Tom Oates: Productive offense disappears for second straight game for UW men's basketball team

2014-02-01T20:00:00Z Tom Oates: Productive offense disappears for second straight game for UW men's basketball teamTOM OATES | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6172

The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team got back to playing hard Saturday.

The winning? That will have to wait.

Facing an opponent that was every bit as desperate as it was, 14th-ranked UW dropped a 59-58 decision to 24th-ranked Ohio State in a tension-filled Big Ten Conference game at the Kohl Center, the one-time house of horrors that lately looks more like a hospital for ailing teams.

The loss was the fifth in six games and the third straight at home for UW, which hit the skids after opening with 16 victories in a row. Ohio State showed up having lost five of its previous six games after a 15-0 start, so the two former top-five teams had a lot in common, including frustrated players who felt the need to vent publicly in recent days.

“We didn’t want to just talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk,” UW forward Nigel Hayes said. “This game was better than some of the previous losses we had. We weren’t just giving up easy layups and it wasn’t like we weren’t playing hard or playing physical. It’s just sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way. We just have to in games find ways to make the ball bounce our way.”

Finding a way to make it go through the hoop would be preferable. Indeed, the Badgers learned Saturday that simply playing hard won’t solve the issues that have surfaced since their dream start. They also have to be smart and disciplined, especially on defense but lately on offense, too.

The offense, which had carried the Badgers all season, deserted them for a second consecutive game. In a loss to Northwestern on Wednesday, it never showed up. Against Ohio State, it took the second half off. The common denominator is the 3-point shots stopped falling, but it also looks like some players are struggling in their roles or with the physical defense played in the Big Ten.

Only Hayes, a freshman, was consistently effective down the stretch against Ohio State, scoring 13 of UW’s 25 second-half points. Still, a group that once looked like coach Bo Ryan’s best offensive team failed to make a basket after center Frank Kaminsky scored on a putback with 6 minutes, 42 seconds left.

So what is the difference between the team that went 16-0 and the one that has gone 1-5?

“I would say the last two games it was basically the shots,” Ryan said. “There’s been some times defensively where guys were still learning roles, when to jump, when to stay, when to hedge. But these last two games ... I thought we had a great blend of inside-outside. But we have some guys who have some deficiencies and they show and other teams have exploited those. So the guys that it’s happening to have to get better, which is what we’re still trying to do.”

When they were winning game after game, the Badgers displayed a great chemistry. They were a cohesive, confident team.

After their lethargic performance against Northwestern, sophomore Sam Dekker, UW’s leading scorer, told reporters the team needed to be tougher and work harder on the court and do less complaining and finger-pointing off it. For the record, Dekker included himself in that criticism.

Asked Saturday if he liked the leadership on his young UW team, Ryan was less than enthusiastic.

“If you’re not getting it done, everybody wants to talk about leadership,” he said. “I think what I’m looking at is, I saw some guys hustling out there, I saw some guys banging on the glass. I saw Nigel just working. (He) has outworked everybody on the team, which is pretty obvious. And he does it without talking about it. Maybe that can be infectious.”

Even a blind man can see where that shot was aimed. But Ryan didn’t stop there. He took some measures Saturday that clearly were designed to spur greater effort and concentration among his players.

For one thing, he had a shorter leash on Dekker, Kaminsky and point guard Traevon Jackson. Dekker scored a season-low four points in a season-low 19 minutes. Jackson had more turnovers than assists for the fourth time in eight games and couldn’t get UW a good look when it had a chance to win at the end.

But if you think lineup changes are coming, you haven’t been watching Ryan for the past 13 seasons.

“If you take guys and move them out, what you’re saying is, it’s their fault,” he said. “I don’t do that. It’s all of us together. ... I’ve certainly seen a lot of times where guys can shake the lineup up by not playing guys as many minutes or certain guys don’t get the run that maybe they were getting, and that we’ve done a little bit of with some guys. I know it’s always easy to sit there and say, ‘Hey, just start three other guys.’ I understand. But the thing is, you still need those guys on board and you still need them playing hard, playing defense, rebounding.”

The Badgers did most of those things against Ohio State, but it wasn’t enough because they didn’t have the versatile, unselfish, productive offense they had a few weeks ago. The winning won’t start until they regain that.

Contact Tom Oates


or 608-252-6172.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. Ego Vigilabo Vigilum
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    Ego Vigilabo Vigilum - February 02, 2014 1:59 pm

    "Sign the petition to bench Jackson!!!"

