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Friday, February 26, 2010

Badgers Balanced in Bloomington

Jon Leuer returned to Wisconsin's starting lineup Thursday night and helped lead the No. 17 Badgers to an impressive 78-46 dismantling of Indiana.

Wisconsin, which rose to No. 4 in the Pomeroy ratings, was the model of efficiency in Bloomington. As you might imagine, the team's 70.4 defensive efficiency was it's best of the Big Ten season as they held the Hoosiers to 35.3 effective field goal percentage (eFG%). Meanwhile, Keaton Nankivil (6-of-7 FGs) and company posted their second-highest eFG% mark (62.3) in conference play.

All five starters scored in double figures, led by Trevon Hughes' nice shooting (17 pts): Nankivil scored 14, Leuer and Jordan Taylor both had 13 and Jason Bohannon scored 11. Wisconsin shot 8-of-11 on 3-pointers (72.7%). [box score]

With Leuer replacing Tim Jarmusz, Wisconsin now puts an imposing three-guard lineup on the floor to start games, one which may rival any starting five in the Big Ten (yes, even the Ohio State). Each of these players has experienced their ups and downs during the year. Bohannon started the year in a bad shooting slump and Nankivil disappeared when Big Ten play began. Leuer is of course trying to return from injury. Hughes has not seemed as mentally engaged as he was the first half of the year and forced many bad shots in the last few games. Taylor has struggled uncharacteristically with turnovers lately.

The key going forward will be getting all five to contribute against higher caliber competition. Bohannon blossomed with Leuer out and is still shooting the lights out now that he is more aggressive finding shots. Nankivil is more assertive too. Leuer looks closer to 100% after a few tune-ups. But remember that the young Hoosiers turned the ball over 18 times and played uninspired defense all night.

At least for one night, the whole team seemed to put it together. As the first two off Bo Ryan's bench, Ryan Evans showed off his rebounding ability and Rob Wilson displayed his scorer's mentality once again. In fact, Wilson has asserted himself as the team's second best offensive threat in the post. He's decisive, and even then, knows when to stop his move and pass out if he can't get the look he wants.

So if Hughes and Taylor can can clean up the decision-making issues of recent games, you might see an entire starting lineup firing on all cylinders at just the right time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Big Ten Braces For Wild Finish

UPDATE 2/25 - 3:40 PM: Robbie Hummel is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.

After Wisconsin's uncomfortably close home win against Northwestern, it was easy to worry about the Badgers. Wisconsin shot a blistering 75% in the first half against the porous Wildcat defense, but needed every ounce of energy to hold on in the second half. [box score] Even though the team reached the 20-win mark for the sixth time in Bo Ryan's tenure, something has not seemed right as Jon Leuer tries to get assimilated back into the lineup off the bench.

But tight finishes turned out to be the growing norm in the Big Ten this week.

On Wednesday night, Purdue needed a Keaton Grant jumper to overcome Robbie Hummel's knee injury at Minnesota and Ohio State ended up getting all it could handle from Penn State. So if Wisconsin was planning on making up ground when someone else above them stumbled, it's time for Plan B.

Despite splitting it's last four games, Wisconsin still had an efficiency footprint identical to the streaking Boilermakers prior to Wednesday's games. Along with Ohio State, these teams clearly have posted the best combined offensive and defensive efficiency numbers in league play. That is a compliment to how well the team started out in conference. But it's not time to go back to the drawing board for the Badgers, since there is still positioning and seeding to play for.

Among the five top tier teams in the Big Ten, only three of their 21 combined losses have been to "bottom six" conference teams. And those losses came only to Northwestern (twice) and Minnesota (once). So it's safe to assume that Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin can be penciled in for wins against anyone named Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Penn State. That leaves about 3-4 important games left in the Big Ten:

Minnesota @ Illinois (Feb. 27)
Michigan State @ Purdue (Feb. 28)
Illinois @ Ohio State (Mar. 2)
Wisconsin @ Illinois (Mar. 7)
Purdue has now won 10 in a row, but it's reasonable to think they may drop a game or two unexpectedly if Hummel is shelved for an extended period. The Boilers' tilt with the Spartans is the most likely spot. If Purdue can win, say hello to your 2010 champion.

If not, we could be looking at a three-way tie at 14-4, depending of course on OSU's ability to get by Illinois. Illinois has three tough remaining games. Wisconsin should control it's own destiny with respect to finishing above Illinois for fourth place (to keep that other "streak" alive) because of their season finale in Champaign.

Any way you slice it, the top of the Big Ten will be a cluttered mix of quality teams.

