The Badgers looked much better out of the gate today than against Manhattan and played with purpose and assertiveness on the offense end. Wisconsin moved the ball very well and did not pass up open looks as much as they did against the Jaspers. Consequently, the Badgers maintained tremendous authority with ball, only committing three turnovers, despite seeing a variety of defenses from the Eagles.
Wisconsin appeared increasingly willing to be aggressive on the offensive end and routinely made the right pass rather than the extra pass. The distinction between the right pass and the extra pass has plagued the Badgers offense at times and can stymie the flow and rhythm of the swing offense. Furthermore, the Badgers did a good job attacking the middle of the floor and getting players moving in and out of the middle of the paint.
The one downside of the contest was the Badgers continued woes from the three-point line. Everyone knew that the Badgers would miss the presence of departed backcourt mates Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. One of the noticeable problems has been the lack of a player that continually keeps the defense honest. Last year, Hughes and Bohannon extended the perimeter defense and forced the opposition to play pressure defense on the wings, opening up space down low for the big men to operate. However this year, teams appear to be comfortable letting the Badgers fire away from the outside and are giving our wings plenty of space on the perimeter. Fortunately, Jon Leuer's tremendous face-up game has negated this issue for the most part.
Wisconsin came out of halftime and looked determined to shut down the Eagles on all areas of the court. Overall, the game provided an interesting contrast given the Eagles propensity to rely heavily on the three-point shot while the Badgers typically focus on forcing teams to rely on three-point shooting. As a result, the Eagles had a number of open looks from the perimeter early on and were able to jump out to a halftime lead. However, the Badgers quickly adjusted and funneled the Eagles towards the blocks where the Badgers had a height and strength advantage.
Furthermore, the Badgers were able to shut down the Eagles' go-to scorer, Reggie Jackson, in the second half. Jordan Taylor did a tremendous job of using his strength to keep Jackson out of the lane and the Badgers were able to use their athleticism on the front-line to overcome the constant ball screens Boston College ran.
The Badgers looked considerably better today against a substantial opponent, using a 26-2 run to all but put the game away. The one thing Bo Ryan will look to correct is the Badgers focus down the stretch after they allowed Boston College to go on a major run of its own towards the end of the game. The Badgers will need to stay focused for 40 minutes as the competition continues to heat up but the increased tenacity, focus, and aggressiveness were all very positive signs throughout today's contest. Lastly, it appears we have a better idea of who will be receiving playing time as Ryan used an 8-man rotation today, highlighted by the return of junior wing Rob Wilson who appears to be close to fully healthy.
MVP: Leuer (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 35 mintues). I think it is going to be very hard to not give Leuer the MVP almost every single game.