Bucky Gets Bounced
Flat and uninspired — overall, that’s how I would describe the mess I witnessed today during the UW v. Illinois game in the Big(11)Ten tourney. Posting on Twitter, WTMJ Radio host Gene Mueller asked, “Has a Wis. hoop team ever played more inept/uninspired b-ball under Bo Ryan?” Off the top of my head, I’d say, “no.” So what Badgers fans are left with is a 58-54 loss and Wisconsin eliminated from the conference tournament.
Sure, Bucky made it a game when Trevon Hughes — who was zero for his first 11 shots — caught fire late in the game from Three Point Land, and led the Badgers back to trail by just two with 26 seconds to play. In the end, it was their inability to do much of anything in the first 35 minutes of the game that proved to be their undoing.
Illinois just seemed the crisper team–they certainly were ringing the bell from the field, particularly from beyond the arc. UW, meanwhile, unloaded at least four airballs in the first 15 minutes and seemed to be routinely slow and lacking urgency until their rate run. That’s highly unusual for the Badgers over the past decade and a half.
How bad were things for UW? They were so bad Ryan actually went with full court pressure late in the second half. Can’t think of the last time I saw anything resembling a press from Wisconsin.
In any case, Bucky certainly didn’t look like a Top 15 team today, at least until the very end of the game. In fact, I’d stay the Badgers looked more like a Five Seed in the Tournament, the kind that gets bounced in the first round by a 12 Seed.
Perhaps this is just an aberration, a meaningless blip. But when I see UW play that way this late in the season, it makes me wonder if they might have run their engine dry compensating for Jon Leuer’s nine game absence, leaving them running on fumes at the most critical point in the season. On the other hand, perhaps this was the proverbial “wake up call,” and that last minute run was a sign of a team that still has some spark.