: : :

While the Badgers are probably anxious to work out the kinks on their road trip to Bloomington, Trevon Hughes is will continue to move up the Wisconsin record books. With one more steal, Hughes will tie Michael Finley for fifth place in career thefts. With one more made free throw, Pop will tie Dick Cable for ninth on that all-time list.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Prospect Profile: Damarcus Harrison

Damarcus Harrison, SG
6'5" :: 185 lbs.
Class of 2011
Arden (NC) The Christ School [team site]
AAU: Carolina Ravens / Franchize All-Starz / Team Georgia Elite

Scout: 2 Stars * * (SF)
Rivals: 3 Stars * * * (SG)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 87 (#55 > #66 SF)

2009-10: First Team All-State (NCISAA 3A)
2009-10: All-Carolinas Athletic Association

Recent Press
7/16: Peach Jam recap - Rivals
5/22: Damarcus Harrison prepares for hectic summer - Greenwood Index-Journal
5/5: BYU basketball recruiting target Demarcus Harrison has three other offers - Salt Lake Tribune
4/1: Cly can fly -
3/16: Virginia, Wisconsin offer Harrison - Citizen-Times
6/17: S.C. star enrolls at Christ School - Citizen-Times
5/26: BYU basketball will have to wait for "re-classified" Harrison - Salt Lake Tribune

The Verbal
No verbal commitment

The Hype
U17 News and Notes - Palmetto Scouting (5/1/10)
Bob Gibbons Fall Evaluation Clinic Recap - Bob Gibbons All-Star Report (9/26/08)
Boo Williams: Friday night - Rivals (4/12/08)

Highlights: Damarcus Harrison Class of 2011 - Christ School (5/8/10) - YouTube
Highlights: Junior Highlights (2010) - Palmetto Scouting
Highlights: Damarcus Harrison - Class of 2010 - Combo Guard (1/30/08) - YouTube

Junior: 2009-10 (Christ) - MaxPreps (repeat Jr. yr)
Junior: 2008-09 (Greenwood) - MaxPreps

Additional Info
2009-10 Schedule :: Asheville Citizen-Times


Monday, February 22, 2010

Prospect Profile: Mike Shaw

Mike Shaw, PF
6'9" :: 220 lbs.
Class of 2011
Chicago (IL) De La Salle Institute
AAU: Mac Irvin Fire

Scout: 4 Stars * * * * (#15 PF/#66 overall) Previous: #8/#40 > #10/#45 > #13/#64
Rivals: 4 Stars * * * * (#11 PF/#58 overall) Previous: 5 Stars (#7 overall) > 4 Stars (#9/#44 > #51 > #11/#68)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 96 (#11 PF/#59 overall) Previous: 95 (#7 PF/#39 overall)

2010 All-Area (Sun-Times)

Recent Press
7/1: Shaw's recruiting still wide open - Chicago Sun-Times
5/24: De La Salle Star Mike Shaw of the Mac Irvin Fire is Having Fun -
4/11: Boo Williams: Day Two - Rivals
2/22: Juniors Abrams, Shaw shine - ESPN
2/22: De La Salle Star enjoys unofficial visit to Wisconsin over the weekend -
2/21: A big blog on a big weekend - City/Suburban Hoops Report
2/20: De La Salle cruises behind Shaw - Chicago Sun-Times
2/19: Meteors clinch share of Catholic League - Chicago Sun-Times
2/2: Mike Shaw Recruiting Update - NBE Basketball Report
1/15: Meteors come back against Providence - Chicago Sun-Times
12/4: Shaw's double-double- leads Meteors - Chicago Sun-Times
12/1: Recruiting special: Mike Shaw -

The Verbal
No verbal commitment

The Hype
Super sophs lift Meteors past Proviso East - Chicago Sun-Times (3/11/09)
Meteors' Shaw eyes sophomore success - Chicago Sun-Times (11/5/08)
Shaw a Shooting Star on the South Side - ESPN (10/15/08)King James Top Underclassmen - Rivals (4/29/08)
King James - Saturday - Rivals (4/27/08)
Big East Recruiting Database: Mike Shaw - NBE Basketball Report (4/08)
Shaw taking it slow in recruiting - Chicago Sun-Times (3/29/08)
Tough play no problem for Shaw, Meteors - Chicago Sun-Times (2/5/08)
Shaw puts on a show for De La Salle - Chicago Sun-Times (1/11/08)

Highlights: Mike Shaw #2 (3/13/10) - YouTube
Interview: Mike Shaw talks about visiting Illinois, with highlights vs Mt. Carmel (2/23/10) - YouTube
Highlights: Mike Shaw Higlights (12/4/09) - YouTube
Interview: Part 2: Mike Shaw Highlights and Interview with Dan Poneman at the TOC (11/30/09) - YouTube
Interview: Mike Shaw Highlights and Interview with Dan Poneman at the TOC (11/29/09) - YouTube
Highlights: Mike Shaw inbounds alley oop (7/25/09) - YouTube
Highlights: Mike Shaw #1 (7/13/09) - YouTube
Highlights: MidStateHoops Presents Mike Shaw (12/30/07) - YouTube

Sophomore: 2008-09 (De La Salle) - MaxPreps

Additional Info
2009-10 Schedule :: Chicago Sun-Times


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wisconsin Knocked Out Of Big Ten Race

It sucks to be out of the Big Ten Conference title race. Now Wisconsin fans are left to rationalize away the team's downward trending performance because the team has exceeded preseason expectations. Small consolation. The Badgers are 3-3 in their last six games and sit in fifth place.

What sucks worse is getting blown out in the last two losses to unranked teams and losing three in a row to Minnesota. And this one was a thrashing.

