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Shooting slump to blame for recent on-court struggles

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first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Bo Ryan era at Wisconsin has been one of unprecedented modern-day success, but with Saturday’s loss to Big Ten doormat Purdue, the current stretch officially became the low-point for the Badger coach, at least statistically.Though it seems eons ago, in Ryan’s first five games as head coach, during the 2001-2002 season, the team lost four of five. That stretch was also the last time UW lost three in a row, until now.And the culprit for the latest defeat was the same, all-too-familiar foe that has dogged Wisconsin throughout the streak: poor shooting.Dismal shooting from the field has been the earmark of the Badgers’ losing streak, as they haven’t managed to shoot over 45 percent since they played Michigan State on Jan. 8. And against Purdue, who enjoyed a decisive advantage inside, UW needed to shoot in the 45-percent range.”In order to do it against a team like this, you have to shoot 40-something percent,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to shoot your percentage. That’s how you overcome some of that inside [pressure].”The common thought is that Wisconsin has become too predictable on offense, as teams believe that Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor are the only true offensive threats.Teams have been treating them accordingly, making their defensive emphasis on stopping the pair and not worrying too heavily about the rest of the lineup. Tucker said he even thought that Purdue was running a “triangle and two” against UW, a defense very rarely seen on the college level.”Yeah, we obviously played off a couple of their guys and tried to get more help [on Tucker and Taylor],” Boilermaker head coach Matt Painter said.The answer to the problem is to have more players step up their scoring, a task decidedly more difficult than it sounds, especially when the players outside of Tucker and Taylor seemingly have been hesitant to shoot the ball. “Guys have to step up with confidence right now,” Tucker said. “I think a lot of us are lacking confidence in our shots right now.”Junior forward Jason Chappell could be the perfect example. After starting the season out as a legitimate shooting threat (putting together three double-digit scoring efforts in four games earlier this year), Chappell has become very tentative to shoot, often looking to dish off even the most open of shots. “The main thing is that when we start missing a couple shots, guys get hesitant,” Tucker said. “You can tell [Chappell] for the last week or so, he has been stutter-stepping and then shooting. He hasn’t been consistent. “It’s been more of a mental battle, an internal battle within himself.”Freshman Joe Krabbenhoft attributes the inability to make buckets to the team not running Ryan’s “swing offense” as smoothly as they had when the season was young.”It’s not just catching and shooting. It’s all the things before that,” Krabbenhoft said. “Just playing with each other, playing off of each other, reading each other, getting that good flow down. That’s where the shots start going.”One message was clear from the Wisconsin players and coaches: not shooting isn’t going to solve the problem.”Don’t stop shooting because that is when everything falls apart,” Tucker said.To their credit, some Badgers haven’t appeared to be gun-shy at all, as senior Ray Nixon has played more aggressively than he has all season during the rough stretch, while Brian Butch hasn’t shown any symptoms of shooting skittishness.”I’ve seen Brian Butch, I’ve seen Ray Nixon, I’ve seen these guys hit those shots and they’re trying,” Ryan said. “And one of these nights, they will [hit them],””Good shooting is contagious, so when we catch fire, we’ll be alright,” Krabbenhoft said.Butch injured again: Sophomore center Brian Butch went down and had to be helped off the court during Saturday’s game with a left ankle injury. The team had no update to his condition after the game.Butch appeared to re-injure the left ankle sprain he suffered Jan. 18 against Ohio State. With just over three minutes remaining in the second half, Butch was guarding the post. As he attempted to defend a lob to Purdue’s Marcus Ware, Butch stepped on Ware’s foot and quickly collapsed to the ground. Butch lay flat on his stomach for several moments, pounding the court in pain. When turned over, he pulled his jersey over his head while the UW medical staff quickly examined him.Butch was then helped off the court and was trying not to put any weight on his left leg while slowly making his way to the bench.If the first-year starter, who has started every game this season, has to miss any significant time, it would be yet another blow to the already thin Badger frontline. The only available player above 6-foot-7 would be 6-foot-10 forward Chappell.last_img read more

Mesut Ozil excited to provide for ‘ice cold’ new boy Alexandre Lacazette

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first_img1 Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil Mesut Ozil cannot wait to start providing the ammunition for “ice cold” Alexandre Lacazette to help fire Arsenal towards Premier League glory next season.The 26-year-old’s protracted transfer from home-town club Lyon was finally confirmed late on Wednesday afternoon.The deal is understood to be a club-record fee which surpasses the £42.4million paid to Real Madrid for Ozil in 2013, and could end up as high as £52million.Lacazette plundered some 37 goals in all competitions during the last campaign and revealed linking up with the likes of German playmaker Ozil and Chile forward Alexis Sanchez was one of the major attractions to joining the Gunners, who will be competing in the Europa League next season having missed out on the top four.Ozil, whose own future remains the subject of speculation with only a year left on his current contract, is relishing the opportunity to create chances for such a clinical finisher, having set up some 42 Premier League goals since moving from Spain.“I am really looking forward to it. He is a very good striker who has scored many goals in Ligue 1, not just this season but in previous seasons too. We are really happy to have such a class striker here with us,” Ozil said on Arsenal Player.“From what I have heard he is meant to be very good, always hungry for goals and ice-cold when he gets into a scoring position. My friends who follow the French league know him well and have told me that I will definitely have fun with him on the pitch.“I hope that he will be able to take us further with his goals. I am sure he is happy to be here and to be able to play with us, and we are pleased to be able to assist him and help him to score as many goals as possible.”Ozil gave little away as to thoughts on his own long-term future in the brief interview with the club’s in-house media, having spent his summer with family in the sun to “build up my strength” after Germany selected a young squad for the Confederations Cup in Russia, allowing their established players an extended break.The 28-year-old World Cup winner is set to be part of the Arsenal tour to Australia and China, though, with Lacazette also expected to make the trip ahead of a home debut in the Emirates Cup at the end of July.Lacazette becomes the Gunners’ second major summer addition following the arrival of left-back Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer from Schalke.Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is expected to further strength the squad before the end of the transfer window, with Monaco’s Thomas Lemar and Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez both said to be targets.However, the arrival of the France forward is also likely to signal departures, with the Gunners now at their full quota of non home-grown players.Defender Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs have both been linked with moves away, along with Spanish forward Lucas Perez and French striker Olivier Giroud, who is said to be wanted by both Everton and West Ham.Arsenal will also look to tie down the future of Sanchez, who was away with Chile at the Confederations Cup where La Roja were beaten by Germany in the final.The 28-year-old is out of contract next summer and there has been reported interest from the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Bayern Munich as well as big-money offers from China.last_img read more