2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Wisconsin Badgers

  • 11/18/2010 10:48 am in

March 21, 2010:  Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan urges his team during first half round two NCAA Division 1 East Regional action between No. 12 Cornell Big Red (Ivy League) and No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten) at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Wisconsin Badgers.

I think we can all agree by now that anyone who doubts a Bo Ryan-coached team does so at his own peril. Not unlike T-Pain and Cameron Newton, all he does is win.

Ryan is into his 10th season in Madison now. The previous nine ended in the NCAA Tournament. Given his track record and the return of all-action forward Jon Leuer, there’s no reason to think that this season will play out any different.

And, as has been pointed out ad nauseam by now, he does it in a very Bo Ryan-esque manner. Wisconsin under the slick-haired, hard-faced coach will simply play almost mistake-free basketball. The Badgers are always at or near the top of the Big Ten in turnover margin (third in 2010) and assist-to-turnover ratio (second). Their turnover percentage last year was an impeccable 14.9 percent, easily tops in the conference.

The Badgers also led the conference in scoring defense, allowing less than 57 points per game, a rather absurd number even in the nose-to-the-grindstone Big Ten.

The other thing that makes Ryan’s Wisconsin program so special is that it never wavers. A slew of solid players have passed through the program since Ryan took over in 2001, including Brian Butch, Trevon Hughes, Alando Tucker, Devin Harris and Kammron Taylor. Every time one departs, we assume his loss will somehow negatively impact the next season’s squad, and yet it rarely ever does.

Thus far this season, it’s Leuer and Jordan Taylor carrying the program on. Leuer was expected after a stellar if not injury-shortened season last year. Taylor was a back-up last year, but had solid stats, particularly in the assists category, something that’s translated to the beginning of this season.

The real revelation (and we’re talking just two games, but it’s still impressive) is freshman guard Josh Gasser. Officially listed as a point on his Rivals page, Gasser was an unranked three-star according to the recruiting service. Through the first two games of his college career, Gasser is averaging 14 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

Despite losing Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes, Wisconsin does not look the worse for wear.

As it relates to Indiana, the Badgers ought to be a nice gauge by which the Hoosiers can measure their progress. Indiana is 0-4 against Wisconsin in the last two years, with an average margin of defeat greater than 25 points per game. Much of that was born of Wisconsin’s staunch defense and efficient offense, combined with an Indiana team that was too careless with the ball and struggled against the Badgers’ methodical offense.

The results in two meetings last season were two heavy, comprehensive defeats. Improved performances against the Badgers in 2011 would probably go a long way toward showing that the program is indeed turning that corner Indiana fans have been looking for.

The bottom line: Wisconsin is, once again, very good. The Badgers have obvious leadership in the form of guys groomed by the program, and Gasser could be a serious X-factor. Like usual, they are by no means the most talented team in the conference, but they will always be one of the best, so long as Ryan works their sideline. It’s probably safe to assume this is another season that finds the Badgers still playing in the second half of March.

Quotable (Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em edition):

Filed to:

  • Bo Ryan may win like T-Pain and Cam Newton, but I don’t think he gets paid as much as they do.

  • Anonymous

    Over the last decade, the Sconnies and Sparty have been the most constant thing in conference. Both programs have an identity: you know when you play both, you are going to get tough, disciplined defense. Sparty will push it on offense, which is fun to watch. Wisconsin does not push, but their offense is a thing of beauty and something to aspire to. They work the clock, but it’s not 35 seconds of passing around the perimeter and hand offs. They are inside-and-out, working for openings and making the most of them when they appear. There is purpose to it.

    And with both programs, there is continuity. That’s the most important thing about this current batch of Hoosiers. There has been none the last two years. Now you have guys like Verdell, Danny Moore and Pritchard who have been through the drills, who know what’s expected, and can show that to guys like VO and WS, and then to Zeller and Eth, who can then show it to Buss, and Hanner, and (please) Yogi, and then to Blackmon and Lyles…

  • Zach Osterman

    As an Auburn fan, I’m happy to say it was $180-200,000 well spent. Allegedly …

  • Anonymous

    Looks like Dracula, though. Great coach, great system, and unlike all of the commentators seem to think, it is enjoyable to see the team play ball – because it is slow and methodical.

