Uncharacteristic shooting trend doesn’t have UW down and out

first_imgGuard Josh Gasser reacts after hitting the Badgers’ third three-pointer in a row to take a 9-2 lead early on Jan. 18 against Northwestern.[/media-credit]In a deeper-than-usual Big Ten this season, the Wisconsin Badgers have been challenged early and often through the first seven games of their conference slate.Though they were riding a three-game winning streak entering Sunday’s game at Illinois, the Badgers initially dropped three of their first four games in Big Ten play. After beating newcomer Nebraska on the road Dec. 27, Wisconsin lost its next three, at home to Iowa, at home to Michigan State and at Michigan.More than anything else, the two consecutive losses at the Kohl Center were most stunning for the Badgers, a team that takes great pride in its home record. Back on Dec. 3, Marquette snapped Wisconsin’s 23-game home winning streak. For the season, the Badgers are 2-2 at home in Big Ten play. The mark, though a result of several different contests, has one fairly simple common denominator – shooting.After wins, UW players and coaches celebrate the team’s depth and the balanced scoring it fosters.“Since our scoring is so balanced, other teams have to cover everybody on our team every night,” guard/forward Ryan Evans said after Wisconsin’s 77-57 win over Northwestern on Jan. 18. “That’s big because you don’t know who is going to be hot, and you can’t just focus on one person.”Following losses, which have seen the Badgers shoot as poorly as 16 for 51 from the field (31.4 percent, against Michigan Jan. 8), the explanations are harder to come by. For a team that, as usual, blazed through its non-conference schedule with frequent lights-out shooting efforts, Wisconsin’s hot-and-cold manifested itself at the worst time, right near the beginning of Big Ten play.In that three-game losing streak, the Badgers posted three of their four worst shooting percentages of the conference season, never hitting above 34.8 percent. In the second game against Nebraska Jan. 15, which Wisconsin ultimately won 50-45, the Badgers were just 15 for 48 from the field (31.3 percent), though they reached the foul line 48 times and hit 18 (75 percent).“The game doesn’t change for us, what we’re trying to do,” head coach Bo Ryan said. “It’s just at times, everybody goes through this with shooting. I’ve seen it more in the past couple years than probably 10 years combined – just kind of the swings in shooting percentages, in guys’ confidence, in guys being comfortable in what they’re doing.”As usual, Wisconsin’s saving grace has been its defense. The Badgers lead the nation in both points allowed per game (49.0) and opposing field goal percentage (35.4 percent). But with uncharacteristic struggles – a relative term, as the Badgers are still fourth in the Big Ten at 71.7 percent from the free throw line but subpar for a Ryan-coached team – from the charity stripe, the inconsistent shooting performances have the ability to derail Wisconsin’s season against a tough Big Ten slate.“We knew that going into the year that it was going to be a night-in, night-out grind, even more so than it normally is in the league just because there are so many good teams,” point guard Jordan Taylor said.Aside from the weak shooting in the win over Nebraska, Wisconsin’s three-game winning streak has seen a pair of its finest shooting efforts of the season. On the road at Purdue – Mackey Arena is consistently one of the nation’s toughest venues, especially for a team having lost three in a row – the Badgers sunk 47.5 percent of their shots and 45 percent from three-point range. Against Northwestern Wednesday, Wisconsin was 50 percent from the field (27-of-54) and 52.2 percent from three-point (12-of-23).“I think a lot of guys spent a lot of time in the gym, myself included,” forward Mike Bruesewitz said of UW’s improved shooting effort. “I think everybody has done that. There have been a lot of extra hours after practice, before practice. We do that anyways, but we’ve been in kind of a slump.“Also we’re moving quite a bit better without the basketball. We’re making good cuts and getting a little bit more open shots, and that’s why they are falling.”For Ryan, tasked with quelling the worries prompted by his team’s up-and-down shooting while simultaneously finding ways to improve it, the answers are relatively straightforward.“You don’t whine, you don’t complain, you don’t feel sorry for yourself – you just play and practice and practice and practice some more,” Ryan said. “It’s always all smiles when the ball’s going down.”last_img read more

Walker Buehler returns to form in Dodgers’ power-boosted win over Marlins

first_img Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error And for the first time in over a week, a Dodger pitcher had the full support of his defense. After committing 16 errors in the previous eight games and allowing 10 unearned runs in the last five contests, the Dodgers didn’t have a miscue on the diamond on Sunday.More to come on this story.Related Articles A.J. Pollock’s three-run blast in the seventh inning made it 27 home runs for the Dodgers in the 10 games since the Midsummer Classic, the most in the majors. Muncy and Cody Bellinger, who had Sunday’s game off as a rest day, each have four homers in that stretch.The Dodgers have also scored 77 runs in the 10 games since the break, the most in the majors. But they didn’t need too impressive of a game with their bats given the way that Walker Buehler pitched.The righty was crisp and precise from the outset. He struck out six batters in the first two innings, though he allowed a single in each of those frames. Buehler tightened up even more, retiring 13 batters in a row before Garrett Cooper singled in the sixth.Buehler got himself into a bit of trouble in the seventh with two on and two outs, but struck out Yadiel Rivera for his 11th and final punch out of the game. The outing marked the third time this season Buehler has reached double-digit strikeouts. The second-year pitcher allowed five hits and no walks in his seven innings of shutout work. He threw 71 of his 94 pitches for strikes.It was a welcome return to form for Buehler (9-1), who had allowed 16 runs (12 earned) in his previous three starts. It was the first time since June 15 that Buehler didn’t allow a run. PreviousMiami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy, right, drops his bat after hitting a solo home run as Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto watches during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy warms up in the on-deck circle during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsMiami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy hits a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez, left, and Justin Turner, right, joke around in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy hits a solo home run as Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto watches along with catcher Jorge Alfaro, second from right, and home plate umpire Mark Wegner during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)The Dodgers’ Max Muncy, left, gestures before scoring after hitting a solo home run as Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto stands on the mound during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy, right, drops his bat after hitting a solo home run as Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto watches during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 9Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy, right, drops his bat after hitting a solo home run as Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto watches during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandLOS ANGELES – When Marlins rookie Jordan Yamamoto took the mound for his start in the series finale between the Dodgers and Miami on Sunday, the right hander had not yet surrendered a home run in the first 33 innings of his career.The Dodgers didn’t let this streak stand much longer.First baseman Max Muncy hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Joc Pederson followed with a two-run shot of his own in the third to help the Dodgers complete the three-game sweep over the Marlins (36-61) with a 9-0 win on Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 47,469.The performance continued what has been an offensive outpouring for the Dodgers (67-35) since the All-Star break. Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire last_img read more