Wisconsin’s misery won’t end until those shots start falling


Get ready for the Wisconsin backlash.

The Badgers – once a Top 10 team and a mainstay atop the kenpom.com ratings — lost their third game in a row on Sunday, a 59-41 drubbing at Michigan in which they couldn’t hit shots (31.4 percent), Jordan Taylor had more turnovers (3) than assists (1) and scored the second-fewest regular-season points under coach Bo Ryan.

Yeah. It was one of those games.

Actually, it’s been one of those weeks.

Wisconsin (12-5 overall, 1-3 in Big Ten) is hitting just 33.3 percent from the field during its skid. It’s hit 15 of 70 beyond the arc. That’s about 15 points lower than its average in both areas. Things won’t get any easier in the Badgers’ next game, either. They’re at Purdue (13-4, 3-1), a team whose perimeter defense holds team to below 35 percent from the field. And that’s where teams usually fare the best.

Ryan’s not panicking yet.

“They’ll grow; they’ll learn,” he told the Wisconsin State-Journal. “Sometimes getting burned is a great lesson teacher. And you figure some things along the way, that, ‘Oh, maybe that’s the reason why we do the drills that way.’

“The light’s got to go on with some of these guys now that they’re getting major minutes, especially in the frontcourt.”

He’s got a point. New starters Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren had the unenviable task of stepping in for Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil, two of the game’s most efficient scorers and two deadly outside shooters. Both are faring well; they’re just not at that elite level yet.

More shots from Ben Brust and Josh Gasser would help, too. They’re the Badgers’ two best outside shooters right now.

Look, Wisconsin’s still a Top 20-caliber team – Pomeroy’s hardly the only rating system that thinks so, and even he knows they’re not deserving of a high spot – and will almost certainly get back into the Big Ten race and even pull off a big win or two.

But first? They just need to relax and hit some shots.

“We’ve just got to make sure we pull ourselves out of it,” Mike Bruesewitz told the paper. “We can’t let this get any worse. We can’t let this snowball anymore. We’ve got to say the buck stops here and get back to playing Wisconsin basketball and be confident and knock down shots.

“If coach Ryan thinks we’re beating ourselves up, we’ve got to stop doing that and go out and show we can play.”

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