UW looks to stay hot vs. NDU

first_imgJon Leuer wasted no time going to work this season, hitting three consecutive three-pointers at the outset of the season opener.[/media-credit]After the Wisconsin football team erupted for 83 points last Saturday versus Indiana, there may have been just a little pressure on the men’s basketball team to make sure they weren’t outscored.But after two high-scoring exhibition games, the Badgers prevailed in that regard two nights ago in the season opener, scoring 99 points to Prairie View A&M’s 55. It was Wisconsin’s highest point total since December of 1995.A number of Badgers turned in encouraging performances on offense in that game and they will look to continue their hot hands against visiting North Dakota tonight.Head coach Brian Jones leads the Fighting Sioux into the Kohl Center following a 77-46 season-opening victory against Waldorf College last Friday.The Sioux return three starters from last year’s squad that finished just 8-23 overall and 5-7 in the Great West conference.After losing their top two leading scorers from last year, North Dakota welcomes 6-foot-4 freshman Troy Huff onto the team, who posted 18 points and six rebounds in his debut.And although the Fighting Sioux are still trying to find their footing in Division I basketball – it being just their third season in college basketball’s top flight – the Badgers know well enough not to think of NDU as a push-over.Against Prairie View, the Badgers struggled early to convert on open looks and committed eight turnovers in the first half.That prevented the Badgers from establishing a firm hold on the game, as they led by just 10 at halftime.Wisconsin fine-tuned itself in the second thanks in large part to huge contributions off the bench, as the team improved its field goal percentage by 13.2 percent and three-pointer percentage 18.4 percent by game’s end. Turnovers were cut to four.Head coach Bo Ryan was unenthusiastic of the first half turnovers, but pointed out that they can be fixed before becoming too much of a nuisance.“Four a half is plenty for me,” he said. “What did we have in the first half, eight? Yeah, that’s too many so you got to cut those out. Was it because of pressure? was it because of bad decisions? I know a couple that were just definitely bad decisions on our part and other times it was because of the quickness of the [opponent] or length or things like that.”“We got to get better at ball fakes, we got to get better with our handle – so all things that can be corrected.”Despite starting slow initially in their season-opener, the Badgers feel confident when it comes to scoring, where its potential runs deep into the bench.Even though the reserves saw more time than usual on the court since the game was put away early, Wisconsin’s starting five accounted for just 48 of the 99 points scored.“We’re looking for guys all over that can do that (score), whether its Ryan (Evans) or Rob (Wilson) when he gets healthy, Keaton (Nankivil), we have guys right down the line that can step up and you don’t know who’s going to put up numbers or score points on any given night,” senior forward Jon Leuer said. “That’s definitely one of the strengths of our team and with a lift like that off the bench it helps a lot.”Junior guard/forward Rob Wilson’s status is uncertain for the meeting against North Dakota. Wilson strained his hamstring within his first five minutes of gameplay in Wisconsin’s exhibition opener just over a week ago.One of UW’s brightest revelations from the PVAM game emanated from freshman guard Josh Gasser, who knocked down 21 points to begin his college career.While Ryan believes Gasser will continue to find success, he doesn’t think it will be long before opposing teams begin to zero in on him.“I remember being in the press conference after Jon Leuer hit 24 threes against Michigan – I’m exaggerating – but it seemed like that by the time we were done and, yeah, he was open,” Ryan said. “In every scouting report after that everybody’s got Jon Leuer down as a threat to shoot from the outside so he didn’t get those same kind of looks and people played him a little differently so people are going to look at Josh Gasser [the same way].”Nevertheless, the Badgers appear to have the luxury of a big enough rotation filled with guys who can fill in the scoring gaps.And it’s got junior point guard Jordan Taylor feeling pretty good.“As long as we all stay healthy and just keep working hard I think the sky is the limit for this team, especially when we got guys like that coming off of the woodwork knocking down threes like that,” he said.last_img

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