The Wisconsin men’s basketball team is finally finding their stride.
The team is doing so by settling in and returning back to the identity that brought the team to the NCAA championship game just one season ago. Head coach Greg Gard emphasized settling down and making better offensive decisions in his press conference Monday afternoon.
Former head coach Bo Ryan utilized a similar strategy during the club’s highly-successful 2015 postseason campaign, which fell five points short of the NCAA title last season. Gard, who transitioned from assistant to head coach after Ryan’s mid-December retirement, has the Badgers on a five-game hot streak with wins over Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio State.
With Wisconsin hosting the high-scoring Nebraska Huskers Wednesday, Gard’s relaxed coaching methods will be tested further.
“Obviously [there are] things to continue to work on,” Gard said. “With a Nebraska team coming in that can score at a pretty high rate and obviously pretty good players in Andrew White and Shavon Shields, two guys there that can score with anybody in the league.”
The Badgers’ interim head coach pointed to offensive decision-making as a key component in supporting the defensive battle against Nebraska.
The Badgers are consistently among the best in the country in taking care of the ball, and while they may not be as strong in the turnover category this year as they have been in the past, they still have averaged just 11.3 turnovers per game.
“The biggest thing I see is the attack and the retreating and the decisions that come within that, and maybe not always chinning the ball,” Gard said. “I thought if we became more patient and diplomatic offensively, we could get better defensively, and it’s proved to be the case.”
Junior forward Vitto Brown has played a big part in offensive production for the Badgers of late, especially in the club’s last three victories. Brown has averaged 10 points in that trio of outings, including a solid 12-point game against Ohio State on Feb. 4.
Gard believes Brown’s recent high notes have come as result of a change in individual mentality.
“He’s just becoming more aware of what his strengths are and trying to play more to his strengths and less to maybe things that he can’t do,” Gard said. “I’ve said that several times: ‘Show me what you can do not what you can’t do.’”