Table of Contents
- 1 People are also reading…
- 2 Badgers fans on Twitter sound off after Wisconsin men’s basketball comes up short against Rutgers
- 3 Not getting any easier
- 4 A real head-scratcher
- 5 Hitting a new low
- 6 Quiet as a mouse
- 7 Not much to cheer
- 8 Seeking a silver lining
- 9 Crowd too calm
- 10 Keep it movin’
- 11 Take what’s given
- 12 Little to like
- 13 Caught napping
- 14 Harder at home
- 15 Mix it up a bit
- 16 Credit where credit’s due
- 17 Bench help wanted
- 18 It depends
- 19 Got a bad feeling
- 20 An uneasy feeling
- 21 Behind from the outset
- 22 Need a short memory
- 23 Road, sweet road
- 24 Left out in the cold
- 25 Longing for the good ol’ days
- 26 Loss for words
- 27 Try that 10 times fast
The grumbling has been pretty steady the last couple weeks, with both fans and media members complaining that computers weren’t showing enough love to the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.
The Badgers’ resume and spot in the human polls suggested they were among the top 15 teams in the country. The numbers spit out by the analytics folks — KenPom, Bart Torvik, others — suggested UW wasn’t quite as good as indicated by its gaudy record.
The nerds may be right, after all, based on a humbling couple hours Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center. A 73-65 loss to Rutgers not only was damaging to the No. 14 Badgers’ Big Ten title hopes, it was yet another sign of how vulnerable they can be regardless of opponent or venue.
It’s been a fantastically fun season and having a player the caliber of Johnny Davis provides hope for a deep run in March. But this team is flawed in too many areas and, frankly, it’s a little surprising there haven’t been more dud performances like this one.
People are also reading…
“You can pick and choose a whole lot of stuff out of the game. It could be our turnovers, our free throws, our 3-point percentage,” said UW junior forward Tyler Wahl, who finished with a career-high 23 points and was one of the few bright spots for UW (19-5, 10-4 Big Ten). “We’ve just got to end up hitting shots and playing better basketball to come out with a win in that game.”
Wahl is correct that there were a lot of reasons for this defeat. UW finished with 11 turnovers, including nine in 33 possessions after halftime. That’s awful for any team, much less one that counts taking care of the ball as one of the pillars in this program’s long run of sustained success.
The free throw shooting was poor as well. The Badgers came into the game shooting 75% from the line and went 9 of 17 against the Scarlet Knights, with Davis going 1 of 4. That’s nine wasted chances for points — Davis missed the front end in a bonus situation in the first half — in an eight-point defeat.
Plus, UW went 4 of 19 from beyond the arc. Senior guard Brad Davison, stuck in a shooting slump that has reached four games, was 3 of 13 overall and 1 of 9 from 3-point range and forced the issue right around the time things went sour for the Badgers during the stretch run.
Badgers coach Greg Gard had another item for the list: shoddy defense out of the gates. Rutgers scored 25 points on its first 15 possessions of the game and Gard’s biggest gripe was that blown assignments led to too many quality looks for the Scarlet Knights from 3-point range.
For me, the most shocking aspect of this loss was how UW completely fell apart at the end. This was a team that had shown tremendous poise and grit when it needed it the most this season, producing an 11-1 record in games decided by six or fewer points.
That record is still intact, but only because the Badgers were so dysfunctional down the stretch that they let a tight game turn into what won’t even officially be counted as a “close” loss.
UW took a 60-59 lead when Wahl scored on a hook shot with 4 minutes, 48 seconds remaining. Things got ugly after that and the Badgers’ next seven possessions went something like I would have seen at the 6th grade basketball tournament I had to miss while covering this game:
Davis turnover. Davison miss on a drive. Wahl miss from point-blank range. Davis miss on a forced shot. Wahl turnover in which he was picked from behind. Davis turnover on a pass that ended up in the stands behind the UW bench. Davis turnover.
By that point, a one-point lead had turned into a 10-point deficit and all remained was what the final score would be in Rutgers’ first win in six trips to Madison.
“That’s not us,” Gard said.
It was, indeed, an uncharacteristic display from a team that has overachieved this season. It’s hard to even be too frustrated with this group — ask anyone back in November and they gladly would have taken a 19-5 record at this point of the season — but the loss dropped the Badgers out of a tie for first place and makes their path to a title much more difficult.
“There’s no reason to dwell on our loss,” Davis said. “There’s nothing we can do to go back and change it. But we’ve still got to see them in New Jersey.”
That’s a great attitude and it’s a reflection of another strength of this team: its ability to bounce back and learn from bad experiences. I interviewed all three UW assistant coaches earlier this week and one of the things they thought stood out about this team was how it handled defeats. One example came when the coaches entered the locker room after a home loss to Michigan State on Jan. 21 and loved what they saw and heard from players who were disappointed but not crushed.
The confidence hasn’t wavered in a resilient group. UW hasn’t lost two games in a row this season, though that accomplishment will be put to the test in a game at Indiana on Tuesday night. Lose a game like this at home and it just means you need to steal one on the road somewhere to even things out.
“They’re disappointed. It burns,” Gard said. “I don’t want them to be so happy-go-lucky that this doesn’t matter. This matters. You could hear a pin drop in the locker room. This means something to them. But in this sport, in this league, you’ve got to flip it pretty quick. You can’t let today impact us as we prepare for Tuesday.”
There are still plenty of chances for UW to prove this was an aberration and that greatness still can be achieved. Or perhaps the computers were right all along and this was a team that had defied the laws of mathematics.
