Rivalry Renewed

Unlike Wisconsin football's one-sided rivalry affair with Minnesota, the men's basketball team expects a grinding, 40-minute affair when it takes on Marquette in Milwaukee Saturday.

MADISON — Over their past 10 meetings, the Wisconsin-Marquette series is tied at five apiece. It has been four years since Wisconsin beat Marquette in consecutive seasons. The Badgers may have laid permanent claim to Paul Bunyan's Axe against Minnesota, but at least some rivalries are alive and well in the Dairy State.

If for nothing else, the contrast in styles should lead to an entertaining game for the first time this season at UW. A small and athletic lineup, Marquette pushes the ball and pressures all out in the half court. Last season, the Badgers were able to take advantage of the smaller lineup with Jon Leuer pouring in 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Leuer reached the free throw line seven times (5-for-7) and hit 9-of-14 from the field as no MU defenders were able to matchup with him.

As far as Leuer recalls, he didn't face much double teaming action last season.

That will probably change come Saturday.

"It is just a matter of making the right reads," Leuer said. "Just trying to make my teammates better and get good shots.

"Obviously I have seen that from quite a few double teams this year and I am pretty used to it by now. It is just a matter of making the right play and being strong with the ball."

If Marquette has any perceived advantage it would be in the backcourt. MU plays with a lot of guards, all of whom can defend and attack the hoop.

Wisconsin starts a freshman, Josh Gasser.

Usually, freshman are prone to struggling in hectic, road environments, against pressuring teams. But Gasser has far proven he is no ordinary freshman.

"He doesn't try to do too much, he takes care of the ball … his basketball I.Q. is high enough that when he makes a mistake or plays well he puts that into his memory box so to speak," associate head coach Greg Gard said.

"There are a lot of other ways he is going to help us on the floor other than just scoring and sometimes freshmen don't make that transition mentally from high school, where they are the guy shooting it 25 times a game."

Gasser received a crash course in tough road matchups during UW's loss to UNLV. He led the team in rebounds during the game and tied for the lead in minutes.

Clearly he and Jordan Taylor were the only two ball-handlers who had earned the coaching staffs complete trust under pressure.

Gasser, who says he was a fan of Marquette growing up, thinks this will be the biggest challenge of the season for him so far.

"The atmosphere is going to be crazy and it is just tough to do, to win at Marquette," Gasser said. "They hung with Duke pretty well, they are a good team. To go in there and beat them would be a huge confidence boost."

With Leuer and Keaton Nankivil able to draw Marquette's few big men away from the hoop as three-point threats, there should be plenty of lanes for Wisconsin's guards to attack. Currently third on the team in free throw attempts, Gasser has been more than willing to attack the hoop with vigor.

Against Milwaukee, Gasser scored six points in the first nine minutes — while the game was still relatively close — by driving the lane and getting to the line.

"[Leuer and Nankivil] stretch the court so well and they bring the big guys outside and force them to cover them," Gasser said. "It is nice to be able to drive and see big guys flying out to cover them and if they cover you, just dish it to them and they will hit it every single time."

Badger Nation Top Stories