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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Down To The Wire With Wofford

In Friday's opening round action, #4 seed Wisconsin survived the 13th-seeded Terriers rather than tame them.

The Badgers set themselves up for a tight finish in the first half, failing to pull away from Wofford when the Terriers went over nine minutes without a field goal. An eight-point halftime lead evaporated in a hurry when Wofford went unconscious to start the second half to lead 38-37. Give the Terriers credit: they were confident and hit some tough shots. But they didn't have to face UW's A-game by any stretch.

Wisconsin's perimeter defense was lackadaisical pretty much all game. The Wisconsin guards appeared slow of foot, allowing Wofford to get into the lane at will. This opened up a bevy of pull-up jumpers in the paint. Even when they didn't go in, defensive rotations allowed the Terriers to pick up tons of easy second-chance hoops around the basket. Maybe the Badgers were looking ahead to the kind of defense they want to extend to Cornell's 3-point shooters?? Okay, maybe not ...

Jon Leuer (20 pts, 8 rebs) was the star of the day, as he was impossible for Wofford to stop defensively. It was almost criminal that Wisconsin didn't force feed Leuer in the post during the stretch run. Instead UW tried to hang him out high running a fruitless pick-and-roll routine.

Luckily Leuer kept his touch in tact. After hitting the go-ahead jumper with 20 seconds remaining, Leuer also came up with the defensive play of the game by moving his feet against the smaller Cameron Rundles and forcing a ball handling mistake out-of-bounds. He also hit two clutch free throws in a game where neither team seemed to want the freebies. [box score]

It was refreshing to see Trevon Hughes get out to a hot start in this one, which allowed UW to overcome Jason Bohannon's goose egg. Thankfully Hughes also avoided going into full-on "Bad Pop" mode and was able to find Leuer for the winning shot rather than force up a ridiculous shot.

Hughes finished with 19 points, many of them on early drives to the hoop. Amazingly, the Badgers attempted only nine 3-pointers, their lowest total of the entire season.

Bohannon really seems like an all-or-nothing guy. I liked running a specific play for him coming out of halftime. You could tell by that play that Bo knew he needed a third scorer to get things going from the outside to make life easier. I wish they had made more of an effort to get him the ball earlier.

As for J-Bo's defense, what does it say about Bo's respect for Rob Wilson's defense to not put him in at all? I cannot wait until Bo is forced to play Wilson next year. He should have gotten at least a brief audition yesterday and it's hard to believe it's the end of the season and Wilson hasn't earned Bo's confidence yet.

Oh, and props to Jordan Taylor for hustling to poke the ball out of Jamar Diggs's control from behind to a waiting Hughes, whose ensuing lay in gave UW a 49-48 lead. For that, Taylor, you earned bragging rights.

: : :

In high school hoops, the Madison Memorial Spartans will go for back-to-back Division 1 state championships tomorrow night after blowing away Appleton East, 68-48. Their opponent will be 7'1" Boise State recruit Ben Mills and his Arrowhead cronies. Arrowhead narrowly survived a comeback bid by Milwaukee Marquette by hitting a banked 3-pointer in the final seconds. Marquette had upset powerhouse Milwaukee Hamilton the night before. That's March Madness folks.

Mills has looked pretty mobile at the state tournament and might be the best prep big man in Wisconsin. Of course, it's easy for him to move fluidly when he weighs, what, about 190 pounds?! Regardless of his build, he's scored 42 points in two games and has one more to play.

In Division 3 -- you guessed it -- Racine St. Catherine's is back to face another private school in the title game. Meanwhile, Randolph looks capable of moving to 29-0 and taking home yet another gold ball, led by UW-Milwaukee recruit Kyle Kelm.


  1. Jordan Taylor got totally taken out of his game by his silly schoolyard rivalry. He deserves no kudos. Leuer should have had 40 this game.

  2. Even so, it was arguably the most important (or second most-important) play of the game. Big swing there for Bucky.


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