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Balanced scoring leads team to championship

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first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoEVANSTON, Ill. ? This wasn’t supposed to happen.Most teams that lose half of their scoring from theprevious year, including a first-team All-American, the program’s leadingscorer and the highest scoring duo in school history, generally don’t come backthe following year and win conference championships outright.But as they proved again Saturday, the Wisconsinbasketball team is not most teams.In earning an undisputed Big Ten title with a 65-52win over Northwestern, Wisconsin turned in a performance that typified how ateam without much big-name star power or a specified go-to player was able towin the Big Ten.?We didn?t get away from what we?ve done,? seniorforward Brian Butch said. ?When we do get away from what we do, we?re not thatgood.?They did it with balanced scoring.Without All-American Alando Tucker and classmateKammron Taylor to lean on, it was an egalitarian offense for UW for most of theseason. The Badgers ? a team that had a five-game stretch earlier in the BigTen season with a different player scoring 20 points or more in each game ? got20 points from Butch, who in the final regular season conference game of hiscareer, also matched a career high with 14 rebounds.But just like it has all season, Wisconsin didn?tjust get scoring from only one place. Two other Badgers besides Butch (JasonBohannon, 15 points; Marcus Landry, 12) broke the 10-point barrier, and afourth player, Joe Krabbenhoft, ended only one point shy of double digits.?That?s the unique thing about this team,? Butchsaid. ?We just don?t have ? and I kind of sound like a broken record when I sayit ? but we just don?t have one guy that you can key on. ? I think thatexplains how we?ve been all year.?They did it with defense.The Badgers entered Saturday?s game allowing thefewest points per game in the nation, just 54.4 every contest, a defense thatgives up nearly four points less than the second-best team in the Big Ten andranks third nationally in defensive efficiency, according to statistician KenPomeroy.That stifling defense was on display again, as theWildcats scored just 52 points on 59 possessions, an average of just over 0.87points every time down the floor.It was that sort of defense that helped alleviatesome of the burden of losing Tucker and Taylor?s scoring and became theidentity of this Badgers team.“On thedefensive end, they were willing to make that commitment to cover, help, pinchand sink,” Ryan said. “This group, defensively, gave themselves anopportunity to be champions in the Big Ten.”They did it withrebounding.Coming into thegame, the Badgers were one of the better rebounding teams in the Big Ten, outreboundingtheir opponents by an average of just over five per game.The same grittytoughness that shaped the defense also came through in the rebounding game, asthe Badgers pulled down as many offensive rebounds (14) as the Wildcats diddefensively.Four Badgersgrabbed five misses or more, as Wisconsin nearly doubled Northwestern?srebounds, winning the battle 38-21.?Their guys arebig, strong guys and we weren?t able to keep them off of the backboard,?Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said. ?They were getting very goodposition, and they just sort of overpowered us, I thought.?A lot of that wasdue to Butch. The forward dominated the glass and the undersized Northwesternfront line for his 14 rebounds, but he missed a potential career-high for thatstatistic as several loose balls bounced away from him late in the second half.Balanced scoring,defense and rebounding. That was the successful formula for Wisconsin Saturday,and that was the concoction that won the Big Ten championship, even without asuperstar.?Last year I was soconfident, I would say maybe 90 percent in Alando Tucker and 10 percent in us,?Krabbenhoft said. ?This team is a complete team. I?m just glad to be a part ofit.?last_img read more