Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Josh Gasser’

‘Need to rededicate ourselves’

March 13, 2011 Comments off

INDIANAPOLIS — It took little more than three minutes for Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan to sense something wasn’t right about his team Friday against Penn State.

With the Badgers trailing 10-0 in their second round game at Conseco Fieldhouse, he called for an early timeout and made a couple substitutions. As play resumed, Ryan stood in front of senior forward Keaton Nankivil and freshman Josh Gasser.

“I just can’t believe that you can’t compete better than that,” a noticeably frustrated Ryan said to his two underperforming starters.

Two hours later, Nankivil sat in front of his locker fielding questions from reporters. Once again, Wisconsin had made an early exit from the Big Ten tournament, suffering an ugly 36-33 loss to Penn State.

With a week to prepare for the NCAA tournament, Nankivil was faced with the question of what they needed to do to get ready, and whether there was enough time to do so.

“I think we have a lot of guys in here, we need to rededicate ourselves, especially for us seniors,” Nankivil said. “At this point, it’s one-and-done for your college career.

“There better be enough time, because we don’t have much time left.”

Between sitting on the bench early in the game and sitting at his locker following the loss, Nankivil walked off the court along with his teammates, dejected after seeing a solid defensive effort stymied by an awful shooting performance offensively.

When asked after the game how he felt, Nankivil thought of that walk.

“To be honest with you, I walked off the court about as frustrated as I’ve ever been today,” he said.

It was the first time the Badgers had lost consecutive games since a six-game losing streak in January 2009.

On the other side of the room was Gasser, a guard who despite starting for the Badgers, is relatively inexperienced, especially when it comes to postseason play.

For the freshman out of Port Washington, Wis., the question came up about what was going on with the team that could allow them to give up its highest point total in years one game and score its fewest in years the next.

Put simply, he just didn’t know.

According to his head coach, it didn’t have to do with focusing too much on one thing.

“The story of the guy, the coach who asked one of his players how his grades went, and the kid said, three Fs and a D, do you know the answer the coach came back with? He says, “I’ve got the answer for you. You spent way too much time on one class,” said Ryan. “Defensively we couldn’t have done things any worse than we did in our last game. So before you ask did we spend all our time on defense, no, but it might have looked like that.”

Another starter, Tim Jarmusz, remained confident in the Badgers’ ability to come back in a week and begin a strong postseason run.

Despite looking a lot like recent Wisconsin teams that have struggled late in the regular season before making early exits from the postseason, Jarmusz insisted that it would not happen again.

“It’s a new year; it’s not going to be the same, it’s not last year,” he said. “We’re a good team, we can bounce back and we will. I know we will.

“This is a good team with a bunch of good guys. We’ll be out ready to play. This is the last go round for at least the six of us and we’re going to make the most of it.”

Badgers upset No. 1 Buckeyes … (Again)

February 14, 2011 Comments off

MADISON — The Kohl Center, where streaks come to die.

One of the 17,230 fans packed inside the building on Dayton Street made a sign Saturday with the above statement. Another read “24-1.”

After a hard-fought 40 minutes, they were right on both accounts.

Behind an incredible second-half performance by junior guard Jordan Taylor, one that came when his team needed it most, Wisconsin handed No. 1 Ohio State its first loss, 71-67. With the win, the UW became just the eighth school since 1969-70 to defeat the AP No. 1 team in both football and basketball during the same academic year.

“It’s Madison, Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan of the upset. “It’s been said a lot of times about what this campus is like, what this school is all about. … Like I was telling people before, I think the basketball thing is a little different in February with Ohio State being No. 1.

“I don’t know about football rankings, and Ohio State was No. 1, I understand that. I just think in our sport, to be [24-0], you’ve had to win in November, December, January and into February. So, I kind of like ours because it just happened. I loved football’s because I was there at the game. It’s just all good for the school.”

Last time a school upset the nation’s No. 1 team in both sports? Florida, in 2006-07, also over Ohio State.

