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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin set to shut down Harris, Sims

UW guard Rob Wilson was instrumental in the Badgers\’ earlier win over Michigan at the Kohl Center, scoring a career-high 13 points.[/media-credit]

More than 50,000 fans will pack Camp Randall Stadium to watch Wisconsin and Michigan face off on the ice Saturday.

Nearly 400 miles away, the same two schools will battle in a more traditional venue as the Badger and Wolverine men’s basketball teams meet at Crisler Arena. While few fans on either side will be focused on basketball Saturday, head coach Bo Ryan’s team is thinking about nothing else.

Three times this season the Wisconsin Badgers have defeated top-10 teams, and three times they’ve had the same reaction: who’s next?


With Ryan at the helm, the UW men’s basketball team has never been one to dwell on its accomplishments, regardless of the magnitude. After beating Duke, the Badgers crushed Grambling State; after downing Purdue, they escaped with a win at Northwestern.

So this week, after whipping the nation’s fifth-best team, Michigan State, Ryan’s squad has already forgotten about the Spartans and turned its focus to the Badgers’ trip Saturday to Ann Arbor for a date with the Wolverines.

“Coach’s motto is ‘on to the next one,'” sophomore guard Rob Wilson said. “Now we know we’ve got Michigan and it’s going to be a tough road game. Now we’re focusing in on Michigan… [the win over MSU] was a good feeling, but now it’s gone.”

Wilson, a 6-foot-3 Cleveland native, was one of the stars in the Badgers’ 54-48 victory over the Wolverines on Jan. 20 at the Kohl Center. With fellow guards Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor struggling offensively throughout, Wilson stepped when called upon, putting up 13 points off the bench in 18 minutes of play.

As he did before that game, Wilson played the part of Big Ten scoring leader Manny Harris at times on the UW scout team this week in practice, a role that may have helped his confidence of late.

According to Wilson, though, in-game experience really has made the difference.

“I’ve been out there getting a couple more minutes here and there,” he said. “It’s helping me because it’s more experience and I get a lot more reads to better understand the game.”

Wilson’s added playing time, however, has given opposing teams more opportunity to view the sophomore guard on film, something UM head coach John Beilein admitted to having little of the first time around.

It’s unlikely the Badgers will win again with Wilson and senior guard Trevon Hughes combining for more than half the teams points as they did two weeks ago. As a result, the Badgers will need strong contributions out of Bohannon and Taylor as well as junior forward Keaton Nankivil.

Rather than focusing on who’s scoring, though, Bohannon believes the outcome will have more to do with how the team plays from the outset.

“We need to start off fast,” he said. “We can’t start off really slow… work our way back into the game and then make a comeback at the end, especially on the road … It’s very important for us to get out of the gates quick and kind of set our tone for the game.”

Another key to the Badgers victory in Madison was Tim Jarmusz’s defense on Harris, who had just 11 of the Wolverines’ 48 points.

It will be difficult for Wisconsin to keep Harris under 15 points a second time, regardless of who guards the Wolverines’ junior guard. If they manage to keep him below his season average, though, the Badgers should put themselves in a strong position to win.

Michigan’s other major scoring threat — forward DeShawn Sims — on the other hand, had his way with Wisconsin’s defense for much of the night, putting up 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field.

Based on his impressive athletic ability and the Badgers lack of size without 6-foot-10 forward Jon Leuer, it will be tough for UW to shut down Sims any better than last time.

“Sims is going to get looks,” Ryan said. “He hit some outside shots; we were trying to limit, you know, how many touches the guy gets, but he’s that good because he’s that strong and long. He’s just a good player.”

It will be Nankivil’s responsibility to cover Sims, and considering the Madison native has performed better of late, Ryan and the Badgers should expect Sims’ output to be less than the teams’ first meeting, even if he does put up a double-double.

But the Badgers’ 6-foot-8 forward still has plenty of room to improve, according to Ryan.

“He’s got to keep working his feet, he’s got to keep working his angles,” Ryan said. “Post defense is a never-ending battle — you can’t take a second off.”

A defensive performance anywhere near as strong as the last contest between the Badgers and Wolverines — in which Michigan was held to 36.2 percent shooting from the field — would go a long way to a UW victory Saturday at Crisler Arena.

If Harris and Sims combine for more than 50 points as they have at times this season, however, the Badgers could be in for a long day in Ann Arbor.

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