Monday, August 19, 2013

One Vote For Wisconsin Basketball Not Being "Boring"

Kohl Center--Feb. 9, 2013 (Fouad Egbaria)

Continuing with this year's theme of "just posting whatever, whenever I want" rather than doing things like building a coherent BRAND, I wanted to drop this Andy Glockner article here before we get to t-minus one week to Michigan football.

As excited as I was for the 2012-13 basketball season--an excitement that rivaled its football counterpart for the first time ever--it's hard not to get excited about this season, too. Yes, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone, and I won't get to use the "Trey Burke is not human" and "adventures in THJ's shooting" tags here anymore. Nonetheless, the Wolverines will once again be in the thick of things in the Big Ten; and, as we saw in March, anything can happen in the Big Dance.

I'm also excited for Big Ten basketball in general, in a way that's somewhat more difficult to feel about Big Ten football because of the respective quality of the two leagues. Big Ten football has seen better days, but the basketball league is perhaps as strong as ever.

Anyway, after visiting Madison a couple of times this year (one time for, yes, that game in February) and another just to see the town, I've developed a little thing for that Ann Arbor-esque town situated between two lakes in southern Wisconsin. With that thing has come an increased following of Badger sports. The Glockner article above is worth a read if you're looking for a basketball fix before we plunge into the black hole that is football season.

Glockner attempts to make a case for some vague sort of aesthetic value to be found in UW's Gradgrindian efficiency, which, like he says, is "very much in the eye of the beholder." Whether or not you agree with him is irrelevant (no, UW basketball is not as fun to watch as, say, Louisville, Kentucky, and yes, Michigan at the height of its powers), but there are some interesting bits in there, including this, regarding when UW takes its shots:
Wisconsin is well known for making defenses defend late into the shot clock, but even that reputation isn’t entirely accurate. Two coaches at league rivals said more or less the same thing: The Badgers are the most bimodal team they face, with the vast majority of shots coming either in the first seven seconds of the shot clock — yes, the first — or the last seven. 
Popular opinion of the Badger offense claims that they simply swing it for 30 seconds before Jordan Taylor/some 6'8'' lumberjack/whoever throws up a trey, but that doesn't always seem to be the case. That will definitely be something to keep an eye on this season, as I've generally been of the aforementioned popular opinion.

Also, there's this:
Last season the Badgers struggled with very poor outside shooting from the frontcourt but still won 23 games and earned a 5-seed in the NCAAs (where they lost to Ole Miss in the Round of 64). Ryan believes last year was a bit of a fluke in terms of the shooting, with point guard Josh Gasser missing the season due to injury and forward Jared Berggren, who made over 37 percent of his threes in 2012, connecting on just 25 percent last season.
Remember when UW got thumped at Florida, 74-56, early in the season? And how the Badgers finished 13th in the nation in three-point attempts but 225th in three-point percentage? Not that you didn't know this already, but, like him or not (and for everyone not wearing Badger red, that would probably be "not"), Bo Ryan is a sorcerer. After that Florida game, I figured there was no way the Badgers would finish the way they did, with a first-round Big Ten Tournament bye and a 5-seed in the Big Dance. Of course, they did, and no one was all that surprised.

Ryan does get guard Josh Gasser back, Brust will likely continue to give fans of other Big Ten teams night terrors and Sam Dekker is a rising star. On the other hand, the Badgers have a lot of production to replace, this time in the frontcourt, with the graduation of Mike Brusewitz, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans.

However, as 2012-13 showed once again, the Badgers are institutionally conditioned to weather these sorts of things, and I'd imagine they will be in or near the top third of the Big Ten standings this season.

Fortunately for Michigan, they will get a crack at the Badgers at home this season. That said, a trip to the Kohl Center is also on the docket, and the Wolverines will once again look to come away from that place with a win for the first time since 1999.

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