Sunday, February 10, 2013
By Matt Giles
For perhaps the first time this season, Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren received overwhelming coverage across all national college basketball media platforms. Guarded by Michigan's Mitch McGary in the final 30 seconds of so of the game's second half (a contest eventually won by the Badgers in overtime), Berggren surprised the freshman, who no doubt read the scouting report and thought Berggren would either pop from deep in that scenario, or pass to the opposite wing, and then set a down-screen for Traevon Jackson. Berggren, though, exploited a gap at the top of the key, flushing a jam and drawing a foul, a pivotal offensive sequence for Bo Ryan's team. After the game, a question quickly surfaced: has the senior big been undervalued this season?
While he has played well of late, scoring 29 points combined in the past two games, and shooting 50 percent from within the arc, his offensive profile has been noticeably weak throughout conference play. His Big Ten true shooting percentage is just 45 percent, well off the 55.5 percent he posted from the season's tip, and he is only converting 46 percent of his two-point field goals. Berggren's role has only slightly dipped in his final season, and upon quick glance, it's easy to notice Berggren does not attempt as many threes as he did a year ago, perhaps a consequence of losing a guard, like Jordan Taylor, who can draw help defense and allow Berggren open looks.
However, against Iowa and Michigan, Berggren has been offensively assertive, and it will be interesting if the big's role in Ryan's swing offense begins to expand as the Badgers continue to look for offense. Since Ken Pomeroy began tracking tempo-free statistics in the 2002-03 season, the Badgers have never scored less than one point per possession in Big Ten play ... until this season: just .98 PPP.