Men’s Basketball: Wildcats face tough, ‘disciplined’ Badgers’ defense

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Men’s Basketball: Wildcats face tough, ‘disciplined’ Badgers’ defense

Senior guard Alex Marcotullio attempts a layup. The Wildcats will face Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

Senior guard Alex Marcotullio attempts a layup. The Wildcats will face Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

Daily file photo by Kaitlin Svabek

Senior guard Alex Marcotullio attempts a layup. The Wildcats will face Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

Daily file photo by Kaitlin Svabek

Daily file photo by Kaitlin Svabek

Senior guard Alex Marcotullio attempts a layup. The Wildcats will face Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

Josh Walfish, Reporter

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Northwestern has not had much recent success against No. 19 Wisconsin.

The Wildcats have lost 10 of their last 11 matchups with the Badgers with the sole victory coming at home in the 2008-09 season. NU has beaten every single Big Ten team at least once since its last win over Wisconsin.

Bill Carmody and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan have battled each another for 12 years in the Big Ten. Although Ryan has won a majority of those contests, the two coaches know each other very well.

Both teams like to slow the pace down which could actually benefit the depleted NU lineup. Senior guard Alex Marcotullio said the slower pace should help NU settle down and run offense without rushing things. His coach agreed, but cautioned the Badgers have more people who can play in transition than in years past.

“They take their time, and most of their games have been grind it out games,” Carmody said. “That’s probably pretty good for us too at this stage. I’m sure there will be a lot of half-court, but they push it up and they have some guys that can run.”

Wisconsin has the best scoring defense in the Big Ten, allowing about 56 points per game, and has allowed a conference-best 39.4 percent shooting in league play. The most common word used by the NU players and coaches to describe the Badgers’s defense was “disciplined.”

Like most teams coached by Ryan, Wisconsin is very physical and does not stray from their game plan too often. Senior guard Reggie Hearn said that should put more pressure on the NU offense to curb their lost possessions.

“In order to beat them we’re going to have to stay disciplined ourselves on offense — limit our turnovers and hit our open shots,” Hearn said.

Sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski said he noticed Wisconsin being very physical in stopping NU’s backdoor cuts. Most Big Ten teams try and deny the Cats from making those cuts by bumping them off their paths thereby forcing NU to take more open jumpers. Sobolewski said the Cats have to make sure they cut hard through the bumps or hit the open jumpers if they decide to swing around the help-side defender.

Wisconsin’s defense will certainly challenge NU’s offense, which is coming off a 25 percent shooting night against Illinois on Sunday. However, Carmody said the Badgers’ offense may be a bigger challenge for his team after being “a half-step behind on everything” against the Fighting Illini.

In addition, the slow pace of the Badgers’ offense could heighten the importance of the Cats’ shooters especially in a close game.

“They take their time on offense and it puts a little more pressure on each shot from the opponent,” Carmody said. “If you run down the court with them and shoot a fast shot and miss and then they come down and take 30 seconds, it becomes a little more wearisome and stressful for shooters.”

With all the adversity the Cats have faced this season dating back to the suspension of junior JerShon Cobb in September, it would be expected to see the team wear down both physically and mentally. Carmody said his team has not seemed physically fatigued, but the constant talk about the adversity may affect the team’s mental state. However, Marcotullio said this team particularly the seniors still have plenty left in the tank for the stretch run.

“I know us seniors have a lot left to give, and we’re not ready to go down yet,” Marcotullio said. “We’re all ready and willing to fight ,and it’s just a test of our will, just as it has been the whole year.”

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