Notebook: UW's ‘Bigs' Up to Challenge

With Wisconsin being the larger team once again, the Badgers' four 'Big Men' found a variety of ways to help the Badgers win.

MADISON, Wis. – Another small team meant another big challenge for Wisconsin's big men. While Brian Butch, Jason Chappell, Joe Krabbenhoft or Greg Stiemsma didn't play flawless basketball, the big men are buying into the Wisconsin system and in the grand scheme of things, that's the most important thing.

In the Badgers 15-point victory over Florida State, each of Wisconsin's big men contributed something to the winning cause. Butch led the group with 13 points and Ryan said that although he struggled on the dribble, Butch "did some really nice things."

Chappell didn't find the bottom of the net, but he did find his teammates, registering a team-high three assists in 12 minutes. Krabbenhoft did likewise, dishing out three assists and led Wisconsin in rebounding for the fourth time this season, grabbing six boards. Not to be left out, Stiemsma constantly altered Seminole shots, registering the only two Wisconsin blocks on the night.

While their numbers aren't glaring or eye-popping, the Badger big men are buying into Wisconsin's system, which can only be classified as a positive thing.

"Our big guys do listen and they executed pretty well," Ryan said. "They take the minutes they're getting, make the most out of them and they've bought into the system. That's why some good things have happened here over the years. If people get away from that, it's going to make it tougher, especially with our schedule and who we are playing."

Needing some stickum'

With Florida State turning over the ball an average of 17 times per contest, it was a given that the ball would be loose on the court quite a bit Tuesday night. While Florida State held up there end of the bargain by committing 21 turnovers, including 14 in the first half, Wisconsin was uncharacteristically careless with the ball as well. With the Badgers coming into the game averaging 10.5 turnovers, Wisconsin committed a season-high 18 miscues.

Regardless, the turnovers didn't hurt the Badgers too drastically, as Wisconsin scored 17 points off Seminole turnovers.

"As good a team as Wisconsin has been over the years here, they didn't need Florida State to come in and turn the ball over the first three of the first four possessions and give them the extra possessions there in the first half," Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I thought that the 14 turnovers we had in the first half for ourselves and made it very difficult to get out of.

"It wasn't the pressure, it was the poor decisions," Hamilton added. "They are the kind of turnovers we can correct, but we haven't done so yet this season."

A thorn in Thorton

In addition to the turnovers, the Seminoles didn't help their chances when star player Al Thorton missed the majority of the second half due to cramps in both his legs. Thorton left with Florida State down 11 early in the second half to try and get some circulation in his legs. Thorton returned with 8:32 remaining but could only manage to play a little over a minute on the court before he had to sit on the bench the remainder of the game.

"Sometimes you get dehydrated early in the game and he was not really an explosive and active as he normally has been," Hamilton said.

After scoring eight points in the first half, Thorton could only manage two more the rest of the way. With Thorton out of the lineup, the Seminoles lost a key part of their offense and Wisconsin was able to take advantage.

"He's a good player," Ryan said. "He's a guy who can do a lot of things. We had a couple guys get banged up for some minutes too but you could tell that his effectiveness wasn't the same."

Bo Don't Care

In a touch of class after the national anthem, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez presented Bo Ryan with a game ball commemorating Ryan's 500th victory as a head coach. After Alvarez pulled Ryan in for a quick hug, Ryan, in typical fashion, took the souvenir and quickly threw it to one of the managers. While the standing ovation continued for him, Ryan had already moved onto more important business, returning to the huddle to give last minute instructions to his starters.

Quotable of the Night

Bo Ryan on the reason for wearing his snappy red sport coat on the sidelines.

"Well, because the price is right," Ryan exclaimed. "The ‘W' club got it for me and it fit. I thought that was pretty good. The toughest part was getting the tag off it. My wife spent 20 minutes trying to get the tag off of it without tearing the material.

"I don't even know what the material is," Ryan added. "Some people are guessing camel, some people are guessing cashmere and some people are guessing llama. Does anybody know what this is? All I know is that it's red and the guys had to put on sunglasses when I entered the room. It was a nice gift. The ‘W' club is doing well."

Players of the Game: Florida State's Toney Douglas was the only player on the Seminoles to find a rhythm, making 11-of-20 shots for a game-high 24 points. He also was the only effective player from the perimeter for Florida State, hitting 2-of-3 from long range. The rest of the Seminoles were 1-of-13 from beyond the arc.

Regardless, Kammron Taylor continues to show signs of improvement after struggling against Missouri State. Taylor shot the best of all the Badgers, 6-for-9 and 3-4 from long range, for 18 points. Taylor also took decent care of the ball, committing only two turnovers in 34 minutes on the court.

Turning Point: After cutting the eight point Wisconsin lead to four with just under six minutes left, Tucker returned to the floor after being poked in the eye a couple minutes before. Tucker's first shot after returning was a turn around three to increase the Badger lead to seven.

"I think the trainer told him to go out there and as soon as you get it, take a long shot and see how your vision is," Ryan said. "I was kind of surprised he took it. I thought he'd at least get used to the lights after he got back in."

Over the remainder of the half, Wisconsin increased their three point lead to 11 at halftime and the Seminoles never recovered.

Up Next: Wisconsin continues hosting members of the Sunshine State on Saturday, when the Florida International Golden Panthers come to visit. Members of the Sun Belt Conference, Florida International bring a 3-4 record into the capital city. Offensively, FIU is lead by Johwen Villigas and Dejon Prejean, averaging 12.6 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. This will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs with tip-off schedule for 1 p.m.


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