Men's hoops: Short bench

Injury and circumstance cut into Butch's minutes; Krabbenhoft continues to command floor time

MADISON—Wisconsin felt the effects of having three parts of its post rotation stuck on the bench during its 62-55 loss to North Dakota State here Saturday.

Forward Brian Butch—the team's third-leading scorer and leading rebounder—was limited to 18 minutes of playing time due to injury and the game's second-half circumstances.

Butch started Saturday but his sprained left ankle—suffered in Wisconsin's loss at Ohio State Wednesday—still appeared to be bothering him. Butch grimaced in pain every time he ran the length of the court and even when he walked to the huddle during a timeout he seemed to be limping on his braced foot.

Butch was reasonably effective when he was in the game, but with the Badgers trailing throughout the second half, and falling behind by as many as 18 points, Butch's skill set did not fit UW's needs. The Badgers extended their defense, turning to a full-court press in the final seven minutes, which relegated Butch to the sideline.

In his short playing time against NDSU, Butch shot 1of 4 from the field and grabbed six rebounds. Unfortunately for the Badgers, no one made up for Butch's absence. Forward Alando Tucker, the Badgers' leading scorer (19.1 points per game), was held to 2 of 18 from the field and finished with 11 points.

Meanwhile, center Greg Stiemsma sat on the Wisconsin bench with freshman teammate Marcus Landry. Stiemsma is on a temporary leave of absence for undisclosed medical reasons and Landry was declared ineligible for Saturday's game for academic reasons. It is uncertain when or if either player will return this season.

Stiemsma and Landry are normally two of coach Bo Ryan's best players off the bench. Landry averages 6.0 points and 3.1 rebounds while Stiemsma is the team's best shot blocker.

With UW's post options limited, the Badgers played walk-on forward Kevin Gullickson for two minutes in the first half and reserve forward Joe Krabbenhoft played 28 minutes off the bench.

"We have to dig into our bench and other guys have to step up," Tucker said. "Especially with our schedule coming up in the Big Ten, we can't play six or seven guys the whole time and expect us not to wear down. Guys are going to have to be ready to get in and get some good quality minutes."

Krabbenhoft fills in admirably

While the rest of the Badgers struggled to find their rhythm, Krabbenhoft shot the ball well in the first half, connecting on 3 of 4 shots for seven first-half points. The rest of UW's squad combined for a miserable 2 of 25 at the break. Despite being a true freshman, Krabbenhoft continues to play with poise and give Wisconsin fans something to cheer about.

As the Badgers finished against the Bison shooting an embarrassing 22 percent from the field, Krabbenhoft finished the game 4 of 8 with 11 points. He also matched Tucker with a team-high seven rebounds.

"I don't even think about numbers like that I was just thinking about getting my chin stitched up and getting back out there to help my team," he said. Krabbenhoft left the game with 10:32 left in the first half with a bleeding chin but returned to play soon after receiving stitches, and with a bandage adorning his chin.

"We needed a lift and that's what I feel like I'm counted on to do when I'm out there," Krabbenhoft said.

Recruited from Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls, S.D., Krabbenhoft grew up watching teams like NDSU and coming into Saturday's game he knew the Bison would be a tough opponent.

"I wish I could remember all the North Dakota State games I've seen in the past," Krabbenhoft said. "I've seen Coach (Tim) Myles coach them… it's got to be more than 10 times I've seen North Dakota State play. They always seem to be a good team… They were always a contender in the NCC (North Central Conference) and that's obviously why they moved to D-I.

"That's just me but as a team we were ready for them. We knew they were a good team and we just didn't show up. Not taking any credit away from them."

Notable: Wisconsin has lost two straight games for the first time since road losses to Illinois and Michigan on Feb. 18 and Feb. 22, 2004… The last time Wisconsin lost a non-conference home game was a 90-80 defeat at the hands of Wake Forest on Dec. 4, 2002.

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