Badgers talk about familiar foe: Oregon

Wisconsin players will have a familiar foe in the game that comes with a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen Sunday. The Badgers face an Oregon team, led by Joseph Young, that they made in the NCAA Tournament exactly a year ago Sunday.

Wisconsin’s game with Coastal Carolina Friday night had only been over for a few moments before all of the Badgers’ attention shifted to a familiar foe.

Next up: No. 8 seed Oregon and a rematch from last year’s third round game of the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee won by Wisconsin, 85-77.

Tip time will be approximately 7 p.m. Sunday from CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

This time around, the game will be played on the exact same date as a year ago: March 22.

The difference is that Wisconsin has most everyone back and Oregon is a relatively different cast.

But the Ducks still have Joseph Young and that’s really all anyone needed to know. A year ago, Young dropped 29 points on the Badgers, hitting 10-of-19 shots from the field including 4-of-7 3-pointers.

Josh Gasser will likely get that defensive assignment and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said his senior guard will be up for that challenge.

“Josh is up for every game, but he knows how good Young is, because we've already played them,’’ Ryan said. “So it's not like here is a new guy that all of the sudden is getting noticed. But it is true that when teams play on the West Coast, the East and the Midwest, they don't know as much about them, but Young is as good of a scorer as anybody you will see in the country at any time, and Josh has had to guard some pretty good people over the years.

“But he won't be the only one. There will be some times we have to pick Young up because of an exchange or in transition. It's still about the other guys on the court that make your defense what it is or what it isn't.’’

Gasser said it’s going to be extremely important in this one to make Oregon play in the half court and not be able to score in transition. And then obviously, you need to find a way to slow down Young.

“Obviously Joseph Young is an incredible scorer and you’re not going to shut him down. He’s going to get his,’’ Gasser said. “So you want to make it tough on him, try to make it an inefficient game. He’s probably going to get his 20 like he always does but you have to make it tough on him and not let him get any easy ones that will get him going.

“But they’re going to be tough to guard. They were tough last year and they’re better this year from what I’ve seen.’’

Gasser said a big key is that Wisconsin has to realize that this is more than the Joseph Young Show with the Ducks this season.

“Joseph Young has gotten better and he’s just a flat out scorer,’’ Gasser said. “But they have other guys too, who have taken their games to a different level. They’re aggressive and attacking the rim. You can’t just double Joe Young. They’ve got other scorers around him as well and that’s what is going to make them tough.’’

Bronson Koenig’s big memory of Oregon from a year ago was that the Ducks really pressured the Badgers.

“I remember they pressed us and pressured us a lot,’’ Koenig said. “It was Pac-12 style basketball. I just remember they were really tough on defense and really intense.’’

When the two teams met last year, Frank Kaminsky led Wisconsin with 19 points. The memory that was left with Kaminsky from that game though was simply how good of a team that Oregon had. And from everything he has heard, the Ducks are significantly better this season.

“If you remember back to last year, we were fighting to get back into that game after giving them a pretty big lead, so we understand how good they are and we understand how good the players on their team can be when you let them go out there and play freely,’’ Kaminsky said. “So we understand that we have to come out and play our best basketball if we want to beat them.’’

Nigel Hayes said it will come down to putting pressure on Oregon’s playmakers.

“They can score in a myriad of ways, and once you let any one of their players get going, especially the player they have in Young, they have become very dangerous,’’ Hayes said. “So our job is to go out there and try to put as much pressure on them and make their shots as tough as possible.


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