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UW losing offensive balance

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Jeff Potrykus
February 1, 2011
— During a quiet moment after a recent practice, Wisconsin senior Keaton Nankivil engaged in playful debate with reporters.

Reporters to Nankivil: Perhaps it is time you consider yourself on the same level as teammates Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer, a legitimate member of UW’s Big Three.


Nankivil to reporters: Not yet.


“First of all … it is all of our jobs to relieve the pressure of the Big Two,” Nankivil countered. “The reason I get any opportunities is because of those guys.”


Would Nankivil consider the Big 22 acceptable?


“It is the Big Two,” he reiterated. “They work so hard for every shot. I am the beneficiary of those two working hard 90 percent of the time when I score.”


The numbers suggest UW has a legitimate Big Three. Those same numbers also suggest that UW (15-5, 5-3 Big Ten Conference) will need more from the rest of the rotation beginning at 6 tonight against visiting Purdue (18-4, 7-2).


UW enters the Purdue game averaging 66.4 points in Big Ten play. Taylor leads the way at 20.3 ppg, followed by Leuer at 18.1 and Nankivil at 12.8 for a combined 51.2 points.


The rest of the points (15.2 per game) are spread among eight players, led by senior guard-forward Tim Jarmusz (4.4 ppg).


Wisconsin’s last two games—a 32-point victory at Northwestern and a four-point loss Saturday at Penn State—illustrate the offensive upside and downside of this team.


The ball movement at Northwestern was solid. The shooting was on the mark and five players scored in double figures.


Leuer, Nankivil and Taylor combined for 49 points. With freshman guard Josh Gasser and sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz chipping in 10 apiece, the rest of the rotation contributed a combined 29 points.


“A lot of things went right for us at Northwestern,” Bruesewitz said. “Everybody was playing with a tremendous amount of confidence.”


The ball movement wasn’t as good at Penn State, yet there were open shots to be made.


Leuer (18 points, 8 of 16 shooting), Taylor (16, 7 of 13) and Nankivil (11, 4 of 10) combined for 45 of UW’s 52 points in the loss to Penn State.


Eight other players UW coach Bo Ryan used combined to make 3 of 13 shots and score seven points. Jarmusz had five points and Gasser added two.


Penn State senior forward Andrew Jones, who finished with six points and 14 rebounds, was asked if the Nittany Lions went into the game fearing any UW player outside of Leuer, Taylor and Nankivil.


“Nobody strikes fear in us,” he said. “We know what those (three) guys are capable of. Coach gives us a game plan, and our job is to go and execute that game plan. We know what we have to do to execute against those guys, to slow and contain them.


“Those are the focal point, the main players on the team. We thought if we do a good job on those guys we’d really put ourselves in position to win the game.”


Taylor and Nankivil fell short of their scoring averages in league play entering the day, by a combined seven points. The rest of the rotation came up eight points short of its average.


The result was a second Big Ten road loss in which UW had a nine-point lead in the second half.


“We played OK in spurts but overall the guys coming off the bench need to put a more complete game together,” said Bruesewitz, who had no points and no rebounds in 15 minutes. “We need a little more offensive firepower, especially in the second half.”



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