The offense looked effective in the first half as the Badgers were able to consistently knock down their perimeter shots and did not need to look for baskets in the paint. Overall, 24 of the Badgers 35 points came from behind the three-point line and once again it became clear that the Badgers would have to outshoot Illinois if it wanted to win.
Ideally, the Badgers would have continued their hot shooting from the outside in the second half but they seemed determined to drive to the basket and attempt to get shots around the hoop. Trevon Hughes seemed particularly determined to get to the basket and while he did not get a couple of questionable calls, he forced a number of bad shots and was consistently met at the basket by Illini big men.
The lack of a big man capable of finishing around the basket and cutting to the hoop from the weak side became abundantly obvious. Keaton Nankivil has pretty much became exclusively a jump shooter, which he happens to do very well, but this also lends to him drifting around the perimeter on dribble drives by our guards. This is compounded by the fact that Tim Jarmusz has been forced to play power forward in the absence of Jon Leuer and does not cut to the paint on the weak-side and appears content in disappearing in the corner.
Overall, the Badgers looked extremely one dimensional on the offensive end and Trevon Hughes could not buy a basket in the second half, finishing with zero points after halftime. The absence of Leuer finally caught up to the Badgers as there was no one around the hoop to occupy the attention of the Illini big men who were free to roam the paint and challenge the drives of the Badger guards.
Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale simply did not miss as the two combined for 46 of the teams 63 points. McCamey in particular had his way with the Badger guards as he used his superior height and strength to ward off the smaller Badger defenders. In particular, the Illini used the pick and roll to dismantle the Badgers defense and Illinois virtually abandoned all other offensive sets in the second half.
The Badgers simply did not have an answer for the pick and roll combination of McCamey and Tisdale and could not figure out a way to effectively defend McCamey coming off the high pick. Wisconsin did play relatively good defense aside from these two players and Illinois did only score 63 points but the Badgers simply did not have the physical wing required to guard a player such as McCamey.
Bo Ryan did not adjust in the second half to the high pick and roll the Illini ran throughout the game. Additionally, Ryan played a small lineup throughout the majority of the game and did not seem to amend his attack on the offensive end. The lack of bench play also seemed peculiar as the Illini almost always had a major size advantage at every position. This lack of size and the disappearance of bench players such as Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz meant that the Badgers would have to rely solely on their guards in the second half.
The lack of size also meant that the Illini big men were able to ignore their defensive responsibilities and patrol the paint on UW's drives to the basket. A player such as Evans would have potentially negated this as the Illini big men would have to account for him around the basket, unlike a player such as Tim Jarmusz who does not possess the athletic ability required to finish around the hoop.
Overall, the fact does remain that the players did not hit their shots but there certainly was a need for some form of strategic adjustment in the second half if the Badgers were to pull off the victory, especially in the defense of the pick and roll.
Game MVP: Jason Bohannon. Bohannon was the only Badger to shoot over 50 percent and did provide the Badgers with a glimmer of hope at moments in the second half. Overall, hard to give anyone the MVP after such a disappointing loss but Bohannon was able to knock down shots on a regular basis. Additionally, Bohannon once again proved that he has substantially increased his ability to create his own shot and utilize the dribble in order to create separation from his defender.