Wisconsin Basketball: The Biggest Flaw of Every Badger
When Josh Gasser, the Wisconsin Badgers' starting point guard, went down with a torn ACL before the season began, the immediate future looked dim.
Not only had the Badgers lost their best player from a year ago in Jordan Taylor, but Gasser was ready to assume the role of point guard and team leader, only to suffer a devastating injury that will delay his senior season one more season.
Throw in the gauntlet that is a Big Ten conference schedule, one of the most daunting in recent memory, and you had a recipe for disaster in Madison.
But Wisconsin has already defeated three top-15 teams during conference play and appears on track to reach its 15th consecutive NCAA tournament. Even so, every Badger has one flaw that needs to be kicked to the curb in order for Wisconsin to stay on course.
Biggest flaw: Outside shooting
What makes Berggren unique is his shot-blocking ability that goes along with his guard skill set. While we've seen shades of Berggren being aggressive off the dribble, he has really struggled to shoot efficiently from the perimeter.
He was a dangerous threat from outside last season, shooting 37.2 percent from beyond the arc. While his overall field goal percentage has improved to above 50 percent thanks to his improved short game, Berggren's three-point field-goal percentage has dropped nearly nine percent—down to 28.3.
That's a pretty noticeable decline, and perhaps Berggren attempting to hone his skills around the basket has cost him some of his outside prowess. Considering how Wisconsin has become even more of an outside-oriented team this season, Berggren's ineffectiveness from three has been a pretty glaring flaw and needs to improve moving forward.
Biggest flaw: Free-throw shooting
The curious case of Ryan Evans at the free-throw line is truly bizarre.
Wisconsin has been involved in its fair share of close games this season, and it seems like Evans is always the one at the charity stripe with the game hanging in the balance. This wouldn't have been an issue last season when Evans was shooting 72.6 percent from the line, but that tune has been of a different note this year.
Evans free-throw shooting percentage is an abysmal 39.8 percent. That's not a typo.
The senior forward has never really had much of a shooting touch, but he was at least able to save face at the line. All of a sudden, his confidence is shot, and it's nearly a foregone conclusion what the result will be immediately after Evans earns a trip to the line.
This number has to improve dramatically, and it's hard to imagine how it couldn't improve at all as we inch closer to March.
Biggest flaw: Lack of discipline
What's not to like about Brueser? You'd be hard-pressed to find a college basketball player who gives more effort on the hardwood, but unfortunately, this can lead to Bruesewitz playing a little out of control at times.
His numbers have remained pretty consistent throughout his time as a Badger, but the only problem with that is how Bruesewitz finds himself in foul trouble a little too much for Bo Ryan's liking. He's averaging 2.7 fouls per contest, and his aggressive play has translated to foul trouble on occasion this season.
It normally wouldn't be as much of an issue, but considering the short bench the Badgers have due to the injuries to Gasser and Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin needs Bruesewitz to stay on the floor, and if he can manage to use his senior smarts moving forward, he should see his foul average drop.
Biggest flaw: Shot creation
Ben Brust is one of the most dangerous threats from three in the Big Ten. That is, when there isn't anyone within 10 feet of him.
Typically when Brust lets it fly from deep, it's from at least a few feet behind the arc, and it comes immediately after receiving a pass without a defender in his face. Over half of his shot attempts are from three, and Brust is averaging over five three-point attempts per game this season.
He could average even more if he was more willing to shoot when defenders are in his vicinity, or if he was able to create space on his own. That would be something Wisconsin fans wouldn't mind seeing from Brust, who like so many other Badgers has seen his free-throw percentage drop despite improving his overall field-goal percentage.
It's a peculiar trend, and even though free throws are an area of concern, Brust's inability to create his own shot is also a glaring flaw.
Biggest flaw: Shot selection
Traevon Jackson isn't afraid to pull the trigger.
The sophomore guard assumed a larger role this season with Gasser sidelined, and it's pretty evident that a lack of confidence or flare for the dramatic isn't a concern for Jackson, who hit both the game-tying and game-winning shots Jan. 26 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
That's all fine and dandy, but as a point guard, Jackson needs to be more selective, and that's evident by his 34.8 field-goal percentage.
