The Wisconsin Badgers have prided themselves on their ability to grind out wins. Tough, gritty, closely-contested wins have been the norm all season. Although the Badgers are winning, they’re by no means dominating every opponent. With three overtime victories in six games in the recent past, wins have come, but not easily, and against mediocre teams like Minnesota, Rutgers, and Nebraska.
Coming off an embarrassing loss to unranked Northwestern, and with the conference schedule toughening up, how will the Badgers respond to recent adversity? Was the NCAA right to leave Wisconsin out of the recent top 16 reveal?
If Wisconsin wants to build momentum and reputation heading into the March Madness Tournament, the offensive scheme should be reevaluated.
The common scheme in place as of right now is too stagnant. Ball movement generally consists of unproductive passing behind the arc, trying to get the ball inside so Happ or Hayes can go to work. Overall, the system is too isolation-focused. If the isolation fails, kicking it out to a semi open shooter is generally the next step. Obviously, this isn’t the only outcome of offensive possessions, but it’s a troubling pattern, especially at season’s end.
Through and through, the more a team moves the ball, the more volatile the offense becomes. The more weapons that can get their hands on the ball in a given possession, the more opportunity to exploit holes in the defense. While Hayes and Happ are gifted isolation scorers in their own right, and the three point shooting ability of the team is above average, the system is predictable and underuses the talent available.
Instead of falling back on this one-dimensional offense, the Badgers must get more personnel involved per play because, realistically, the talent is there to shake things up in a wide open postseason forecast. Seeing some better off the ball movement would be refreshing as the shooting talent on this team is a luxury that should be exploited through open shooters.
Although injured, Bronson Koenig certainly has the ability to drive, and the drive from the top of the key is something that Zak Showalter is great at. While Hayes and Happ are the two unmitigated stars of this veteran Badger team, if the guards can get more involved with taking the ball inside, they’ll both have the opportunity to get open for shots.
All in all, the Badgers’ identity will more or less stay the same: great defense accompanied by talented scorers. But there’s still potential to be unlocked with this year’s team. Whether that potential will be reached remains to be seen.