The Wisconsin Badgers have a tough home game against the Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday night, where the battle between the big men will certainly be a key for either side as each team looks to keep their season alive.
During their inconsistent stretch over the second half of the season, the Badgers haven’t seen strong play from two of their top players, Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl, which has hampered their already-struggling offensive attack.
However, it’s an issue that both players are wary about, which stems from the lack of aggression and physicality inside the paint.
When I asked Tyler Wahl how the Badgers could return to the level of offensive play they had against the Penn State Nittany Lions, the junior forward pointed the finger at himself, vowing to be more aggressive.
“I gotta keep being aggressive. I gotta keep being aggressive going at the rim, and quit looking [for] finesse plays. I gotta go out there, be the aggressive Tyler Wahl, play physical, and that’ll help the team,” Wahl said.
Additionally, Wahl believes that if he can showcase that aggressiveness, his teammates will benefit from that energy, which in return puts the team in the right direction.
“Energy is contagious. If one guy is going out there, giving it their all, diving on the floor, it definitely spreads around. So, if I can do that for my team, we’re heading in the right direction.”
As for what has been the difference in his physicality, Wahl acknowledged that he’s looked for tougher, finesse shots, rather than playing with the level of aggressiveness that he had to begin the year.
“I feel like I’ve been kind of backing down or kind of going with the little finesse shots when I need to get back to what was making me really good and just being physical [and] going at the rim.”
Steven Crowl shared a similar sentiment to his counterpart, acknowledging his struggles against Nebraska and his poor field goal percentage, especially near the rim
“It’s on me. I definitely could have been a lot better. I don’t know what I shot, but that number could’ve been a lot higher.”
As for where he could improve, Crowl pointed to those shots near the basket, as he felt that Nebraska’s double teams took him off his game.
“I think I could’ve been a lot better down low. I’ve never really seen that kind of double [team] from the baseline. So, I thought I could’ve handled that a lot better. So, personally, I think that’s on me. I gotta finish and learn how to handle those different things.”
The lack of physicality down low has been a significant issue for the Badgers during their recent woes, as Wahl hasn’t taken the best shots, while Crowl has flat-out missed too many layups, with neither drawing many fouls during the stretch.
With the offense predicated on their big men, Wisconsin will need a rejuvenation from both of their top forwards if they want a chance against center Hunter Dickinson and the Michigan Wolverines.