Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Believe the Hype; Wisconsin Continues Torrid Pace


Big shots, defense, getting to the free throw line and great individual performances when they need it.

Bo Ryan summed it up best when talking in his post game, Wednesday, about his his team and those on it.

It started with sophomore star, Sam Dekker, who’s being named to the Naismith Award watch list this season has garnered him a lot of attention.

“He hits some big threes,” Ryan said, of his performance in Wisconsin’s win over West Virginia. “I think he’s getting better and he hit some big shots for us. He got on the glass, he was pretty active.”

While Dekker continues to be one of the many story lines for this Wisconsin team, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the Badgers have be aided by the likes of Frank Kaminsky, Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson and even spurts from guys like Duje Dukan, Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, and others.

Wisconsin’s hit a lot of big shots and won some gritty games. Though to the eye it seems they’ve reached where they are with relative ease. They find themselves undefeated at 8-0 and off to the second best start EVER for a Badgers program.

For Ryan, it’s one for the record books personally. It’s hard to believe, No Bo Ryan-coached Badgers team has ever started off this well, and it leaves many thinking the capability moving forward could also be one overall, for the record books.

Wisconsin made it to the finals of the Cancun Challenge by beating Bowling Green 88-64 on Thursday, Oral Roberts 76-67 on Saturday and Saint Louis 63-57 on Tuesday.

So far this season they’ve also defeated UW-Platteville (80-51), St. Johns (86-75), Florida (59-53) and North Dakota (103-85).

The numbers tell it all, and rarely lie. Wisconsin has combined to shoot just under 50-percent from the field (48% to be exact) in comparison to just under 45-percent for their opponents.

Their 43.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc trumps that allowed defensively (34.5%). They’ve knocked down 133 shots from the charity stripe, shooting a still nominal 74% as a team. However, it’s in comparison to only putting their opponents on the line 115 times total, a staple of just about every successful Wisconsin team that’s come before this one.

They’ve scored an average of 76.8 points per game through this eight-game stretch to start the year. It’s 10 more points, on average, than their opponents while what’s impressive is that they’ve done it by collectively taking 40 less shots so far this season.

It’s hard to point to one individual and say he is why Wisconsin is winning.

Many credit Dekker’s play in just his second full season, and rightfully so. The sophomore is second on the team in scoring (14.6 PPG), second in rebounding (5.5 RPG) and has continually drawn one of, if not the toughest defensive match-up from Wisconsin’s opponents.

“I think he’s getting better and he hit some big shots for us.” – Bo Ryan on Sam Dekker

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Then you look at Gasser, who coming off a medical red shirt season, hasn’t lost a step. He’s second on the team in minutes played (32.4 per game), is shooting at a 55% clip from the field so far and is one of five Badgers averaging in double-figures (10.4 PPG) through eight games.

Wisconsin, in stretches, has been almost unstoppable this season.

They showed it again Wednesday night as for almost 10 minutes in the first half, they could not be scored upon. While through the same period, they ran off 18-straight points and turned what was a tight-knit game early on into a first-half blowout that put West Virginia into an uncomfortable shooting mode, though Eron Harris nearly pulled them out of it, on his own.

Largely in part due to his outstanding performance against North Dakota, where he set a school record for points in a game with 43, Frank Kaminsky quietly leads UW in scoring this season (15.8 PPG). He’s third on the team in rebounds (5.4 RPG) has been a defensive stopped inside (2 blocks per game) and has eight steals compared to just eight turnovers through as many games.

Traevon Jackson shows his wealth in gold when it comes to pressure situations. He’s also calmly becoming a go-to scorer late in games, and offensively has made significant strides in his ball handling when teams decide to put the clamps down.

It will be interesting to see after a long layoff what Wisconsin comes back with against a now, 5-1 Virginia team who’ll have two more contests between now and Dec. 4 when the teams meet in Virginia.

Wisconsin will then come back to Madison for four games, including two against in-State rivals, Marquette and UW-Milwaukee, before going back on the road to open Big Ten play at Northwestern, Jan. 2.

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Tags: Badgers Basketball Ben Brust Bo Ryan Bronson Koenig Cancun Challenge Duje Dukkan Frank Kaminsky Josh Gasser Sam Dekker West Virginia Winning Streak Wisconsin