With their spot in the Sweet 16 secured one day earlier, many of the Wisconsin players gathered Sunday night to learn which team they would face Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif. What they saw was No. 6-seeded Baylor routing No. 3-seeded Creighton, 85-55. That was impressive, considering the Bluejays' seven previous losses were by an average of eight points per game. "You don't beat Creighton by 30," UW coach Bo Ryan said Monday after practice. "But it happened." What caught the eye of the UW players? The 1-3-1 zone the Bears employed to smother Creighton's perimeter threats and the presence of 7-foot-1 sophomore center Isaiah Austin, who controlled the lane area. Austin blocked two shots, pushing his season total to 117 for an average of 3.2 per game. "Isaiah Austin has been blocking shots his whole life," UW sophomore forward Sam Dekker said. "He's always been the tallest kid on the court, with the longest arms." Creighton hit 17 of 31 two-point attempts (54.8%) but misfired from three-point range (5 of 24, 20.8%) and relied too heavily on the perimeter game. "Creighton just didn't shoot well," Dekker said. "They ran into a little bit of a buzz saw there. If Creighton shoots the ball well, that game might be a completely different story." Perhaps, but the Bluejays passed on too many open midrange shots, something UW freshman Nigel Hayes doesn't do, and rarely used pass- and shot-fakes on the perimeter or in the lane against Austin. UW's players work on such fakes every day in practice and routinely display those tools during games. "We always have a method," Ryan said, "and our method is deception if you can. Subtle deception. Ball-fakes. Shot-fakes. "Every team I've ever seen that is successful uses them. So we've got to use them." UW center Frank Kaminsky (13.6 ppg., 52.0% shooting) is adept at using sound footwork and fakes to score inside. "Frank is one of the best pump-faking, footwork finesse players I've ever played with," Dekker said. "And he can use those moves and kind of confuse some guys with moves that are pretty unorthodox. I think Frank can use that to his advantage. "For myself, I've still got to work on pump-faking and taking my time in the post. If we can do that and we can maybe try to get them in foul trouble, that will definitely work in our favor." Austin is second on the team in fouls with 88, an average of only 2.3 per game. He has fouled out just twice this season. "His arms are just...he probably has an 8-foot wingspan," Kaminsky said. "If we're able to get him out of the game that is an advantage for us." The Bears extended their zone away from the basket to counter the three-point shooting of Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge. That duo combined to make only 2 of 9 three-pointers. UW has four starters — Kaminsky, Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser — shooting at least 36.6% from three-point range. Gasser leads the way at 45.6%. "You've just got to try and find some weak spots," Brust, a 38.9% three-point shooter this season, said of the Bears' zone. "You've got to be patient and work it around, try to get movement. Use shot-fakes, ball-fakes. Just keep working it until you get the good one, and when you get the good one you've got to knock it down. "I think we can do a lot of things well. That is a product of coming in here every day and practicing hard and preparing for all different types of teams. "In order to be successful you've got to be able to pass, dribble and shoot. And I think we've got five guys out there all the time that have a good opportunity to find good spots to be successful."
UW focuses on Baylor's zone defense
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Mar 25