Wisconsin has been plagued by slow starts in the early going; opponents have slowed them down with a heavy dose of zone defense:
Wisconsin is known for playing an unwavering style of man-to-man defense, but has gotten well-acquainted with zone defense over the past 48 hours. The team's responses have been ugly, but ultimately effective, evidenced by Wisconsin's appearance in tomorrow's championship game in the Old Spice Classic.
The Badgers have started lethargically in the past two games, scoring a combined total of 43 points in the first halves against Manhattan and Boston College. On Thanksgiving Day, Manhattan opened in a 2-3 defense that limited the Badgers to 23% shooting during the first half. Wisconsin went into the locker room holding an unflattering 17-10 lead after shooting only 1-of-13 on 3-pointers. The Jaspers switched to 1-3-1 to start the second half, when the Badgers finally recovered to post a 50-35 win.
To an extent, pace is responsible for the low point totals. Wisconsin has yet to play a game with more than 65 possessions, and their last three have been extremely lethargic affairs--55, 56, and 56 possessions, respectively. But their effective field goal percentage has been well below 50% in each of their last four games, and they scored a point per possession or less in three of those, two of them losses. Notre Dame beat the Badgers in the Old Spice Classic championship game with still yet more zone.
They warmed up to the zone in each case, though:
UW's general issues during the three-game run in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., were sluggish starts, inconsistent shooting and the inability to get to the free-throw line.
In the first half of the three games UW shot 23.3%, 39.3% and 31.0%. The three-point shooting was worse: 7.7%, 10% and 10%.
In the second half the numbers rose dramatically as UW shot 50%, 51.7% and 32.3%. The three-point numbers: 50%, 33.3% and 46.2%.
So I'm not sure this is a bad perimeter scoring team, but they've clearly missed contributions from Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon, who were 39+% shooters from outside a year ago. Of the five guys who have taken 10 or more threes this year, only Jon Leuer has made more than 33% of his attempts.
Since the outside shooting has been inconsistent, and because they've been timid in attacking the zone as evidenced by their low free throw rate, it'd probably be a good idea to show a bit of zone tonight. I doubt we'll use it often, because that's not who we are, but it's a quick adjustment worth trying when a Wisconsin run happens.