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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Morning After

I have a Duke hangover.

Let's start with the bright spots of Wisconsin's 82-58 drubbing at the hands of the Evil Empire:

(1) The Badgers were only outscored by one point in the second half.
(2) Jon Leuer earned himself some more playing time by putting the ball in the hole, and finishing at the hoop in limited minutes.
(3) Brian Butch was UW's most effective player when he was on the court.
(4) Jason Bohannon, who seemingly cannot get off his own shot from the perimeter, actually created his own shot by putting the ball on the floor.

The bad? Wisconsin's worse game of the season showcased deficiencies far too similar to those of years past. The last time I was this hopeless watching a game was ... the Ohio State loss in last year's Big Ten Tournament. As a team, Wisconsin is not nearly as good as other schools when it comes to making open shots.

This game was characterized by too many turnovers and terrible passing -- I guess playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time was a factor.

First and foremost, I am going to stop referring to Wisconsin as a premier defensive team. This team was scrambling all over on defense, slow to recover to wide-open shooters who were draining 3-pointers all night long. That phenomenon is a result of playing too much help defense because the players cannot stay in front of their own defensive assignment in the man-to-man set. Again, it's not the first time we've seen this either.

The Duke game also proved that Trevon Hughes has a long way to go before he can be mentioned alongside former Badger greats at his position. TOO MUCH DRIBBLING!!! The Blue Devil pressure had him reverting to the freshman Truh-von, not the supposedly new and improved TREY-von that we saw against the creampuffs. He needs to learn to recognize times when making a shot would be really nice, but missing a quick shot badly will absolutely kill the team's chances of clawing back into a game.

Trevon was not the only one without an A-game. I'm holding to my earlier statement that we need to give Marcus Landry another month or so to show up, but in the meantime, give Leuer some of his minutes. At least offensively, a freshman is showing the kind of aggressiveness that fans were expecting out of a junior starter. One of UW's immobile big men (Butch) was saddled with foul trouble and the other (Stiemsma) was practically MIA. In fact, the Wisconsin height advantage meant nothing since the big men were getting blocked by guards and defensively, the big men aren't agile enough to block a guard's shot in the paint without crashing into them.

Bo Ryan is not above criticism here either. Coach K outcoached him last night. Talent disparity aside, the Duke staff had its team executing far better than Wisconsin's staff did. Some people vehemently defend the type of players that Bo recruits and in the same breath never criticize his coaching either. But you cannot have it both ways. Either Bo needs to step up the recruiting to get more players who "get it" and can execute at a high level within his system or Bo just isn't that great at coaching top-flight talent.

I think Bo's strict adherence to the swing offense is detrimental to the team occassionally. The system is great for having big men pop out and shoot, but what happens when they are no good at shooting? Which of Wisconsin's guards can post up? And is there anyone capable of getting them the ball if they did? In any case, it appeared as though Duke did an excellent job of keeping the ball out of the post, which is a death sentence in the swing. Bottom line is Duke looks like a Top Ten team. The Badgers are don't even have directions to that ballpark.

Hey, at least I didn't make a big deal out of this game or look forward to it for months or anything ... call me a glutton for punishment, but I already can't wait for these two teams to play each other again.

: : :

Challenge update: Thankfully Indiana pulled through against Georgia Tech, so I'm still barely alive on my modest 4-7 prediction. Considering I was picking UW only out of principle, I'd say chalk is going all the way this year. A young Purdue team looked like they were going to help me out, but they folded at the worst possible time against Clemson, like a poker player chasing a flush.

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