    Are you for real? I'll assume you're serious because that has no earthly relation to humor whatsoever.

    In what freakin' Universe is that at all productive? How's Jackson's play affecting your little (and I DO mean little!!!) corner of the world.

    Is your life that empty and devoid of meaning that you feel the need to post something like that?

    Tell you what, tell me where YOU live/work and I'll mosey on down and nitpick your existence.

    Better yet, why don't you show up at Ryan's next press conference and share your wisdom.

    Then you might have some insight as to how it is to be humiliated by people you don't know.

    My good buddy adamman showed what an astute judge of character he is on another thread.

  2. profbadger
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    profbadger - February 02, 2014 12:38 pm
    Hard to fathom why anyone would bring up George Marshall. He started 6 games last year, and was bad. Wonder if he will start at ND State, I also cringe when Jackson has the ball. We need to bench Jackson, and start Hayes and either Koenig or Gasser at PG
  3. madtowner
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    madtowner - February 02, 2014 12:30 pm
    Sign the petition to bench Jackson!!!
  4. jayhoo67
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    jayhoo67 - February 02, 2014 11:05 am
    Agree with BadgerFan1. Time for Bo to evaluate himself. Last 8 seconds of the game were a microcosm of the last 3 weeks. Sam is in a bad place and Ryan is making it worse. This is a team in pain. Might not make NCAA at this rate.
  5. RedPine
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    RedPine - February 02, 2014 10:57 am
    Defense better last two games. Shooting from outside is cold cold cold. Free throws have been inconsistent. A screen 30 feet from the basket is not going to spring out guards for a drive to the paint Frank needs to finish under the basket and stop standing around at the 3 point line--although that is his only chance to touch the ball sometimes. Much better getting the ball inside to Hayes though. Zero assists from within 15 feet of the basket. If the shooting comes back they'll win some games yet. Hope they can start having fun again soon.
  6. Badgerman42
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    Badgerman42 - February 02, 2014 10:07 am
    Traevon is 4-21 his last two home. He is a turnover machine with an 8th grade jump shot. Either start Hays by putting Dekker to the swing or start Koening. Bo is too stubborn to do either, sadly. This could be a great Badger team.
  7. adamman
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    adamman - February 02, 2014 9:23 am
    I agree that Boo Radley Ryan is too one dimensional.
    What I would say in his defense is that he gets good young men with high character.
    Boo is at a disadvantage because many highly rated high school players don't want to play at a cold weather school. His recruiting challenge is very difficult.
    I admire a coach that values character and success in school as much as winning.
    Even through the losses, I continue to enjoy watching the games. I just wish that if they are going to continue losing games that Boo would mix up the players to make things a little more unpredictable.
    And Sam Dekker needs to get his mojo back. That won't happen by sitting him on the bench.
  8. w8rh3wk5
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    w8rh3wk5 - February 02, 2014 7:19 am
    There is a reason why Bo has led the Badgers to a consistent top 4 finish in Big Ten and equally consistent underwhelming performances in the NCAA tourney.

    His coaching style breeds success in the regular season. Generally speaking they win all most all of home games (this losing streak aside) and win half of road games. Get a good seed and lose early on. Lost 5 of last 7 years against team seeded 4 seeds of lower. No wins against a top 4 seeded team. Only one win against a team seeded higher than uw.

    Bo is rigid. Doesnt change his defense. No pressure, no zone, no trapping, etc. Strict man to man. Offense is starting to get stagnant. Loyalty to Jackson is not warranted. Koenig needs a chance to play more. Final 8 secs of game was horrible coaching or horrible execution by Jackson
  9. badgerfan1
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    badgerfan1 - February 02, 2014 6:00 am
    Once again Ryan has these players playing tight . In the process he is destroying Dekkers confidence and he can not afford to destroy the one athletic player he has been able to recruit. I said it on an earlier blog--Ryan has been Wisconsins greatest coach but it is time for him to retire. He can not or will not recruit the athletes necessary to compete at the top level in the Big 10. Further he is far to stubborn in the way he coaches--I know it has worked in the past but he has lost this team and the game has passed him. His insistence on one and only one defence, continuing to play Jackson in the face of his DEFICENCIES and the inability to recruit the Milw area are all crippling the Badger basketball program.
  10. pony
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    pony - February 01, 2014 10:42 pm
    i think the coach has to get better
    give the players you got some help, not just say get better
    give them something to work with, like a play or 2
  11. madtowner
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    madtowner - February 01, 2014 8:43 pm

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