Today, we are talking with B5Q, our Wisconsin counterparts. They are probably Packers fans, SO YOU ARE WELCOME! Having put that standard greeting behind us, our MBB team takes on their MBB team tonight. Exciting times to be alive. We're talking today with Kyle Vos, Luke Mueller, and the potentially actually-named-that Phil Mitten. We'll never know what his real name is. Enjoy their comments and GO BEARS!
1. Frank Kaminsky has had a good-to-excellent performance in every game this year except against Georgetown. Did the Hoyas do anything in particular to help slow him down, or was it just a random blip? If there is anything unique about Georgetown vis-a-vis Kaminsky, can Cal duplicate it?
Kyle Vos: The game against Georgetown was by far the most physical of the year, and Kaminsky's matchup mirrored that. Over half of the game was spent battling the 6'10", 350-pound behemoth known as Joshua Smith. Kaminsky would normally be able to take advantage of a player like Smith offensively, but it wasn't his day. He missed four of his eight free throws and all four of his attempts behind the arc.
I like David Kravish, but he, like basically every other person on this planet, does not possess the same physical presence as Smith. Due to that, it will be nearly impossible for Cal to duplicate what Georgetown did. The part it can do is have another big man to throw five fouls and a couple elbows at Kaminsky like Mikael Hopkins did.
Phil Mitten: That was an off-night shooting for Big Frank -- he went 0-for-4 on threes and made only half of his free throws. Georgetown's Josh Smith had a lot to do with getting Kaminsky out of his comfort zone though. Smith is a huge human being, listed at 6'10" and 350 pounds, so that part will be hard to replicate on Cal's part. Kaminsky was not able to get the position inside he wanted and couldn't get around Smith as easily. In addition, the Hoyas had a few other good athletes around Smith to contest shots in the paint.
Luke Mueller: The Hoyas are a long, athletic team that was able to get Frank into foul trouble early. Frank normally is smart when it comes fouling out of trouble, so seeing this is a rarity. So for that, I think it's a blip. With that being said, from all accounts (not having seen Cal play yet this year) Cal is once again athletic. They could cause a problem in that way. From time to time, Frank can get soft inside and play like he is 6'4" rather than 7'. If Cal can pressure him into dumb fouls early, force him to take contested outside shots, and make him play like he is the size of a guard inside rather than his seven foot self, Cal will make it a difficult game.
It is a tough task to slow Kaminsky down, but it can be done.
2. If I'm reading the stats right, Wisconsin never gives up offensive boards, rarely fouls, forces tough shots, and actually forces a decent number of turnovers. So, like . . . is there a weakness to the Badger defense?
Kyle Vos: Wisconsin's defensive weakness is that it is susceptible to really good perimeter players going off. The defense doesn't double team and it really only helps at the rim, which it does do a good job of. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Tyus Jones and Keifer Sykes have all efficiently scored 20 or more points against Wisconsin this year. That's a good group of players, and one that Tyrone Wallace could fit right in with.
Phil Mitten: The primary weakness is lateral quickness on the perimeter. Nobody fights through screens and scraps physically like Josh Gasser, but he can be beat by an explosive first step. Traevon Jackson's best attribute defensively is his strength, but he surrenders the paint much too easily sometimes. Guys like D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Tyus Jones, and Green Bay's Keifer Sykes have all exploited UW's guards this year.
The emphasis on limiting offensive rebounds and rarely fouling are annual strengths. I think the turnover stats are pumped up by sloppy performances by Oklahoma, UAB and Nicholls State, but I guess you have to credit the longer, better athletes Wisconsin has right now on the interior for those too.
Luke Mueller: The Badgers do a great job of rotating over on defense to the help side. They are about as fundamentally sound as a team can be, thanks to Bo Ryan's coaching. The one weakness the Badgers do have is they are content with letting you take uncontested, low percentage shots. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but a team that gets hot and stays hot can beat Wisconsin. Just check the Duke tape. Is it going to happen often? No. It's very rare for a team to shoot over 60% in the first half with a majority of those being difficult shots and then shoot over 70% in the second half. Again, the Duke game. The point I am trying to make is the way to beat the defense is buy forcing them to play defense for the whole shot clock and hit a very high percentage of your shots. Or just be Duke.
