February 10, 2009

Hughes excels despite shooting slump

MADISON, Wis. - Trevon Hughes cannot seem to buy a bucket. His recent shooting slump is so bad that his season scoring average has dropped from 12.4 points per game following Wisconsin's loss at Northwestern three games ago to 11.5 ppg following its win at Penn State on Sunday.

Over the past two games, Hughes has hit only one shot from the field out of 17 tries. The lack of made shots has limited the junior point guard to only four points over the past two games, all of which came most recently at Penn State.

"In his mind he sees a shot like in practice," UW head coach Bo Ryan said at his Monday press conference. "He can shoot off the move, he can do some things (and) create some shots. I don't know what it is in the games."

Since his lay-in with just over four seconds left in the game at Northwestern a week and a half ago, Hughes did not make another field goal until just three minutes remained in the game against the Nittany Lions. In nearly 70 minutes of action, the guard only mustered one bucket.

Still, as horrid as that six percent shooting clip has been for Hughes, the Badgers are winning games. And most of that has to do with his production distributing the ball (he has a 7-2 assist-to-turnover ratio during UW's winning streak) and playing exceptional defense.

Hughes held Illinois sophomore Demetri McCamey to only 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting, a number that is less than half of what McCamey scored on UW in the first meeting.

Then against Penn State, Hughes visibly frustrated the Big Ten's leading scorer Talor Battle and held him to only 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting and 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.

"He's keeping guys in front of him a little bit better, handling screens a little better (and) sticking to our rules," Ryan said.

For many players, when an offensive slump arises, confidence has a distinct possibility of wavering. In Hughes' case, that is untrue. He is the epitome of a confident player as his 17 shots in two games suggests, but they just are not finding the net.

"He doesn't look real relaxed shooting it," Ryan said. "It tends to be more of a line drive. There were a couple shots that I broke down…(it's) like he's steering the ball, the pitcher that can't throw the strike. Really when you look at him, he needs to stop putting runners on base so he's aiming the ball. That's what it looks like on his shot."

But just because offensive scoring statistics are down, it does not mean the player is being ineffective on the court. Against the Illini, he logged four steals that helped lead to 10 Badger points off turnovers. Then against Penn State, he was physical with the smaller Battle, and contested nearly every shot.

It is that mindset, and the make-up of this team that has Hughes determined on the defensive side of the ball.

"When you see a teammate busting their behind for a ball, you aren't going to leave them hanging," Hughes said before the Penn State game. "You're going to have their back just like they're going to have your back. So he's diving on the floor and getting scrapes on the knees, you're going to want to do the same.

"You don't want to be a sell out or a weak link, so if you're not going to do that, that's a weak link on the team that's going to hold it down. We know what we need to do and our mentality is if we see somebody diving on the floor, we're going to dive on the floor just to help him up."

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