No need for panic after upset at Kohl

first_imgThe Badgers lost at the Kohl Center to an unranked Big Ten opponent.Wait, what?Until Tuesday night, that had never happened in the Bo Ryan era. Ryan had amassed a flawless 51-0 record at home against conference teams not listed in the rankings.But it finally did happen, and unfortunately it took place at a pretty bad time.You see, if the Badgers took down Illinois (a pretty good team…uh scratch that, a team comprised of two good players), Wisconsin would be sitting atop the Big Ten conference — thanks in part to Michigan State losing on their home floor to Purdue later that night.But all is not lost, and there is no need to reach for the panic button, despite a missed opportunity to rise in the standings.Let’s take a look at how the Badgers lost.Pretty simple really — they couldn’t hit a shot when it counted.The rim during the second half seemed to get smaller and smaller with each three-point attempt, and on the other end, Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale couldn’t miss.Watching the Badgers fail to convert possession after possession reminded everyone of how potentially fragile a heavy three-point shooting team’s survival could be come tournament time. And let’s face it — the Badgers in recent weeks have been a three-point shooting machine.Here’s the thing, though — every team faces those fears of an off-shooting night heading into the NCAA Tournament. An off night can ruin anyone’s season, even the teams who rely on points in the paint or production from the low post. Sometimes the shots don’t fall, and a team needs to find a way to grind out a win.UW is a good three-point shooting team, and one game doesn’t change that. But the promising sign for Wisconsin is that aside from the off shooting night, problems with that Tuesday performance can be fixed.Here’s a rundown of what will be addressed down the stretch:Not enough trips to the charity stripeHow do you manufacture points when the three-ball just won’t go? Number one, stop settling for perimeter shots, and take the ball to the hoop.UW has the players capable of drawing contact in the lane. Trevon Hughes (when he stays under control, something we didn’t see Tuesday) and Jordan Taylor can create off the dribble and Rob Wilson has shown some grit and intensity when he gets into the paint.And if you’re not getting the foul calls, you must continue to attack. Hughes was visibly aggravated after multiple drives led to hopeless attempts and the non-call on Taylor’s drive in the late stages seemed to build even more frustration.“I think our guys got a little gun-shy when we didn’t get to the free throw line,” Ryan admitted in the post-game press conference. “I think that did affect us and you just have to be tougher and play through that.”Getting to the line is crucial when the offense goes cold, and all it takes is a willingness to attack. Lesson learned.Poor defense of the pick-and-popAnyone watching Tuesday’s game could see it (some fellow editors and I discussed it right off the bat) — someone needs to get a hand in Tisdale’s face. Make someone else on that roster beat you.Sure, the first few times the 7-foot-1 Tisdale decides to shoot a deep two you let him have it, but after the guy goes 7-for-8, something needs to change.It’s a simple play, and for Bruce Weber’s team, it worked to perfection. McCamey is a tough guy to defend when he’s feeling it, but the junior point guard was given that shot from the elbow all night long.After the game, Ryan didn’t seem too concerned with his team’s defense of the McCamey/Tisdale show, saying they just hit their shots. But there is no doubt the pick-and-pop will show up in practice this week.Lack of points in the paintLuckily for the Badgers throughout most of this impressive run in conference play, they have been playing without a 6-foot-10 forward who just might be their best player.The minute Jon Leuer returns to game-action, the three-point attempts should drop, and we’ll see UW stretch defenses from the inside out.Leuer truly brings a different dimension to this team. As their best low post player, he can provide that inside presence and use his height to help in the rebound department (missing threes isn’t so bad when your top rebounder is waiting under the basket for second chance points).Leuer’s absence has been looked at as a blessing in disguise thanks to the valuable experience the younger players have gotten, but this team needs No. 30 back in the paint.Now, a quick look at the standings today might upset Badger fans, as they see UW back in fifth place when a first place spot was within reach, but this team is just a single game behind in the standings.UW’s toughest game remaining is a rematch with the Illini in Champaign. No more MSU, no more Purdue and no more OSU in the remaining slate of games. Plus, each of those four teams has matchups with the other top teams looming.So don’t panic Badger fans. UW may have squandered a chance to share first place, but corrections will be made, and this conference title race is far from over.And thanks to a favorable schedule and a returning star, Bo and his boys might have a shortcut to the finish line.Max is a junior majoring in journalism. Do you also think the Badgers’ will bounce back after losing at home to the Fighting Illini? Send him your thoughts at [email protected]last_img