The offense gets an A today mostly due to the fact that the Badgers scored seemingly at will in the first half and consequently coasted to victory. The Badgers will go into their last game of the season and their subsequent post-season tournaments with a lot of momentum, as the team has been able to officially adjust to having Jon Leuer back in the lineup. With Leuer back in the lineup, the offense retains supreme balance and also enables the guards to attack the basket off the dribble and via the pass without worrying about not having a Badger around the basket.
There has been a lot of fuss lately over the Badgers offense when faced with a 1-3-1 zone and although I cannot be certain, I think that Leuer's presence once again will make the Badgers much more effective moving forward. The best way to attack a 1-3-1 zone is getting the ball into the high post and then looking to exploit a potential mismatch down on the low block. However, without Leuer in the lineup, the Badgers were forced to put Tim Jarmusz at either the low block or at the high post, two positions that do not suite his skill-set.
Now, with Leuer back, the Badgers can place Keaton Nankivil at the high post and allow him to be comfortable in the mid-range area in which he has excelled all year. Additionally, this leaves Leuer down on the block and gives Nankivil and the guards an actual option to pass to when breaking down the zone.
The defense looked tremendous as expected against the offensively challenged Hawkeyes. The Badgers will look to continue to rely on strong man-to-man defense and tremendous position/help defense as they look to make a run in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournament.
It is their ability to defend the perimeter with confidence that could be the difference as the Badgers hope to force teams into deep contested shots come tourney time. With Leuer back patrolling the paint, Badger guards can play aggressive perimeter defense knowing that if they get beat, it is not an automatic two points.
This confidence and aggressiveness was not there when Leuer was hurt and thus the Badgers guards could not afford to get beat off the dribble. However, with Leuer back in the lineup, the Badger guards can once again get into the chest of opposing guards and wings.
Considering the Badgers could have played without a coach tonight and still won by the same margin, I will credit Bo Ryan with doing a wonderful job of subbing out seniors Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon at an ideal time for a standing ovation at the end of the game.
Moving forward, Ryan will need to continue to do the masterful job he has done this year and perhaps solidify a tournament rotation as the Badgers close out the year. Other than identifying a solid 8 or 9 man rotation for the tournament, and tweaking his zone offense to accommodate Leuer effectively, I do not foresee Ryan having to do anything out of the ordinary over the next couple weeks.
Game MVP: Co-MVP's Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes. As cliché as this is, the game MVP obviously needs to go to the two senior guards, Bohannon and Hughes. The two of them have done an unbelievable job over the last four years complementing each other in the backcourt. This season, the two of them have fed off of each other and led Wisconsin to another tremendous record, much to the surprise of the "experts".
Moving forward, the Badgers will rely on both Hughes and Bohannon to carry them in the NCAA tournament and provide the Badgers with a decisive advantage in the backcourt, something that remains imperative to tournament success.