Heading into the matchup, Keaton Nankivil and the Badgers talked about looking to get off to a hot start and maintain a high level of intensity throughout, something that worked tremendously for the football team back on October 16.

Instead, the basketball version took a little different trajectory.

After a highlight montage from that victory at Camp Randall pumped up the crowd just before tipoff, Wisconsin jumped out to a fairly hot start, building a 12-6 lead through the first 6 1/2 minutes of play. Unlike the football team, however, that hot start did not translate into a dominant wire-to-wire victory.

In fact, the Badgers fell behind by as many as 15 points with 13:21 to play in the second half, stunning the home crowd. The next trip down the floor, trailing 47-32, Taylor hit a floater in the lane that sparked a 15-0 run to tie it.

“You have to give Wisconsin a ton of credit,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. “We got that lead and had some great looks, I thought, but it just kind of went in and out on us. It flipped, we started missing shots and they started making shots.”

Just like that, in a matter of four minutes, the Badgers took what looked to be a sure blowout and flipped it into the type of back-and-forth battle it had been throughout the first half. Only, they weren’t done there.

After dropping behind once again by four points with 7:40 to play, the Badgers tied it at 55 just 42 seconds later on a Mike Bruesewitz 3-pointer. Over the next 2 1/2 minutes, Wisconsin reeled off nine unanswered for its largest lead of the game at 62-55.

Now, not only was Ryan’s squad not going to be blown out, it was in control against the nation’s best. And while Taylor’s 21 second-half points stand out, it was a true team effort that got them there.

“When we were down, I don’t think things really changed,” Taylor said. “They made a run, and we knew we had a run in us. … We eventually we started getting stops and started making plays and everybody made a big play. Not one person didn’t.”

Ohio State kept things interesting over the game’s final minutes, but with the raucous crowd behind it, Wisconsin would not relinquish its lead.

Despite their best efforts, William Buford‘s 21 points and Jared Sullinger‘s 19 point and 12 rebounds just weren’t enough. Despite all the talk surrounding Sullinger as a national player of the year candidate, he and Buford could not do it alone.

“Our game plan [was] to kind of limit his touches, because when he gets it down there, he is pretty much unstoppable,” said Jon Leuer of Sullinger. “It is hard to score if you don’t have the ball, and that is what we were trying to do with him.”

Taylor, who struggled in the first half, finished with a game-high 27 points and seven assists against just one turnover. Leuer, Bruesewitz and Josh Gasser joined him in scoring double digits, with 27 of the points between the four coming from beyond the arc.

As the clock ticked to zero, fans stormed the court, mobbing the Badgers for the second time in four months following a thrilling victory over the Buckeyes.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Taylor said. “We were at the football game when they beat Ohio State and a few of us got to go down on the field. Just to be in another court rusher game like that, similar to Duke last year, it was unbelievable.

“It’s something you remember forever.”

 

Evans puts on show in victory over Boilermakers

February 3, 2011 Comments off

MADISON — As usual, Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor dominated the Badgers’ stat sheet Tuesday night against the Boilermakers.

But on a night when a blizzard turned the University of Wisconsin campus into a snow globe, it was Wisconsin’s lone Arizona native that stole the spotlight in the 66-59 victory over Purdue.

Sophomore swingman Ryan Evans delivered by far his best performance of the season, and one that ranks right up there among the best in his young career.

Something seemed to spark Evans on the night, as he continued to improve as the game went along. When asked about it, he attributed his energy to teammate Wquinton Smith and UW Chancellor Biddy Martin.

“It’s been a rough year for me,” Evans said. “But [my coaches and teammates] continuing to believe in me, I knew that something had to get me going. I think one of the big things in the second half was Q — Q got in a little toss up with [Lewis] Jackson — and Biddy, I don’t know if Biddy’s in here but Biddy announcing that we don’t have school tomorrow, that got the fans going some.

“It felt real good, and hopefully I just can continue.”

Evans shot 5-of-9 on the night for 10 points — his fifth career double-digit performance and first of the season — while grabbing one rebound and one steal. But the numbers on the box score hardly do Evans’ performance justice.

