To say the Badgers looked horrible on offense in the first half would be an understatement. Wisconsin lacked rhythm, movement and aggressiveness on nearly every first half possession. Aside from Jon Leuer demanding the ball and attacking the undersized Manhattan frontline, the Badgers looked like their minds were still on the beach. Furthermore, Leuer appeared to settle too often for a jump-shot, despite his obvious mismatch down-low against the big men of the Jaspers.
Jordan Taylor and Keaton Nankivil both appeared to suddenly lose confidence in their jump-shots after missing a few early looks. Additionally, the Badgers did not look comfortable dealing with the 1-3-1 zone Manhattan occasionally switched to.
It was difficult to gauge exactly how worrisome the offensive display was today due to the fact that Manhattan never really presented much of a challenge. Additionally, the Badgers did look better in the second half and once again freshman guard Josh Gasser displayed a heightened court awareness and moxie beyond his years.
Similar to the offense, the defense was hard to measure given the lack of playmakers on Manhattan. Wisconsin held the Jaspers to 28.6 percent shooting and limited the number of inside looks Manhattan got in its half-court offense. Furthermore, the Badgers displayed strong position defense and great help and recover weak-side rotations, a hallmark of all Ryan coached teams.
However, the Jaspers were mysteriously able to get a number of leak-outs and easy buckets in transition, despite it appearing that the Badgers should have been in position to prevent such plays. Granted the intensity during the game was remarkably low, the Badgers cannot afford to continually get beat down the court by Manhattan given the increased athletic ability the Badgers are sure to run into as the season progresses.
Overall, Wisconsin coasted through much of this game and a lot of the issues, I believe, were due to the inferiority of the opponent. However, a lack of aggressiveness on offense, sub-par hustle in transition defense, limited confidence/accuracy on perimeter jump-shots, and an over-reliance on Leuer will not be easy to overcome when the Badgers face a worthy opponent.
I will chalk this up as a wake-up call for the team, although I would have preferred if the Badgers came out and made a statement that the UNLV game was a early transition point for the season and that this team was ready to prove they are for real. In general, we will know much more about this team by the end of the weekend, after the Badgers will have faced two legitimate opponents in a row.
MVP: Jon Leuer. Similar to many Bo Ryan teams of the past, Leuer provides the Badgers with a go-to scorer and number one option who combines both talent and veteran leadership. Under Ryan, Wisconsin seemingly has had a new player step up each year and take control of the team, this year that player happens to be Leuer.