Getting the Wrap Around

Led by a 21-point performance from Connecticut guard Jerome Dyson, No.19 Wisconsin misses the mark in the Paradise Jam championship game, falling to the No.2 Huskies 76-57.

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands - Almost one year ago, Wisconsin took a basketball team searching for its identity on the road for the first time to play the seventh-ranked team in the country. The result was a massive 82-58 blowout that humbled the Badgers, pointed out their weaknesses and provided a springboard to a 31-win, duel conference championship season.

Although this year's high-ranking matchup proved more competitive, the Badgers are hoping their loss provides a similar jump start to their season.

No.19 Wisconsin held its own against No.2 Connecticut, trailing by as little as two points midway through the second half, before the Huskies closed the game on a 31-15 run, claiming the 2008 Paradise Jam Championship with a 76-57 victory over the Badgers in front of 3,671 fans at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports & Fitness Center.

Connecticut (5-0) had six players score eight points or more and was led by a 21-point performance Jerome Dyson, who shot 8-for-13 from the field to lead a Huskies team that shot 52 percent from the floor.

Preparing for the second-ranked team in the country, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan gave three keys for his team to be competitive against Connecticut.

1) Attack the post and contain UConn's post presence inside

The Huskies dominated points in paint, out scoring the Badgers 20-8 in the first 20 minutes and never letting up. Wisconsin (4-1) was able to contain the 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet, who shot only 2-for-6 from the field, but struggled with Jeff Adrien, who scored 14 points and grabbed six offensive rebounds.

Thabeet, the tournament's most valuable player, scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots against the Badgers.

2) Deal with UConn's perimeter speed and its three guards lineup

UConn's pressure made Wisconsin commit a very uncharacteristic 22 turnovers, which led to 31 points off turnovers by the Huskies and a 19-4 run to close the first half, turning a once Badger lead into a 38-28 halftime disadvantage.

"This was a very good win for us because we proved we could press. It's just amazing what our press did against a team as good as Wisconsin," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "We squeezed them with our pressure and our defense."

Although the Badgers had trouble with Dyson, Wisconsin limited guards A.J. Price and Craig Austrie to nine and eight points a piece, respectively.

3) Make UConn defend both the perimeter and the post

The Badgers did connect from the perimeter, shooting 8-of-17 (47 percent) from three-point range but got little production from the post, as seniors Joe Krabbenoft and Marcus Landry and sophomore Jon Leuer were all held under 50 percent shooting and single digits scoring.

Only sophomore Keaton Nankivil found any rhythm offensively, leading the Badgers with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

For the upperclassmen on the roster, the similarities between this game and the Duke debacle are intertwined. Both times the Badgers looked lost against a highly-skilled opponent, were sloppy with the basketball and were still looking for team chemistry against a top 10 team.

While UW was more competitive this time around, the game's both were out of UW's control late in the second half and both hurt just as bad.

But while history shows UW bounced back last year, these youthful Badgers know they have more work to do in order to write the sequel.

"We bounced back from the one last year and we have to prove to everybody that we can (this year)," Krabbenhoft said.

Badger Nation Top Stories