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February 23, 2012

Revenge not on Badgers' minds

MADISON -- Revenge is not something that's on the Badgers' minds this week.

They certainly want to win Thursday at Iowa. But it has less to do with who Wisconsin's opponent is, and far more to do with the fact it is the next Big Ten game on the schedule.

Revenge is a negative word, according to Bo Ryan, and one that he's never used.

"I've been around too long," Ryan said. "I know that that doesn't make you play better. Because if you're worrying about that part of it, you're not worrying about what you need to take care of.

"It's the next 40 minutes. You got 30-some games. Could you imagine in the NBA if every time somebody had beaten you, you talked about a revenge game? I mean, you'd go crazy. Especially some teams more than others."

Of course, none of that changes the fact that Iowa came to the Kohl Center on Dec. 31 and left with a 72-65 victory, the first of three straight Wisconsin losses. It certainly will not improve the Badgers' poor shooting from that game, either.

UW made just 3-of-28 attempts from beyond the arc against the Hawkeyes, or a little better than 10 percent. After connecting on a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, Wisconsin hit a stretch in which it missed 14 consecutive attempts from the perimeter over a 24-minute span.

"Obviously shots not falling is one thing," Josh Gasser said. "But I think it goes way beyond that."

In addition to being outshot and outscored in that game, the Badgers also lost the battle on the boards, as the Hawkeyes held a 40-35 rebounding edge. That also helped Iowa hold a 12-10 lead in second-chance points for the game.

But where the game really turned was in transition.

Iowa likes play up-tempo and get the ball up and down the court quickly under Fran McCaffery, and they did just that against Wisconsin. While the Badgers typically are a team that can impose its will and force its pace on an opponent, the Hawkeyes exposed the transition weaknesses of UW.

All it took sometimes was one or two passes and Iowa would have somebody as the rim scoring on the other end. It added up to a 14-2 edge in fast break points that made the difference in the game.

"That's Fran McCaffery's system," Mike Bruesewitz said. "He's trying to get out, extend, put a lot of pressure on your defense -- especially transition defense -- on getting back.

"There was a few times where we scored, the ball was out of the basket, and all of a sudden they one, two passes and [Bryce] Cartwright's getting a pull-up two, three feet, four feet from the bucket."

It certainly did not help the Badgers' case to have missed 25 shots from outside.

"When you're missing threes, that can helping running teams because it's almost like an outlet pass," UW assistant coach Gary Close said. "In some cases, a long rebound, and off you go."

In terms of adjusted tempo, Iowa ranks 58th in the nation, and first in the Big Ten with 68.9 possessions per 40 minutes. Ohio State and Indiana, at 68 and 67.9, are 84th and 95th in the nation. Michigan State is fourth in the conference at 66.5, good for 158th overall, while Illinois and Purdue come in at 212th and 214th with 65.4 each.

To find Wisconsin on the list, you have to go all the way down to 345th. That makes the Badgers, who average 58.7 possessions per 40 minutes -- well below the national average of 66.3 -- the slowest team in not only the Big Ten, but all of Division I basketball in terms of adjusted tempo.

With that in mind, it is important for the Badgers to impose a slower pace on teams like that Hawkeyes, rather than attempt to play more up-tempo.

"They're real good; they're one of the highest-scoring teams in the league," Close said. "They play fast, and if you don't stick to your principles and get back and get yourself ready to go, they'll hurt you. And they did in the last game."


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