Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's wrong with these guys?

Gotta be honest with you: my enthusiasm for blogging about the Badgers is as low as it's been for quite some time. Football season was a major drain, but at least we had basketball season to look forward to. There's plenty of time to turn things around, but basketball is looking a lot like football.

But why? Lots of theories abound, here are mine:

-Lack of swagger/enthusiasm. Alando Tucker and Kam Taylor played with supreme confidence. Brian Butch and Michael Flowers were energetic, emotional players, especially Butch. Those things are missing right now.

Trevon Hughes plays with a swagger, but it's been missing the past three games, to the point where his place on the bench in the waning moments of regulation and overtime didn't seem that strange in retrospect. Marcus Landry shows emotion after really big shots, but it doesn't seem to be an emotion that spreads.

The rest of the key players -- Krabby, J-Bo, Leuer -- are about as even-keeled as they come. Ordinarily, that's the type of player I prefer. But during tough times like we're going through now, you need a spark and reassurance, and one of those five guys has to get it started.

-This may sound dumb, and may indeed be dumb, but I think Landry, Leuer, and Bohannon need to force more shots. Think about all the bad shots Butch and Tucker took. They were forced, but they forced defenses to be on their toes at all times.

This year's team seems to only take really good shots, Hughes excepted. That's all well and good when you're playing Coppin State and you get good shots relatively early in the shot clock. Against the excellent defenses of the Big Ten, those clean looks don't come with regularity.

So what you get is 30 seconds of "probing" that doesn't really test the defense at all, and Hughes is left to jack something up. Landry, Leuer, and Bohannon are all skilled shotmakers who should exert their skills outside of the parameters of the Swing, as Butch, Taylor, and Tucker did before them.

-We're missing Butch's and Stiemsma's height. This surprises me, since I thought we'd be able to get through the Big Ten season without this being a liability, given the seeming paucity of quality bigs.

Case in point: Last night someone named David Palmer scores 21 points and grabs seven rebounds against very little resistance inside. Two games ago JaJuan Johnson had his way inside with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

What can remedy this? Faster maturity from Keaton Nankivil? Force feed Ian Markolf minutes? Probably not the answer.

For all of Landry's and Leuer's skills, they are not able to carry the low-post defensive load without a bigger body alongside them.

-And all those turnovers. Oh, god, those turnovers make you sick.

The way I see it, the talent level is comparable to the team that won 31 games last year, and the coaching is presumably exactly the same. But you've got a little less maturity and personality, a little less height, a little tougher conference, and a point guard going through a midseason crisis -- add it all up and you've got a three-game losing streak.

Unfortunately, the schedule doesn't hold what appear to be any gimmes anytime soon. This year will be a great test for the program and its viability going forward. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I read this entry after Saturday's game, I could understand there was no Illinois-UW wrapup a couple hours after the game. But here it is the next afternoon and still nothing ... you're headed for therapy my friend. Austy