Purdue won the game. And Wisconsin also lost it.
Turnovers like losing the dribble out of bounds without being touched by a defender and passing up an open layup to throw the ball into the first row of seats are not signs of a great team. Wisconsin is not a great team. It is a good team capable of playing great defense. Falling out of the Top Ten this week will not bother me. I knew this team was slightly overrated, but I'm happy for the team to get the publicity and media name-drops that come with the high ranking whenever possible. I'd rather my favorite team be overrated than an afterthought, at least now that I've realized Wisconsin won't sneak up on anyone again.
But as far as Saturday night's game goes, I think Joe Krabbenhoft put it best after the game:
"We care deeply about how this team performs. Wins and losses, they say a lot, but we didn't think we gave our best effort tonight, and I think we're more disappointed in that than the loss. We got away from some things that we can do a lot better, and we'll get back to them as soon as possible."The Badgers seemed to clamp down (somewhat) in the second half, after Purdue's final two 3-pointers in the opening three minutes. They never made the Boilermakers pay on the other end. Balance is great, but the lack of a go-to player is detrimental in such scenarios.
Wisconsin's most talented player is a gimpy, inconsistent sophomore point guard. The team's most consistent scorer and rebounder is a weak, slow-footed fifth-year senior. Marcus Landry disappeared. If you looked up the term "garbage hoop" in the college basketball dictionary, Krabbenhoft's face would be right there.
When the team absolutely needed a bucket at the end of the first half, Krabby drove right in to the hole and took it. Now let me ask you: where was that determination, that will, to score the other 39 minutes of the game? All the team needs is the consistent threat of that play to keep the engine purring. Not to mention someone posting up and calling for the ball. Hughes' biggest fault during the game might have been his inability to see his big men off of the screen and deliver the ball off the roll. Too much dribbling Trevon!
The Boilermakers hit on an incredible 53.1% of their shots, over 20 percentage points higher (and 61.5% better) than the Badgers (32.7%). On the other hand, Wisconsin dominated the stat sheet in important categories like rebounding (43-21) and free throws (30-of-33 v.s 12-of-22). But the Boilers never needed second-chance points or freebies while shooting over 60 percent en route to a 10-point halftime lead. It made for a few exciting minutes in the, but the freebies were the only reason the Badgers were even in the game. Frankly, one of UW's finest nights ever at the charity stripe was ultimately wasted thanks to its cold shooting and 18 stupid turnovers.
Purdue has brought in some talented players who know how to shoot and have learned to play defense. All of Purdue's perimeter players have the ability to breakdown Wisconsin's defenders off the dribble and the lateral quickness to prevent the same thing on the other end.
On the recruiting issue, however, I've always fallen on the side of a Bo Ryan critic. Certain things you cannot teach. Height and natural athletic ability are two of them. Why would a teacher like Bo not want to mold the best clay? Some clay is harder to mold of course, which is probably the biggest factor in the coaching staff recruiting the kids they do. Until Wisconsin brings in some more shooters that aren't afraid to take big shots, though, the Badgers will be prone to offensive doldrums. And until Wisconsin gets better athletes at the wing positions, Badger fans will have to endure some tense mismatches against teams like the Boilers, Devils and Eagles.