Friday, February 15, 2013

Offensive Woes

We don't need statistics to tell us this Badgers team is not up to snuff on offense. But the comparison to prior teams is stark. Here are Pomeroy's offensive efficiency numbers for the Badgers in conference play since 2002-03:

Year OE  Rank
2003: 108.2 1
2004: 112.2 3
2005: 107.6 3
2006: 104.2 5
2007: 107.5 3
2008: 109.8 1
2009: 109.3 1
2010: 110.4 1
2011: 119.9 1
2012: 103.8 8
2013:   97.1 9

This year's number is probably unfairly low, given that the Badgers have yet to play the easiest portion of their schedule, but they will still almost certainly end with the lowest number on the list—probably below one point-per-possession for the first time under Bo. Moreover, you can see that the sharp turn started last year when—after having the league's best offense for four years in a row—the Badgers fell to 8th in the conference in OE.

The reason is obvious: the Badgers' three front-court starters these last two years (Berggren, Bruesewitz, and Evans) are all essentially defensive specialists. Berggren is the only one who is even remotely "skilled" on the offensive end. Bruesewitz has shown flashes, but he's a sub-30% three-point shooter for his career (and for his senior season). Evans is what he is—and this year he is easily the least effective high-usage player in Bo Ryan's tenure.

I don't mean to rag on these guys. They are the reason that the Badgers are again in contention for a top-4 finish in the Big Ten, with a legit chance to make another Sweet 16. Their defensive mastery has kept Wisconsin in games and allowed the Badgers to pick up two great and memorable wins this season. But Chorlton was right, oh those many years ago, when he said this senior class just doesn't have any scorers.

As a result, you get the numbers above. And you get stretches like the one the Badgers are in now, in which they've been held under a point-per-possession in six of the last seven games. This is unprecedented under Ryan. The remarkable thing is that they won three of those six games despite the anemic offense because no one can score on the Badgers, either.

The only hope for this team turning it around on offense is that someone (or sometwo) gets hot. Brust has been playing well, and Dekker was easily the best offensive player on the floor last night. But they really need one of the seniors to get going, and really the only one capable is Berggren. The silver lining is that their last five conference games (starting after the OSU game on Sunday) are against much easier competition. So maybe they can get a groove going into the post-season.

1 comment:

  1. Just astounding that despite this teams limited offensive capabilities Bo has still been able to win with them.
    I don't expect this trend to continue. Next year UW should run far more 3 guard lineups and with Kaminsky and Dekker getting most of the frontcourt minutes, they should be a much more efficient offensive team. They will of course not be as good defensively. The loss of Berggren's post defense and Evan's rebounding should be offset by the increased scoring, so I expect another top 4 finish next year.