After a 4-2 start to the season, Herald Sports is taking a look at the Wisconsin men’s basketball team and evaluating different aspects of the team’s early performance in the Old Spice Classic.
The Badgers wrapped up a second place finish over the Thanksgiving weekend in the tournament held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Wisconsin downed Manhattan, 50-35, and Boston College, 65-55, before falling to Notre Dame, 58-51, in the championship game.
Offense – 2.5 out of 5
Wisconsin isn’t known as a high school team by any means, but throughout the weekend, the Badgers’ shooting success seemed to rotate halves. All three first halves were sub par, as UW averaged a combined .303 of field goals and converted on a disastrous three of 33 attempts from the arc. Wisconsin was only able to put 17 points on the scoreboard by halftime against lowly Manhattan. In the second halves though, the Badgers improved their numbers to .482 and .444 shooting.
Despite that inconsistency, Wisconsin – in particular, Keaton Nankivil and Mike Bruesewitz – showed a good amount of second chance efforts, as the team posted double-digit offensive boards in the first two games, even scoring 16 points off of second chances against Boston College. The Badgers also minimized turnovers, committing more than four in only one of their three games, but it could not overcome the scoring droughts.
The Wisconsin offense also struggled to draw fouls against Notre Dame’s 2-3 zone defense. The Badgers were granted only four attempts from the line, which, in the long run, did not help in the last minute efforts to close the gap on the Fighting Irish.
Defense – 4 out of 5
The Badger ‘D’ never allowed an opponent to reach 60 points over the course of the tournament and defended the rim well.
Jon Leuer and Nankivil finished the weekend with a combined 13 blocks, including Nankivil’s new career-best five stuffs against Notre Dame.
None of the Badgers’ opponents finished with a field goal or three-point percentage higher than 38 percent, and UW won the turnover battle in every contest as well.
Point guard Jordan Taylor proved he can be one of the Big Ten’s best defensive guards against Boston College after silencing a once-hot Reggie Jackson to just two field goals over the last 11 minutes of the game.
Bench – 3 out of 5
Together, the bench added 15, 13 and six points in three tournament games. The three primary reserves for the Badgers over the weekend, Ryan Evans, Tim Jarmusz and Rob Wilson put forth modestly productive efforts over the weekend.
Against Manhattan, Jarmusz scored six points, grabbed four rebounds and dished two assists while Evans contributed four points and one block, rebound and assist apiece. Jarmusz was also the center of a pretty 9-0 run against Notre Dame as he hit one of the Badgers’ three consecutive three-pointers.
Wilson flashed in 13 minutes against BC as the junior snagged two rebounds and recorded eight points before going on to add three rebounds and two assists against Notre Dame.
A modest effort, but with the inconsistent shooting the team experienced, the bench could have done more to provide a spark for the offense.
Player of the Week – Jon Leuer
This might be a common designation for the senior this year. On an offense that struggled to put the ball in the bucket, Leuer became the only player over the three-game stretch to score double-digit points in all contests.
He led the team in scoring and rebounding over the weekend, averaging 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Leuer was also disruptive on defense, blocking five shots and sneaking away two steals.
Stat of the Week – 20 points
Scored off of free throws for Notre Dame, compared to Wisconsin’s four. The Irish got to the line for 25 attempts, converting on 80 percent of them while the Badgers were given only four tries, all of which were taken advantage of by Leuer.
Free throws have been a reliable means of scoring for Wisconsin. On the year, UW has converted 81.3 percent of their charity tosses, and with their struggles from the field early on in the championship game, the Badgers needed points to come from the line. 15 points off of turnovers weren’t enough to keep pace with the Irish as the lack of free throws slowly caught up to UW in their seven-point loss.