The Badgers are 10 games into the season and currently sit at 6-4 after dropping their 2nd straight to Marquette in the I-94 rivalry (btw, can we come up with a better name for this thing, seriously?). After watching this team for 10 games it got me wondering what do we know about Wisconsin basketball? We know some things that are very good about this team, but we, as fans, have also learned some things that are a bit alarming and if not corrected by Big Ten play it could be an ugly season for UW hoops.
With that in mind it's time to look at some trends and dive into just what this team actually is in 2012-13. Now normally 10 games into the season isn't time to panic and that holds true at this point because of a few things that we'll get into later, but Wisconsin also hasn't played a cupcake schedule by any means. They've been on the road to two major conference foes in Florida and Marquette and have taken on one of the better teams in the country in Creighton. So far this year they've already met two ranked opponents and have played 4 of 10 games against major conference opponents, so unlike most years we should have a pretty decent look at what Wisconsin brings to the table.
So, let's take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly that makes up the Badgers so far in this season, shall we?
- This is a team that isn't playing through just one player and plays a lot more as a team. It's resulted in an offense that can play at a faster tempo and can allow it to hang more with teams that like to run the floor. Of course they are still a patient offense, but this isn't last season when it was routine to watch the Badgers struggle to get the ball moving on offense and forced into bad shots with little to no time left on the shot clock.
The proof: Wisconsin is ranked 15th in AdjO (KenPom.com) this season versus 18th last season and the numbers on the tempo are even more staggering – in AdjTempo Wisconsin sits at 62.3 this season (333rd) vs. 58.5 last season (dead last in the country).
- Sam Dekker is a difference maker for this team and is a hug part of the reason the offense is much more effective for the most part this year. He's the only true slasher the Badgers have and that allows for others to be open more often. He's also becoming more accustomed to defense at the collegiate level.
The proof: Over the past 3 games he's averaging 8.6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and has 5 steals. The only blemish is the fact that he's also had 7 turnovers, some of which are a product of his slashing and that he's making plays.
- Free Throw Shooting is killing Wisconsin this season. For all that Sam Dekker has done the freshman can't hit from the line, shooting just 55.6% on the season and that's just one example.
The proof: Wisconsin is shooting 62.8% from the line thus far this year, ranking 303rd in the nation in FT%. Last season this team ranked 35th, shooting 73.9% as a team.
- 3 point shooting. I don't think I need to say much more, do I? What's happening with this team isn't a formula for winning games, unless you are hitting trey's like crazy and that's not what the Badgers are doing.
The proof: Wisconsin ranks 4th in the country right now in 3 pointers attempted, problem is they rank 153rd in 3 point shooting percentage.
- Ryan Evans has been plain bad to start this season and it's got many, myself included, if last season was a complete anomaly or what? He can't hit from the field and his defense hasn't been as good as it was last year – part of another alarming trend overall for the Badgers.
The proof: Evans is averaging about a point less a game than he did for all of last season (10.3 this year vs. 11.0 last year), he's averaging 1 less made FT per game while averaging 1 more FT attempt per game, he's shooting 6.7% from the 3pt line vs. 26.3% last year, he's shooting 40.4% from the field vs. 44% last year, and worst of all, he's shooting just 31.8% from the FT line vs. 72.6% last year – it's all pretty ugly for him offensively this season, huh?
- There is a massively alarming trend and that's that this team doesn't have a good all around player at the point guard spot, YET. The rotation of George Marshall and Traevon Jackson hasn't been exactly stellar and that's being nice. Marshall can hit from deep and that's great, but in order to stay on the court for Bo Ryan you have to play defense and that's where he's lacking. It's something all freshman usually suffer through but without Josh Gasser this team is simply horrible on the defensive end at the point position.
- If Wisconsin can't score more than 60 points they can't win a basketball game. In 3 of the 4 losses the Badgers have suffered so far this year they've failed to reach the 60 point plateau and in the loss to Creighton they gave up over 80 points. So, what gives in these loses? A lot has to do with a lack of leadership from the backcourt and by that I mean not allowing this team to just jack up 3 pointers like they are going out of style. Yesterday was a great case in point. The Badgers had to live and die by the three because they seemingly couldn't get the ball inside and when they did they couldn't hit free throws, so what's the point, right?