As most expected, Wisconsin will face the Oregon Ducks today for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. Thursday, the Badgers rolled past American by 40; their largest margin of victory all season. A dominating performance along with an arena full of red helped UW shake all tournament jitters.
Oregon also cruised past a pre-depleted Brigham Young team. BYU lost key guard Kyle Collinsworth during the West Coast championship. Without Collinsworth, the Cougars stood no chance against the Ducks.
For that reason I want to discredit Oregon’s win. Or maybe just their margin of victory (19 points). This is still a dangerous team with a boat load of talent. Conflicting styles of play make this matchup a wildcard. For Wisconsin, dictating the game will come down to two factors.
Varying the pace
I don’t know what’s up with Oregon and their sick obsession with speed. The high octane offense doesn’t just end on the gridiron, it heads right to the court. The Ducks average 87 points a game; 14 more than the Badgers. On five separate occasions Oregon have amassed triple digits. Kinda puts Wisconsin’s 100+ performance to shame right?
A pace like that is almost impossible to control for 40 minutes. There’s going to be times where the Badgers are forced to haul up the court. Now if this were any other year Wisconsin would be in quite the dilemma, but 2014 brings a whole different story.
Last Saturday against Michigan State, Tom Izzo drew up an ingenious game plan to make sure the ball crosses half court instantly. For the most part it worked. At intermission the Spartans shot 65.4 percent while holding Wisconsin to 28; which in turn led to the Badger largest defect all season(17).
Then at the half Bo Ryan gave in and said “Well to heck with it! Let’s run!”
Well, not really, but Wisconsin did decide match MSU’s speed. It worked to success and the Badgers were able cut down State’s lead.
UW should go back to the tape and structure their game plan around what bit of success they had last week. Don’t hide from the speed; embrace it. Wisconsin has the talent and athleticism to not only mimic, but outplay the Duck’s style.
If Wisconsin finds themselves ahead you can bet Bo Ryan slows down the game. An uncomfortable Ducks team is one forced to defend long half-court sets.
Managing Kaminsky-Hayes rotation
Oregon’s head coach Dana Altman uses a plethora of players off his bench. Ten Ducks average over ten minutes a game. The onslaught of substitutions is sure to throw off the Badgers.
Altman’s challenge is overcoming his team’s lack of height. Other than Waverly Austin, no Duck stands above six-foot-eight.
Frank Kaminsky needs to be the aggressor. His size advantage is the clear difference maker. Oregon’s stature creates an opportunity that needs to be seized. They allow 74 points a game ranking them 274th in the NCAA. Kaminsky is poised for a monster game; if he can stay out of foul trouble.
Oregon will come at you. What they lack in size, they make up in athleticism. Attacking the rim and getting to the line is intricate to their offense. Against BYU, they took 38 shots at the stripe.
Keeping Kaminsky in the game is vital. Bo Ryan and his coaching staff must plan appropriate times to send in Nigel Hayes. The balancing act of maintaining energy without them drawing fouls will challenge the Badgers.
Of all starters, Frank see’s the least amount of time on the court. He should shoot for at least 30 minutes today. There isn’t much Oregon can do against the All-Big Ten center. Productive time from the big man will expose the Duck’s interior defense.