After scoring four points in nine first-half minutes, Evans hit three of the biggest shots of the night in the second half.

With his team trailing by six with 10 minutes to go, Evans slammed home a lob from Taylor, electrifying the crowd and completely changing the momentum of the game. But that dunk was only the beginning.

“Any time you can get a guy who can get the crowd off its feet like Ryan can — that dunk was big,” Taylor said. “It was probably almost perfect timing. It couldn’t get any better than that, it got the crowd back into it.”

With the crowd back behind them, the Badgers battled the Boilermakers in a back-and-forth game over the final 10 minutes, with a handful of plays by Evans putting Wisconsin over the top.

In the final minute, as UW trailed by one following a layup by Purdue guard D.J. Byrd, Evans got the ball just inside the lane and without hesitation, pulled up for the two-point jumper. As it went through with 50 seconds remaining, Evans gave the Badgers the lead back, and one they would not relinquish.

“Those are the shots that he can hit,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “That’s a very high percentage shot for him. So it wasn’t a surprise. If you look at the baskets he made last year, those are the types of shots that he shoots a very high percentage on.

“Looks good coming through the bottom of the net, because that means it makes the scoreboard move.”

With two big second half shots to his credit, Evans had more than done his part, especially considering he entered the game averaging just 2.7 points per game on the year and 0.8 points per contest in Big Ten play. But he still was not done.

After a Josh Gasser free throw gave Wisconsin a four-point lead with 31 seconds to play, Evans took the ball away from E’Twaun Moore on the other end. Evans’ steal set up a pair of Taylor free throws, which all but sealed the deal.

Finally, in a fitting end that he could not have scripted better himself, Evans delivered the game’s final points to give the Badgers the 66-59 victory.

Following a long rebound off a Moore missed three, Taylor found Evans streaking to the basket all alone. Once again, the crowd erupted as Evans threw down an emphatic breakaway dunk.

“We’ve been talking all year round about how we have guys that people might not think twice about just because they might not be the big names,” Taylor said. “Ryan, we’ve been saying what he can give to this team all year long. It was just a little show tonight, he can probably even add from there.”

 

Gasser forced game-sealing turnover at Marquette

December 12, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Growing up in Port Washington, just 35 minutes north of Milwaukee, UW freshman Josh Gasser was a Marquette fan. As a Madison native, Marquette freshman Vander Blue was more familiar with Wisconsin basketball.

By a twist of fate, and Blue’s own decision making, the two squared off Saturday at the Bradley Center. Both in the starting lineup, Blue wore No. 2 in the blue and gold uniform for which Gasser once cheered, while Gasser donned his red No. 21 jersey for the Badgers.

As the final buzzer sounded and Wisconsin headed home with the 69-64 victory, it was clear Gasser was the perfect fit for the Badgers, while Blue may have been wishing he’d brought some big men along with him down I-94.

“Josh is happy to be a Badger. Couldn’t wait to be one. Didn’t have a scholarship for awhile, gets a scholarship,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “Hasn’t said a word — just goes through every drill, and when the drill’s over, ‘Josh did this.’

“Then I look at practice tapes and look at efficiency and things about positioning, he’s not going to wow you with a 360. But he can do a lot of things to put you on the left-hand side.”

The two starters nearly mirrored each other on the stat sheet.

Gasser played 30 minutes, scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting, grabbed two rebounds, dished two assists and grabbed one steal. Blue added seven points for Marquette in 29 minutes, while pulling down three rebounds and collecting one assist and one steal.

While Blue’s stats are slightly more impressive in the box score, the key difference comes on each player’s highlight of the game.

Blue’s first half steal led to an impressive two-handed breakaway dunk on the other end, which cut Wisconsin’s lead to 28-25. Gasser shined in the game’s final moments, however, as he split Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom, knocking an attempted dribble hand-off out of bounds off Buycks with 2.6 seconds left.

“I didn’t even look at the official because they were trying to foul — they were up three,” MU head coachBuzz Williams said. “Then when I did look at him he said, ‘Turnover.’ We were looking for a handoff and fade screen, which is what we had done the previous possession.”