3. Dekker and Kaminsky rightly get most of the pub, but who should Cal be most concerned after the two big stars?
Kyle Vos: Nigel Hayes is the third musketeer and definitely a player to be feared. He's 6'8", 235 pounds and there might not be a thing on the court that he can't do. Hayes is a killer from mid-range, which opens up his tremendous ability to get to the rim. He attacks the glass on both ends, is active defensively, and is a very good passer.
Phil Mitten: Wisconsin has a few other guys that spring to mind, including Duje Dukan, a 6'10" shooter off the bench. But Nigel Hayes is the biggest threat. Promoted to a starting position this season, Hayes has improved his entire game, from his ballhandling and free throw shooting to his defense. He can knock down mid-range jumpers like nobody's business and remains as crafty as ever around the basket, where he drew plenty of fouls as a surprise freshman a year ago. Hayes put up 25 points against Green Bay, but has also led the Badgers in rebounding in five of their 11 games so far.
Luke Mueller: Nigel Hayes and Josh Gasser without a doubt. Nigel is an animal down low. He grabs offensive boards, cleans the glass on defense too and can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. His mid-range jumper is deadly and has even stretched the floor by learning how to shoot the 3. Gasser on the other hand is the floor general. He is the guy who holds the team together. While he may not put up huge numbers, expect 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals from him. He will pester whoever he guards for the whole shot clock, most likely Wallace, and wear him down both physically and mentally by the end of the game.
4. The Big 10 and Wisconsin in particular get flak for a deliberate style of play. I'm sure you all love Bo Ryan because dude wins a ton of basketball games, but has watching him for 13+ years led you to appreciate slow-down basketball as well?
Kyle Vos: Overall, no. I watched Cincinnati and Nebraska need multiple overtimes to eclipse 100 points last Saturday night and wanted to puke all over the screen. Not because of the alcoholic beverages I may have been consuming, but because it was bad, disgusting basketball. San Diego State is another example of a slow team that can be flat-out painful to watch try to score. I respect the defense, but even I don't enjoy watching it.
That said, there's a difference (maybe just to Badgers fans) between that and the style Wisconsin plays. The Badgers are annually one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, it just takes a little longer for the gratification of watching the ball rip the net. For that, I certainly appreciate the system.
Phil Mitten: In a word, yes. I wouldn't trade the winning for a different style. With that said, I'll be the first to admit the recent Dekker-Hayes editions of the Badgers have been the most fun to watch since the Devin Harris and Alando Tucker days.
Luke Mueller: The best comparison I have heard is that the Badgers are the NCAA equivalent of the San Antonio Spurs. It may be boring to watch if you aren't used to it or a casual fan, but when you really sit back and watch what they do to teams, it is like poetry in motion. It is fun (I guess in a sick kind of way) to see teams implode because of the slow down game they can play. When it is right, it sure is pretty and when it's wrong, it can be frustrating because they don't typically play their way back into games quickly.
With that being said, the Badgers (both this year and last year's teams) do not get enough credit for their ability to run. No longer will Wisconsin have a fast break opportunity and pull the ball back instead. Those days are over - at least for now. Dekker and Frank love to run the floor and they will. When the chance is there, these Badgers will run. Just not often.
5. What does Cal need to do to win this game?
Kyle Vos: To start, Cal is going to need to be 100%. In other words, Jabari Bird needs to be on the court and he needs to be on. As I said earlier, Wisconsin is content with letting one player get his. The key for the opponent is to have its complementary players produce as well. Jordan Mathews is certainly a capable part of that, but a talent like Bird is what will really challenge the Badgers.
The other necessity is for Kravish to stay out of foul trouble. I wouldn't expect much from him offensively, but he's the only Cal player I've seen that has a chance to stay with Kaminsky on the other end.
Phil Mitten: Getting Kaminsky in early foul trouble wouldn't hurt. Beyond that, play a physical game. Kaminsky and especially Dekker, can be affected by getting roughed up a bit. Then, hope you make shots.
Luke Mueller: They need to play Badger basketball as weird as that sounds. Wisconsin has struggled with teams that are comfortable slowing the ball down and playing defense for a whole 35 seconds. The Badgers thrive off of frustrating teams, so when it doesn't faze a team they are confused in a way. THey don't lose their composure, but they then try to force things because what they have gameplanned hasn't worked.
