Sunday, December 13, 2009

UW-Marquette thoughts

Full disclosure: I didn't watch Saturday's game live. Watching the UW-Marquette game live sends my blood pressure into outer space, so I chose instead to take Will to see UW-Stevens Point play Elmhurst College. Of course, I followed the score on my BlackBerry, which sent my blood pressure at least into the ozone, so not much was gained.

But I just watched it recorded, and have to be pleased with the outcome, especially after Wednesday's result in Green Bay. We were the better team, but Marquette is athletic and scrappy and gave us a good run.

The game was a good indication of where the Badgers are right now, and what needs to happen for this season to be a success.

We have two very good players, one inside and one outside. Jon Leuer was a beast, and unless he takes a major step back he can carry us for long stretches of time. Trevon Hughes didn't have a great game, but he's excused, he's been playing very well. While both these guys probably won't end up on the all-conference team, they're playing at that level now.

Off the bench, Jordan Taylor has earned Bo Ryan's trust, and by extension mine. Ryan Evans too, he brings energy, athleticism, hustle. Both have bright futures as their roles expand.

How far we go this season will boil down to Jason Bohannon and Keaton Nankivil. If they pick their games up a notch, we can regularly beat the best teams in the Big Ten. If not, we look like a .500 conference team that can beat Marquette but lose to Green Bay, like we saw this week.

J-Bo is really struggling from the floor; then again, if memory serves he was at this time last year. But last year it was more a matter of him not getting shots off, this year it's him missing open looks. Keaton is tougher to figure -- he played 22 minutes yesterday, but I can't remember him at all. Maybe that was a function of the matchups Marquette provided, but I thought he would match up well with Butler or Hayward.

We'll see.

As for Marquette, they have some nice pieces, and in a Big East that has as many horrible teams as it usually does they'll win some games. But long term, where are they headed? Right now they're heavily dependent upon junior college players and a holdover from the Tom Crean era.

Like under Crean, they don't seem to have much of a "system," but instead rely heavily on individual play and effort. To their credit, they outrebounded a bigger team. That leads to uneven performances, both during a season and during games. Yesterday when Hayward and Johnson-Odom were hitting (by the way, our defense on the latter was atrocious, very lazy, and he made us pay by knocking down some 3-pointers) Marquette was tough. But then they'd go cold for stretches and we'd build our lead back to a comfortable margin. They didn't have anything to get them through the dry spells. Then again, I suppose you could have made the same critique about the Swing during our losing streak last year, but that was at the opposite end of the patience spectrum.

I suppose if I'm Vander Blue I can see the appeal in playing like that, but how do you develop like a player that way? It's glorified pickup ball. Good luck with that.

Good win, looking forward to closing the non-conference schedule with no more surprises or drama.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your "system" comments. UW plays great team ball. Marquette seems undisciplined and reliant on athletes making shots. No doubt they have more NBA potential on the court, but can Buzz Williams pull it together? Not so sure.

As for Vander Blue, who cares? He may be great, but if he doesn't want to play for Bo that's his loss. It'll be interesting to see how he feels after Marquette struggles around .500 in the Big East. I see a coaching change at Marquette in two years ... that doesn't make any player happy.

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