On the previous possession, the Badgers were burned by that play, as Jimmy Butler connected from beyond the arc to cut the lead to just three points.

This time, Gasser didn’t even let Marquette get the shot off.

“I jumped it, got a hand on the ball and maybe bumped him a little bit, but nothing big,” Gasser said. “It hit right off his leg and was our ball. If it would’ve been a foul, so be it. It was a big play for us.”

True to form, Gasser’s head coach kept him grounded as the freshman talked to reporters outside the locker room after the game.

“Josh, you’re not that good yet,” Ryan quipped on his way out the door.

Ryan may have had a point — Gasser certainly has plenty of room for improvement — but one thing is clear: Gasser is happy to have switched to the other side of the rivalry.

Wisconsin too strong for Marquette

December 11, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — They’re not sexy, and they aren’t going to wow you. They’ve never been known as one of the more athletic teams in the nation either.

But the Badgers are big, strong and aggressive, and that made the difference as Wisconsin held off Marquette, 69-64, in a hard-fought battle Saturday at the Bradley Center.

Just minutes into the second half, senior forward Jon Leuer picked up two quick fouls, giving him three for the game and sending him to the bench. After Darius Johnson-Odom connected on two free throws, Wisconsin led by a slim 36-34 margin with its leading scorer watching from the sideline.

While the situation did not look promising for UW, not only did the Badgers not struggle without their star, they actually extended the lead to as much as 48-39 over the next six minutes.

“That was big,” Leuer said. “It’s frustrating when you get in foul trouble because you want to be out there helping the team, but … they all stepped up, and that was fun. I was a cheerleader there on the sideline for a little bit. It was fun to see those guys step up and produce for us.”

Playing without Leuer is nothing new for the Badgers, of course. Last year, the 6-foot-10 forward missed a significant portion of the Big Ten schedule due to injury, and Wisconsin stayed afloat without him.

Leuer’s fellow senior forward, Madison native Keaton Nankivil was particularly impressive as Leuer sat on the bench. Nankivil scored Wisconsin’s first six points following Leuer’s third foul, while grabbing a pair of rebounds over the same stretch.

Nankivil saw the opportunity presented by Leuer’s absence, and took full advantage when his team needed it most.

“That’s something we work on all the time is taking advantage of opportunities,” Nankivil said. “I think when Jon went out, they might have focused on putting that pressure on a little bit harder. A couple of the possessions, we were in shot clock situations, they were looking to pressure our guards and maybe run and jump.

“Two of the plays were off hand offs that I decided to keep when they might’ve been looking to pressure our guards and we’ve just got to step on them.”

Squaring off with their in-state rivals Saturday, the Badgers used their superior size and strength and translated it into dominance on the boards, especially on the offensive end.

Wisconsin outrebounded Marquette 32-28 overall, including a 15-10 edge in offensive rebounds. While MU did post an 18-17 advantage on the defensive boards, the home team only grabbed three more rebounds on UW misses than the Badgers did themselves.

As a result, Wisconsin dominated in second-chance points with a 21-9 margin.

“The idea is either you can put it right back after a pump fake or you get it out and we make them work again,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “Plus, we know what it does mentally to the other team.”

Sophomore Mike Bruesewitz was particularly impressive on both the offensive and defensive glass, grabbing four rebounds on each end for a total of eight for the game. Nankivil also pulled down five rebounds (two offensive), while Leuer had six, four of which came on the offensive end.

The best example of the Badgers’ dominance on the boards came during a stretch in the final seven minutes of the game. Following a missed jumper by Marquette, Leuer grabbed the defensive board with 6:34 to go in the second half.

On the other end, Rob Wilson missed a jumper 24 seconds later before grabbing his own offensive rebound. Twenty-three seconds later, Leuer missed a jumper and Ryan Evans cleaned up the offensive glass.

After another 23 seconds ran off the clock, Jimmy Butler was called for two fouls in six seconds. Leuer finally ended the possession with 5:12 remaining, hitting a jumper on an assist from Bruesewitz.

