Getting back on track at Wisconsin a tough task for Boilers
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or email@example.com March 2, 2013 7:28PM
Iowa guard Devyn Marble (4) and center Gabriel Olaseni (0) put pressure Purdue guard Ronnie Johnson (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (AP Photo/ The Gazette, Brian Ray) MAGAZINES OUT
Updated: April 4, 2013 7:02AM
From the quality of Wisconsin’s teams, to the coaching, to the style of play, to the size and passion of the crowds, the Kohl Center has been a daunting environment for visiting teams.
It’s the only Big Ten venue where no player on Purdue’s roster has won. The last three senior classes won at least once in every conference arena.
So the Boilermakers (13-15, 6-9 Big Ten) will try to break into that win column against the Badgers on Sunday, after back-to-back losses in Madison, last winning in 2009.
This Wisconsin edition has gone 15-2 at home this season, with its only conference loss coming against Michigan State. And, oh, by the way, it’s senior day for the No. 17 Badgers (20-8, 11-4), who have gone 11-0 in such games under coach Bo Ryan, winning by an average of 17.5 points.
“Bo Ryan’s got them rolling right now, they just have a really good team,” senior guard Dru Anthrop said. “The Kohl Center’s always one of those places that you go to, you better be ready to play, because they’re going to be loud, they’re going to be in your face.”
Once again, the Badgers are near the top of the standings — they’ve never finished worse than tied for fourth place in any of Ryan’s 11 seasons — even in contention for this regular season’s conference title. Once again, the whole exceeds the seeming sum of the parts, a collection of players who don’t post overwhelming statistics but simply win games.
“It’s just one of those programs that should be a model for a lot of people, for doing things the right way and just grinding out victories,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team must win its last three games to end the regular season above .500.
“They’ve always played well together. They’re a good defensive team, they’re a good rebounding team. … They’re very efficient on the offensive end, and this year is no different.”
Wisconsin — which has won three straight games, and six of its last seven — leads the nation in fewest turnovers committed per game, averaging 9.4. Purdue has faced a season-long struggle to take care of the ball, with the issue particularly prominent in its last three road games; the Boilermakers had 16 turnovers at Iowa, 17 at Indiana and 17 at Illinois.
“We talked about it before the game, we’re not going to go on the road, especially in a low-possession game like the game at Iowa, turn the ball over 16 times and expect to win,” said Painter, whose team averages 13.0. “… We have to give ourselves a chance no matter who we play, and our last three road games, we just haven’t done that.”