It was expected that this year’s offense could be one of the best under head coach Bo Ryan, and it certainly did not disappoint. Wisconsin finished the season shooting a blistering 47.9 percent from the field, its best field goal percentage from the field under Ryan and the highest since the 1990-91 team shot 50.3 percent for the season.
Frank Kaminsky was a main reason why Wisconsin was able to shoot such a strong percentage. He finished with 732 points on the season, besting Alando Tucker’s previous mark of 716 points that he set in 2006-07. With Kaminsky averaging 18.8 points a game this season, Kaminsky was the fourth player under Ryan to average at least 18 points in a season.
Kaminsky wasn’t the only player who was able to find offensive success, as Sam Dekker averaged 13.9 points and Nigel Hayes averaged 12.4 points. Bronson Koenig finished the season averaging 8.7 points a game averaged 11.5 points over the last 24 games. Koenig ability to fill in for the injured Traevon Jackson (8.1 ppg) was critical in making sure the offense didn’t miss a beat. Koenig boosting his scoring average coming off the bench provided another scoring threat for Wisconsin.
With Wisconsin having the height advantage over most teams, the Badgers were able to consistently get their hands off of missed shots and average 9.5 offensive rebounds a game. The Badgers were able to finish the season strong collecting second chances, as the Badgers collected double-digit offensive rebounds in eight of their last 10 games. Wisconsin was able to register 9.8 points off of their second chance opportunities.
Ryan will grade how well his offense did this year by the amount of turnovers they committed on the year and will be very satisfied with a team that averaged a nation’s best 7.4 turnovers a game. The 296 turnovers committed by Wisconsin was the fourth time under Ryan where Wisconsin has committed fewer than 300 turnovers in a season.
The defense for Wisconsin was inconsistent at times and not your typical Ryan defense. Wisconsin gave up 2,327 points on the season, the second most points under Ryan in a given season, but teams only averaged 58.2 points against Wisconsin, which ranked 12th in the NCAA this season.
The one area where Wisconsin struggled was defending dribble penetration, as the Badgers’ defense could never really figure out how they wanted to defend it at times. Teams were able to set screens to allow their guards attack the paint and try and consistently get easy shots around the rim, as teams shot 42.8 percent from the field. Maryland and both games against Duke were able to consistently find ways of getting to the basket and were able to finish shots around the rim. Overall Wisconsin’s defense gave up 25.9 points in the paint this year.
But even when teams were able to get the ball in the paint, Wisconsin made sure they didn’t foul to make life easier for the opposition in finding ways of scoring. Wisconsin only fouled 12.5 times a game, which resulted in an average of only 8.3 attempts a game from the charity stripe.
Part of the reason Wisconsin committed so few fouls was because they were smart with how they defended teams, able to move their feet effectively opposed to reaching. Josh Gasser led the team with 90 fouls but it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Kaminsky foul more than he did with the way teams attacked Wisconsin’s paint. Kaminsky was able to effectively play the post properly to help get him in a position where he wouldn’t foul and was able to move his feet properly without reaching against defenders to give him a chance of blocking a shot.
The length of Wisconsin didn’t create as many turnovers as one would expect, as teams averaged 9.5 miscues a game. At the same time, Wisconsin probably could have seen that number increase if they had pressured a little more, but they were able to concentrate their efforts on preventing offensive rebounds. Teams only averaged 7.4 offensive rebounds a game, which helped Wisconsin get into transition and establish the tempo.
It was clearly a successful season for Wisconsin in a number of ways, a season that saw the team achieve a number of their team goals. The Badgers swept the Big Ten titles, earned a No.1 seed for the first time in school history, got back to the Final Four and played for their first championship since 1941. Finishing the season at 36-4, the Badgers gave fans and the program a season they won’t forget.
Wisconsin was able to put together four different winning streaks throughout the season. They started the season winning their first seven games and following up their loss to Duke Dec.3 with an eight game winning streak. Wisconsin also won 10 games in a row and finished the year winning 11 games before losing to Duke in the title game on Monday night. During their four different win streaks, only nine games were decided by single digits.
One thing that is impressive is that as good as the 2013-14 team was, this year’s team was clearly better and it showed with the improvements that made during the offseason. There was talk that Hayes developed a shot from the perimeter, which he certainly did. After not shooting a three his freshman season, he attempted 101 this season as he hit 39.6 percent on the season. That development from the perimeter forced defenses to respect him outside of his low-post game.
The 3-point shooting percentage took a slight dip from the 2013-14 season with the Badgers finishing 36.5 percent from the perimeter. Kaminsky led the starters shooting 41.6 percent, Koenig was second on the team shooting 40.5 percent and Wisconsin was able to shoot a good enough percentage to help keep defenses honest, That prevented different defenses from consistently packing the lane and preventing Kaminsky from being productive.
Wisconsin’s bench struggled in scoring throughout most of the year but started picking up steam when the Big Ten tournament started to go along with their rebounding and energy. The bench registered at least five points over the last nine games and it was clear the reserved helped win games for Wisconsin in the tournament.
Season MVP: Frank Kaminsky. Putting Wisconsin on his back at times to lead his team to three dozen victories, Kaminsky put together one of the most memorable seasons in school history on his way to winning every major player of the year award in college basketball. It was well deserved, as he averaged 18.8 points a game, shot 54.7 percent from the field, grabbed 8.2 rebounds a game and registered 14 double-doubles on the season. Not only did he led UW in points and rebound, Kaminsky led the team in assists (2.6), blocked shots (1.5) and was second on the team in steals (0.8). He consistently showed that he was capable of doing anything to help Wisconsin win.
What makes Kaminsky’s stat line impressive is Wisconsin was going to do everything it could to get him the ball down low or try and get him an open shot to help open up the rest of Wisconsin’s offense. Even with teams game planning to stop him, Kaminsky never really was slowed down. Georgetown was the only team to hold Kaminsky to single digits with six points in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament semifinals. Overall Kaminsky registered 16 games with at least 20 points and scored a season-high 31 points against Michigan State on senior day.