Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
For No. 16 Wisconsin (5-6-2 WCHA, 9-7-3 overall), the first two and a half minutes of play against Bemidji State (4-8-1, 5-9-1) could not have gone much worse Friday night.
The Beavers scored two goals—on their first two shots of the night— in the opening minutes, as the youthful Badgers continued a season-long trend of starting a step slow. Still, UW got the first of two goals from sophomore center Craig Smith at the 12:16 mark of the first and tacked on a goal in each of the next two periods to earn a 3-2 victory in front of 11,358 spectators at the Kohl Center.
"Let's call a spade a spade," Badger head coach Mike Eaves said. "That was probably a disappointing a start as we've had this year."
Despite the win and two conference points, Eaves said he is considering changing the team's pregame routine to combat the sluggish starts, and might draw from other coaches for inspiration.
"When we were in Finland, there was a Russian coach that had his guys play two-on-two in the corners to make sure his team was ready," Eaves said. "I've never seen that before but I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we may have to try that with this group."
The Badgers tied the game just after the mid-point of the second period when senior forward Podge Turnbull took a break-out pass and, with a defender in front of him, fired a wrister at the net. The puck took a strange hop and handcuffed junior Beavers goaltender Dan Bakala, skipping by him and into the net.
"I'm not sure if it hit the guy's stick or if I just kind of muffined one in there, but it went in and that's the important thing," Turnbull said.
Smith added the game-winner at the tail end of a five-minute power play early in the third period. Junior Bemidji forward Shea Walters earned an ejection along with the penalty for checking sophomore Badger defenseman Justin Schultz into the boards.
"It's a good sign when your team battles back," Smith said. "But it's not good when you're putting yourself in a hole right away."
Both of Smith's goals Friday came with a man-advantage and the team finished two-for-five on the night, improving their conversion rate to a WCHA-best 30.0 percent. The Badgers have scored a power play goal in 16 of 19 games this season, but have struggled to produce offense in even-strength play.
Between the slow start and power play-reliant offense, Friday's game continued multiple trends that have plagued UW through the first half of the season, but ended with the Badgers earning their first one-goal victory of the year.
"It was a frustrating night as a coach," Eaves said. "But you know what, we won a game where we played ugly. We'll put that in the bank, come back tomorrow and hopefully be better."
Let's hope Bucky can keep it rolling. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Wisconsin men's basketball team returned home and earned a statement victory over NC State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, helping the Big Ten to its second consecutive win in the annual competition.
The convincing 87-48 win over the Wolfpack helped erase the negativity of last weekend's offensive struggles in Orlando.
Though they weren't alone, the Badgers struggled mightily from the field in Orlando, shooting under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
Returning home for the first time in more than two weeks, Wisconsin was a different team on Wednesday, shooting at a 50 percent clip (28 for 56) including 55 percent (11 for 20) from downtown.
"I think a lot of guys got into the gym, got some jump shots up," sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz said. "Plus it's always nice to be back home."
"[We] just ran good offense, got good looks, and knocked them down," head coach Bo Ryan said. "You have to believe that when you shoot, the next one is going to go in."
Although much of the improvement was simply the result of Wisconsin having one a when seemingly every shot falls, there was a definite increase in the aggression with which the Badgers played on the offensive end, especially from the guards.
"I think everybody is being more aggressive as a whole," junior point guard Jordan Taylor said. "I was trying to get in the lane more, open up for other people."
That renewed aggression, not only offensively but on the defensive end as well, allowed UW to turn what was a tight contest early on into a halftime blow-out. The Badgers held NC State scoreless in the last 6:36 of the first half and extended a ten-point lead into a 44-21 laugher at the intermission.
The NC State scoring drought would extend into the second half, eventually coming to a close on a Scott Wood steal and lay-up that ended a 23-0 UW run over 10:12 of playing time.
After failing to hold onto a late lead against the Fighting Irish, this Badger run to put away a young NC State team showed that Wisconsin remains adept at holding onto and building leads.
"We always want to get off to a good start because we feel if we can play with a lead it is to our benefit," senior forward Jon Leuer said. "It's hard for teams to come back against us."
After building and adding onto that lead, Wisconsin stayed true to its principles and grinded down an NC State team that started just one upperclassman.
The Wisconsin victory—their third straight in the annual challenge—helped the Big Ten claim just its second overall victory since it started in 1999. The first came last year.
"It means a lot, we take pride in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge," Leuer said. "[And] it builds up our conference RPI which is a positive."
Let's hope Bucky can keep it going. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!