Thursday, January 17, 2013

something to do on a sick day

I've been laying around sick all day today and can't sleep so I watched the Indiana game again.

My fascination with defending ball screens continues. UW doesn't have a strict rule on this front anymore. As I have discussed before, UW has gone from a team that always fought over ball screens, to a team that always switched on ball screens, to now a team that does both. The question is why. The problem with not doing it the same way all time is that players can get confused, and have miscommunications which lead to breakdowns. The advantage is that your defense is more flexible to adjust to certain types of players strengths. Does Bo trust his players more?

For example: vs Indiana UW switched on most ball screens, except when Jordan Hulls had the ball. Hulls is an exceptional shooter so UW didn't want to give him open looks from deep. Every time Jackson or Marshall was on him they used their quickness to get over the top on screens to bother him and force him to dribble toward the hoop and into defensive help. I counted 4 occasions when Brust was guarding him that Brust went underneath or switched. On 2 of those a foul occurred and another Hulls hit a jumper.

A few signs this is not your father's Badgers anymore.

The Badgers had 7 different players score by the 10 minute mark of the first half vs Indiana. Having a bunch of guys who are not afraid to shoot, even in a game as intimiidating as at #2 Indiana is pretty awesome. Gone are the days of Jason Chappell standing alone at the free throw line with the ball looking confused. As my cowriter Bart pointed out on Berggen's 1st half dunk, the lane was wide open because Indiana was respecting UW's shooters.

When UW went on a 7 minute drought without a basket, and Indiana was on a 10-1 run to cut a 10 point lead to 1 with about 4 minutes to go, UW didn't crumble. Is there much doubt that the teams I watched growing up for years would have lost that game? Not Bo Ryan's team. Surely some of that is because Bo is the best recruiter UW has ever had, so the players are better than all those crappy teams I watched fail as a kid. However I feel like Bo's steely temperament carries over to his kids, and that, as much as any talent is why the have such mental toughness.

When Ben Brust threw down a dunk against Indiana, he became by my unofficial count, the 7th different badger to dunk a ball in a game this year (Berggren, Kaminsky, Evans, Bruiser, Dekker, Showalter, and Brust-this is just by memory, I could be wrong). I bet there were years the Badgers didn't have 7 dunks all season when I was a kid, let alone 7 different players.

I remember having a discussion with my cowriter a couple of years ago where I was ripping on this year's group of seniors- Evans, Bruiser and Berggren. I said this years seniors could be the first group of seniors for Bo in a while not to have a 1000 point scorer. Bart was skeptical of that and convinced me that Berggren would get his points over his junior and senior year to get to the milestone. As of right now it is going to be by a nose if any of these seniors make it there. Bruiser has no chance with 391 career points coming into this year and 111 so far for a total of 502. Berggren had almost nothing until last year (just 89 points as a freshman and sophomore) and had a long way to go. He got 379 last season for a total of 468 and has 220 this year for 688 career points. Evans career scoring by year is 116, 95, 397, and 195 so far this year for a total of 803.

The Badgers have 14 regular season games left, at least one guaranteed big ten tourney game, and barring something crazy will play at least one post season game in the NCAA (or NIT if they fall apart). Pretty good chance they win a game in the Big Ten or NCAA tourney which would get them to 17 remaining games. At their current averages Berggren would score another 219 points (12.9*17) and be well short. Evans would score another 196 (17*11.5) and get to 999. I feel there is a pretty good chance UW may get to play 18 games or more which would help Evans get there, but it is no given anyone gets there.


  1. Nice post. Interesting stats on the race to 1000. Looks like Berggren is going to fall short, and at this point I almost hope Evans falls short because I think it's not a great sign for the team when he's the leading scorer.

    That said, my guess is that it will work out one way or another. The universe is at work here, my friend. Maybe Berggren starts scoring 20 a game. Or maybe, just maybe, the Badgers have more like 20 games left this season...

  2. This is a pretty thorough dissection of the Badgers' tactics against IU:

  3. Good article. The next question is how to stop Michigan. I watched a good chunk of their win at Minnesota last night and they are just unbelievable on the offensive end. Burke is the best player I have seen in college basketball this year. He is averaging a ridiculous 4-1 assist to turnover ratio. I think they are the best team in college basketball. I may have to watch the OSU loss again to see what they did.
    Minnesota hung around again after getting down big, much like vs Indiana. They look like a very good team, but I'm still not convinced they are on the same level as Ind, MSU and MI.