March 12, 2009

Perimeter defense key against OSU

MADISON, Wis. - There is a reason Ohio State sophomore Evan Turner was a unanimous selection to the first team all-Big Ten team earlier this week. He is an exceptional talent and one of the most prolific scorers in the entire league.

Through conference play, Turner averaged 17.3 points (led league), six rebounds (fourth in league) and 4.4 assists (second in league) per game.

He has the innate ability to slash to the rim, have defenders collapse and commit to him when he looks to score and can still dish the rock to the open defender.

That, in short, is what makes guarding the perimeter against OSU so difficult.

Well, that and the fact the Buckeyes also have the Big Ten freshman of the year in William Buford, sharpshooter Jon Diebler and efficient guards Jeremie Stevens and P.J. Hill hawking the backcourt.

Still, with B.J. Mullens and Dallas Lauderdale filling up the lane, guarding the perimeter is something that the Badgers have to do to limit some of the best interior conference players from getting good looks at the rim.

"It's very important," Wisconsin junior Jason Bohannon said in regards to defending the perimeter. "They have great big guys and they can score at their will. We've got to be able to deny them the ball in the post.

"Offensively, we've got to take care of the ball down there. We've got to pump fake and not let them get easy blocked shots and take it the other way."

In UW's first and only meeting with OSU this season, the Buckeyes forced the Badgers into committing only 10 turnovers that led to a meager five points in transition.

At the same rate, the Badgers forced OSU into coughing the ball up 19 times, 11 of which came from Turner and Mullens.

Sure, Turner had the Badgers number by scoring a game high 23 points, but he never seemed comfortable on the perimeter and always looked to drive the lane where multiple Badger defenders collapsed on him.

Outside of Turner, only Buford managed to score in double figures, a number that the Badgers have to be content with as long as the Buckeyes interior presence is not functioning at the level it is capable of.

"It's extremely important, especially when you've got a guy like Turner that can really light it up," Marcus Landry, who scored 17 points in the first meeting against OSU, said in reference to perimeter defense. "If they (UW guards) are playing great defense, it makes it a lot easier on us.

"But maybe if they're playing great defense, then they're (OSU) looking more at going to the post. So it all depends on the way the coach is coaching them that day."

On the season, Mullens and Lauderdale, Ohio State's primary interior players, average 21 and 20.4 minutes per game respectively.

They rank second and third on the team in rebounding for guys that see regular minutes and have the ability to score points on the low block with consistency.

There is no question that interior play is always in Thad Matta's game plan.

"Being in front of the basket, sometimes you are the second line of defense from the perimeter while also having the back of your mind occupied by your guy," UW post player Keaton Nankivil said. "So, when Pop (Trevon Hughes), J-Bo (Jason Bohannon) and Joe Krabbenhoft, if he's guarding a smaller guy and Jordan Taylor are keeping their bigs in front of them, which they do a good job of most of the time, it really just helps the whole defense."

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