Saturday, November 27, 2010

Big second half powers Badgers past Boston College, 65-55

A look of disbelief was cast over the Wisconsin bench when Keaton Nankivil’s breakaway dunk inexplicably sprang back up through the rim.

Minutes later, it was Nankivil who helped send the Boston College bench into a state of shock.

The senior forward keyed a second-half run that allowed the Badgers to overcome an early deficit and withstand a late rally in a 65-55 win Friday in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic.

Wisconsin (4-1) put together a 32-4 run that converted a six-point Eagles lead early in the second half into a 22-point cushion for the Badgers just over 12 minutes later.

"I think our energy level, we stepped that up a lot," UW senior forwardJon Leuer said. "With stretches like that, that's when the game is really fun.

“And that's what we were having out there, a lot of fun."
Leuer tied for the game-high with 18 points and added seven rebounds to go with three blocks and three assists, while junior guard Jordan Taylor added 14 points.
Nankivil pulled down seven rebounds to go with six points and a pair of blocks, while freshman Josh Gasser eight points and six rebounds.
From the 17:26 mark to the 5:09 mark of the second half, Leuer, Taylor and company put on a clinic on both ends of the floor.

UW connected on 13 of 20 shots from the floor over that span, a 65-percent clip. The Badgers rebounded 5 of those 7 missed field goals, converting all five into second-chance baskets that accounted for 10 points.

Boston College, meanwhile, was held to 13.3 percent shooting during the Badgers’ run. The Eagles connected on 2 of 15 shot attempts, with UW controlling 10 of the possible 13 rebounds on the defensive glass (77 percent) to limit any second-chance scoring for BC.

"It was inside-outside, it was off offensive rebounds," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “We scored, I think, in about every way that you can.

"There are times when things get going and it's just some how, some way, those waves hit."

Wisconsin turned the Eagles (3-2) over four times during its run, converting eight points off turnovers.

Conversely, the Badgers turned the ball over just three times in the game, the third-best performance in school history. UW was guilty of just one turnover over the first 37 minutes of the contest.

Nankivil, who had just seen an uncontested dunk attempt – coming in transition off a Mike Bruesewitz steal – somehow reverse itself back through the top of the rim before being counted, helped get the Badgers’ rally started.

After back-to-back baskets by Josh Gasser and Bruesewitz to open the run, Nankivil grabbed a defensive rebound that led to a basket by Bruesewitz and then blocked a shot on Boston College’s next trip.

The swat set up a jumper by Taylor that drew iron but was flushed home on a second-chance slam by Nankivil to give the Badgers a 36-34 lead with 13:55 to play.

After the Eagles answered with a basket to knot things up again, at 36-all, Nankivil came through with another second-chance bucket to stake the Badgers to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Taylor hit jumpers on consecutive possessions, Leuer splashed a look from the baseline, Gasser dropped in back-to-back layups and then Rob Wilson drilled a long jumper to cap an 18-0 run that had the Badgers leading, 54-36, with 7:22 remaining.

The Eagles finally snapped a scoreless drought of 6:08 with a basket by Joe Trapani, but the UW lead grew to 22 points, at 60-38, after Tim Jarmusz and Leuer hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.

Boston College refused to fade, however, putting together a 15-0 run over the next 4 1/2 minutes to cut the Badgers’ lead to seven points with under a minute to play.

Leuer and Taylor combined to hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory, Wisconsin’s fifth straight against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

The Badgers advance to Sunday’s championship game, where they will face the winner of the semifinal matchup between California and Notre Dame. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. (CT), live on ESPN2.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bucky edged by UNLV

The Wisconsin men’s basketball team had a chance late, but a steal by Justin Hawkins and a pair of clutch free throws on the other end were the difference for UNLV in a hard-fought, 68-65 win over the No. 25 Badgers at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday.

Neither team led by more than five points in a game that saw a total of 13 ties and 13 lead changes.

The final swap of the lead came with just under a minute to play, when UNLV’s Chace Stanback knocked down a jumper that turned a 1-point edge for the Badgers into a 66-65 lead for the Runnin’ Rebels.
Junior guard Jordan Taylor missed a jumper on the Badgers’ next possession, but UNLV left the door open when Oscar Bellfield missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the free-throw line with 30 seconds to play.

Senior forward Jon Leuer had a crack at putting UW back out front but missed, with the rebound of his attempt going out of bounds to the Badgers. Hawkins quelled the threat by swiping Mike Bruesewitz’s inbound pass for UNLV’s eighth steal of the night and then hit both free throws on the other end to provide the final margin.

The Rebels turned the Badgers over a total of 15 times on the night and scored 13 points off those turnovers.

