, which rarely loses at home, but it looks like UConn has their number, as they account for ND’s only two losses at home in the last two and a half years. UConn guards Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier will be the focus of this game, as they face intense pressure from the Louisville defense. Up to this point in the season, both players have protected the ball quite well, particularly Napier who is only giving it up on 11% of his possessions. They must be able to handle the press however in order to give the team a chance to win this game. Also, keep an eye on UConn’s Tyler Olander. He went 8-9 from the field against Notre Dame going for 16 points and 7 rebounds. He will be surrounded by very athletic big men on Louisville. UConn needs him to produce against Gorgui Dieng and company to take some pressure off the guards. The difference in this game may actually be Louisville on the offensive boards. The Huskies rank 298th in defensive rebounding percentage. With the Cardinals throwing Dieng, Chane Behanan, and Wayne Blackshear at the glass on the offensive end, it’s going to be tough for UConn to prevent second chance points. However, if they can limit turnovers, they have a shot to win at home.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Wisconsin Outlasts Nebraska in Typically Ugly Manner

Posted by CNguon on January 7th, 2013

Patrick Marshall is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Sunday afternoon’s Big Ten clash between Nebraska and Wisconsin in Lincoln.

Earlier this week, Nebraska head coach Tim Miles told reporters that Sunday’s game against Wisconsin in Lincoln was a winnable game. And for 35 minutes, it looked like it was. Wisconsin was seeking its first true road victory of the season, having gone 0-2 so far in those situations. Coming into the game, there were questions as to how many points would be scored between these two teams — for much of the contest, it appeared that the winner would be the first team to score 50 points. A 19-all halftime tie exhibited both teams combining to go 17-of-52 from the field and 3-of-16 from three. Most of the first half was spent with both teams dribbling around, going one-on-one for much of the possession, and missing numerous open shots. Whether it was strong defense or just an off shooting day, all the bricklaying created audible moans and groans from those in attendance. Many of us on press row looked around at each other wondering where the coffee was served.

A rugged contest throughout, Sam Dekker and the Badgers earned their first conference road victory of the season (AP)

A rugged contest throughout, Sam Dekker and the Badgers earned their first conference road victory of the season (AP)

The second half seemed to start with a little more flourish with both teams scoring within the first minute, but things cooled down again afterward. Nebraska surged to a small lead — any lead felt like a 20-point lead in this one — but the teams battled back and forth with the game tied seven times and the lead changing hands nine times the rest of the way. Jared Berggren started to heat up by scoring 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Ryan Evans also came up big down the stretch by finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Wisconsin didn’t do themselves any favors in going 4-of-17 from three-point range and 3-of-13 from the free throw line, but the Badgers were lucky that the game didn’t ultimately come down to free throws at the end. It was a 40-minute grind and Wisconsin thrives in those types of games. Nebraska made a valiant comeback as Brandon Ubel hit a three-pointer with a minute remaining to cut the Badgers’ lead to three, but the Huskers would not score again and Wisconsin escaped Lincoln with a 47-41 road win. The Nebraska front line was thin without Andre Almeida in the rotation and Wisconsin took full advantage with a 28-14 advantage in the paint.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on December 7th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

With a month to go in the non-conference season, we are starting to sort out the contenders from the pretenders. This weekend provides some additional match-ups that will give us a better indication of which teams we should watch out for come March. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Colorado at #10 Kansas  2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

This Weekend Colorado Tries to Beat Kansas for the First Time Since 2003

  • You might call this game a renewal of a Big 12 rivalry but the reality is that it has been far from a “rivalry.” Kansas has not lost to Colorado since the 2002-03 season. While this will be the first time that CU plays Kansas as a member of the Pac-12, coach Tad Boyle is 0-3 against the Jayhawks since taking the helm in Boulder two seasons ago. The big question for the Buffaloes will be how they handle KU center Jeff Withey. A few weeks ago, CU was able to slow down another seven-footer in Isaiah Austin when they defeated Baylor. However, Withey is not a freshmen trying to fit himself into “The Pierre Jackson Show.” He’s a senior who has proven to be a dominant force on defense and a capable offensive threat. Withey also cleans up on the glass, particularly on the defensive end. Colorado needs to figure out how to grab some of those misses lest it become a long night. Keep an eye on the three-point shooting of Colorado guards Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie. Both are threats from deep and both need to be on target to have a chance to win this one.

Temple vs. #1 Duke  3:15 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

  • Last season, Temple beat Duke in Philadelphia on the backs of Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Khalif Wyatt. Hollis-Jefferson and Wyatt combined to go 15-22 from the field in a somewhat surprising upset of the Blue Devils. The Owls also did it without this season’s leading scorer, Scootie Penn. However, when you compare this Duke team to last season’s team, they are more balanced and more patient without Austin Rivers dominating the ball. The Blue Devils have scoring threats all over the floor and point guard Quinn Cook is proving to be an excellent distributor. Additionally, Mason Plumlee has been superb. The key for the Owls will be figuring out a way to stop Plumlee in the paint. Unfortunately for Temple, scoring can come from anywhere when playing the Blue Devils. They are too balanced and too battle tested at this point to drop one to the Owls this year.
Share this story

Examining Some Warning Signs for Wisconsin’s Defense

Posted by KTrahan on November 28th, 2012

Defense has always been a hallmark of Wisconsin’s formula for success. By keeping scores low and turnovers to a minimum, the Badgers are able to win games year after year. But this season, Bo Ryan’s team has struggled to defend other top teams. The problem isn’t turnovers or a lack of offense; rather, as BTN.com’s Big Ten Geeks writes, the Badgers have struggled with defensive rebounding and fouling too much. Wisconsin has done well against opponents it physically out-matches — the Badgers defeated Southeastern Louisiana, Cornell and Presbyterian by an average of 39 points each — but the team has struggled against opponents that can earn easy second-chance points. Wisconsin was out-rebounded by 18 against Florida and two against Creighton, while Florida got to the free throw line six more times than the Badgers, and Creighton got there 10 more times. Florida and Creighton are both very good teams, so losses in those games aren’t terrible for the Badgers’ postseason resume, but their defensive rebounding and fouling issues could lead to more trouble down the road.

It’s Hard to Believe That Bo Ryan’s Team is Struggling Defensively

No matter how Wisconsin defends, though, the Badgers will continue to struggle if they give teams extra possessions and frequently puts them on the line. Losing to Top 25 teams this early in the season may not matter all that much, but if this becomes a pattern, it could spell trouble for the Badgers down the road. We all know how tough  the Big Ten is this year, so Wisconsin won’t have as many chances to beat up on weaker teams once it gets into league play in January. The Badgers must use the rest of the non-conference slate to prepare for the coming uptick in competition, starting with consecutive games against Virginia and California, then later, a game against Marquette. That should give us a better understanding of where this Wisconsin team is headed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story