  • MillaRed

    Many of you know I am up here in Bucky Land, and I hate to sound like a broken record because I have gone here before, but I think where the Hoosiers are right now with recruiting supports my stance.

    The Badgers are always a good team. But before I move on, I want you all to think about what you want the Hoosiers to be in 2 years and beyond as I describe the life of Bucky.

    I attend 5 or so games a year at the Kohl Center. Great environment. People here are great. Fans are knowledgable. It really is a great atmosphere.

    However, watching the Badgers play is well, v-e-r-y v-e-r-y boring. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate defense. I appreciate ball security. The thing is, when you do all of these things at the level the Badgers do year and year out, you will never, ever, nada, not going to happen, EVER win a national champisonship. Ever!

    Do they win 22+ games a year? Yes. Do they challenge for Big Ten championships? Absolutely. Do they bow out of the NCAA tournament in the first or second round every single time? Uhhhh yes they do.

    Dick Bennett took them to a Final Four. They made an Elite 8 appearance before UNC showed them how the game is really played. So there are flashes. But not anything serious enough to actually CONTEND for the banner.

    So there you have it. You know what you’re gonna get with the Badgers. They will always be tough. But at Indiana, we are looking for bigger, better things. And with the classes we have coming in over the next 3 years, we will once again show Bucky how it’s done in Bloomington.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • Anonymous

    Well-stated, Milla. And you make a good point. What I think you have to be able to do to hang banners is to be able to play effectively at different speeds. What I appreciate about Bucky is that they play well at a slow speed. Their half court sets have purpose and meaning. I get frustrated with Indiana’s half-court sets when they just pump the ball around the perimeter without a recognizable effort to get the ball toward the basket. But Bucky can’t go fast. And that’s where they get exposed in the tournament. Ideally, IU will be able to run, but if a team forces them to slow down, they can run an effective half-court set. Sparty, for what it is worth, is an excellent example of that. That’s probably what we should aspire to.

  • Milla – agree with your summary. I spent 3 yrs and loved the crowds and esp the football games…For the players he gets Bo is the one of the best coaches around. I wonder if they would do better if they had better talent. Conversely the athletic type players we are now recruiting are attracted to the type of play that CTC and Sparty aspire to, so part of the prob with bucky is that the system breeds success but come tournament time success is limited by a lack of athletic forwards and 2s (ie players who prob believe they can’t showcase their talent in Bol’s system). I wish we could learn something from Bo in the TO area – because if we do then we should be able to mimick sparty’s success as Daddy so eloquently pointed out

  • MillaRed

    Exactly. The more athletic ACC and SEC teams rip them up in the tournament.
    They are not built for comebacks. I have many Badger buddies up here and
    they appreciate Bo. But the fact they are never really moving forward is
    getting frustrating.

    You mentioned MSU which year in and year out seems to be the most athletic
    and versatile team in the Big Ten. Thus its Final Four city over there.

    By the way, I watched Illinois v Texas last night. Oh boy. It’s not going to
    be pretty. They look like they are moving twice as fast as IU.

  • MillaRed

    Well said sir. Well said. In fact, I would say the handful of the athletic
    types Bo gets, he actually holds them back. Let’s just say UW won’t be
    leading the Big Ten in fast break points anytime soon.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    “The Bo” has got some moves…but I think CTC can take him on the dance floor and on “the floor”.

  • Clinton Mills

    Wisconsin is my 2nd favorite team in the Big Ten. I know they aren’t the most exciting team to watch but they are one of the most fundamental and best coached teams you will ever find. Bo Ryan, in my opinion, is the best coach in the Big Ten.