Tu Holloway has Mark Lyons. Jared Sullinger has William Buford. Harrison Barnes and Terrence Jones have a slew of players.
Jordan Taylor has . . . Jared Berggren? Ben Brust?
Taylor can’t do it all by himself. This was completely evident against Marquette on Saturday, when Taylor struggled with fouls and turnovers. Marquette kept him under wraps when he was in the game, and he was unable to will the Badgers to a victory.
Taylor’s usage rate is lower than last season, but his efficiency and offensive rating are also down. He’s not drawing as many fouls as he did last season, and he’s shooting below 40 percent from the field and 3-point range. On the other side, there is little doubt that Taylor is one of the best point guards in the country. He takes care of the ball, distributes it effectively and also has the ability to score in different ways.
Last year, though, he had forward Jon Leuer to take some of the pressure off him offensively. Leuer averaged 18.3 points and could also be a go-to-guy when Wisconsin needed a basket in end-game or end-clock situations. Taylor doesn’t have Leuer this year, and no one has really replaced him as a reliable option when Taylor is having an off night.
This is not to belittle Berggren or Brust, but one of them has to step up on the offensive end on a consistent basis in order for Wisconsin to be a top 10 team or a Final Four contender. Berggren has good numbers, but the inside-outside big man has a tendency to go cold at times. He was just 3-for-11 in the loss to Marquette, finishing with eight points. Brust is shooting nearly 43 percent from 3-point range on the season, but he’s only made two of his last 10 outside shots. He didn’t reach double figures in either of the loss to Marquette or North Carolina.
Wisconsin ranks dead last in the country in the number of points it gets from the foul line. Only 10.2 percent of the Badgers’ points are the result of free throws. A low number is typical for a team that relies heavily on the 3-point shot, but Wisconsin had players last year that could get their own shot by attacking the rim.
There isn’t really anyone to do that this season, which leads to defenses focusing on Taylor and him struggling with his efficiency and effectiveness. Naturally, this has been a problem, despite the unorthodox swing offense Bo Ryan’s troops run. The Badgers’ system will allow them to be one of the more efficient offenses in the country, and they’ll get plenty of points out of their sets. When the Badgers need a basket, though, Taylor will need help.
The trend stretches back to last season. Leuer scored at least 20 points on 14 separate occasions – but only one of those games came in a loss. His four lowest-scoring outputs of the year came in defeat.
Essentially, when Taylor wasn’t getting consistent help, Wisconsin struggled. The story is going to be the same this season – unless Berggren or Brust (or someone else) can be a consistent contributor against fellow contenders.
Photo: US Presswire