Sunday, November 16, 2014

Northern Kentucky

Finally getting a chance to post something about the first game.

This is why people love Bo Ryan. He has a preseason 1st team all American and Big Ten player of the year in Frank Kaminsky, and after some shaky decisions in the first 6 minutes culminating in a horrible baseline bounce pass turnover, he benches him for Vitto Brown. No one is above sitting the pine. Frank had also jacked up a 3 way too early in the clock, put up a soft jumper from 10 ft when he could have gone to the hole, and got caught between help and blocking out and picked up a bad foul when his man got the offensive board. Now this was 6 minutes in, so Frank was about ready for a rest anyway, but a message was sent.

Frank did some very good things the rest of the way. He and Dekker were both very aggressive and both were looking to take charge. Both were unafraid to rebound and push the ball up the floor rather than wait for a guard. When Frank got tripled in the post on the first possession he quickly kicked out to an open Dekker for 3. Frank did not hesitate and let the defense collapse on him as he did too often last year. Frank will routinely get double and triple teamed this year and how he passes out of it will be very important to the UW offense.

Any time a team doubles the other teams score, the winner has played well. However I'm sure there will be talking heads who see only 62 points scored and say this is the same old UW that can't score with elite teams. This is foolishness as Northern Kentucky routinely held the ball for 30 seconds on offense. They kept moving the ball from side to side but couldn't get in the post and ended up with a lot of contested jumpers. Slowing the pace would frustrate other teams, but UW was as patient and methodical as they always are despite limited opportunities to push the ball.

UW started a big lineup as expected with Frank, Nigel and Dekker in the front court. Koenig was the first guy off the bench and played starter minutes (26). Vitto took full advantage of his opportunity with Dukan still on suspension. He was active on defense and rebounded well. He also got himself open to receive some nice passes as ended up 3-3 from the field with 4 FTA (but missed 3). If he continues to play well it would be a great luxury to be able to get him in to give Nigel and Frank some rest.

The most interesting thing of the night for me, happened before the game even started. Every year the Badgers upgrade their pregame lineup announcements with videos, music, fanfare etc. but they always keep the same format for how they announce the players. The last player announced is always the star senior expected to be the leader, and get the biggest fan applause. Last year it was Brust, the year before it was Berggren, Jordan Taylor before that and so on. This year the last guy announced wasn't future NBA 1st rounder Dekker, Big Ten preseason player of the year Kaminsky, or Mr. Clutch point guard Jackson. It was my favorite player of the past 4 years, Josh Gasser. I doubt many fans noticed this and I don't know if this was a decision made by Bo or the players. My guess is both. People may see this as Dekker and Kaminsky's team because they will fill the box scores. I know better. This is still Gasser's team.

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