Badgers fans on Twitter sound off after Wisconsin men’s basketball comes up short against Rutgers
Not getting any easier
No 3-ball or 2-ball. Unacceptable FT @52%. Could not not defend Rutgers. But Rutgers defended us! Tough loss at home. Rutgers a well disciplined team. Rutgers better team today. Challenge just keeps increasing. Keep the chip Badgers and u will continue to surprise more doubters
— Paul Yochum’63 (@PaulYochum63) February 12, 2022
A real head-scratcher
Reasons for the loss:
-8/17 FTs until garbage time
-Gard’s insane decision to pull BOTH Davis+Hepburn with WI up with all the momentum and ~1330. Lost all momentum.
-Ridiculous late overreliance on 3s when no one was hot
-Very poor early closeouts on shooters giving RU confidence
— Nick P Bassill (@NickPBassill) February 12, 2022
Hitting a new low
Certainly their worst loss this season. I know that Rutgers shot lights out most of the afternoon-nevertheless I thought the badgers were careless w the ball-just sort of played w/o emotion&focus some of the time. Latter part of 2nd 1/2 didn’t like quite a bit of shot selection
— Mark Massey (@mfmass) February 12, 2022
Quiet as a mouse
The Madison morgue strikes again.
— Mitchell Gauger (@MitchellGauger) February 12, 2022
Not much to cheer
Crowd was there. Every time they and UW got going, Rutgers had an answer. Every. Time.
— Dale Ryman (@DaleRyman_WSAW) February 12, 2022
Seeking a silver lining
I think at this point, the good news is that Johnny Davis may not be a lottery pick (at least not this year) and should be coming back for his junior year. Free throws killed us in the first half.
— Michael H. Hyman (@MCPSsportypsych) February 12, 2022
Crowd too calm
Shooting woes continue, easy buckets for Rutgers down the stretch. Badgers seemed like an early season defense tonight, very strange. The funeral-esque home crowd didn’t help. Does any section outside of the students ever stand up?
— Collin Mead (@29_CJM) February 12, 2022
Keep it movin’
When Geo and Harper show up, Rutgers is a tough matchup, with their slow it down style. And Badgers didn’t look comfortable against Rutgers D in the last ten minutes or so. Unusual for Bucky to get outplayed and outcoached, but it happens. Flush it and move on.
— Jeff (@bluehighway15) February 12, 2022
Take what’s given
Make your FT’s. Missed 8, lose by 8. It’s ok for #34 to try going to hoop to score & not just try & draw fouls. Let Rutgers get too comfortable on offense early. Not many transition pts for home team allowing Rutgers to clog up Johnny.
— Robb Vogel (@RobbVogel) February 12, 2022
Little to like
That was U-G-L-Y. The positives were Tyler Wahl and that the team never stopped scrapping. The negatives? Everything else.
— Craig Smith (@smithcp1) February 12, 2022
Harder at home
The Kohl Center Library dead like a funeral home per usual. Hope they have more road games down the stretch. Need the wins.
— Mike Smith (@SmithMJ7209) February 12, 2022
Mix it up a bit
Need an alternative to 3’s on offense. No inside game or drive to the hoop?
— Fred Ehle (@FredEhle) February 12, 2022
Credit where credit’s due
Their guards out played ours, both offensively and defensively. Look, Rutgers is good. Better than the Badgers today.
— rick brown (@rickbrown35) February 12, 2022
Bench help wanted
The lack of depth is the biggest detractor for this team. Starters had no legs in the final 4 minutes of the game. When reserves did get into the game, UW was playing at a noticeable disadvantage.
— Jordan Turner (@turnerTH3burner) February 12, 2022
I thought our kids played really hard today. They didn’t have quite enough to win but they gave it their very best. Isn’t that all that matters?
— Simon R. Gillham (@Busdude671) February 12, 2022
Got a bad feeling
I sensed it was trouble from the start. Missed FT’s, missed open shots and subpar defense to go with hot shooting from Rutgers
and this was the result.
— Kurt Sagendorph (@ksagendo) February 12, 2022
An uneasy feeling
It’s games like this that worry me come tournament time. I Could easily see a second round exit if this team can’t make their shots. Davidson needs to figure it out.
— Dan Buhler (@FBuhlersDayOff) February 12, 2022
Behind from the outset
Right away Badgers could not make a shot, and Rutgers seemingly made everything although the Badgers had hands in their faces. It never changed.
— Douglas Greenberg (@DougGreenB) February 12, 2022
Need a short memory
Awful three point shooting
(Brad missing 4 in a row killed our late momentum)
Awful FT shooting
Bad turnovers, especially in the last 5 minutes of the game
Wahl and Crowl were bright spots, but that’s it
Forget this one and move on
— chuckwestover (@chuckwestover) February 12, 2022
Road, sweet road
I remember the good ol’ days when the KC used to be a tough place to play….sloppy basketball, low energy from fans, give us a coast location for the tourney away from Madison, please!
— Aaron Heim (@HeimTime88) February 12, 2022
Left out in the cold
Trouble putting the biscuit in the basket continues. Some of that can be attributed to Rutgers’ defense, but not when wide open 3s continually clank of the rim. And defense was subpar today – but attribute Rutgers’ players, toughness to that.
— Marty Kalmbach (@Blueeyedsoul327) February 12, 2022
Longing for the good ol’ days
Where is the crowd? The Kohl Center is no longer formidable imo. Rutgers wanted it a lot more. Still waiting on production from the bench. That is our Achilles heel.
— Mary Korn Erickson (@sixtiesfan) February 12, 2022
Loss for words
Where to begin???? Free throws, 3’s Just got outplayed. What’s going on with Davis ????
— Jodi Ralston (@jralston29) February 12, 2022
Try that 10 times fast
Bungling bonus baskets burned Badgers butts bigly.
— Jane Laitinen (@LaitinenJane) February 12, 2022
Contact Jim Polzin at [email protected]