Tubby Smith mulled over a twin towers starting lineup for this game, but it didn't matter who started. Minnesota's height and length was too much for No. 14 Wisconsin, starting with Ralph Sampson III. The Gophers out-rebounded the Badgers 36-20 in a game where every tipped ball, bounce and call seemed to go Minnesota's way. [box score]

Prior to tip-off, I suspected that Wisconsin needed to pounce on Minnesota early and limit its turnovers to have success at the Barn. The Gophers have lacked confidence lately and called a players only meeting earlier this week in an effort to manufacture some confidence. A fast start by UW could have really frustrated a team like that. But even though Wisconsin controlled the ball well, the Badgers couldn't sustain a 6-0 lead.

In fact, once Jon Leuer checked in, Minnesota rattled off a 14-2 run and never trailed thereafter. Leuer got some open looks but didn't quite look up to game speed. The bandaged wrist appeared to prevent him from grabbing a couple rebounds with both hands properly and he failed to convert a bunny that he normally would have dunked. It will take a few more games to get the big guy comfortable again.

Blake Hoffarber got loose for 12 of his 16 points in the first half, hitting from all angles, and also pulled down a game-high 9 boards. Nice game. Wisconsin shut him down in the second, but the end of the first half ensured that the Badgers would be playing uphill the rest of the night.

Trailing by just five with under a minute until halftime, Ryan Evans got called for a horrendous loose ball foul on a rebound he corralled fair and square with two hands above Justin Cobbs. Bo Ryan, naturally got T'd up and the Goofs hit all four gift free throws. Just like that, it's a nine-point game.

Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes combined for 37 points, including 9-of-19 3-point shooting, but the "Minnesota Baadgers" let the team down. Jordan Taylor, Jon Leuer and Mike Bruesewitz shot a combined 3-of-22 from the floor. Taylor had two indefensible (and uncharacteristic) turnovers, while Bruesewitz fouled out after 20 minutes of play and four rebounds.

Rob Wilson was credited with one minute of PT in a game where UW had trouble getting to the rim and drawing fouls. Go figure.

Parting thoughts
:: Hughes was nearly invisible during the game's first 10 minutes. He really stepped up his defensive intensity in the second half, including a highlight-reel theft from Devoe Joseph that led to Pop's layup and three-point play opportunity. Where was that intensity from Hughes earlier? He needs to put together a complete game for 40 minutes ... it's been awhile.

:: Stories about Lawrence Westbrook's attitude and his odd relationship with teammates and coaches have surfaced this year. So his petty attempted dunk over Keaton Nankivil at the end of the game just cemented his status as the least likable player in the Big Ten. Westbrook appeared to be dribbling out the game's final seconds when he realized the shot clock was going to expire so he blew by Hughes and went to the goal hard. Keep in mind Westbrook had not scored a field goal all night until this point. I doubt he would have tried that garbage if the Gophers were losing. Any way, I'm just as disappointed that Nankivil didn't deliver a harder foul.

:: A throw-away line in Tom Oates' article yesterday stated that Wisconsin "reduced its turnovers to a trickle" when Taylor replaced Leuer in the starting lineup. That got me thinkin' (and fact checkin'). Wisconsin actually committed 36 turnovers in the four Big Ten games before Leuer's injury (9 TOs/g) and 70 in nine games without him (under 8 TOs/g). Tonight in his return, Wisconsin only turned the ball over five times so it wasn't a Taylor-Leuer thing.

:: Wisconsin has only one more chance for a good road win, that one being at Illinois to finish the conference slate. Without Wisconsin's two miraculous comebacks against doormats Michigan and Penn State, this team would be .500 in league play right now, theoretically having lost six out of nine games. Thank goodness for reality ...

:: The Badgers clearly struggle with tall teams, having missed on all their recent recruits at the center position. While J.P. Gavinski and Ian Markolf ride the pine indefinitely, it is most frustrating that redshirt freshman Jared Berggren has a warm seat next to them. Rumors of Berggren's off-season progress were evidently way overblown.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Borrowing From The Neighbors

The overall amount of major Division 1 talent in Wisconsin might not compare to Minnesota every year, but it's getting better. And while many highly skilled prospects have left the Badger State in recent years, very few of them wind up playing for our western neighbors. Unfortunately for Gopher fans, the fact that you cannot say the same for Minnesota is a topic that has been beaten into the ground.

In anticipation of tomorrow's border clash between Wisconsin and Minnesota, here's a look at the contributions of each team's respective "traitors" this season:

Allow me to remind you that Bostick missed the first six games of the season due to a suspension and Leuer has missed the last nine games due to injury. So the percentages in the table above are actually lower than they ought to be because they are based on total team minutes, not the net available minutes for each player.

