March 11, 2009
UW anticipates physical contest with OSU
MADISON, Wis. - At first glance it is hard to believe Ohio State freshman B.J. Mullens is only one year removed from walking the halls of high school. His 7-foot-1 frame is everything but unnoticeable and his presence on the basketball court is even more impressive.
Through the regular season, Mullens was the best in the league by converting 111-of-172 shots (64.5 percent) from the field. During Big Ten play, he was even better as he shot over 70 percent from the field.
During Friday's quarterfinal round, Wisconsin will get its second look at Mullens after only playing the Buckeyes once this season.
In addition to the Buckeyes outstanding freshman center, OSU also has another big man Dallas Lauderdale lurking around the interior. While the two may not quite be interchangeable, there certainly is not a dramatic drop off when one substitutes for the other.
When the two are on the court at the same time, they are that much more lethal.
"Sometimes, no matter what kind of basketball skill you have, that kind of body is impressive," UW sophomore forward Keaton Nankivil said following a recent practice. "When you look at those two they know how to play, too. So it definitely makes a difference when they have those two in the game."
It seems any time the Badgers and Buckeyes square off, it is one of the more physical match-ups of the entire season. And that probably has something to do with both offensive schemes relying on touching the post so much.
"Ever since I've been here, Ohio State has been a great team," UW senior Marcus Landry said. "Freshmen year, having the big guy they had (Terrance Dials), then they brought in (Greg) Oden. They always have somebody in the middle and they always have a tough team.
"No blood no foul."
But fouling is exactly what the Badgers hope to lure the Buckeyes into. As a somewhat undersized frontcourt, only Jon Leuer approaches seven feet, the Badgers feel they can do plenty of damage with their versatility and athleticism not only on the low block, but extending to the perimeter.
By getting the OSU bigs out of their normal comfort zone, the propensity for them to foul grows even stronger, in addition to the pounding that occurs within the interior.
"Coach (Ryan) has always been a big guy on getting people into foul trouble," Nankivil said. "If they're in trouble, then they can't be on the court. Especially with two bigs, where it's easier to get them into foul trouble, that's something that we're going to try to do.
"We want to try to foul everybody out if possible."
Mullens has been whistled for a personal foul 57 times throughout the season, or roughly two per game in only 21 minutes of action. Lauderdale has been even worse. On the year, the sophomore has accrued 71 personal fouls. That equates to 2.44 fouls per game in only 20.4 minutes per game.
"Of course," Landry replied when asked about getting OSU's post players into foul trouble. "Especially guys like Mullens, guys that are going to clog up the paint and things like that. You want to really take it to those guys and make sure they're working on the defensive end."
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