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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badger ‘D’ plays up to Ryan’s standards, blocking 11 shots thanks to size advantage

Wisconsin basketball head coach Bo Ryan does not like the blocked shot statistic.

“It is my goal of the year to have the fewest blocked shots in the country,” he said.

Consistently ranking as one of the top defensive teams in the NCAA, the Badgers rely on strong rotations and solid positioning to force their opponents into bad shots. Based on those defensive principles, it is understandable why Ryan detests when his players leave their feet to try and get a piece of a shot.


So, in the first regular season game against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, what does UW do?

Rejects 11 shots, the highest single-game total for any Badger game under Ryan.

“Gosh, after the first day, we might be in the lead,” Ryan joked before explaining why the blocked shots in this game were all right with him.

“Those blocks were blocks that came from the result of the offensive player trying to make a play and us being disciplined to not try to block it too soon. And a couple of them were simply because one guy is 6-foot-10 and the other guy might have been 5-foot-10.”

True to the program’s defensive philosophy, forwards Jon Leuer and Jared Berggren combined for five blocks by often not leaving their feet, rather just standing tall.

As explained by IPFW head coach Dane Fife, the Mastodons contributed to the block party by forcing the issue on offense.

With four starters listed at 6-foot-5 or smaller for IPFW, Wisconsin’s big men could wait for an IPFW player to commit to a shot before jumping.

“Well, obviously looking at our team, we don’t have much size and we’re not used to going against those kinds of players,” Fife said.

“We have to be smarter and try to draw the foul and try to beat them off the dribble rather than post them up and try to shoot around players like [Jon] Leuer and [Keaton] Nankivil. … It drove us nuts all night.”

Although forwards Ryan Evans, Keaton Nankivil, Leuer and Berggren were responsible for eight of the 11 rejections, an unexpected source chipped in three swats of his own.

Senior guard Jason Bohannon came up with his first three-block game in, well, ever.

“It’s been a while,” Bohannon said of a three-block game. “There were just some opportunities there where I was trailing my guy a little bit, he put the ball above his head and I just kind of read it. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary I was doing — I was just in the right place at the right time today.”

Besides recording double digits in blocked shots, UW was able to frustrate IPFW defensively all game long.

The Badgers held the Mastodons to 34 percent shooting on the night — including 23.1 percent from behind the arc — and only gave up 18 points in the first half.

With 1:33 left in the first half to 14:21 in the second, UW went on a 19-0 run putting the game completely out of reach for IPFW.

“Sometimes a team is just cold and you go through rough spots, like we all do,” Ryan said. “But I thought we handled the screens well. Good hedge, good help, good use of what we call the flytrap and we chased well. Other than the two 3’s that they hit there at the very end, I thought we did a pretty good job on the outside shooting.”

“Defensively during that stretch we really stepped it up,” Leuer added. “We were chasing and hedging well. It just seemed like a good flow offensively and defensively.”

In fact, when Fife was asked after the game what can you do to make up for such a poor shooting night, he responded, “Not play Wisconsin. That’s all I got for you.”

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