Getting outcoached doesn't happen ever really. Bo is one of the best and his right hand man Greg Gard is one of the best in the business at dissecting tape. Don't expect the Badgers to be surprised by much Cal throws at them.
6. What does Wisconsin need to do to win this game?
Kyle Vos: The biggest thing for Wisconsin is always knocking down its shots. Sometimes the team falls into shooting slumps that it can't get out of and the offense becomes anemic. Cal's length on the perimeter won't cause many turnovers, but it could force some tough looks if the ball can't get inside.
Defensively, it needs to keep Wallace from creating for others. It can't let Mathews and Bird get open looks outside or Kravish to get easy buckets down low. Wallace is hard to stay in front of and I expect him to put up a good amount of points, but limiting his penetration and forcing him to take as many jumpers as possible will probably be UW's key to success on that end. Hopefully for the Badgers he won't constantly knock them down like Smith-Rivera did.
Phil Mitten: First, Sam Dekker needs to continue to be aggressive and put stress on the Bear defense. Dekker is a guy that can really cause trouble if he gets off to a good start. Wisconsin also needs "Good Trae" to show up -- as in Traevon Jackson. When Jackson is making smart decisions, taking care of the ball and pushing tempo at the appropriate times, the Badgers are tough to beat. Finally, whether it's Gasser, Kaminsky, or Duje Dukan off the bench, someone needs to be locked in from 3-point land. Wisconsin is actually
Luke Mueller: They need to pound the ball inside early. When they do that, teams start to collapse in the key and it opens up the 3 point shot for the Badgers. Everyone on the team who will enter the game - minus Vitto Brown - can pull the trigger from three. With that ability, Wisconsin has a lethal combination that at times seems unstoppable. If they can get to Cal early, they should be able to maintain the led throughout the game.
7. Predict A Score.
Kyle Vos: Wisconsin wins 69-56
Phil Mitten: I like Wisconsin, 67-61.
Luke Mueller: Cal comes in averaging 70 points per game and shooting 46 percent. Wisconsin averaging 74.5 points per game and shooting 49 percent. Not much of a difference there, but I think Wisconsin will give Cal fits on offense because of the way they play defense. It will be back and forth for much of the first half, but about 30 minutes into the game the Badgers will start to pull away and get to the free throw line due to foul trouble.
Final: Wisconsin 72 Cal 58
8. I know it's not football season anymore (for us poor saps, at least), but I can't resist: What are your thoughts on Andersen's departure to our conference-mates at Oregon State? Does his sudden departure put any additional pressure on AD Barry Alvarez?
Kyle Vos: Initial disbelief and maniacal laughter have since been replaced by the calmness I'm now experiencing. Had Paul Chryst turned down the job, pressure would've been on Alvarez. But we know what we're getting from Chryst, and his offensive prowess will be welcomed with open arms after last year.
Combined with the return of Dave Aranda to coach the defense, I fully expect to be a better coached team next year. Long-term is a question, but if I've learned anything from the last few years, it's to forget about that.
Phil Mitten: It's an obvious step down for Andersen apart from the elusive "fit" he keeps talking about. I find Andersen's evasive answers about what fits him at Oregon State instead of Wisconsin a bit aggravating and fairly disingenuous, though hardly surprising from a head coach. I firmly believe the difficulty of getting transfers and other borderline student-athletes into Wisconsin was a major reason for his departure. The move definitely tarnishes Wisconsin's image a little, especially after the drubbing OSU put on the Badgers, so there is pressure. The pressure is on Alvarez the AD to get someone who will stay at Wisconsin and maintain the status quo (which he did in Paul Chryst) and also Alvarez the coach, because his last cameo on the sidelines ended in a tough loss to Stanford in the Rose Bowl two years ago.
Luke Mueller: I don't understand why Andersen would take a step back in terms of the team he is coaching. He was doing a lot of good things at UW maintaining the way the students performed in the classroom, stepping up the recruiting classes, and putting a good product on the field.
As far as Alvarez is concerned, he got his guy. The Godfather of Wisconsin football is not on the hot seat in any way shape or form. He will continue to do his thing, provide a watchful eye over the program and smile at the empire he built.
9. Whom do you want to punch in the face?
Kyle Vos: Pete Carroll
Phil Mitten: Honestly? Our dear Russell Wilson ... those are awfully annoying commercials.
Luke Mueller: Goldy the Gopher