Down the stretch, however, Marquette cut the lead and made things interesting. While the Badgers continued to rebound well, one of their usual strengths — free throw shooting — betrayed them.

With 44 seconds remaining, Wilson missed one of two free throws, leaving it at a seven-point game. Following two points on the other end, Jordan Taylor missed a free throw of his own, giving Marquette the ball back down six with 32 seconds to go.

Taylor would shoot six more free throws over the final 20 seconds, though, hitting five of them to seal the road victory.

“I was disappointed I missed the first one,” Taylor said. “So I just wanted to kind of get up there and knock the next two down really put it away.”

Leading by one point with 1:13 to go at UNLV, the Badgers failed to score again before ultimately losing by a three-point margin. In Orlando against Notre Dame, the game was tied with 2:01 remaining before Wisconsin lost by seven points.

Apparently the third time is the charm for Wisconsin in tight road games, as the Badgers managed to hold off a late rally by their in-state rivals.

“They weren’t frazzled,” Ryan said. “The great advantage is we played in Vegas, in a possession-per-possession game. That’s how we walk away with this win today.”

Not only did the Badgers get a road win, they added what certainly should be a resume win down the line. Come tournament time, a win on the road against a Big East opponent like Marquette should carry plenty of weight.

Count MU head coach Buzz Williams among those impressed by Wisconsin.

“It’s the best team they’ve had since I’ve been here,” Williams said. “I don’t think the world knows it now, but they will.”

Leuer dishes 7 assists in victory

November 17, 2010 Comments off

MADISON – Knowing that Jon Leuer could put big numbers against its smaller lineup Tuesday night, North Dakota frequently double teamed the Wisconsin big man.

Leuer countered by showing off his equally impressive passing skills.

“Our goal with that was trying to make him work,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “He’s obviously extremely talented. Him and [Jordan] Taylor, we wanted to limit. We knew we weren’t going to shut them out, but limit their looks at the basket.”

The Fighting Sioux were more effective in limiting Jordan Taylor, as the junior guard added just 10 points on the night for the Badgers, on 4-of-7 shooting. Leuer still managed to put up his points, leading all scorers with 22 on 6-of-10 from the floor.

Most impressive, though, were Leuer’s career-high seven assists.

“He could’ve had 10 assists,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “I thought he did a great job of seeing the floor and not forcing things. He’ll need that against some other opponents that we play. He’ll see some of the same things, but we know he can pass.”

While he led the way with seven assists, Leuer was certainly not the only unselfish player on the night for the Badgers.

Wisconsin finished with 20 assists on 31 made baskets, while shooting 62 percent (31-for-50) from the floor on the night.

After Leuer, guards Josh Gasser and Taylor each contributed four assists, while Jared Berggren had two. Nankivil, Tim Jarmusz and Ryan Evans each added one assist apiece.

“They’re such a good passing team, whether you play them zone or man, their bigs do a tremendous job of seeing over the top of people,” Jones said. “We don’t have traditional Big Ten size, so those passes were probably a little bit easier for them tonight.”

It’s been well documented early in the season how much Leuer has improved from last year, thanks in large part to his participation with the USA Select Team.

Most of the time, however, the focus with Leuer is on his scoring ability — both inside and out — and his ability to crash the boards. Little attention is given to the 6-foot-10 forward’s ability to find open teammates.

“It’s kind of hard to work on your passing, I feel like that’s just like the more you play in open gym games, the more repetitions you get, you see things a little better,” Leuer said. “That’s what I was able to do tonight was just read the defense and make the play. Make the right play, hopefully.

“That’s just basically it. Reading the defense and making plays.”

When Leuer read the North Dakota defense, he found fellow senior forward Keaton Nankivil open more often than any other player.

As a result, Nankivil converted three times on Leuer assists, twice for dunks and once from beyond the arc. On the night, Nankivil finished with 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting.

