UW heads for 1st league test

first_imgAfter playing its first six conference games against thebottom five teams in the Big Ten standings, the University of Wisconsin men?sbasketball team will finally face one of the league?s better squads Saturdaywhen it travels to West Lafayette to play Purdue.The No. 11 Badgers (16-2, 6-0) currently sit tied atop theconference while the Boilermakers (14-5, 6-1) find themselves alone in thirdplace.?They?ve been playing very well. They could easily beundefeated in the league,? Badger coach Bo Ryan said of the upcoming opponent.?They were picked as one of those teams that could compete at the upper echelonand they certainly have done that.?Purdue?s only Big Ten loss this season was a 78-75 decisionon the road at No. 10 Michigan State in a game where the Boilermakers weremissing second-leading scorer Ryan Hummell.?Purdue?s a talented team,? juniorGreg Stiemsma said. ?They?ve been doing some things really well, and we justhave to go in there and take care of what we do.?Wins at Purdue?s Mackey Arena have been hard to come by forWisconsin ? the team has only earned two victories there since 1972 ? and thestadium is one of the Big Ten?s toughest to play in.?It is loud because of the acoustics, and the noise hoversover the team,? Ryan said. ?They get into it; their fans enjoy the game.?The last time Wisconsin beat Purdue on the road came in 2005,and senior Brian Butch is the only current Badger to have played in a win atMackey Arena.?It?s a tough place to play, it?s really loud, fans get intoit,? Butch said. ?You just have to find ways to get it done somehow.?A home crowd may help Purdue this season, but theBoilermakers should also cause problems for the Badgers with a talented albeityouthful roster.Purdue is led in scoring by sophomore guard Keaton Grant with11.6 points per game, but freshmen Robbie Hummel and E?Twaun Moore are bothsolid scorers and threaten to have big games.Similar to Wisconsin, none of Purdue?s players are stars,but the roster is deep and there are several that can cause trouble foropponents on any given night.?They play great defense, they?re a physical team, they?regoing to offer a lot of challenges for us,? Butch said. ?We?ve got to make surethat we stay sound on the defensive end, and we need to make sure we rebound alittle better than last game too.?Against Michigan, rebounding was one of the areas thatWisconsin really struggled in. UW gave up 20 offensive rebounds, 14 second-chancepoints and allowed the Wolverines to grab 12 more total rebounds than they did.?It was made pretty clear today during film that if we wantto be successful we can?t play that way,? Butch said.Ryan also pointed out the Badgers? rebounding problemsagainst the Wolverines and cited the team?s 60 percent shooting effort in thesecond half of that game as the reason the team was able to survive with a win.?It?s an area where we didn?t do a very good job,? Ryansaid.In addition to rebounding, Wisconsin should also see adifference in playing time distribution as well.Though the team had used an eight-man rotation for most ofthe season, only six have seen significant playing time as of late with JonLeuer and Steimsma sitting more than they had earlier in the year. Ryan,however, has not put the two on the bench for good.?I?m just looking for guys that go on the floor and makethings happen,? Ryan said.After sitting out the game against Northwestern, Steimsma ? astarter in the team?s first seven games ? checked in midway through the secondhalf against Michigan and provided a spark off the bench, notching two points,two rebounds and two blocks.?You?ve just got to take advantage of your opportunities,?Stiemsma said of his performance.While Leuer didn?t provide the sameproduction in his ten minutes against Michigan, it should be noted that thefreshman scored 25 points in his first Big Ten road game (also againstMichigan) and was one of the team?s only bright spots in the loss to Dukeearlier in the year, the team?s only road defeat of the season.last_img read more