Across The Web: Wisconsin Hoops

Written February 11th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

Against our better judgment, we invited the gang from Bucky’s Fifth Quarter over for a little small talk. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great guys; it’s just that we’re not crazy about the final score after the last time we got together.  At any rate, you can check our thoughts on their questions over at their site… Here we go:

How are you guys feeling about the game on Saturday?  Confident, or nervous?  Why?

I’m just excited. The way the Big Ten has fallen on its sword this season, Wisconsin’s best wins are not looking very impressive right now. So I want to see if the Badgers are capable of toppling an unbeaten. I’m confident because the game is at the Kohl Center, but it does seem weird that a lot of folks are resigned to an Ohio State loss Saturday. Everyone in OSU’s lineup is a weapon.

Just to confirm… J.J. Watt’s not playing right?

Dunk you very much

Correct. Neither is David Gilreath, so you won’t have to worry about a guy going coast-to-coast.

Most of the country is familiar with Jon Leuer, arguably the favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year.  What makes on Leuer such a great basketball player?  What is he best at?  What are his weaknesses?

Leuer is so special because he can get his own shot off on anyone from almost anywhere on the court. His outside shooting prowess really opens up the lane for him and he has become better off the dribble this season. When Leuer is decisive, his go-to moves down low are a thing of beauty. However, Leuer still lacks lower body strength so he can be bullied off the block pretty easily. It’s frustrating to see how far from the basket Leuer actually catches entry passes and I wish he would battle for position a little more. The Ohio State big men should have an advantage in that area, while Leuer has an edge being able to lure them out to the perimeter. If he’s hitting 3-pointers, look out.

Did I miss something? I thought Jared Sullinger was the leader for POY (along with JaJuan Johnson)?

No place like home

We all know that the Bucks are 0-7 against Bo Ryan in the Kohl Center.  In fact, only two Big Ten teams have ever beaten the Badgers at home in Ryan’s tenure (Purdue and Illinois).  What is it going to take for Ohio State to become the third? What is it about the Kohl Center that provides such a great home court advantage?  Is it really just a great fan presence, or are there other factors that make it a particularly difficult place for road teams to play?

There has been some discussion about how “good” Badger fans actually are, but with a game of this magnitude, there is no doubt that the Kohl Center will be electric. Plenty of urban legends have tried to explain why Wisconsin shoots the ball so much better at home, ranging from soft rims to Bo Ryan’s use of Sterling basketballs. But it just comes down to Wisconsin being a good team under Ryan. He constantly drills fundamentals and emphasizes consistency. My guess is that leads to a team that is extremely comfortable in its home routine, allowing the Badgers to play more instinctively.

To win, Ohio State must apply ball pressure while staying out of foul trouble. Shooting a high percentage goes without saying.

Word is that Dick Vitale will be covering the game on Saturday. Does this excite you or make you nervous?  If you’re not going and are watching on the tube, would you hit “mute”, or roll with the copious hyperbole?

Since I’ll be at the game, I couldn’t care less. I’m more excited for Dave Revsine. At home, I have never been a “mute+radio” guy … I enjoy mocking the announcers too much.

Ohio State has enjoyed some great freshmen talent in recent years, although the freshmen then leave after their first year.  In contrast, Wisconsin seems to keep players for multiple years and always is tough to beat.  As a fan, would you trade a team of experienced players you’ve watched over time for a talented one-and-done team that would take you on a deep tournament run?

Junior leadership

If my team got a National Championship out of the deal, yes, I would make the trade one time. But I think seeing your roster turn over that often would get old. One of the great aspects of college basketball is seeing the new kids cycle in each year and watching them develop as players, leaders and personalities during their career. I actually feel sorry for Buckeye fans in that sense.

Prior to Thad Matta, Ohio State fans remember the Buckeyes under coach Jim O’Brien.  It was a grind-it-out style of basketball, made more painful to watch by the fact that some of those teams weren’t overly successful.  At Wisconsin, you have a grind-it-out style, but you consistently win.  To what extent do you actively embrace and enjoy the slower pace given that it has brought regular winning seasons and always-competitive teams?

It’s a common misconception that playing a slower pace made Wisconsin a winner. Having two hall of fame coaches back-to-back is what brought winning to town. Anyway, I do embrace (a) the good defense and (b) the ball security, which are the two great qualities that just so happen to also greatly limit possessions and slow the tempo. To be honest, I don’t really notice the pace unless the movement of the offense gets out of sync. If everyone is standing around and Jordan Taylor is dribbling out top for 10 seconds before shooting, that is annoying.

Except when he makes it.


  1. JimNo Gravatar
    February 11th, 2011 at 8:54 am

    For the record, I have absolutely no idea who Jon Leuer is (other than he is apparently a player on Wisconsin’s basketball team).


    EricNo Gravatar
    February 11th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Amusingly, that simply confirms my answer to one of the questions they asked us.


    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    February 11th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I thought he was this guy’s brother…


  2. lonebadgerNo Gravatar
    February 11th, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Wisconsin has also lost to Minnesota at the Kohl Center.


  3. DaveNo Gravatar
    February 11th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Good stuff guys. Reading it gets me pumped up for the game. Let’s hope the Buckeyes can get it done in a hostile environment.


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