After Duke snapped Wisconsin’s 23 game nonconference consecutive winning streak Wednesday night, the Badgers face their first of three true nonconference road games tomorrow afternoon against in-state rival Marquette.
Marquette (4-3) has played a fairly difficult schedule early into the season, as four of their first seven opponents have come from the power five conferences. Marquette has gone 2-2 in those games, registering wins over Georgia Tech and Tennessee and losing to a pair of Big Ten teams in Michigan State and Ohio State.
In this Badger Nation feature, we will look at the three keys or questions for Wisconsin as they get ready to play Marquette on Saturday.
Lay up: Can Wisconsin finish around the rim?
Wisconsin did have chances around the basket against Duke but as a team struggled to convert on lay ups or around the rim. This is unfortunately is not new. If you go back to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Traevon Jackson couldn’t convert on a breakaway open lay up when he couldn’t decide if he wanted to dunk it or lay it in.
Eventually Wisconsin will develop a finishing touch around the rim as the season progresses, but it will likely start with Nigel Hayes and Frank Kaminsky to help turn it around. Wisconsin is averaging 28.7 points in the paint, so the Badgers are getting their opportunities. But with Duke being able to match up with Wisconsin’s size, it prevented Wisconsin from finding ways of converting around the hoop. Wisconsin should be able to establish the post better with Hayes and Kaminsky since Marquette is allowing 27.7 points in the paint on the year.
Success inside helps open up shots from the perimeter and getting opportunities at the free throw line. Wisconsin has done well averaging 20.5 free throw attempts a game. Not surprising, Hayes leads Wisconsin in free throw attempts (five per game) and Kaminsky is second with 33 attempts on the year.
Hayes and Kaminsky have both shown that they can be aggressive down low and they do well in forcing the opposition to foul or find a way to get a basket. There isn’t a lot of size to Marquette with starters Steve Taylor Jr. and Juan Anderson standing at 6-7 and 6-6, respectively. Hayes and Kaminsky should be able to use their size and length to try and get the post established down low.
If Marquette decides to double team either Hayes or Kaminsky it will result in someone being open for Wisconsin. Both have the ability to get the ball back out to the perimeter to an open shooter. Doing that should take some pressure of double teams the duo may face against Marquette.
Mid-range Jumper: Bounce-back performances
Hayes and Sam Dekker struggled mightily against Duke, as neither were able to get into an offensive rhythm that likely affected the game’s outcome. Both have the chance to change that on Saturday.
Hayes was in foul trouble throughout the game against the Blue Devils and his defense seemed stagnant. With Duke taking the post away, it was surprising to see Hayes not try and get his mid-range game going. When Hayes has been able to be efficient on offense, it creates a domino effect for the rest of the offense since Hayes can beat you in a lot of different ways, can create open looks for himself and for his teammates.
The key with Hayes is for him to try and establish the post or be able to find open spaces from the mid-range. Hayes leads UW with a 55 percent field goal percentage, showing he’s effective shooting the ball when given the opportunity.
Dekker still seems to still be recovering from his ankle injury and at times it has hurt his game on both sides of the floor, evident him not being on the floor near the end of the game. If the offense can help create opportunities and help create space, it could allow opportunities for Dekker to drive to the basket. Dekker can’t be hesitant, allow the game to come to him and not overthink things, which it seemed like he was doing Wednesday, worried he was going to make an error.
If Dekker regains that confidence and goes back to his strength of attacking, he should be fine going forward. The passion he usually plays with was gone on Wednesday but hopefully it returns on Saturday.
3-pointer: Stopping Duane Wilson
Duke freshman guard Tyus Jones was able to consistently take whatever he wanted Wednesday, which should excite Marquette’s Wilson, who is coming off a career-high 30 points and has been averaging a team-best 14 points per game.
Josh Gasser needs to come out strong and make sure Wilson doesn’t continue to have the same success he has over his last five games, where is averaging 16.8 points. Wilson is a talented kid who can drive to the hoop so Gasser will be to play good fronting defense and possibly rely on held defense to create pressures. If Wisconsin can possibly have two collapsing guards on Wilson, it could prevent him from getting to the hoop. Wilson averages 4.5 free throws a game and has shown he’s solid at the line, shooting 87 percent from the charity stripe.
Whoever is guarding Wilson can’t allow him the freedom to drive, as mentioned above, but need to be able to pester him to see if they can frustrate him. Wilson averages close to two turnovers a game so it will be difficult for either Gasser or Jackson to force him into making mistakes, although both have shown they are capable of creating uncomfortable situations for ball handlers.
If they can keep Wilson from driving and getting high percentage shots, it will be a win for the Badgers defense since Wilson only shoots 38 percent from three, a noticeable different from his 46 percent shooting percentage.
With Hayes and Kaminsky having the size and length advantage down low it should prevent from Wilson distributing the basketball around the paint. Wilson may opt to try and keep the ball around the perimeter if Wisconsin can cut off driving lanes and are preventing points around the hoop. If the Badgers are forcing mid-range to perimeter jump shots, UW should be in a decent position.