Film Room: Wisconsin’s offense against Providence

·4 min read

Wisconsin came up short in their first test of the 2021-22 season as the Badgers fell to Providence 63-58 in a low-scoring affair on Monday night.

It was a postgame box score that once again made it look like the Badgers (2-1) were searching for offensive answers against the first difficult defense they have faced all year. The film, however, doesn’t fully support that narrative.

Neither does a deeper statistical look at the shots Wisconsin was able to generate. Shot Quality, a company that specializes in analyzing the quality of shots that teams get within a game, put out an eye-opening postgame report. Based on the shots that both teams took, Wisconsin was expected to win by 15 points, but ended up losing by 5:

The Badgers went just 5-27 (18.5%) from distance, with three of the five makes coming from senior guard Brad Davison. Were they all excellent looks that simply didn’t go down? No, but there were a healthy chunk of jumpers that you would take within the offensive flow that simply didn’t fall.

Wisconsin missing their best offensive player in Jonathan Davis certainly contributed to the overall scoring output, but this early in the season process is more important than results. There were many times on Monday night where it felt like the Badgers’ process was sound, but the results left a lot to be desired.

Here is a look at some of those offensive processes, both good and bad, from Wisconsin’s loss to Providence:

Steven Crowl struggled with the physicality of Nate Watson

No Badger struggled more with the uptick in physicality between Wisconsin’s first two games and this one than Steven Crowl. The sophomore 7-footer added strength this offseason, but there was obviously a long way to go in him being physically ready for the challenges of the Big Ten and high-major college basketball.

Providence forward Nate Watson has 25 pounds on Crowl, and the strength difference forced the Badgers post entries to be a little beyond where they would have liked. Crowl had difficulty backing down on the bigger Watson, and even when he did get to a solid drop step like in this example, the shot- blocking threat of the Friars caused indecision.

It was a mixed bag against the zone, but when Wisconsin stuck to their plan it worked

Here is Wisconsin’s best possession against the high 2-3 zone that Providence mixed in throughout the night. The Badgers set up in a 1-3-1 spacing look, with the goal to let either Crowl or Tyler Wahl make a decision at the free-throw line after an entry pass.

Other possessions against the zone ended with Wisconsin missing a number of open threes or committing silly turnovers.

Old reliable: swing action

Without their best individual creator on the floor, Wisconsin had to rely nearly fully on set action and movement to generate good offense in the half court setting.

Here is a nice example of Wisconsin running their swing offense, beginning with Chucky Hepburn feeding to Wahl and UCLA cutting off of him, and ending with Wahl deciding to take matters into his own hands instead of forcing it to the weakside action.

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