Spicy Links:
- Some Minnesota bloggers are imploring the fan base to stay on the bandwagon and consider how poorly the team was doing before Tubby Smith arrived. I found one of the comments underneath the article the most interesting. Not having paid much attention to the Goofs this season, apparently they have had a lot of trouble closing out games. Sounds like Wisconsin last year. Even though Minnesota is headed for the NIT, I think this group could be a surprise team next year if they get tougher mentally and expectations are down to earth.
- did another quick review of former Badger ballers that are playing professionally.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Leuer Has No Doubts About Wrist's Health

The big news on Monday was that Jon Leuer was back practicing with his teammates just like old times and there were no complications. Leuer also spoke with the local media for the first time since the injury. [video]

After reading hints that a Leuer return might be imminent, it appears that UW's leading scorer has a great chance to play on Thursday night against Minnesota. Leuer mentioned the range of motion and weight exercises he worked on with the training staff and said he is "really confident" in his wrist going forward, whether it be finishing strong at the rack or just getting hit inadvertantly.

"I feel like I'm game-ready right now," Leuer said. "I've been able to work out and run and condition so I feel like I'm in really good shape and hopefully I can just do whatever I can to help the team."

Props to the medical staff for getting Leuer prepared to return just five weeks after the injury occurred.

"Right now, I'm just taking it day-by-day and seeing if there's any pain or much I can tolerate," Leuer continued. "Today went well."

For now Leuer will continue to practice with the wrist heavily taped, no special cast needed. He sounds really anxious to help the team win once again and the timing could hardly have been better. Wisconsin will attempt to erase the memories of last year's breakdowns (plural) against the Gophers. At the same time, it is yet another must-win for a contender seeking another Big Ten title.

Team Slips In Polls, J-Bo Rises In Charts

Wisconsin dropped three spots in each of the new Associated Press (#14) and USA Today/ESPN Coaches (#16) polls out today thanks to last week's home loss to Illinois. The Badgers got leapfrogged by red hot Ohio State and a gaggle of mid-majors.

Still, in the AP's eyes, UW has four wins over the nation's top 11 teams. The team probably has it's confidence back too after the 83-55 demolition of Indiana this past Saturday. Wisconsin jumped out to a 12-point lead within the first five minutes, scored 46 first-half points and at one time held a 35-point lead. The Hoosiers were just what the doctor ordered ...

Jason Bohannon was the catalyst, notching a career-high 30 points and tying a school record for 3-pointers (7) in a game. J-Bo shot so well that he was allowed to rest at the end of the game -- he played an unusually low 32 minutes in the blowout. I cannot believe how open Indiana left him.

For the the sake of matchups, Mike Bruesewitz stepped in for Keaton Nankivil (20 mins) with seven rebounds in 18 minutes. Six of his boards were on the offensive end, continuing Bruiser's season-long proficiency in that area. Nankivil and Trevon Hughes grabbed six rebounds apiece also. If there was a down side, it was Hughes going scoreless in the second half after dominating with 16 points in the opening half.

While Nankivil and Bohannon got some rest, the five days until UW's next game is where the real recovery will come from. In light of Jon Leuer's return to practice, I think Wisconsin should be an energized bunch as it enters the stretch run of the conference season. At 19-6 and 9-4 in the Big Ten, the Badgers are already about to exceed my modest expectations, which for the record was a non-committal 10 or 11 wins in league play and a 20-10 record prior to the Big Ten tourney.

Here's a a look at how the two senior guards' progress on a few all-time lists after the weekend:

Player - Career 3-Pointers (Season Total)
1. Tim Locum - 227
2. Kirk Penney - 217
3. Michael Finley - 213
4. Jason Bohannon - 200 (56)
5. Trent Jackson - 193

Player - Career 3-Point Attempts (Season Total)
1. Michael Finley - 631
2. Kirk Penney - 561
3. Jason Bohannon - 523 (139)
4. Devin Harris - 499
5. Tim Locum - 481
6. Sean Mason - 471
7. Trevon Hughes - 437 (137)
8. Kammron Taylor - 430
8. Trent Jackson - 430
10. Tracy Webster - 406

Player - Career Free Throws (Season Total)
8. Sean Mason - 332
9. Dick Cable - 316
10. Trevon Hughes - 310 (83)
passed Paul Morrow - 307

Player - Career Free Throw Attempts (Season Total)
7. Joe Franklin - 476
8. Paul Morrow - 449
9. Trevon Hughes - 431 (117)
10. James Johnson - 429

Speaking of Tracey Webster ... oops!

Prospect Profile: Mycheal Henry

Mycheal Henry, SF
6'6" :: 215 lbs.
Class of 2011
Chicago (IL) Orr HS
AAU: Mac Irvin Fire / Rising Stars

Scout: 4 Stars * * * * (#19 SF/#86 overall) Previous: NR (SF) > 3 Stars (SG) > 4 Stars (#21/#66 > #22 SG/#62 overall)
4 Stars * * * * (#6 SF/#36 overall) Previous: NR > 5 Stars (#4/#18) > 4 Stars (#6 SF/#20 overall)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 81 (#89) > 87 (#56 > #61 > #65 SF)

2010 Third Team All-City (Sun-Times)
2010 All-Area (Sun-Times)

Recent Press
4/29: No leader for Mycheal Henry -
4/13: Recruiting wrap: Class of 2011 revisited -
2/28: Beware of the scary hired guns - City/Suburban Hoops Report
2/14: Chicago Orr Star Mychael Henry Picks Up Scholarship Offer form Wisconsin -
2/13: Orr's Henry nabs Big Ten offer - City/Suburban Hoops Report
2/10: Harris helps Hyde Park get by Orr - Chicago Sun-Times
1/18: Henry help s Orr hold off Lake Forest Academy - Chicago Tribune
1/1: MLK edges Chicago Orr -

