Just another Bo Ryan campaign

first_imgThe Badger basketball team struggled once it reached the postseason, falling in the round of 64 to Ole Miss. The 57-46 loss showcased Wisconsin\’s inconsistency shooting the basketball in 2013.[/media-credit]Starters: B-Wisconsin’s starting five provided, as usual, the bulk of the offense this season, scoring on average 70 percent of the team’s total points per game. Defensively, the group was as solid as any in the country, spearheading a Badger defense that ranked top in the Big Ten and seventh nationally, allowing just 55.9 points per game.This was a balanced group across the board, but the Badgers suffered at times because there was no go-to guy like Jordan Taylor a season ago to look to during crunch time or offensive droughts. Just two players in the starting five registered in the conference’s top 30 scorers, a compliment to UW’s balance, but also a damnation of the starters’ weak offensive production.Senior forward Jared Berggren proved, always an extremely reliable defender, set the Wisconsin program record in blocks this season while altering so many of his opponents shots with his lane presence. But foul trouble plagued Berggren late in the year and often disappeared offensively for long stretches.Junior guard Ben Brust developed into a more well-rounded offensive threat and greatly improved on defense after being thrust into the starting lineup after Josh Gasser’s ACL injury in the preseason. Brust brought his scoring average up to 11.1 points per game this season, leading the team in that category.Besides Brust and Berggren earning All-Big Ten recognition in some form or another, neither sophomore point guard Traevon Jackson nor redshirt senior forwards Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans performed at a continued high level for more than two games in a row during the season.Because of two players, this group gets above an average grade. If not for Brust and Berggren, it might have been an F.Bench: B-If one player can ever singularly define the work of an entire group, that player was Sam Dekker.For the greater part of the 2012-13 season, the freshman forward was the lone source of offensive production for a unit that otherwise relied heavily on its starting five to score. The freshman missed out on the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year award but put together one of the finest freshman campaigns from a Badger in recent memory. Building a reputation for hitting shots that often turned the tide in Wisconsin’s favor, Dekker led UW in both overall and three-point shooting percentage on his way to posting 9.6 points per game.Aside from Dekker, it was sophomore forward Frank Kaminsky and redshirt freshman guard George Marshall who proved as the only other significant bench contributors. Kaminsky served as a serviceable backup to Jared Berggren in protecting the post, finishing the year with 17 blocks. But the offensive outbursts – like his 19-point outburst against Illinois – were too rare for him to fill in as a scorer in Berggren’s absence.After losing an early-season battle for the starting point guard spot, Marshall’s ankle-tying crossover and speed were a valuable change of pace from usual starter Traevon Jackson. The shifty redshirt freshman never reached double figures again after breaking out for 20 in a mid-January loss to Iowa, proving most valuable as a defender.Offense: DThere’s no easy way to put it: The Badgers stunk in 2012-13 when it came to scoring points. Like the patented 10-plus minute scoring drought that has become a trademark of head coach Bo Ryan’s teams for the last three years, Wisconsin was often night and day when it came to offensive production.There were the games where the team looked like world beaters, such as the road upset against Indiana, a home thrashing of Ohio State and two solid wins against top 10 teams in the Big Ten Tournament. But there also games where the team looked like they couldn’t beat a rec team, such as mind-numbingly cold shooting performances against Ohio State and Ole Miss at the end of the year.The Badgers had plenty of talent that could score. But too often the Badgers would fall in love with the three-point shot. The offense, in turn, lived and died by the success from beyond the arc. In all but three of the team’s 12 losses on the year, the team failed to shoot more than 30 percent from deep. In fact, there were several instances this year where 50 percent or more of UW’s shots came from beyond the arc.In 10 of Wisconsin’s 12 losses this year, the team failed to score more than 60 points. And the only player to register in the conference’s top 15 field goal percentage was freshman Sam Dekker.For that, the Badgers get a big ugly grade.Defense: A-Even for a program built around forcing opposing offenses into extreme discomfort, it is fair to say defense carried Wisconsin to its fourth-place Big Ten finish.When the shots did not fall – an all too common issue for the Badgers – their ability to slow down even the nation’s most prolific offenses (think Indiana) kept them in games. Limiting opponents to 55.9 points per game – tops in the conference and second only to Florida among teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament – it took time for the Badgers to find their collective offensive identity.Sitting at 7-4 through the season’s opening stretch, less-heralded defensive players like senior forward Ben Brust and sophomore guard Traevon Jackson made impressive strides to help Bo Ryan to his seventh-straight 20-win season. Their growth, coupled with the defensive anchors of senior forwards Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans, usually proved enough to withstand lengthy scoring droughts.In his final year on the floor, Berggren was a defensive force inside and led the Big Ten with 73 blocks this year. Evans, often responsible for guarding the opponent’s most lethal scorer, did an admirable job using his athleticism to make up for the height he often surrendered to the players he defended.last_img

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