Per usual, Wisconsin basketball will rely on defense as its calling card
Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin basketball program has built a sustainable, winning culture around its trademark defensive principles over the past two decades.
UW prides itself on always being in the right place at the right time, making things difficult for its opponents by following the rules of its system. Here is a link to a story that teaches coach Gard’s defensive practices.
Thus far, the Badgers have compiled a 2-0 record, winning games at home against South Dakota and Stanford at American Family Field in the Brew City Battle. And while there have been some encouraging moments offensively, Wisconsin is winning games the best way they know how – with defense.
According to KenPom, Wisconsin basketball is No. 26 in adjusted defensive efficiency to begin the 2022-23 campaign.
“They understand what we need to be good at and what’s non-negotiable,” said Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard. “Offense comes and goes.”
Through the first two games, Wisconsin’s stingy defense is holding its opponents to just 38.4% from the field and 9.7% from beyond the arc.
There are several factors responsible for the impressive start. Despite lacking the size we’re accustomed to seeing, UW is making up for its deficiencies by leaning on its defensive versatility and ability to switch seemingly any matchup.
“This group knows that our strength is in our toughness and our grittiness, said Gard. “That’s embedded in the fiber of our program. To stray from that would be foolish.”
Wisconsin Basketball defensive standouts
Players like Chucky Hepburn and Tyler Wahl are already considered elite defenders at their respective positions. But we’ve also seen quality defensive efforts on the wing from Max Klesmit, whose shown an impressive motor, and Jordan Davis. Not to mention Carter Gilmore has played with great energy off the bench and hasn’t been afraid to mix it up and dive on the floor after a loose ball.
With the added weight, junior big man Steven Crowl has begun establishing himself as a better rebounder/interior defender. The 7-foot center has already blocked five shots in 2022, just one season removed from swatting nine in 33 games as a starter. He also hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds against the Stanford Cardinals last week – one of the country’s biggest teams, according to KenPom.
Wisconsin’s defensive-minded brand of basketball might not be flashy, but it’s their calling card, and it gets the job done. Albeit a small sample size, the early returns on that end of the floor lead me to believe the Badgers will surprise some people this season.
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