January 25, 2009

Good, bad and ugly from Illinois loss

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin men's basketball team has definitely hit a rut in the first half of conference play. As losers of four straight, the first UW team to do so in over 10 years, the Badgers have to find their winning ways in a hurry and much can be learned from the loss to Illinois.

Before the Badgers take the court Tuesday night, BadgerBlitz.com takes a look bad at the good, bad and ugly of UW's 64-57 loss to the Illini at Assembly Hall over the weekend.

Good:

The late run With just over four minutes left in regulation, the Badgers were down by 10 points. After trading buckets with the Illini for a short stretch, UW eventually widdled its deficit down to just six points with 52 seconds to play.

After Calvin Brock only made one of two free throws to give Illinois a seven-point edge, a Jordan Taylor lay-in cut the margin to five with 26 seconds left in the game.

The Badgers really made it interesting when they stole the ensuing inbounds out of a timeout, but an open Jason Bohannon was unable to connect on the three that would have made it a one-possession game. And that was a close as UW would get the rest of the way.

Still, the comeback was inspiring and could potentially prove to be the momentum the Badgers need as they move forward with their schedule.

"There's a lot of things you can build off," Taylor said following the game. "But we came back two games in a row from big deficits down in the last minutes so we can do that. It's just the fact that once we get the lead we got to keep it instead of putting ourselves in the hole to begin with."

Joe Krabbenhoft:

Anyone who follows Wisconsin basketball knows what Krabbenhoft brings to the table. In Saturday's game, he was a major reason the Badgers were better than the Illini in many of the hustle categories. He scored 16 points, but also had 12 rebounds, four offensive before fouling out late in the game trying to help his teammates out.

"Joe's always going to have his nose in there," UW head coach Bo Ryan said following the game. "I mean, just look at his stat line. Krabbenhoft's the guy, he really just sets a great example.

"The younger guys are trying to get like that and [so are] some of the guys with not as much experience."

Bad:

Shooting:

When Wisconsin out-rebounds, commits less turnovers, forces seven steals to an opponents one and matches it in assists, it usually comes out on the left hand side of the win-loss column. However, when the same team allows its opponent to shoot 50 percent from the floor while only making 35.6 percent of its own shots, the hustle stats can be less indicative of the outcome.

UW never seemed comfortable when shooting the ball in Saturday's loss as it went 9-for-27 in the first half and 12-for-32 in the second. From beyond the arc, it was even worse as UW only hit 6-of-21 attempts (28.6 percent) from distance.

"It was just on our part," UW senior Marcus Landry said following the loss. "We needed to finish and we just weren't finishing. I don't think it had anything to do with their defense. It was just that we weren't finishing shots when (we) were around the basket."

Ugly:

Jon Leuer and Jason Bohannon:

Going into the game against Illinois, Leuer and Bohannon were averaging a combined 21 points per contest. When UW was walking off the court following its seven-point loss, the same two players had only accounted for four points on 15 percent shooting from the field.

Bohannon had the worse day as he finished shooting 1-for-7 from the field that included 0-for-3 from downtown. To add to the woes, he also missed some clutch shots down the stretch that could have potentially gotten UW back within one or two possessions in the waning minutes.

"If somebody is going to tell me that Leuer and Bohannon are going to go 2-for-13, they had some decent looks."

Bo Ryan technical:

For the second consecutive game, UW's head coach was slapped with a technical foul. This one came after Krabbenhoft had appeared to be in position to draw a charge when Chester Frazier was driving the lane. Instead, the official called it a blocking foul, which prompted an immediate reaction from Ryan. However, all Ryan did was clap his hands and applaud Krabbenhoft for his effort on the play.

"I was in the box, I was clapping for Joe," Ryan explained. "(I) never raised my arms, (I) just clapped for Joe. I think there were some other people that thought he might have taken a charge on that too, but there's only one opinion that matters."

Both the technical and blocking foul resulted in four points for Illinois that extended the lead to 15 with just over 14 minutes to play. While UW did have a valiant comeback effort, the double-digit lead proved to be too much to come back from.

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