"We had some mental breakdowns tonight that cost us,” said Taylor, whose attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer drew iron as the clock expired. “We had something like 15 turnovers, and you can't do that against a good team on the road, especially when they convert them into points."

Despite a solid effort on the boards, the Badgers were unable to translate their rebounding edge into a scoring advantage. Wisconsin (2-1) hauled down 14 offensive rebounds and converted 13 second-chance points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their 37-percent shooting from the floor.

That’s because the Runnin’ Rebels hit 49 percent of their field-goal attempts, including a 50-percent clip from beyond the arc. UW finished the night 6-for-20 from long range.

Wisconsin’s starting five was a combined 10-for-34 (29 percent) from the field.

The Badgers kept things close by getting to the free-throw line and converting on 21 of 26 attempts (81 percent). UW outscored the Rebels by 10 points at the charity stripe.

Taylor led the way for the Badgers with 19 points, including an 8-for-9 performance at the free-throw line. He also had three assists and three rebounds.

Sophomore Ryan Evans had 11 points and six rebounds in just 20 minutes off the bench, while Leuer added 10 points after being limited to 26 minutes by first-half foul trouble.

Freshman Josh Gasser, making his second-consecutive start, had seven points and seven rebounds.

The Badgers return to the road next week for the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., opening the tournament at 1 p.m. Thursday against Manhattan on ESPN2.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Point made: Smith beats odds to become Badger starter

Wquinton Smith looked the “part’’ when he stepped on the basketball court for an open tryout during his freshman year. Even then, he was more of a curiosity than a novelty. Still is.

Culminating his improbable climb from an obscure walk-on, Smith earned a spot in the Badgers' starting lineup for Sunday’s season opener against Prairie View A&M at the Kohl Center.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Anderson to redshirt 2010-11 season

Freshman center Evan Anderson announced Friday his intention to redshirt the 2010-11 season for the Wisconsin men’s basketball team.

“I’m going to take the opportunity to practice and learn more about the game,” Anderson said following Friday’s practice. “I know that fifth year is going to outweigh this year multiple times.

“In the long run, this is the best decision.”

A native of Stanley, Wis., Anderson is one of four freshmen on the Badgers’ roster. He will continue to practice with his teammates this season and will play as a redshirt freshman for the Badgers in 2011-12.

“I’ve gotten so much better already, I feel,” Anderson said. “I know I have a long, long way to go and I took that into account.

“This is a great opportunity for me to help out my team and get better as a player.”

The No. 24-ranked Badgers open the season Sunday by playing host to Prairie View A&M in a 5 p.m. game at the Kohl Center. The game will be carried live on

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scouting Praire View A&M

It took Byron Rimm two years to move Prairie View A&M above the .500 mark, and it took him even less time to repeat the feat as the Panthers finished with a winning record for the second-consecutive season, at 16-14, last year.
    Rimm, now in his fifth season as Panthers head coach, also helped Prairie View finish in a tie for fourth in the SWAC standings a year ago at 11-7.
PVAMU returns three starters beginning with junior guard Michael Griffin, who averaged 9.2 points and 3.2 assists per game last season despite shooting just 29 percent from the floor.
    He'll be joined by Alabama A&M transfer Trant Simpson, who averaged 15.6 ppg and 4.3 apg last year. At the wing, junior Tim Meadows returns after putting up 7.0 ppg and 4.8 rpg and averaging 30 minutes a game, while 6-foot-5 senior Duwan Kornegay also should factor into the mix.
Brothers Brandon and Michael Webb anchor a front line that will be among the Panthers' biggest question marks heading into the season. Also in that mix is newcomer Aron Walker, a 6-11, 240-pound center from Sweden who averaged 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in junior college last season.

UW goes 2-0 in exhibition play

 The Badgers notched a pair of victories during the exhibition portion of the schedule, toppling Div. III UW-La Crosse, 84-59, and Div. II Minnesota State, 93-59.
Senior forward Jon Leuer posted back-to-back double-doubles, tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds against UWL and 25 points, 11 rebounds vs. MSU.
    Junior guard Jordan Taylor averaged 16.0 points per game and posted 11 assists to just two turnovers. Senior Keaton Nankivil also averaged in double figures through two games, scoring 11.5 points per game.
As a team, Wisconsin shot 54.4 percent from the field, while limiting its opponents to just 37.5 percent shooting. The Badgers out-rebounded UWL and MSU by a 36.5 to 26.0 margin.
The Badgers outscored their foes in the paint by an incredible 72-14 advantage (32-0 vs. UWL and 40-14 vs. MSU).
Wisconsin third, fourth and fifth leading scorers in exhibition play averaged a combined 11.5 minutes per game last season.
    Sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz averaged 1.1 points in 7.4 minutes last season but during exhibition play he posted per game averages of 19.0 minutes, 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds.
    Freshman Josh Gasser averaged 6.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game during the preseason. Redshirt sophomore Jared Berggren (who averaged 1.1 points in 4.1 minutes in 2009-10) averaged 6.0 points in the two opening bouts.
UW used two starting lineups during exhibition play. Against UW-La Crosse, the Badgers opened with Taylor, senior Tim Jarmusz, sophomore Ryan Evans, Leuer and Nankivil.
    Against Minnesota State, UW opened with Taylor, senior Wquinton Smith, Bruesewitz, Leuer and Nankivil.

