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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Trouble In Paradise

When a team, like Wisconsin, counts its coach as one of its usual advantages over the competition, not getting any traditional practice time in before a big game should be cause for concern.

Such is life in tropical early season tournaments, I suppose. Trying to squeeze four games in on the final day immediately after the semifinals on Sunday night meant neither Wisconsin nor Connecticut hit the floor in preparation for the Paradise Jam title game. Left more to instinct and natural athleticism than normal, Bucky's first loss of the season was no surprise.

Connecticut is really good. They have the top shelf athletes at guard that traditionally give the Badgers fits. Bo's youngest team in years really showed their inexperience on Monday, hounded into 22 turnovers by the Huskies. Freshman Kemba Walker led the way with four steals.

Not all of the turnovers were forced by Connecticut though. Regular rotation players like sophomores Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz and freshman Jordan Taylor simply had some very lazy passes picked off. You might be able to get away with that against teams #20-300, but not against a top ten team. It was amazing how many easy fast break points the Huskies got in the game. They had 31 points off turnovers overall.

It did not help matters that UConn center Hasheem Thabeet intimidated even the most experienced Badgers in the paint. Seniors Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft looked tentative most of the night. My favorite part of the game was Rob Wilson coming in without a care in the world and going up for two dunks on Thabeet and drawing two fouls (never mind that one was a clean block). That turned into four easy points from the line for the Badgers just because one player believed in himself.

These are the types of games where Krabby's offensive limitations really bother me. An extra pass is usually nice, but two or three extra passes is too much, especially right under the basket. You can attribute Wisconsin's 32% shooting inside the 3-point line to Thabeet's presence and the Badgers decision-making around the rim. It is no longer a surprise when UW shoots well from long distance (8-of-17), but those bombs merely kept the Badgers in the game. [box score]

In the end it was just a few sequences like the one at the end of the first half that doomed the Badgers. Wisconsin had held a slim lead through the first 10 minutes or so, but UConn closed on a 19-4 run to go up 10 points at the break thanks to their pressure defense. Jon Leuer and Trevon Hughes keyed an 11-3 run that had the Badgers right back in the game at 45-43, but the Huskies quickly turned momentum with a three-point play and a dunk by Jerome Dyson.

When Jason Bohannon missed both of his free throws and Thabeet responded with two freebies of his own, the lead was back to nine and UW's spirit was seemingly sapped. Though Bohannon appeared to be on track for a nice shooting night when he nailed two early treys, he soon reverted to his previous island form and finished 2-of-9 from the floor.

At least we got to watch this one on TV, right?

1 comment:

  1. You're right, Thabeet's second foul on Wilson was clean. Gotta love Rob's moxie.


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