The Verbal
Illinois lands Mycheal Henry - City/Suburban Hoops Report (5/10/10)

The Hype
Making a name - ESPNChicago (4/27/10)
Plenty of 2011 stars make jump - City/Suburban Hoops Report (4/13/10)
Henry has Illini's attention - (3/2/10)
Illinois wing gains Wisconsin offer; Hoyas next? - Scouts, Inc. (2/16/10)
Starks gets Young rolling versus Orr - Chicago Sun-Times (1/13/10)
Stars again prove rep as tournament titans - Suburban Journals (1/5/10)
Orr plays spoiler against Crete-Monee - Chicago Sun-Times (12/19/09)
School Daze: Road Trip - SLAM (7/20/09)
Orr soph Henry starts to show his skills - Chicago Sun-Times (1/22/09)

Highlight: Mycheal Henry - Orr 2011 - Highlight Mixtape (3/11/10)
Game: Orr vs. Hyde Park - CPS Playoffs (2/14/10)
Highlight: Mychael Henry Dunks on 6 ft 10 in - YouTube (1/5/10)

Game: 1/9/10 (Or vs. Detroit Romulus) -

Additional Info
2009-10 Schedule :: Chicago Sun-Times


Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Burger Love For Cheeseheads

Update: Four 2010 McDonald's All-Americans will be heading to the Big Ten next season, two to Ohio State and one each to Michigan State and Illinois.

The 2010 McDonald's All-Americans will be announced this afternoon at 4:30 CT. While the value of such a designation is clearly overblown, it is nevertheless a prestigious honor for those chosen to be a "Burger Boy."

Out of the scores of nominees for the honor, 19 players were nominated from the state of Wisconsin. Many figured that former UW recruit Vander Blue had a remote (if not better) shot at making it to the McDonald's All-American Game heading into the season. But Blue's season has been merely very good, rather than spectacular, so Wisconsin will likely once again have no representation.

Badger freshman-to-be Duje Dukan was nominated from the state of Illinois.

Nominees from Wisconsin:

NameHigh SchoolCity
Evan AndersonEau Claire North HSEau Claire
Vander BlueJames Madison Memorial HSMadison
T.J. BrayCatholic Memorial HSWaukesha
Rashaad BrownMilwaukee Riverside University HSMilwaukee
Josh GasserPort Washington HSPort Washington
Troy HuffBrookfield AcademyBrookfield
Chimankinda Kadima-KalomboMilwaukee Lutheran HSMilwaukee
Kyle KelmRandolph HSRandolph
Reid KoenenThe Prairie SchoolRacine
Mikael LuterDominican HSWhitefish Bay
Marquis MasonMadison East HSMadison
Steve McWhorterSt. Catherines HSRacine
Jacob MerkGreendale HSGreendale
Ben MillsArrowhead HSHartland
Silas MillsRufus King HSMilwaukee
Justin NewellRufus King HSMilwaukee
Chip RankCedarburg HSCedarburg
Evan RichardCuba City HSCuba City
Steve TeckerNorthwestern HSMaple

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Demetri McCamey Game

I'm not sure what I just witnessed.

Wait, yes I do. That was a beat down. And the result was No. 11 Wisconsin's first loss to a unranked Big Ten team at home under Bo Ryan.

Wisconsin was cruising in the early going, but could not stop Demetri McCamey at any point in this game. Illinois embarrassed Wisconsin with the pick-and-roll. I did not see any real adjustment at halftime, which means the Badgers let the Illini stars beat them instead of forcing some of the unproven Illinois players to make plays.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin struggled mightily to finish any plays at the rim. Ever since Jon Leuer went down and Wisconsin put on it's "perimeter-oriented team" pants, you knew this game was coming. Wisconsin scored just one (!) meaningful basket in the final 9:56 of the contest. The Badgers settled for 30 attempts from 3-point land. [box score]

McCamey scored 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting while handing out 7 assists. He set up Mike Tisdale time after time, allowing the 7'1" center to have a remarkable shooting game of his own (8-of-11, 19 points). In fact, Tisdale's early buckets were about the only thing keeping Illinois from getting blown out in the first half. Wisconsin went into the break up, 35-33, on a Trevon Hughes 3-pointer.

Both Hughes and Jordan Taylor left their best defense in the locker room tonight. But their job was made nearly impossible because they could not trust their interior help defense to stop McCamey. McCamey caught fire hitting shots over the Badger guards and then simply toyed with Keaton Nankivil when there was a switch on the pick. When he's on, McCamey can drive or stop and pop; he kept Wisconsin off guard all night.

It was probably one of the most frustrating games of Hughes' career. His body language was awful and he couldn't get anything going. Pop shot a horrendous 22% (4-of-18) from the field. He led the Badgers into panic mode late with an increasingly poor shot selection once Illinois took command. He's got to learn from this game and get back into early-season form.

