It’s time to be concerned about the Badgers lack of bench production

·3 min read

The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (15-3, 6-2 Big Ten) are off to an impressive start this season, and are well positioned to contend for a Big Ten title.

However, they’re not without some pretty glaring holes. Perhaps none bigger than the overall lack of bench production.

UW has played 18 games this season, and the Badgers bench has contributed 10 or less points in 14 of them. During Wisconsin’s last six Big Ten match-ups, the bench averaged just 6.5 points per game. Additionally, the Badgers bench only touched double figures once during that stretch (Ohio State).

The Badgers’ usual starting five accounts for almost 85% of the teams scoring this season, and that number has grown even higher in conference play.

Some of this could possibly be explained by Greg Gard having to constantly patch together a different rotation each night due to injuries and illnesses, which has been less than ideal.

Coach Gard has played six players off his bench consistently this season, five of which have received 9.5 minutes or more.

The Reserves

Cincinnati transfer Chris Vogt has been Wisconsin’s most productive member off the bench, averaging 2.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks in 13 minutes per game. But to call Vogt a scoring threat just wouldn’t be accurate because he has a very specific role as a defensive presence and rebounder.

Transfer guard Jahcobi Neath was expected to be a major piece of the bench puzzle entering the season, but has missed eight games and failed to establish a consistent role for UW. This is someone who I think can help provide something they’ve been missing if he’s able to stay on the court.

Freshman point guard Lorne Bowman has shown flashes of a player that can provide a much needed scoring punch off the pine, but has turned the ball over more times (11) than he has assists (9).

Wisconsin native Carter Gilmore has proven capable of giving coach Gard solid, but unspectacular minutes. He’s been adequate on defense, but offensively has shown little to nothing other than the capability to take care of the basketball (4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio).

Ben Carlson was expected to be a major contributor this season, but has fallen short of those expectations. He’s missed time because of Covid-19, and still appears to be making up for lost time due to last season’s back injury.

Jordan Davis has appeared in 16 games this season and has proven he can provide some outside shooting (.450 3PT%), but there are little to no minutes available out on the wing.

The Verdict:

The lack of production for Wisconsin is certainly concerning, and the absence of Tyler Wahl helped illustrate that last night. The overall health and depth of this team may determine just how far this team is able to go.

The drop-off in production has been noticeable, and the Badgers are going to need more out of their reserves on both ends of the floor to keep the starters fresh.

In Big Ten play only Chris Vogt is averaging double digit minutes per game off the bench, so starter fatigue could certainly come into play as the season wears on.

The bench needs to continue improving and understanding exactly what their roles are relative to who they’re on the court with.

I do feel there is some legitimate reason for concern here. If they’re able to remain healthy, I think we’ll see this rotation tighten up a little and clearer roles can finally be established. Simply put, UW needs more from this group.

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