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.
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.