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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Running diary: Wisconsin @ Minnesota

7:30 - We are still watching the final seven seconds of the Northwestern-Purdue game. Purdue is playing for nothing. A Northwestern win coupled with a Wisconsin loss tonight makes these two teams' tournament resumes more similar than Badger fans would like to admit.

7:37 - Marcus Landry loses a rare opening tip. Some changes to the Minnesota starting lineup tonight and frosh point guard Devoe Joseph proceeds to sink the game's first bucket. This crowd is in it to win it tonight.

7:40 - Keaton Nankivil is in early and it pays off with the first two points for Wisconsin as he uses a nice kiss of the glass. With the ball now in Minnesota's hands, get this ... wait for it ... two missed dunks in one possession! Thanks Goofs!

7:42 - All the Badgers' shots have been short thus far. Nerves? Nah. However, they don't look entirely comfortable yet. Despite missing his next two shots, I think Nankivil is playing pretty well. He is looking for his shot and wisely called a timeout during a scrum for a loose ball. Out of the timeout, Hughes is back, along with Tim Jarmusz, meaning Bo Ryan has gone eight deep in the first five minutes of play. Ugly game so far -- Minnesota leads 6-2.

7:49 - Trevon Hughes gets bumped and falls to the floor trying to draw a whistle. Pathetic. There is no way that contact should have sent Pop to the floor. It results in another Badger turnover.

The Gophers off of Tubby Smith's bench: Lawrence Westbrook, Al Nolen, Paul Carter. Not bad. I like those three a lot better than the first three UW reserves.

7:51 - Minnesota 11, Wisconsin 7. After Jon Leuer nails a deep three from the sideline, Carter responds with a trey of his own since Leuer decided not to guard him at all. Leuer then throws the ball out of bounds on offense. Getting uglier ...

7:55 - 10:29 left in the half. Landry is having a tough game. He has not been on the floor much and his best play has been drawing an offensive foul from Jonathan Williams. Hughes launches one.

7:59 - Jordan Taylor with a great effort to hold big man Colton Iverson at bay on a mismatch. Taylor then skied for a key rebound on the Nolen missed layup. This may have contributed to Iverson using his arms a bit too much posting up Gullikson; I think it was a weak call if you ask me.

8:01 - Krabby is krafty! His lay-in ends a grueling scoring drought for both teams. Wisconsin has not been able to get into any kind of comfort zone on offense, perhaps due to the more frequent substitution pattern that Bo has gone with. I think he is trying to keep his key players fresh considering Minnesota's deep bench. Wisconsin has six turnovers already and must be shooting about 20%.

8:05 - Terrible traveling call made on Nankivil. Not sure which play the refs were dreaming about there. Seven TOs now. Two minutes later another BS call on Leuer made by Ed Hightower to bail out the Gophers on a bad entry pass. Minnesota extends their run to 10-2 on this possession.

8:10 - Minnesota 21, Wisconsin 13. Landry answers with a much-needed 3-pointer after getting burned by Iverson on the other end. The Badgers are getting crushed inside. The early-season struggle with offensive aggression is rearing its ugly head. Only Hughes is taking it at the Gophers.

8:13 - Johnson's fall away jumper epitomizes the first half. His dribble was dead and then Krabby knocked it loose, allowing Johnson to reset and fire. Yes! Landry with another three ... well, if you can't do squat inside, take your chances outside I guess. Minnesota 23, Wisconsin 16.

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Key Halftime Stats:
The score remains Minnesota 23, Wisconsin 16 at the break. All you need to know is Wisconsin has eight turnovers and is shooting 5-of-20 (25%) from the floor. Leuer is getting all sorts of looks and clanging them all off of the front of the rim for the most part. Jason Bohannon is a complete non-factor, though he D'd up Westbrook to some degree.

Wisconsin played all 10 rotation guys in the first half. Bo spoke about the "chemistry not being there" for his guys. Interesting. For the Badgers to win, Hughes must step up his game and an offensive threat on the blocks must emerge. The need to keep Minnesota off the boards goes without saying.

New show coming out on the Big Ten Network: The Big Ten Quad, hosted by Eddie George. Not sure how I feel about this, but apparently Ron Dayne is an early guest. Look s like he's still rocking the fuzzy beard/shaved head combo. Nice.

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8:40 - Minnesota 23, Wisconsin 21. Hughes drives down the middle of the lane with the shot clock running down and throws a wild no-look pass over his head to the left corner where Leuer sticks the landing with a 3-point splash.

8:42 - Fronting the post is simply not working tonight. Since we know Bo is not very flexible in his strategies, this may be the team's downfall tonight. Minnesota is spreading the floor such that the Badger defender will not have any help defense in sight. Iverson sinks both free throws since he cannot seem to make a layup. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is racking up fouls at an alarming pace. JT has to burn a timeout due to the Gopher press after the made FTs.