“A lot of it had to do with how well Jon was reading that double team right out of the gates,” Leuer said. “I think they decided that they were going to double the post, and Jon did a great job of finding everybody.”

Notebook: Gasser has historic debut

November 15, 2010 Comments off

MADISON – When asked about the kind of impact Josh Gasser could have, assistant coach Greg Gard said Wisconsin did not recruit him to sit on the bench.

Gasser didn’t wait too long to show why.

In his collegiate debut, the point guard from Port Washington scored 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out three assists. Gasser also grabbed one steal against one turnover.

“He took care of the ball, he made great decisions,” head coach Bo Ryan said. “People will remember the points, but he did some other things pretty well.”

In just one game at Wisconsin, the 6-foot-3 guard has put his name in the record books, just behind Rashard Griffith.

With his 21-point debut, Gasser ranks second behind Griffith, who scored 27 on Nov. 27, 1993, in his first career collegiate game.

“Obviously that’s going to help his confidence level and that’s going to be great for us down the road,” Jordan Taylor said. “We knew what Josh could do, and we’ve been talking about that since the season started about guys having to prove themselves. He took a step toward doing that tonight.

“He almost had a double-double and the second-most points for a debut in Badger history. Maybe he’s the next like Devin Harris or something like that.”

What could make Gasser an essential piece to the Badgers offense, though, is his ability to grab nine rebounds in 26 minutes at the guard position.

As long as he continues to take care of the ball and play confident, aggressive basketball, Gasser will continue to see minutes, even when Rob Wilson returns. Gasser’s aggressive style showed in the 10 free throw attempts and the fact that six of his nine rebounds came on the offensive end.

“I always want to try and get my rebounds,” Gasser said. “I’ve always been pretty good at that in my career. I knew I could bring that to our team.

“I was just trying to do whatever I could out there to help us.”

Of course, Gasser’s impressive debut did not come without its teaching points.

As impressive as the freshman point guard was on the offensive end, his defense left something to be desired at times, as noted by his head coach.

“He got a lesson about a guy hitting a three and then hitting another one and then hitting another one, and not making a guy move off a spot or make a guy put the ball on the floor,” Ryan said. “So we guarded the three much better. They got into a little rhythm there, but he got some help from his teammates. Plus, he recognized an earlier pick up.”

Smith impressive in first career start

He had just one point in 17 minutes of play, but Wquinton Smith showed what he could contribute to the Badgers if given regular playing time this season.

Smith grabbed five rebounds, all on the offensive end, while dishing out three assists and turning the ball over just once. He picked up just one personal foul in the game as well, while going 1-for-2 at the free throw line.

“His shot didn’t go down, but he did the other things,” Ryan said. “I thought defensively he chased on the screens pretty well, manned up on his guy, got on the glass, was opportunistic. He’s just hungry to contribute. You can’t go wrong with those kind of guys.”

Bruesewitz continues to impress offensively

When putting together a defensive gameplan for stopping the Badgers, the first goal has to be limiting Jon Leuer‘s effectiveness. After that, Taylor is the secondary focus.

As for Rob Wilson and Keaton Nankivil, opponents are familiar with their names as well. After his impressive debut, Gasser is sure to get plenty of attention as well.

But not many people are going to expect Mike Bruesewitz to knock down outside shots the way he did Sunday.

“Mike looked like J-Bo out there for a stretch from last year,” Taylor said, referring to graduated guard Jason Bohannon. “I don’t think he hit the rim.”

Bruesewitz went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc as he scored 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the floor. His one basket that did not come via the three ball was perhaps the most impressive.

After hitting a couple open shots from the outside, Bruesewitz shot faked and drove around a defender to the rim for the easy bucket. It’s just one of a few things the sophomore appears ready to bring to the UW offense this season.

“He read the defensive player, that’s in our shooting drills,” Ryan said before adding some humor about Bruesewitz’s much talked about new look. “But I think the biggest key in the offseason was he felt a few times last year that he was open and he wasn’t getting the ball. So he wanted to make sure he was seen better this year.

“You can’t miss the Brueser out there. You’re going to find him.”