Bo Ryan wasn't happy with the Badgers inability to keep the Illini off the offensive glass.
A pride thing
By ZACH HEILPRIN
MADISON - It’s hard to get after your team when it wins by 25 and moves to 16-0 on the season. But that’s exactly what Bo Ryan did following the Badgers 95-70 victory over Illinois on Wednesday. His issue? The number of offensive rebounds Wisconsin allowed – a problem that also popped up in a win over Iowa to start the week.
Coming into the season there was a concern about the Badgers ability to hold its own on the boards considering the lack of size the team had. But through 14 games it wasn’t an issue and Wisconsin allowed just 8.5 offensive rebounds per game. But then the Hawkeyes racked up 16 offensive boards that led to 23 second-chance points – nearly one-third of their 71 total points – and the Illini pulled down 25 boards on the offensive end that let to 18 second-chance points.
“I don’t think we look at it as an area of concern,” said forward Sam Dekker, who leads the team at 6.3 rebounds per game. “We kind of look at it in a good way by that’s something we really have to preach and buckle down on getting better at. That’s a point of emphasis that coach made after the game. He wasn’t too happy with the way that we rebounded on the defensive end. We should expect some rebounding drills coming up here in these next few days just because of how they (were more physical) than us on the offensive glass.”
The problem first showed up in the first half of the Iowa game when they picked up 18 of their 23 second-chance points.
“Not getting bodies on people,” assistant coach Greg Gard explained when asked the reason for the dramatic increase. “We were standing straight up and down, not making contact. When we did do that better in the second half then we were able to cleanup rebounds. You’ve got to be able to get bodies (on guys).”
An issue against the Hawkeyes was also their ability to get into the lane off of dribble penetration. That forced the defense to rotate over, leaving players unchecked when the ball went up.
“We didn’t do a good job of rotating on the backside as we clocked over and down defensively to seal off the backside, so there were a lot of rebounds that went to the other side, which is normal,” Gard said. “Most shots missed are going to go to the other side. But that type of thing, giving up too much dribble penetration and having to rotate too much and then when we did rotate (properly) and shots were going up we were standing next to guys instead of getting bodies on them.”
That’s frustrating for most coaches but especially for Ryan who preaches the fundamentals and few things are more fundamental than boxing out when a shot goes up.
“It’s kind of a staple of Wisconsin basketball to be the more physical team, win those battles in the paint,” Dekker said. “When we don’t win those it’s embarrassing for us. We take a lot of pride in that so we don’t want to feel that way. It’s just a place we have to get better at.”
And fast. The Badgers travel to Indiana on Tuesday to play a Hoosiers squad that averages a Big Ten-leading 14.7 offensive rebounds per game.
Freshman Nigel Hayes, who played limited minutes against Iowa due to foul trouble, took a different approach when thinking about the “problem”.
“It’s kind of a positive thing knowing that we gave up 25 offensive boards (against Illinois) but we still won the way we did,” Hayes said. “That just goes to show that if we clean that up, take half of that or even more of that we can probably win by even more and play a better game. We’re going to take it as a challenge that we need to improve and become better on rebounding, offensively and defensively.”
Listen to Zach Heilprin every weekday on “The Jump Around” at ESPNWisconsin.com, and follow him on Twitter: @zachheilprin