8:46 - Out of a timeout, Wisconsin suffers a shot clock violation. Unbelievable. Either none of the coaches mentioned this in the huddle or every UW player on the court is brain dead. Nobody remembered the 7-9 seconds that they burned trying to bring the ball up the floor before the timeout.

8:50 - Bo is right. That was technically an intentional foul on Damian Johnson trying to keep Leuer away from the loose ball. By the way, Ed Hightower is heating up ... he may yet take over this game.

8:51 - Great hustle by Hughes to run down the Gopher fast break and steal the ball. Wisconsin needs to stifle the momentum. Krabbenhoft hits one of his two free throws at the other end.

8:53 - Ring it up! Landry making a living from distance. After Iverson answers inside, good ball movement results in a Hughes 3-pointer. Minnesota 29, Wisconsin 28.

8:59 - Fun fact: Wisconsin has already put Minnesota in the bonus. If Taylor would have made that trey, I would have screamed, Braveheart-style, from the couch.

9:01 - FREEDOM! Landry with another 3-pointer. All tied at 33.

9:02 - Brutal charging call goes against Westbrook. Landry lucked out there, as he was not completely set. This leads to a prayer by Leuer going in off the backboard off his own miss by virtue of a gritty offensive rebound. Westbrook then gets redemption with an "and-1" drive on J-Bo. He sinks it to put the Gophers back up by three, 38-35.

9:08 - A Jason Bohannon sighting -- he blocks a Johnson bunny! Wow. This after a pair of free throw to give Wisconsin its first lead at 39-38.

9:10 - Nice sequence leads to a Minnesota timeout with 5:21 left to play. Badgers complete a nice 6-0 run, highlighted by J-Bo and Hughes getting past their men on the bounce and delivering great passes. Nice ball handling by J-Bo after the rebound too.

Hightower needs to let these guys play. It's so unenjoyable to see touch fouls called. Landry has to sit with his fourth foul and Minnesota hits two FTs to pull within one.

9:14 - Hughes with two freebies for the Badgers. Wisconsin 43, Minnesota 40. Now with 4:14 left in the game, Minnesota is in the double bonus after another pretty weak call goes against Nankivil. Johnson splits the two attempts.

9:16 - Following the Krabbenhoft's pick with "extra sauce" on it, Wisconsin puts its best defensive showing of the night perhaps. Nankivil steps up on help defense and stuffs a pass attempt. The team forces a traveling violation seconds later with only a few ticks left on the shot clock. If Wisconsin can come out of the media timeout with a basket, that could be the key play of the game.

I would enjoy nothing more than to pull out a last-second win in this game, but I would feel a lot better about this team if it didn't come down to that. However, I see no other way.

9:20 - Hughes at will to the rack. Follows with a rebound and a foul drawn on Nolen. Pressure is on the Gophers right now. They just missed a W I D E O P E N 3-pointer and the crowd has been taken out of it. Pop sinks one of two FTs. Wisconsin 46, Minnesota 41.

9:24 - Shades of Game 1 when Westbrook took over in overtime. His two runners have made the score 46-45. Jordan Taylor cannot handle him. Need a defensive switch. Timeout Wisconsin with exactly one minute remaining.

This is infuriating. The Wisconsin offense the last three times down is to run down the clock and let Hughes try something on his own when the shot clock winds down. Really? This is the best we can do guys? Wisconsin got the lead by being aggressive and making plays at the hoop. Of course, they wouldn't want to try putting someone else on Westbrook. Minnesota leads 47-46 after two Westbrook FTs.

Minnesota wraps this one up with free throws and a brutal turnover on an inbounds play where it looks like Hughes was not totally focused on holding onto the ball before heading up court. Wisconsin only trailed 49-46 at that point with three seconds left. But Westbrook iced it with a pair from the charity stripe.

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Final score:
Minnesota 51, Wisconsin 46. [box score]

I thought Bo's strategy of resting the key combatants early was going to work as I watched Wisconsin makes its run. Unfortunately, out of my halftime keys to victory, UW failed to achieve two of them. Wisconsin won the battle on the boards (27-25, excluding "team rebounds"), but the guard play did not improve and neither did the post-up game. Landry, who had a game-high 18 points, kept the Badgers in this game through his outside shooting alone. Hughes and Bohannon, on the other hand, only showed glimpses of what the team needed from them.

- The Badgers weren't the only Wisconsin team to lose their way tonight. Pittsburgh went on an 18-0 run to pummel Marquette.

1 comment:

  1. Was it just me or did it seem like the Badgers were getting mauled when they went into the paint with no calls. But on the other end of the court, the most minor of contact would draw a foul. To my eye, Krabenhoft was taken out of the game by the refs.


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