Fresh off offensive explosion, Badgers host Coyotes

first_imgWisconsin’s Jon Leuer is the top-scoring Badger at 18.7 points per game and his size (6-foot-10) will help against South Dakota.[/media-credit]Any questions the Wisconsin Badgers (5-2) had regarding their offensive ability were probably answered in Wednesday night’s 87-48 smackdown of N.C. State.So now, the question becomes, can they keep it going?The Badgers will get their first chance to answer that question Saturday afternoon, as the South Dakota Coyotes (3-4) come to Madison for the second of a three-game UW homestand. In three games down in Orlando for the Old Spice Classic, where the Badgers finished second, UW averaged only 55.3 points per game, shot a rough 38.97 percent from the field and an abysmal 24.3 percent from three-point range.Yet, against the Wolfpack Wednesday night, the Badgers shot exactly 50 percent from the field and sunk 55 percent of their attempts from behind the arc. Come Saturday against South Dakota, Wisconsin will look to carry that offensive rhythm forward.“We don’t talk about winning and losing,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “I don’t use the language. You have to be resilient in this sport. As soon as something happens on one end of the floor, something is instantly happening somewhere else. You have to get back, make the next play, stop somebody, get a charge.”For Wisconsin, most of the plays have come from two sources: point guard Jordan Taylor and forward Jon Leuer. The latter leads the Badgers in points (18.7 per game), rebounds (7.6) and blocks (1.7), while Taylor is second in scoring (14.4 ppg) and first in assists (3.86).“He knows what makes a team more effective than not,” Ryan said of Taylor. “He’s always had the green light to do that. It’s not like we tell him to take it down [the court] methodically, get it into the post. When it doesn’t happen in the game, it’s because the other team took it away from us defensively. Jordan Taylor understands what it takes.”In addition to Taylor and Leuer, the Badgers have also received valuable production from freshman guard Josh Gasser. The Port Washington, Wis. native was just the third true freshman to start a game under Ryan – Nov. 16 against North Dakota – and he is third on the team with 8.3 points per game. As a 6-3 guard, Gasser has impressed Ryan and his coaching staff with not only his court vision and offensive skills, but also his rebounding – he’s second on the team with 5.0 boards per game.While Gasser has emerged to provide Ryan and the Badgers solid backcourt depth, Wisconsin’s frontcourt has been steady, as well. Keaton Nankivil is averaging 7.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.43 blocks per game, while Mike Bruesewitz has contributed 5.4 points and 3.1 boards per game. The 6-6, 220 lb. forward affectionately known as “Brueser” by Badger fans has also proved to be a threat from outside, as he leads the team in three-point shooting at 60 percent.“I don’t think any team really shot too well down in Orlando, including us,” Bruesewitz said. “I think a lot of guys just got into the gym and got some jump shots up.”Against South Dakota, Wisconsin figures to face a squad fairly similar to itself, at least on paper. The Coyotes have scored slightly less – 69.6 points per game and they’ve shot nearly the same – 45 percent. Yet, the Badgers should be able to find some mismatches on defense and on the boards. South Dakota has allowed opponents an average of 71.4 points per game – the Badgers have only given up 53.1 – and Wisconsin boasts a favorable size advantage. Leuer and Nankivil are 6-foot-10, 228-pounds and 6-foot-8, 240 lb. respectively, while the Coyotes big men, center Trevor Gruis and forward Ricardo Andreotti are 6-foot-9, 238-pounds. and 6-foot-8, 225-pounds, respectively.Additionally, the Coyotes have been starting three guards while the Badgers have been starting three forwards – Bruesewitz is 6-foot-6, 220-pounds and South Dakota’s next biggest starter is Charlie Westbrook – their leading scorer at 15.9 points per game and a Milwaukee native – at 6-foot-4, 208-pounds.“[Against N.C. State], we kept guys out of the lane, and for the most part, when they got in the lane we did a good job of keeping our hands off them and making them shoot over us,” Taylor said. “We just played solid team defense…and forced tough jump shots.”last_img read more