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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Revenge Will Have To Wait

I was not feeling too good on Sunday afternoon and laying in bed watching the Badgers play poorly did nothing to raise my spirits.

Wisconsin had a great opportunity to put some useful distance between itself and the conference wannabes with a road win in West Lafayette, but the return of Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer proved how much of a fluke an 0-2 conference start can be.

JaJuan Johnson had a double-double for the Boilermakers, but I think his great game was more of an effect, rather than the cause, of the 65-52 spanking delivered by Purdue. [box score]

Take Hummel for example. He played 28 minutes, scoring 16 points and grabbing five rebounds. No one on the Badger roster was able to stick with him on the court. Hummel shot 4-of-8 from behind the arc and I swear every outside shot he put up was uncontested. You could see it coming ahead of time: Landry, Leuer, Nankivil, Krabbenhoft, Jarmusz ... I cannot remember who all got a chance to guard him, but you saw the defender going under a pick repeatedly, giving Hummel just enough separation to hit a few daggers. And to their credit, the Boilers found their go-to guy in the right spots.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's best offensive players did throwing up terrible shots and then missing tons of easy ones. I am looking at you Mr. Landry, Mr. Leuer and Mr. Hughes. Very simply, UW came out flat and nothing went it's way as a result. Once again, Wisconsin shrank and cowered in the face of pressure defense, rather than exploit it.

Make no mistake: Purdue's defense was outstanding. They consistently extended pressure on the ball all the way to half court and basically suffocated the Badgers, who settled for too many jumpers. Wisconsin hit 6-of-20 threes (30%), but I think any time UW hoists more than 15 or 16 from that range, you know that the offense is out of sync.

To be fair, neither backcourt was very impressive in this game. Wisconsin held Purdue's leading scorer, E'Twaun Moore, to four points on 1-of-12 shooting. I cannot recall who guarded Moore, but I know Jason Bohannon got blown by a few times, so maybe Moore just had a bad day finishing too. J-Bo did not make up for it on offense either.

While Bohannon was merely invisible for most of the game, Trevon Hughes was just bad. This came on the heels of the Capital Times giving Hughes props for developing into a top on-ball defender. Though it was not very evident from the box score, I thought pint-sized freshman Lewis Jackson schooled Hughes on a number of occassions, both offensively and defensively. Hughes finished with five turnovers, matching his season-high from the UConn game.

I was really disappointed (and surprised) that Rob Wilson did not get more playing time. The team needed his aggressiveness and I have to nitpick at Bo Ryan's rotation in this game. Yes, Wilson is a freshman and it was a tough road environment, but what did Bo have to lose?

I never thought I would say this, but Joe Krabbenhoft was clearly the best offensive option on the court for Wisconsin. With Wilson collecting dust on the pine, Krabby was the only one playing smart, aggressive basketball. He missed only one of his seven field goal attempts and was the onnly Badger in double figures.

On the bright side, I watched the Illini absolutely crush the Hoosiers on Saturday and thanked the Wisconsin Athletic Department out loud for splitting up the Northwestern and Indiana games on the half-season ticket packages.

: : :

- Get the mainstream media and one blogger's perspectives on the recent #1 vs. #2 class in Minnesota prep hoops. Mike Bruesewitz and #2 Sibley fell, 77-66, to the high school all-star team known as Hopkins. Everybody is already anticipating a rematch for the state title in March.
- The Wages of Win Journal concludes that the more Devin Harris shoots, the better the New Jersey Nets play. Check out Table Two for a comparison between Harris and an average NBA point guard. The mythical "Wins Produced" projection tells you what Badger fans already know: Devin is the man.

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