Jason Bohannon led Wisconsin with 15 points. His shot looked great. But no one else was effective. I am shocked that Rob Wilson did not play more in the second half. Among significant contributors, the team's offensive efficiency was the highest (1.07 PPP) when Wilson was on the court. (ed. note: Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren posted nice efficiency numbers over a small sample size)

Some interesting touch fouls at times during the game, yet none of the typical calls you expect around the basket. Wisconsin was visibly frustrated by this. But UW got most of the favorable calls anyway, so I'm not complaining.

Instead of rising to second place in the Big Ten, Wisconsin (18-6, 8-4) drops to fifth for now. Illinois (17-8, 9-3) takes one more step closer to Michigan State.

Monday, February 8, 2010

On the Stove Top: 2/8/10

Unfortunately, I still have not seen the Wisconsin-Michigan game in it's entirety due to the Camp Randall Classic festivities. I caught glimpses of the second half and apparently I missed all the good parts. Because neither team wanted to score in the final 10 minutes. [box score]

There's no doubt that Jason Bohannon has hit his stride. J-Bo destroyed Michigan with 64% shooting, adding four rebounds and five assists. In the process of leading UW's long-distance barrage, Bohannon passed Devin Harris on Wisconsin's all-time 3-pt FG and 3-pt FG attempts lists.

: : :

Illinois is a team I feared would give Wisconsin fits after Jon Leuer went down, due to their skilled big men. But the other reason was Demetri McCamey, one of the few point guards around who can overpower a Trevon Hughes or Jordan Taylor. While Wisconsin seems to have figured things out heading into Tuesday's game with the Illini, McCamey is on top of his game also. The junior shared Big Ten Player of the Week honors with high school teammate Evan Turner for this past week. McCamey scored 23 point and dropped 11 dimes in Illinois' win over Michigan State.

Meanwhile, Illinois' front court has not been all it was cracked up to be this season. Mike Davis lost his starting job four games ago. Center Mike Tisdale will be playing at less than 100% versus the Badgers after injuring a different knee in each of the past two games.

: : :

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus blogged about Jon Leuer's Sunday shootaround with coach Gary Close. Apparently Leuer's wrist has been healing well enough to impress onlookers with his accuracy. It's a great sign, but there's still no timetable for his return. It's a big step from shooting to colliding with another 6'10" dude for 40 minutes.

: : :

Rob Wilson got a little media ink last Friday when the Journal-Sentinel did a nice summary of his recent improvement. Wilson continued to play well on the road against Michigan, playing 20 turnover-free minutes. His scoring was down (5 pts), but he chipped in three rebounds and got to the line.

"He is tough driving into the lane," Bo Ryan said of Wilson. "He's got that little floater that when he is on the scout team we have a hard time stopping."

At the risk of jumping to conclusions, I hinted after the Purdue game that Bo was starting to transition away from heavy use of Tim Jarmusz now that some of his younger players are stepping up. Even though Ryan Evans only played 25 minutes in the next two games, Wilson has played 44 minutes to TJ's 45 minutes since then.

: : :

Howard Moore continues to recruit Chicago. Illinois Prep Bullseye reported that Moore was spotted a couple weeks ago at a Chicago De LaSalle game with his eyes on junior Mike Shaw and freshman Alex Foster:

"Among the coaches in the gym were University Of Illinois head coach Bruce Weber, Purdue University assistant coach Rick Ray and University Of Wisconsin assistant coach Howard Moore.

"Weber was also there to get yet another look at De LaSalle's talented underclass duo of 6'8 class of 2011 forward Mike Shaw and 6'7 class of 2013 forward Alex Foster. Ray's main focus was on Foster, who has already received a scholarship offer from Purdue (as well as Illinois), while Moore was also taking a close look at both Shaw and Foster."
Shaw has been ballyhooed for years and would seem like an odd player to recruit considering the AAU handlers that seemed to be involved in his recruitment. That leads me to believe Moore was particularly interested in Foster, one of three Class of 2013 youngsters being hailed as the collective second coming in Illinois.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vote Hughes For Cousy Award

Wisconsin senior Trevon Hughes was named one of 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award yesterday. The award is given annually by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation's top point guard.

Whoever wins the online Fan Voting will get an extra vote in committee's final voting. So vote! You don't have anything better to do, do ya?

Hughes is up against some tough competition, with the likes of John Wall, Jon Scheyer, Scottie Reynolds and Sherron Collins in the mix too. Pop has run into his share of snags in the Big Ten season, but is still having a phenomonal year for the Badgers. He leads the team in scoring, steals, free throws and 3-pointers.

The winner will be announced on April 5.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wisconsin Delivers A Decisive First Loss

Michigan State's dreams of an undefeated Big Ten campaign were dashed convincingly by the hot-shooting Wisconsin Badgers, 67-49, at the Kohl Center Tuesday night. For the moment, Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3) has gained sole possession of second place in the Big Ten conference race.

The keys to the game were evident. I counted four of them. Wisconsin got out to a big early lead, shot well, dominated the turnover battle and limited MSU's second chances.

The Badgers jumped all over the fifth-ranked Spartans right from the outset, perhaps due to Greg Gard's preparation that Bo Ryan gushed about in his legendary post-game interview with Erin Andrews (those facial expressions!). It was crucial that the team was able to maintain the early energy and a nice 8-1 cushion.

