Hoopcap: East Lansing Continues To Be A House of Horrors
The seniors on Wisconsin’s basketball team had never won in East Lansing. They were hoping on Sunday afternoon that things could change, and a feather in the cap for the seniors could be achieved. Instead, the game at East Lansing proved to be much of the same. Wisconsin loses its second straight game, and it’s fourth in the last five games as Badgers continue to tumble in the final weeks of the season. Can this team be fixed? It seems like the playbook is out on this team.
Secret is out
Wisconsin is currently suffering from teams figured out how to handle their big man inside. Ethan Happ gets consistent double-teams leading to him not being able to get many shots up. Three of the last five games saw Happ score less than 10 points, and he struggled with all of the action towards him. This is where if Happ received the ball on occasion around the free throw line then went to town, the double teams might not exist as much. Greg Gard needs to figure this out sooner rather than later.
Free throws continue to be the biggest issue
Nigel Hayes had a great game with 22 points and 11 rebounds, but the day would have been better if Hayes could hit a free throw. He missed eight of them. This game is entirely different if Hayes only misses two or three from the line versus eight points left for Wisconsin. That’s brutal. To pour salt on the wound, Michigan State only missed two all game, and that’s the difference in winning or losing this one. Hard to believe they’re this bad at shooting free throws. Hayes and Happ’s lack of free throws made plus their opportunities cost this team a few wins this season.
Defense? Where’s the defense?
In the last two games, Wisconsin given up more than 80 points. That’s a lot for Badgers or any time for that matter. Last two games, Ohio State and Michigan State both pounded the ball down low. Ja’Sean Tate had the big game on Thursday, and emerging freshman Nick Ward was awesome on Sunday with 22 points and nine rebounds. Wisconsin’s man-to-man needs to be a better job at crashing down in the paint. Happ is only one man, and the foul trouble is an issue for him.
Bye bye Milwaukee?
Wisconsin had a golden opportunity to play in Milwaukee for the first two rounds of the tournament, but it appears that looks like a pipe dream. Badgers will likely need to win their last two and maybe the Big Ten Tournament to get that kind of love from the committee who didn’t show much of it to the Big Ten earlier this month.
Players of the Game: Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Nick Ward (Michigan State)
Next up: While East Lansing is a bear, Badgers return to friendly confines of home for a critical game with an Iowa team who is on a two-game win streak after Hawkeyes demolished Maryland on their home court on Saturday night. With Wisconsin’s troubles with big men recently, they’re going to have their hands full with Tyler Cook who’s a monster down low.