Wisconsin Badgers Impressive in Exhibition Opener, Look Ahead to Regular Season

The Badgers (as expected) took their first and only two preseason games against UW-Lacrosse and Minnesota State-Mankato handily, routing Lacrosse 84-59 at home and a 93-59 victory over Mankato.
Coach Bo Ryan met with the media Monday, speaking about the Badgers defensive schemes heading into the start of the regular season (vs. Prairie View A&M).
"Well, my defensive system is not all that intricate. Okay. Don’t let people to the rim, stop the ball, cover shooters. Now how much easier can you make it?"
Bo's right, people.
Ryan's schemes have never been extremely complicated: They're just concise, well-formed offenses that get the job done.  Of course, a few first-team All-Americans certainly help as well.
Superstar-to-be Jon Leuer shared the team high in points with Keaton Nankivil, scoring 15 along with 10 rebounds and two assists.  The hype and expectations Leuer will receive throughout the year will determine whether or not he is NBA-draft material.
The No. 24-ranked Badgers rose to the occasion Wednesday night, shooting 59 percent from the field. Along with Jon Leuer's combined 25 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday, they managed a 93-59 win for the Badgers over Minnesota State in their exhibition finale.
Junior point guard Jordan Taylor also contributed with 20 points on 7-9 shooting to go with seven assists and two rebounds.
Wisconsin had a staggering 40 points in the paint Wednesday night against Mankato, a place where the Badgers will need certain leadership moving forward into the regular season.
When asked about the conditioning and stamina of the Badgers' young group, Ryan noted, "Conditioning-wise they have done everything. They are in the position where if they keep making the effort to improve, then we will continue to become a better team.”
The Badgers open up against Praire View A&M on Sunday at the Kohl Center for a 5 p.m. tip-off.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Know a Newcomer: Ben Brust

MADISON, Wis. -- With the Wisconsin men's basketball team's season-opener approaching on Sunday, checked in with the team's four freshmen to get a little insight into their personalities and what they bring to the Badgers.
Today, we visit with Ben Brust, a 6-foot-1 guard from Hawthorn Woods, Ill.

 "Right now I'm hooked on '24' - I got done with season 1 in four days via Netflix - and 'Modern Family.'"
Movies: "I'm a big movie guy. I like the Bourne trilogy and all kinds of action movies and comedies."
Music: "I'm not a big music guy. Earth, Wind and Fire gets me going. I get my music influence from my dad. He's a disco dance teacher."
Why did you choose Wisconsin?
"To tell you the truth, when I was being recruited the first time, my sophomore year, it was really interesting, because I came here on a visit. Madison is a great place, academically it's good, it's somewhat close to home, but I can also get away. So it's good. Sometimes you just know when you see it. I went through the process, and when the opportunity came around, of course I'm going to jump right in."
What was your official visit like?
"It was in the spring. I went to Coach Ryan's house when he and his wife hosted an end of the year party for the seniors, Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes. I signed that day, and it was a good experience."
How did you get to know your fellow freshmen?
"Duje and I played on the same travel team in sixth grade. Just being from around the same general area, we knew each other and we saw each other play. Josh, I think I played him growing up in AAU and I know I played Evan in AAU just because he's from Wisconsin and we were in the same tournaments.
"It was nice that this summer, all four of us got to spend time together. In summer school we stayed in the same place and I roomed with Evan. It was good to get to know them and have that comfort level. They're good guys to be around and good guys to go to work with."
What's the strongest part of your game?"Probably scoring and being able to read and react to what's happening. Maybe shooting, too."
What do you most want to work on?"My defensive game and staying consistent by not taking any plays off and always being into the flow of the game."
What's your go-to shot in H-O-R-S-E?"I would say just long-range shots. Keep backing up until they can't make it."
Since Coach Ryan leaves the decision to his players, what are your thoughts on redshirting?"Right now I'm just going to practice, working hard every day and trying to do whatever I can to help the team. When that time comes, I'm sure we'll talk about it, but right now my goal is to try and get out there and help the team."
What was more rewarding, being named all-state or to the Academic All-America team?"Definitely the Academic All-American award."
What's the longest shot you've ever made?"I made a three-quarter-court shot in a game last year."
So, how far out does your comfort range extend?"I'm not sure. I guess it depends on the game and how it's going."
You have siblings who've played college sports. What advice have they given you?"My brother, Stephen, went to Elite Eight in soccer (playing at Bradley) and `I have to beat him,' he says. It's good that I have family that cares, and I'm sure they'll be there to keep giving me advice."