Keep in mind that Michigan State (19-4,9-1) seemed to be hitting everything in sight at this point also. The Spartans were not punch drunk. However, when MSU did miss, a Badger was there to clean the glass. Wisconsin refused to falter despite Trevon Hughes sitting with early foul trouble. The Badgers stayed aggressive and extended the early lead to 34-17, finally carrying a 15-point lead into the break. [box score]

I was completely wrong about Jason Bohannon in my game preview. Not only did he break out of a recent slump with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, but he bottled up Chris Allen on defense. Quite a performance for J-Bo, hitting step backs, treys and just being opportunistic.

Joining Bohannon in playing all 40 minutes was sophomore Jordan Taylor. Can you believe Bo gets this kid for two more full seasons? Hughes on the bench in the first half and forcing shots early in the second half, Taylor never skipped a beat. He acts like he already knows it's his team. Taylor added 4 rebounds and 4 assists to his 17 points, turning the ball over only once.

Props to Ryan Evans for grabbing some big rebounds and Keaton Nankivil for playing good position defense. But Rob Wilson was impressive too, hitting all five of his shots for 10 points. He was aggressive when posting up and looked comfortable doing it. Contributions from all angles basically broke Michigan State's spirit. Wisconsin's timely shots never gave the Spartans a chance to come up for air.

When you add in the unfortunate injury to Kalin Lucas, the Spartans never really had a prayer. The Badgers shot over 50% from the floor. While four Badgers scored in double figures, it took a late flurry for the first Spartan (Durrell Summers) to crack that same barrier. Oddly, Korie Lucious indicated that the team saw the writing on the wall before the game:

"In practice, we just haven't been bringing it like we should have," Lucious said. "We haven't had the energy like we should have and Coach (Izzo) has been telling us that for the last couple days."

Michigan State eventually padded their rebounding totals (31 total, 11 offensive) in part because of their own turnovers (13). They were able to corral nearly 38% of their own misses, far above the lofty standard Wisconsin usually surrenders. That statistic did not translate into any momentum whatsoever though.

It should also be noted that once Hughes got his head back into the game, he made several great passes and paced Wisconsin with 7 assists against only one turnover. The team had only five turnovers in all.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I'll admit that the Duke win was the statement game of the year for the Badgers. But after losing in East Lansing and West Lafayette, Wisconsin's home bout with No. 5 Michigan State is the best opportunity for a rebuttal.

Sure, the game is at home and the Badgers are slight favorites in Vegas. But this game has become a very important game annually for both teams. A Wisconsin win would give not only UW, but every other Big Ten contender a glimmer of hope. The Badgers fight on behalf of all those battling the tyranny of green 'n white and the impending apocalypse brought forth by a slightly tweaked logo.

No joke: If Wisconsin fails to hold serve tonight versus Michigan State, it will be an absolute dogfight for second place in the Big Ten. The title will be out of sight.

So who has the edge? Michigan State has an impressive stable full of athletes. But if it was all about athleticism, the Spartans would win the conference every year. We know better.

Back court: Even

The Badger trio of Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor have logged heavy minutes since Jon Leuer's injury and each has struggled with his shot. It seems Michigan State, like Wisconsin, has settled into a three-guard lineup also. Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Durrell Summers is playing too well to sit right now.

I cannot predict the individual matchups, since the thought of J-Bo guarding any of the Spartans gives me nightmares. Hughes and Taylor will probably take turns checking Kalin Lucas at some point. Bohannon can be neutralized by either Summers or Chris Allen, so I bet we see a lot of Rob Wilson. This really comes down to whether Lucas or Hughes takes control and that looks like a push in the pre-game. Hughes must bounce back.

Reserve guard Korie Lucious will be returning to his home state and has improved, but I don't think he'll be a positive factor for the Spartans. As I said earlier, Wilson will get a lot of PT if he can 'D' up and be decisive against MSU's pressure. His progress has been encouraging lately.

Front court: Advantage Michigan State

Scarier here. If Tim Jarmusz can freeze Manny Harris, he can probably hold his own against Raymar Morgan 6 or 7 times out of 10. What worries you is the other 30% of the time when Morgan is really clicking. The funny thing is the similarity between Morgan and Keaton Nankivil in that respect. Nankivil likely goes up against sophomore Delvon Roe to start, switching to whatever big guy is first off the Spartan bench. I hope Nankivil has been practicing his shot fakes inside.

Minus Leuer, Michigan State's advantage here is magnified because of 6th man du jour Draymond Green. Green has been fantastic for MSU and even leads the team in steals. Ryan Evans can physically match up with Roe off the bench, but I think Mike Bruesewitz could thrive in this type of physical game. Either way, I don't think Jared Berggren's footwork is quick enough for an appearance barring foul trouble.

Coaching: Even

Ha, not even going there. I'd love for Bo to continue his Kohl Center dominance (6-0) against Tom Izzo and I think it's within reach. The Badgers just need to shoot well. However, the matchups are not delicious and a poor outside shooting night will lead to dozens of Michigan State rebounds. The Spartans will be a big enough challenge on the offensive glass.

