Marquette Men’s Basketball: The Book on Wisconsin from the Badger Herald

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Josh Gasser, sophomore guard for the Badgers, goes up for a layup. Photo courtesy Megan McCormick / The Badger Herald

By Elliot Hughes
Badger Herald

Player to watch: Jordan Taylor, senior guard

A preseason All-American selection who averaged just over 18 points per game one year ago, Taylor spent the cushier side of Wisconsin’s nonconference schedule facilitating the Badger offense rather than carrying Wisconsin’s scoring efforts and padding his stats. After six games against unranked opponents, Taylor has averaged just 12 points per game — third best on the team — but has dished out 24 more assists than anyone else on the squad — averaging 5.57 per contest.

While he hasn’t quite lit up a scoreboard yet, Taylor has already carried over his deft ball-handling skills, averaging a 5.57 assist-to-turnover ratio after leading the nation with a 3.83 mark last season. Nevertheless, Taylor still has the ability to be more than just a game manager when necessary. He scored 18 points against Brigham Young over Thanksgiving break and has converted on 38.7 percent of his attempts from the perimeter thus far.

Don’t forget about: Ben Brust, sophomore guard

After barely seeing the floor as a freshman, Brust, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound guard with a quick release, has been a consistent catalyst for the Wisconsin offense so far this year. Brust is typically the first man off the bench and leads the team with 12.3 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, including a 46.5 rate from beyond the arc, where he’s attempted more shots than anyone else on the team. A substitute for starting guard Josh Gasser, Brust has actually received more playing time than any reserve on the roster through the first six games, although that is mainly due to the fact that Wisconsin has outscored its opponents by an average margin of 28.6 points per game, thus allowing all of Wisconsin’s reserves ample reign on the court.

Where the Badgers excel: Ball movement

Shooting success can come and go for any team, but one thing that should remain constant for coach Bo Ryan’s squad is its ability to manufacture good looks from the field. Fortunately for Wisconsin, the shots have come and not gone this year, save for a half or two. A remarkable 48.6 percent of Wisconsin’s shots, including 44.2 percent of three-point attempts, have seen their desired effect. Across the board on Wisconsin’s roster, hardly anyone drags the team down. All five starters, as well as the top three reserves, have converted at least 39.2 percent of their shots while five of those eight players have seen more shots go in than bounce out. Apart from having guys who have the ability to score from wherever, Wisconsin’s success is mainly due to the its ability to wait patiently and distribute the ball until a favorable shot emerges. Together, the team coughs up just 8.1 turnovers a game.

Where they lack: Free throws

With a completely redone frontcourt working near the rim and an offense that generally prefers to wait for the open shot, Wisconsin has struggled to earn trips to the free throw line so far this season. After seven games, the Badgers have taken just 64 tosses from the charity stripe (an average of 9.14 per game) and have capitalized on a meager 60.9 percent. Wisconsin didn’t always get to the line frequently last year but still converted a national-best 81.8 percent from the line. Even if opposing offenses can’t keep up with the Badgers’ shooting percentages, talented teams that attack the rim and score from the free throw line could be able to keep pace with Wisconsin on the scoreboard.

Editor’s note: The Badger Herald supplied us with a scouting report of its team, and we will supply it with a scouting report of Marquette. Check out Friday’s online edition of the Badger Herald for that story.

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