Badgers on a Mission: Breaking Down November's Games

  As the Wisconsin Badgers and Bo Ryan begin their 2010 season, there are (as always) a few question marks about the upcoming opponents.

The Badgers match-up as well as ever against the early-season out of conference opponents, but there is no need to overlook teams that are more than capable of an upset.  Thisis after all, college basketball, folks.  (Let's not forget about last year's shocking loss to UW-Green Bay).
The surprising amount of talent the Badgers have been able to accumulate this off-season will give UW fans a lot to look forward to.
Tuning up for the Big Ten - ACC challenge is a must for every Big Ten team -- and the Badgers are no exception.
With that being said, let's take a look at the November match-ups looming ahead for Bucky's crew.
UW-La Crosse (Exhibition)
2009-2010 UW-Lacrosse: 17-9  (Division III)
Where: Kohl's Center
When: Saturday, November 6th, 7:00 PM
Now, with all do respect to La Crosse, they really don't stand much of a chance.
Nevertheless, this is a great way to start the season for both squads.  
Giving Wisconsin their first meaningful regular season tune-up looking towards the rest of the season, La Crosse will learn ample amounts of basketball knowledge by facing-off against one of the Big Ten's best.
At the Kohl's Center, the Badgers are virtually unbeatable -- amounting to only one home loss in the last two seasons.
Expect a big game out of Jon Leuer, as well as players coming off the bench for Bucky's crew.
Minnesota State-Mankato (Exhibition)
MSU Mankato: 15-13 
Where: Kohl's Center
When: Wednesday, November 10th, 7:00pm
Again, the Badgers are seemingly unstoppable with home-court advantage on their side, and an extremely average Mankato squad won't change that.
With seven Seniors returning for their final season, a multitude of experience is obviously on the Mavericks' side.
Mankato averaged 86.6 PPG, all while holding their opponents to 69.6 PPG.
However Wisconsin faces top-notch Big Ten competition year in and year out.
Bo Ryan's group will use their final exhibition game to their advantage.
Prairie View A&M
Prairie View A&M:
Where: Kohl's Center
When: Sunday, November 14th, 5:00pm
What a way to start the season, right?  Think again.
Prairie View A&M is nearly the easiest schools Wisconsin could have scheduled to start the season off -- and with good reason.
It's invaluable for the Badgers to get off to a great start to the season, and what else could a home game against an opponent like Prairie View bring?
Again, anything is possible in college basketball, but I've got a feeling that Bo Ryan and company will take care of business as planned.
North Dakota
North Dakota: 9-23 
Where: Kohl's Center
When: Tuesday, November 16, 7:00pm
Fresh off a league-worst Big Sky Conference 9-23 season, the Fighting Sioux try to knock off the Badgers who will already be on a roll through their out of conference schedule.
Bo Ryan's crew is just trying to gain some more confidence, scheduling one of the more embarrassing opponents in the country.
With only two returning Seniors, and two overall returning starters, the Fighting Sioux will only be looking to score a respectable amount of buckets against Bucky's group.
Jon Leuer will be red-hot, and poised to make his run towards the 2010 Big Ten player of the year award.
I'd have to say the Badges will take this game handily.
UNLV: 25-9
Where: Las Vegas, NV
When: Saturday, November 20, 6:00pm
The team that ousted the No. 2-seeded Badgers in 2008 is back and better than ever coming off an astounding 25-9 season.
Even though losing to Northern Iowa in the first-round of the NCAA tournament isn't exactly how they planned their postseason fortunes, Anthony Marshall (above) is poised to bring this Runnin' Rebels team back to the tournament.
The Badgers will have to contain emerging star Carlos Lopez in the paint if they want a shot at this one.
The hostile environment in Las Vegas will be a key factor as well.
Rest assured, the Badgers have to be ready.
Manhattan: 11-20
Where: Kohl's Center
When: Thursday, November 25, 1:00pm
Coming out of the MAAC Conference, Manhattan averaged 65.5 PPG, while allowing 67.2 PPG to their respective opponents.
With a 4-12 record on the road last season against a handful of inferior opponents, Manhattan's road-winning abilities are seriously in question coming into this season.
The Badgers are at home, and starting the Old Spice Classic against the Jaspers will be a gimme win for Bo Ryan's crew.