I will stay above the Bo-Izzo "feud" (mostly because I couldn't find any video of Izzo crying), but I did appreciate Ron Burgundy questioning Izzo's dwarf status at the end of this video.

Intangibles: Advantage Wisconsin

Bucky has the home court, which outweighs the "Michigan State is on a roll factor." The Spartans don't quite have the superlative depth that I thought they did either. Izzo plays seven guys between 20 and 30 mpg and everyone else less than 8 mpg. The Spartans technically go 9-deep with a couple of big freshmen providing rest and extra fouls, but not much more than that. Wisconsin has been going about 8-deep if you count Bruesewitz, with a wider disparity in minutes from top to bottom.

If anything, I tend to underrate the value of the Badgers guards' experience, which is why I rated the back courts equally. So that brings us back to even after four categories. I fully expect this one to come down to the wire.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Recruit Review: Jan '10

Since the month of January is officially in the books, what better time to post the first Recruit Review of the season? Wisconsin has a total of five committed players (three signed, two verballed) coming to Madison in the next two classes, and they stack up nicely position-wise.

Two of the seniors look particularly strong and all the players are enjoying some level of team success coming into the home stretch of the high school season.


:: You could put the senior season Duje Dukan has had so far up against any one in Illinois right now. Deerfield (18-1) finished the month of January on a 14-game winning streak, aided by Dukan's 33 points -- 16 in the third quarter -- against Hershey recently. The 6'8" Dukan averaged over 24 points and 10 rebounds for the month.

"We told him before the season, 'You're going to be a marked man in every game,' " Deerfield coach Bret Just said. "But he likes challenges, comes up big. Always. He causes problems for defenses, doesn't he? He can handle the ball, post up, hit three-pointers. We're lucky to have him."

Dukan has come up big in a few crucial games for the Warriors. He pulled down 25 rebounds in Deerfield's sweep of rival Highland Park this season and his 22 points, 11 rebounds and clutch free throws helped beat Central Suburban League powerhouse Glenbrook North, 56-52, on Jan. 14. Needless to say Dukan is the biggest reason Deerfield now sits atop CSLs' North division standings. The senior has thrown his hat into the ring for Illinois' Mr. Basketball as well as proving he can be a serious scorer down the road for Bo Ryan's Badgers.

:: Josh Gasser is averaging nearly 24 ppg this season for Port Washington (12-2), which is clinging to a one-game lead in the North Shore conference after Friday night's two-point setback at Germantown. The loss snapped an 8-game winning streak. Just a week prior, Gasser scored 28 pts in three quarters of play against Grafton, part of a four-game stretch last month when averaged over 30 ppg.

Gasser projects as a combo guard at the next level. He still loves getting to the line and remains one of the state's top free throw shooters. Gasser has posted three 30-point nights this year. He has positioned himself to make a run at Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball award if the Pirates play deep into the state tournament, despite playing in Division 2.

:: The Eau Claire North Huskies (10-5) have struggled through a mediocre start to the new year, dropping four of their last eight games. Evan Anderson is averaging around 10 ppg so far, with his season-high of 19 points coming way back in the first game of the season. The Huskies already trail Eau Claire Memorial by several games in the Big Rivers Conference. Returning to the state tournament will be a tall task.

By now everyone has given up on Anderson dominating high school force. He dropped off the Rivals150 list last fall and you would probably get 1:1 odds for Anderson redshirting next fall at Wisconsin. The big man continues to block shots on defense, but still struggles to produce against the junk defenses thrown at him on offense. Still, he will likely finish with the highest scoring average of his career. New head coach Aric Carpenter has slowly opened up North's offense and his team exploded for a 76-46 win over Rice Lake last week. Anderson scored the game's first eight points.


:: Wisconsin's most recent commitment came from point guard George Marshall, who has been compared to VCU great Eric Maynor. You usually find Marshall scoring in the teens and playing some pressure defense. The junior has missed all but two minutes of his squad's last three Chicago Public League Red-South games with a hip injury. He returned to action with nine points on Saturday to lead his Brooks Prep mates to a 23-point drubbing of Von Steuben.

Facing high preseason expectations, Brooks (18-7) stumbled out of the gates this year and the team struggled with turnovers at times. Two weeks ago, Brooks beat Nicolet in the Extravaganza thanks to the Marshall's own game-winner in the final 20 seconds. After a 12-game January, the Eagles now prepare for the tough CPL playoffs.

:: After transferring from Romeoville to nearby Bolingbrook this season, Devon Hodges sat out a few of his team's early games. He helped push the 'Brook past his former teammates in his second game even though he was not starting yet. Since then, Badger fans should be happy to hear that Hodges has made some steady improvement in his game, not the least of which is some consistency.

Hodges has had good games in defeat (19 pts, 12 rebs vs. Hales) before, but lately has picked up his scoring to help the Raiders snap a 4-game skid. In back-to-back wins against Hillcrest and Joliet, Hodges averaged 18 pts and 10 rebs for Bolingbrook. The wins put the Raiders (11-7, 4-2) back in the Southwest Suburban Conference Blue division race.

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