UW welcome neighborly UWGB

first_imgWisconsin sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz and the rest of the Badgers have been outdone in rebounding in their last two games.[/media-credit]The state of Wisconsin will dish out its next opponent for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team Wednesday night as it welcomes its northern neighbor, UW-Green Bay, to the Kohl Center.The No. 14/16 Badgers (6-2), after a near-spotless six-game start to their season, hit a two-game bump last week, dropping contests against their first ranked opponents of the year, North Carolina and in-state foe Marquette.Wisconsin converted just 37.1 percent of its shots from the field and was out-rebounded 86-61 over those two games. But the Badgers still managed to keep themselves within striking distance in each contest, a testament to UW’s defense, which didn’t concede more than 61 points to either the Tar Heels or the Golden Eagles.“We just pride ourselves on, obviously, defense and not giving many turnovers,” guard Josh Gasser said, who later ascribed Wisconsin’s lack of rebounding as the biggest factor in the last two losses. “You just got to find other ways to get yourself in the game and pull out victories, and that comes from the defensive end.”The Badgers swept the trio of other in-state Division I basketball schools a year ago, but got off to as bad of a start as possible in this year’s tour of in-state schools with the 61-54 loss to the Golden Eagles.Apart from the fact that Marquette is one of Wisconsin’s biggest rivals, the Golden Eagles also ended the Badgers’ 23-game winning streak at the Kohl Center. It was also the Badgers first nonconference loss at home since the 2008 season.UW-Green Bay (4-4) is coming off a two-game homestand that saw victories over Illinois-Chicago and Loyola and will be playing in its third game in six days when it tips off with Wisconsin.The Phoenix has not posed much of a threat to the Badgers over the course of the series between the two teams. The Badgers are 16-1 all-time versus the Phoenix, but the one loss came just two years ago in an 88-84 road game decided in overtime.Last year’s meeting with the Phoenix went much smoother for the Badgers, though, as they shot 48.8 percent from the field on the way to a 70-56 win.Seven-foot-one center Alec Brown – who weighs in at 215 pounds – was in his debut season for the Phoenix then, and against the Badgers he scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.Brown has returned for his sophomore year to lead for the way for UW-Green Bay, particularly down near the rim, leading the team with 13.8 points per game on a 47.7 percent clip. The 60 rebounds to his name are also 15 more than other member of the team.“He’s pretty good,” forward Mike Bruesewitz said, who is averaging 6.6 points per game. “From what I remember last year, he was long, pretty active, got a pretty good touch around the basket. He’ll present a good challenge for us as a big guy in the middle, but they got some other guys who can beat us so we each got to take care of everybody.”Wisconsin’s struggles near the rim have extended to free throw shooting as well, as the Badgers are averaging a mere 10.6 attempts per contest. And after being outdone on the boards the last two games, Brown presents another challenge for Wisconsin to right the ship in the frontlines.“We learned that we have to roll our sleeves up and do some dirty work and be gritty and play tough,” assistant coach Lamont Paris said. “A lot of what we do offensively is going to be dependent upon making or missing shots, but on the other hand, giving up 17 offensive rebounds (against Marquette), a lot of that is just dirty work and paying more attention to that type of thing.“So I think that’s one of the biggest things we learned in that game, that we can never cease to pay attention to those kinds of things.”Outside of Brown, who is the only player averaging double-digit scoring for UW-Green Bay, the Phoenix have not been able to produce much offense in 2011. The team currently scores an average of 62.4 points a game, good for eighth in the Horizon League, and has five players averaging between five and eight points.Collectively, the team is shooting at a .389 clip from the field and .280 from the three-point and also typically coughs up the ball 13.6 times a game, which bodes well for the stingy Badger ‘D.’“Defense always gives us a chance to stay in the game without shooting the ball well, and that’s really the main thing; that’s our staple,” forward Ryan Evans said. “That’s going to be something that’s going to be there in the long run for us.”last_img

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