Men's basketball notes: Smooth contribution

Badgers' defense, depth key in winning physical matchup with UW-Green Bay

MADISON—In just 10 minutes of action Tuesday night against UW-Green Bay, Wisconsin senior center Andreas Helmigk made his strongest impact of the year scoring nine points on 3 of 4 shooting and grabbing six rebounds.

Helmigk, nicknamed "Smooth" by his teammates, stepped up his play in the middle of the second half, tallying six points in a one-minute, nine-second span. But it was his extra effort on the offensive glass that made Helmigk a force. For the game, the senior grabbed three offensive boards.

As important as his contributions offensively were his defensive position and physical play.

"Especially defensively, he really worked in the post," head coach Bo Ryan said.

"For him it started on defense," senior forward Mike Wilkinson said. "He was physical…did a good job denying the ball in the post and forcing lobs that didn't get through. And then on the offensive end, he got some offensive rebounds, some put backs and finished with some nice moves around the basket. But for him, it all started on defense. He's got a lot of confidence, even coming off the bench, and he's been playing real well for us."

Helmigk was the game's leading scorer off the bench in the Badgers' win, contributing nine of the Badgers' 11 points from reserves. UW-GB, however, outscored Wisconsin off the bench 18-11.

Perimeter shooting an early key

As accurate as the Badgers were from beyond the arc in their first road win last Saturday—connecting on 11 of 26 three-point attempts—the team was far from on the mark versus UW-Green Bay Tuesday night.

After connecting on their first two shots from downtown, the Badgers went ice cold from long range the rest of the game and hit only two more in 17 additional attempts. For the game, UW hit 4 of 19 from three-point territory, including an 0 for 6 in the second half.

The shots may not have been falling for the Badgers, but Ryan felt the shot selection was appropriate for the double-teams UW-Green Bay was presenting.

"For the most part, they were all good, especially if you're doubling in the post…so you go inside-outside," Ryan said. "We had basically the same looks we had on the road at Rutgers, where we hit 11 of them. Some nights they are going to go in a little more than others. As long as they're good ones, that's OK."

For the third game in a row, senior Sharif Chambliss had the hot hand for Wisconsin. He connected on 2 of 3 triples as a part of 13 points. In the last three games, Chambliss is shooting 9 of 15 (60 percent) from beyond the arc.

Get to the line: Second-half struggles solved by foul disparity

Considering the Badgers won by 10 points and led by as many as 21, Wisconsin's second half offensive struggles were not detrimental to the outcome of the game. But they did allow UW-Green Bay to make the game respectable down the stretch and force head coach Bo Ryan to some starters in with less than 2 minutes remaining.

Shutting UW out over a six-minute span early in the half, and also holding the Badgers without a field goal over the final 4:49, UW-GB played a much more physical game over the final 20 minutes.

Behind a very energetic bench, the Phoenix never conceded to the Badgers and made them earn every basket in the second half, but many times fouled the Badgers and put them at the free throw line. In fact, UW-Green Bay committed 17 fouls over the final 20 minutes and 23 in the game.

Consequently tested at the free throw line, Wisconsin connected on 15 of 23 attempts.

"In spurts they looked pretty good, because they were doing what we wanted," Ryan said. "We kept building the fouls up on them and that's the key. You can't let a team come in and play that physical without making it be a foul. There are times you say we are just going to play physical and let the refs call the game they way they want to call it and see how they are going to call it. That's smart playing. We do that too and it's how you react to that. I thought our guys reacted well in getting the fouls up … but we needed to convert a little bit better at the line.

"There was a lot of contact in there [post], a lot of countering … leg, there was a lot of action in the post. If I'm a post player, that's fun. That's like being an offensive lineman."

Defensive improvements

Game by game, the Badgers continue to improve defensively as a team and the most obvious reason has to be because the team is starting to get used to each other.

The trust is developing between the players and much of that stems from the leadership of senior point guard Sharif Chambliss. His ability to run the offense efficiently is secondary to his defensive presence on the perimeter and it is the latter that is what continues to prove more necessary in each UW game.

Despite the major height mismatch with UW-Green Bay point guard Javier Mendiburu, Chambliss held is own—with the help of his big men.

"I think we're starting to get into a better rhythm on defense," Chambliss said.

In the last three games, the Badgers have given up 64 points to Maryland, 62 on the road at Rutgers and now 55 to UW-Green Bay—an obvious sign of improvement.

"I thought they helped one another pretty well," Ryan said. "There were a couple instances in the second half where we got away from our rules and then you pay…Defensively, at least they're working at getting better and at getting the job done."

Going deep on the bench

Sophomore forward Jason Chappell played the first time all season Tuesday, going 0 for 1 from the field with one assist and one turnover in four minutes. Chappell has hampered early this season by a right ankle injury.

Redshirt freshman walk-on guard Tanner Bronson played for the second time this season, entering with 16.9 seconds left in the game.

Three players received double digit minutes off the bench: sophomore guard Kammron Taylor (17), junior forward Ray Nixon (13) and Helmigk (10).

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