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Wisconsin Beats Arizona: Stupid Defense!

I grew up a half an hour away from Iowa City, Iowa, the home of the Hawkeyes. I am very familiar with their style of play. Over the years, mostly Iowa's style of basketball is slower paced, defensive minded, plodding big men, pick setting catch and shoot jump shots and big men taking up space. Iowa, known for working the offense until the shot-clock is about to run out, and if the ball doesn't go through the hoop, the team will work hard on defense to gain the upper hand. (For the most part, unsuccessfully)

Uninspired, I have watched the Hawks bounce pass the ball around the perimeter, play solid defense and hope that this style of play will win games and keep the grounded, conservative folks of Iowa coming back to support the black and gold. (Iowa fans would never think about leaving the Hawks, they are faithful to the end.)

This year was different.  A fast paced offense and lack of defense was their ultimate demise. Although the Hawks were more fun to watch this year, they couldn't stop anyone on defense and the season ended with a whimper.

Enter Wisconsin....

They too are known for hard working defense and a slower paced offense.  This year, the Badgers wanted a faster paced offense and worked to change their identity.  They did.  The Badgers are a fast paced, higher scoring team and they are a fun team to watch.

The difference between ending the season in a whimper like the Hawks and going to the Final 4 is well, defense.  The Wisconsin Badgers, along with increasing their fire power, still remember how to play hard defense, AND they play it. The Badgers played stellar defense at times take out the Arizona Wildcats last Saturday to advance.

No question, Wisconsin played hard defense, especially late in the game, with the game on the line.

"This was known as defensive program that slows the ball down on offense," center Frank Kaminsky said. "We wanted to play a little bit of our own brand of basketball. We still have those principles instilled in us. So we're still a defensive team."

Badgers' coach Ryan has had a different team in the past.  A defensive approach, players like Kaminsky didn't get the opportunity to score in bunches, like 28 points, 20 in the second half and overtime.  Who was named West region's Most Outstanding Player.

Kaminsky scored three field goals in overtime. Combine that with a solid defensive effort, they were unbeatable.  Here is how the Badgers finally made the difference in the overtime game...the final 12 seconds, they got three stops.

First stop: Ben Brust got enough of a hand in T.J. McConnell's face to contest a jumper with 11 seconds remaining.

Second Stop: Josh Gasser took a charge on Nick Johnson with 3.9 seconds left.

Third Stop: Wisconsin stopped Johnson from getting a shot off to finish the game.

Wisconsin made it tough all around on the Wildcats, holding them to 40 percent shooting, the second worse shooting percentage all year. (35.9% loss to ASU 66-69).

Congratulations to the defenders, Wisconsin, even if you would rather be known for your offense.