I finally got a chance to sit down and watch Wisconsin's 60-51 loss at Ohio State Saturday and a few things stood out as giant problems:
Wisconsin won't make it without Jon Leuer if Keaton Nankivil doesn't find a way to get more involved. In the two games without Leuer, I can only remember one time where he posted up, got the ball and made a move to score. Of course, he was called for an offensive foul. He's had a few put-backs, but other than that, all of his field goal attempts have been jump shots. That’s not good considering he has only hit one of his last 11 three-point attempts. For the swing offense to be successful, there has to be some kind of inside post presence and right now Wisconsin has absolutely none without Leuer in the lineup.
At what point does potential trump experience? Looking at Tim Jarmusz’s lines the last few games, I don’t see anything on the stat sheet that separates him from freshmen Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz. It’s good to see Jarmusz hit three of his last five three-pointers, but that’s still not enough production when you consider those five attempts came in 60 minutes of playing time. He had six rebounds in 27 minutes against Ohio State, but Evans had five in just 13 minutes. Plus, it was evident in just a few possessions that Jarmusz could not handle Evan Turner, which is why Evans came in for Jarmusz just 2:45 into the game.
Shall we compare the numbers? Despite playing 173 less minutes than Jarmusz this season, Evans has scored 29 more points than the junior while shooting 44 percent from the field, compared to Jarmusz’s 33 percent. Evans has gotten to the free throw line 14 more times than Jarmusz and he only trails the junior by five in the rebounding column. Again, that’s all while playing 173 less minutes! So why is Bo Ryan sticking with the junior? Well, we know how much the UW head coach hates turnovers and Evans has four more than Jarmusz. But when you consider all these comparisons and throw in the fact that Evans is a better defender, don’t you think you can put up with the four extra turnovers?
Jordan Taylor and Jason Bohannon can’t disappear. After torching the last few opponents from inside the three-point line, Ohio State did an excellent job of not letting Bohannon get anywhere within 15 feet of the basket. He took six shots in the game and they were all threes. Defensively for Ohio State, that probably decided the game considering Taylor couldn’t pick up the slack. The sophomore only made 3-of-11 shots and missed all five of his threes. Without Leuer, the three guards are all the Badgers have. Taylor and Bohannon will have to do better.
There were two giant possessions in Saturday’s game where the Badgers came up empty and both of them involved Nankivil. After trailing by 12 at the half, Wisconsin went on an 8-0 run and had the ball down 34-30 with 16 minutes left in the game. That’s when the ice cold Nankivil jacked up a three (granted, he was wide open) and missed. Dallas Lauderdale scored on the other end for Ohio State and the Badgers never got any closer.
Still, Wisconsin had a chance late. Trailing 56-48 with just over two minutes left, Nankivil made a great power move down low and scored (this is the only one I can remember in the last two games). It appeared he was fouled and was going to get a free throw to make it a five-point game. Instead, they called an offensive foul and the Badgers never really had a chance after that. Honestly, I can’t blame the junior for either play. As bad as he has been from behind the arc, he was wide open on the first play and we all know he can make threes. He’s just cold. And on the second play, that was just an awful call. Just a really tough break for Nankivil and the Badgers on that play.
The bottom line is that you can’t fall down by 12 points when the best player in the country goes out with two fouls in the first half. When Evan Turner went to the bench with 14:16 left in the first half, UW had a 10-9 lead and Hughes made it 12-9 just seconds later on a layup. That’s when Wisconsin decided to play its worst basketball of the season. The Badgers turned the ball over six times before halftime and didn’t make a field goal in the final 5:19 of the half.
Look, Wisconsin wins a lot of game using Bo Ryan’s formula for winning. That formula involves not turning the ball over, getting to the free throw line and most importantly, playing defense. The Badgers turned the ball over 14 times Saturday, only shot five free throws in the entire game and let Ohio State shoot 52 percent.
It all adds up to a tough loss.