Lots being made of Gard bringing back Bo’s Swing offense. It never got talked about as much as it probably should have, but Ryan really went away from what he’d always run at UW over the last two years, moving to a spread the floor, read/react approach. Smart move, because he had the players to make that work…all five guys could shoot, and all five guys could go off the dribble, so it maximized what that team had offensively.
This group didn’t have that kind of ability. If you watched Wisconsin in November and December, what you often saw was a team that looked as if it was trying to run offense in a phone booth. Everything was congested, they weren’t shooting particularly well from deep, and thus the Badgers had problems scoring. Since Gard has reinstituted the Swing, movement is better, spacing is MUCH better and sure enough, UW’s shooting has improved as well. Every player of consequence is shooting better in conference play from deep than they are overall on the season. That’s in part a function of cleaner looks as a result of improved spacing and better post play.
– Wisconsin poses matchup problems for MSU in some ways, with Hayes and Brown at the forwards. My guess is that MSU probably starts with Valentine on Brown and lets Davis and Clark go at Hayes. Hayes is still not shooting the way I think they thought he would, but he’s much better than he was a couple of months ago. He’s still the straw that stirs the drink for this team and though they’ve gotten improved production out of their role players (like Brown), it’s still tough for Wisconsin to win without Nigel Hayes playing well.
– There’s a lot of overall talk about Wisconsin getting back to its roots and in some ways that’s true…the return to the Swing, the limitation of turnovers, the slower pace. However, one area where this team still isn’t great is on defense. Wisky’s giving up 44/39% to opponents. They’re limiting points because they’re controlling pace, but in terms of efficiency, this is not a great defensive team. Truth be told, the previous two editions weren’t great defensively either…they just had elite offenses, which covered up a middling defensive group.
– I think MSU can score against these guys, inside and out. They’ll work OT to limit transition chances, so I don’t expect a great deal of that but whenever opportunities are there, they need to be exploited. Second chance baskets would also be big…Wisconsin is a middling rebounding team and MSU should be able to get some opportunities in offensive rebounding against this group.