Sunday Basketball Roundup
I hate to beat a dead horse, but all the elements I wrote about the other day were on display in the Badgers loss at Illinois on Saturday. The lack of a true post player affects everything upon which they normally depend. They’re interior defense is vulnerable to backdoor cuts, and they don’t anticipate well on D so they appear to be a step slow there. Hughes quickness doesn’t seem to extend to the defensive side so they have no one to pressure the ball. On offense, since they have no real big man to draw the opposing team’s center away from the basket, they often have to settle for jump shots which they are not particularly good at. I’m amazed they were able to garner 12 offensive rebounds because I only remember one possession in the first half in which they got one. And since they don’t ‘finish’ well, they don’t attack the basket as much which means they aren’t enjoying their usual advantage at the free throw line. I understand that J.P. Gavinski and Ian Markolf didn’t even make the trip to Champaign so don’t look for any help there soon. It’s going to be a long season……..
Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd left the game with a strained knee in Saturday night’s win over Sacramento. While I slammed Redd a few weeks ago in this blog, his absence will be felt there. Based upon their play so far this year, the Bucks had the look of a fringe playoff team, which is probably better than anyone had a right to expect coming into the season. The additions of Richard Jefferson and Luke Ridnour have really helped and coach (gritty, gutty) Scott Skiles finally has them playing some team basketball and (egads!) on occasion some defense. It’s almost enough to make NBA basketball relevent in these parts again. But the loss of Redd in addition to center Andrew Bogut, who’s been mostly out of the lineup the last few weeks, will sorely test the Bucks ability to stay above water.
While I’m at it, let’s recognize the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. My hometown UWSP Pointers currently lead the league and are ranked #4 in the country, followed by #5 UW-Platteville and #7 UW-Whitewater. The WIAC has long been one of, if not the, premier Division III basketball conferences in the country, dating back to the days of coach Ken Anderson at UW-Eau Claire and Dick Bennett at UWSP (not to mention Bo Ryan’s 4 D-3 Nat’l titles at Platteville). Wisconsin may not have the best reputation for basketball talent, but along with St. Norbert University’s #17 national ranking, it’s clear that small college basketball is once again flourishing in the state.
I suppose this post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the Marquette University Golden Eagles (much to my chagrin as a Badger fan). The 10th ranked Golden Eagles defeated DePaul yesterday to remain undefeated in the Big East Conference. Marquette has it’s own limitations in the middle but so far they’ve been able to overcome them with their talented trio of senior guards: Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, and Wesley Matthews, Jr. Indiana coach Tom Crean may well wish he’d have stuck around Milwaukee for one more season. Props to MU coach Buzz Williams for getting the most out of his team.