Ughh. I must admit watching that game lulled me to sleep. Waiting for a 2nd half rally that never happened made my eyelids tired and I was in dreamland before this one was over. But I went back this morning to watch the end, already knowing the result, to offer some notes. This was a hard one to find three things I enjoyed seeing and a hard one to limit to three things I did not enjoy.
3 Things I Liked:
- Jaxon Kohler looking for his shot. It should tell you all you need to know about this game that this is the first thing I came up with. But the second-year player who has recently come back from injury is making it clear that he is going to be a part of this offense and force Izzo to play him. Last night, he took six FGs, making three of them. On the other hand, Mady Sissoko and Carson Cooper combined to go 1-5, and two of those misses were consecutive missed layups by Cooper after getting offensive rebounds. Not exactly a drawn-up play. I am not going to go so far as to say that I predict a starting lineup change, but I do foresee more minutes coming Kohler’s way.
- AJ Hoggard picking up his team. In a game where the shot was not falling for Tyson Walker, and Jaden Akins season-long slump continued, Hoggard had one of his better offensive games of the season. His team-high 19 points was a season high for him. He continues to be shooting the deep ball well, making both of his attempts; if only he would shoot a higher volume. And he had zero turnovers. I keep saying that Hoggard and Walker are among the best backcourt duos in the country, and if they would both play to their potential in the same game, I would be right more often than not.
- Percentages. I guess to fill out the list, I will give a nod to MSU hitting 83% of their FTs and 43% of their three-pointers. More FT attempts would have been nice, and it is surprising to have seen this team take so few deep shots, especially in a game where they were down big. MSU took 14 triples, less than a quarter of their total FGs. By contrast, the Badgers took nearly half of their shots from downtown. Keep making your FTs and 3s. We know by now the low-post points are not to be relied on.
3 Things I Disliked:
- The twin towers. I really could tab this as the rotation in general, and I know that the first-half foul trouble that MSU found themselves in was a factor in this, but if I can never see Sissoko and Cooper on the floor at the same time, I would be a happy person. They are the exact same player that can both only do the same two things: set screens at the top of the key and dunk alley-oops. Having them both on the court together means one of them is going to do neither of those things. When Cooper came out to set the screen, Hoggard wasn’t rolling around it to lob it up to Sissoko; those plays usually happen with the lob pass going back to the screener as he gets left alone by both defenders, his and the one he screened. So this just left the Mali Mauler standing around hoping for a rebound to fall his way. Put Booker in with one of them instead as he can at least sneak out for a jumper.
- Tre Holloman taking one shot. The primary backcourt substitute played 17 minutes last night and you are telling me he only took one shot? I don’t understand if it is a confidence thing as we have seen him catch fire, and on the season, he is shooting over 43% on his threes and over 45% overall. He definitely had more than one opportunity to shoot last night. And if it is not a confidence thing, then is it a coaching thing? Is Izzo telling him to look to be more of a facilitator? That would be a mistake.
- Rebounding. One of the more upsetting themes of this season, along with slow starts, continued to rear its ugly head last night. Wisconsin won the battle of the boards 35-25 including a 12-8 edge in offensive rebounds. We used to give up a lot of turnovers but would dominate on the glass. This season, it has totally reversed. I question if I would rather go back to the old way. Which would you prefer?
- Bonus dislike: the FS1 ticker. Hey, it is not breaking news after 20 minutes, not in this age of the internet. I did not need to see the blinking red notification on the bottom of the screen the whole game. No one watching MSU vs. Wisconsin hoops needs to be reminded 100 times that um has a new football coach.
Well, that is it. MSU is back below .500 in Big Ten play. Should be an easy win to get back to par on Tuesday night with um coming to the Breslin for a late game. Let’s get the hate ready.