Ryan, UW gets it right
Whether it was the late-morning start or fatigue from a five-day road trip, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach knew a timeout was in order after Iowa tied the score at 28-28 with 17 minutes remaining here Saturday.
“We just looked like we were out of sync with our feet, and I wanted to probe with players to find out what we were missing,” Ryan said. “Sometimes you have to get to the bench to see things that are going on the floor.”
The message from Ryan was subtle, but the results he was looking for were soundly delivered.
Punctuated by a Brian Butch layup four minutes later, the Badgers (12-2 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) broke free of the Hawkeyes (7-8, 0-2) with an 11-1 run and kept Iowa at bay the rest of the afternoon, earning a hard-fought 64-51 victory in a Big Ten Conference game.
Everything Wisconsin was not doing in the first half was improved upon in the game’s last 17-plus minutes. The Badgers consistently touched the post, drew more fouls in cutting to the basket, were aggressive on the defensive glass and shot 55 percent from the field in the second half.
The result was Wisconsin building a second-half lead to as much as 15 points, shooting an efficient 70 percent (19 of 27) from the free-throw line and committing only seven turnovers—the Badgers’ fewest in the past seven games.
“With the type of game that it was, with a lot of bodies flying and guys trying to get good angles, we were stronger with the ball than we have been in some games,” Ryan said. “If you’re only shooting 41 percent, you can’t have many turnovers.”
Not only did Butch ignite the decisive 11-1 run, but the senior center had his best performance since the season opener. Leading all scorers with 22 points, Butch shot an effective 7 of 12 on field goals, was 8-for-11 on free throws and scored 13 points in the second half.
“We’ll go to him anytime,” said Ryan of Butch. “In some games, he’s the one who is in the right spot or takes advantage of a match up. You still have to come away with something on your touches, and he did that today.”
The Badgers also got solid scoring from junior Joe Krabbenhoft and senior Michael Flowers, who added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The number of weapons opponents are forced to defend against Wisconsin makes its playmakers open for easy baskets, Butch said.
“We have a lot of great shooters on this team,” he said. “You can’t come off (defending) a Jason Bohannon or a Jon Leuer. There are some things like that where you can’t do it, which gives me more room to work (in the post).”
Returning to the starting lineup for the first time since spraining his right ankle the day before the Texas game a week ago, sophomore Trevon Hughes contributed six points in 33 minutes, adding three steals, two assists to just one turnover in tying his season low.
“Every single one of us would agree that having Trevon out there adds a whole other dimension to our game,” Krabbenhoft said. “He runs the show out there. It’s nice to have our floor general out there again.”
Wisconsin used its size and spacing to get ahead of undermanned and foul-laden Iowa. Only dressing 10 players, Iowa was forced to routinely foul the Badgers, as the Hawkeyes had trouble defending the post and preventing Wisconsin from getting solid looks at the basket.
Iowa committed 27 fouls, with each Hawkeye committing at least two.
“Wisconsin has terrific spacing, is skilled, efficient and unselfish,” Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said. “We were behind plays a lot and that caused us to foul. We ran into a really good team and a tough system to play against.”
The victory over Iowa ended an eight-day, three-game swing for the Badgers that took them from Austin, Texas, to Ann Arbor, Mich., and back to Madison. With three wins and five days off before hosting Illinois, Ryan couldn’t be happier with how the Badgers have started their “second season.”
“They come to work every time,” Ryan said. “We get it done in Texas and come back, make sure the players aren’t patting themselves on the back, because we’re right into conference stuff the next day. This is the second season—the Big Ten season.”
And the Badgers are on top of the conference.