Jackson is learning on the fly this season and has come a long way in a short time, but playing within the offense is something Jackson is still trying to get accustomed to. While his clutch ability is surely welcomed, he needs to think twice throughout the duration of the game before launching an ill-advised shot.
Biggest flaw: Forcing shots
The freshman forward out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin is going to be something special in Madison, and while he plays 22.3 minutes per game, a relatively high average for a frosh, Dekker needs even more playing time.
It can actually be argued that Dekker is already Wisconsin's best player, and it's difficult to find too many flaws in his game, but as a result of his "limited" playing time, Dekker has been known to force up some shots with a hand in his face.
While Dekker certainly has the ability to hit contested shots, that's not the M.O. of the Badger offense. When those shots go in, it's a welcome sight, but Wisconsin would prefer to work the ball around in an effort to get the best possible look, and sometimes Dekker loses patience in that regard.
But Dekker is one of the team's best shooters inside and out, so it's hard to get on the freshman for forcing up shots here and there.
Biggest flaw: Distributing the ball
Like Dekker, George Marshall is just a freshman, and has been a pleasant surprise for Wisconsin.
Two-thirds of Marshall's shots are from three, and there's good reason for that—he's the Badgers' best three-point shooter at 43.8 percent.
Marshall currently backs up Jackson at the point, and that could largely be due to tenure alone, because Marshall has outperformed Jackson in several areas. However, like other inexperienced Badgers, he tends to make bone-headed decisions and fails to move the ball around like he should when in the game.
To be fair, the swing offense doesn't tend to generate high assist totals for any one particular player, but Marshall has a tendency to operate in isolation, and that doesn't lead to many assist opportunities. If Marshall played within the offense more often, that assist total would rise, and he would come off more favorable in the eyes of Bo Ryan.
Biggest flaw: Lack of assertiveness
Due to an unfortunate eye injury suffered against the Indiana Hoosiers, Frank Kaminsky hasn't played since Jan. 15, and is one of the usual eight or nine players to see consistent playing time for the Badgers.
He helps to spell some of the Wisconsin big men, and while he gets in for his typical 10 minutes, Kaminsky fails to be as assertive as he needs to be in order to make his mark on the game.
He's shown a nice touch from outside and an overall jump in field-goal percentage from a year ago, but if he put up more than 3.3 shots per game, that would likely lead to more playing time for the sophomore forward.
Once he is able to return from injury, Kaminsky should look to be more aggressive on the offensive end.
Biggest flaw: Mistake-prone
At one point this season, freshman Zak Showalter was part of coach Ryan's rotation as Wisconsin attempted to figure out a formula for replacing Josh Gasser.
It has turned into more of a three-man rotation in the backcourt, and Showalter has fallen out of favor due to a lack of smarts when he gets his rare chance to contribute.
As a freshman, Showalter isn't granted as much leeway as some of the veterans on the team when it comes to making mistakes, and it looks like that pressure has gotten the best of him as of late, leaving him on the end of the bench.
There's little room for error in Bo Ryan's system, and once Showalter is able to adjust, he will be in the mix for more playing time at Wisconsin, but his opportunities will be few and far between for the remainder of the 2012-13 season.
Remainder of Roster
Biggest flaw: Too small of a sample size
Rounding out the remainder of Wisconsin's roster are Jordan Smith, J.D. Wise, Evan Anderson, Zach Bohannon and Dan Fahey. The sample size for these players simply isn't big enough to make a judgement on what part of their respective games needs the most work.
Obviously, each is doing a number of things wrong if unable to crack the rotation. Recently, we saw a little bit of Evan Anderson against Michigan State and Zach Bohannon against Minnesota, but it was more of a result of other role players ahead of them making mental mistakes, and therefore getting yanked.
In Anderson's case, the speed of the game seems to be too much for him, and Bohannon, the little brother of former Badger Jason Bohannon, transferred over from Air Force and is still trying to find his place in Madison.
Don't expect to see much, if any, of these players for the rest of the season barring a blow out, especially once Kaminsky is able to return from his eye injury.