Wednesday's Badger performance against UW-Green Bay displayed the team's best shooting outing of the season as Wisconsin connected on 54 percent of its shots. Though the team was on fire from the field, the free throws cooled the offense off.
Wisconsin failed to produce at the charity stripe against the Phoenix, going 14 for 27 on the game. Their 51.9 percent average was by far the lowest of the season and very out of character for a team that prides itself at the line.
Though the Badgers were not showing their skills at the line Wednesday, Phoenix coach Tod Kowalczyk took note of how well Wisconsin was able to create situations to put themselves on the line. The Badgers, after all, made more free throws than Green Bay attempted (9).
"I think the biggest key to their team is they don't foul and they get fouled," Kowalczyk said. "They will win basketball games at the foul line. They won the game tonight at the foul line. Even though they shot 51 percent at the foul line they won the game there because they attempt so many. I think that's what (Badger head coach) Bo (Ryan) does, he does a tremendous job of instilling team discipline defensively and they don't foul but yet they get fouled."
Right away, Wisconsin knew it was going to be a long night from the foul line. Sophomore forward Andreas Helmigk missed the team's first two attempts and ended up going 0 for 3 on the night. Junior guard Devin Harris kept the streak going as he missed the team's third straight but he redeemed himself on his next attempt and went 3 for 4 on the game. Senior guard Freddie Owens missed another pair while junior guard Clayton Hanson also missed one to end the half. By the end of the first half, Wisconsin was only 4 for 11 for a paltry 36 percent.
"The ball didn't go down," Ryan said. "Sometimes it gets contagious too. I liked the fact that we got there though. I thought we should have been there more. If you hit the first few you tend to maybe get a little bit of a groove, we didn't do that."
The second half opened up the same as junior forward Mike Wilkinson went 1 for 2 early in the session. He went on to miss another three during the half. Sophomore forward Alando Tucker and Hanson also missed one each in the final 20 minutes. Despite all these misses, the Badgers concluded the game by making their last five and ended up hitting 62.5 percent in the second half.
The Badgers are typically a good free shooting team. They came into this game with 74.6 percent mark after shooting 73 percent last season. The team is not worried about a continued sub-par showing at the line.
"It just happens," Owens said. "You just got to get into a rhythm and step up to the line and knock them down when you get the opportunity. Just like when we have bad shooting nights, we have bad shooting nights from the line as well. We just got to regroup and come out and do better the next game."