How long did it take you after waking up today to remember Wisconsin lost and have your day totally ruined?
I think I need a three day nap so I don’t have to think about the game for a while.
Cue in Simon & Garfunkel “Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.”
I decided to rewatch the game last night when I got home after attending the game in person.
Wisconsin was going to struggle running their offense versus Iowa State’s pressure man-to-man defense with or without Chucky Hepburn. What Hepburn’s injury revealed was Wisconsin’s complete lack of scoring and/or shooting ability off the bench. A problem all season and they never got it fixed.
Greg Gard is a damn good coach, but the bench just didn’t develop during the season.
Greg Gard was not perfect last night, but that loss isn’t on him.
Like I wrote last night, to me the game changed when Chucky Hepburn got injured and never returned with 4:37 remaining in the first half.
When Hepburn was on the floor, UW’s offense was OK, not great but not horrible. They were 8-of-17 from the field with six turnovers.
Once Hepburn got injured, UW shot 6-for-30 and had 11 turnovers in the game’s final 24:37.
With no Lorne Bowman and with the Chucky injury and no other true point guard depth, the Badgers were doomed with ISU’s ball pressure defense.
The Badgers had several good looks (until the final minute) from 3-point range last night and failed to execute. Going 2-for-22 from 3-point range, on top of 17 turnovers, isn’t going to win many, if any, games. Like I said, they had plenty of good looks and you have to knock those down at least at a semi-adequate rate.
A key to UW’s offensive success during the 2021-22 season was getting paint touches. The Badgers didn’t get anywhere near enough paint touches last night, which in large part is a credit to Iowa State’s defense. When the Badgers did get paint touches, they had no answers for Iowa State’s double teams in the post.
The officiating has been horrendous all around in every game this tournament. And it’s certainly NOT the reason why Wisconsin lost last night. But the three calls that were extremely bad last night: 1) End of the first half when Iowa State had the ball and it went out of bounds with 1.2 seconds left on the game clock and 0.1 left on the shot clock, the shot clock was reset when it should NOT have been reset, and ultimately that led to two points for Iowa State. 2) With 15:55 remaining in the second half, Johnny Davis was called for an offensive foul. That was absolutely NOT a charge on Johnny Davis, he maneuvered to the side of the defender and the defender flopped. That was a big blown call. 3) Later on in the second half, Izaiah Brockington pushed Brad Davison to the ground and Davison gets called for the foul.
After watching Wisconsin, Purdue and Illinois yesterday, I don’t discount the theory that the Big Ten is so rugged and that legs are often gone by March.
The Big Ten annually is a top three conference in the country (and it’s not even a debate). This year the Big 12 was the best conference and the Big Ten was the second best conference (again, not even a debate). When you play 20 regular season games (not including the B1G tournament) against this competition, it takes a toll on you.
I would like the Big Ten to go a maximum of 18 games in the regular season and allowing schools to schedule two extra non-conference games so that Big Ten teams are dead come March after beating up on each other for two and a half to three months.
When you look back at this season, it really was a special season. Outside of Brad Davison, Wisconsin really had a lot of young, unproven and inexperienced players, including Johnny Davis who didn’t get a ton of burn on a senior heavy team in 2020-21. At the beginning of the season, if you said Wisconsin would go 25-8, share the Big Ten title and win at least one NCAA Tournament game, I would have considered that a huge success. Obviously last night was extremely sad and disappointing and we all wanted more, but it was still a heck of a season.
Always proud to be a Badger!
This week I’ll be posting my “way too early” look at the 2022-23 Wisconsin Badgers.