Plenty of Positives from the Negative

Despite a three-point setback to in-state rival Marquette, the Badgers take plenty of positives from a self-inflicted loss and look to apply the lessons starting Tuesday against Idaho State.

MADISON – Every game is a learning lesson in the eyes of Bo Ryan, no matter what side of the win column his Wisconsin team falls on.

With the Badgers losing their second game of the season and second straight game to Marquette, there are plenty of negatives – from turnovers to aggressiveness on the glass - that can be turned into positive for Ryan's troop.

But there were no shortage of positives, like holding a Marquette team that was averaging 87 points per game to a season-low 61 points and limiting two-third of the Golden Eagle senior trio (James and Matthews) to a combined 8-for-21 shooting and 19 points.

"What isn't forgotten is there are a lot of good things that we did defensively that we shut down offensively that they were doing to other teams," Ryan said.

Defensively they were sound, except on Jerel McNeal, who led all scores with 26 points and was one of the main reasons Marquette won the rivalry game. It's a teaching point that Ryan has already used for his team on how to stop a player of his caliber, since the Big Ten has no shortage of athletes.

"We've had some games (this season) where guys stepped up for us and made some big plays," Ryan said. "McNeal, the reason he came back this year was to better his position. Athletically, talent is talent and he showcased that. He was the difference maker and we looked at ways to handle guys like him. We play a lot of good players."

Break down the tape, however, and it was the Badgers themselves that led to the loss, not McNeal. After Rob Wilson made a jumper with 8:18 left in the second half, Marquette went on 12-0 to turn a three-point deficit into a comfortable nine-point advantage with only 2:38 left. During that near six minute stretch, UW was 0-for-3 from the field, turned the ball over four times and committed five fouls.

"We just needed to get a few buckets of our own," Ryan admitted. "That's what causes a 12-0 run. Turnovers that led to a basket or two, us not getting quite the shot that you want, but that spurt right there spells doom."

Coupled by 22 turnovers against Connecticut, Wisconsin has committed more turnovers (101) than registered assists (96) through this point in the season. While it's not a glaring issue only eight games into the season, Ryan maintains that the team is moving the ball and the ratio is a product of not getting rewarded.

"You never get an assist leading to getting foul," Ryan said. "If they ever did that, because the number of free throws our teams have historically have shot, our assist to turnover ratio would be a lot better. Our ratio has always been very deceiving."

One issue that hasn't been misleading is Wisconsin's non-conference schedule. Being one of only five BCS conference schools to play back-to-back road games against other BCS conference teams, the Badgers now enjoy a four game home schedule that begins tomorrow night against Idaho State and extends through the 23rd. More importantly, the Badgers will have plenty of time to relax and focus on finals, something that is really important for Ryan.

"Here it's extremely important because of the challenges academically that we have," he said. "It's pretty well known that Wisconsin has long been academically a place that is highly competitive. They are not only competing on the court, but competing in the classroom with some pretty good students."


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