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No. 2 Wisconsin didn’t get the ending it wanted Saturday, but that can change in 2015

Apr 6, 2014, 2:09 AM EDT

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Last Saturday night Wisconsin junior center Frank Kaminsky proved to be the one matchup No. 1 Arizona had no answer for, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the Badgers’ one-point win in the West regional final. And with No. 7 Kentucky forced to play without the injured Willie Cauley-Stein in Saturday’s national semifinal, many wondered if this would be the case for the Midwest Region champions as well.

However that would not be the case, with John Calipari utilizing multiple defenders to limit Kaminsky to eight points on 4-for-7 shooting in Kentucky’s 74-73 victory.

Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle and even Alex Poythress saw time defending the versatile big man, and they were able to limit the comfortable areas in which Kaminsky got his offensive touches. This was a much better defensive effort than the one Kaminsky saw last weekend, with Arizona able to go with just two different options in Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon.

“I thought Dakari could play him some,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said of his freshman center. “Dakari could put that big body on him a little bit. Then we wanted to play all kinds of different people on him. We wanted Alex to guard him some, we wanted Julius to guard him some.”

RELATED: Aaron Harrison’s shot sends Kentucky to title game

In addition to the use of multiple options in defending Kaminsky, Kentucky also switched the pick-and-pop situations in which the center’s been so lethal this season. As was the case in Wisconsin’s win over Baylor, Kaminsky didn’t attempt a three-pointer against Kentucky. However that Sweet 16 victory was also a game in which he made eight of his 11 shots from the field. He would have no such luck against the Wildcats.

Scoring in the paint was an issue for Wisconsin as a whole Saturday night, as they were outscored by Kentucky 46-24. That can’t be placed on Kaminsky alone, and to make that leap would be unfair as Nigel Hayes (two points, two rebounds) also struggled against Kentucky’s front court length. As a result of that length and athleticism the Badgers were unable to consistently find opportunities in the paint on offense, and they struggled to keep the Wildcats out of the lane on the other end.

“We just did not make enough plays on the inside,” Kaminsky said after the game. “Kentucky was able to get things that we were not giving up this entire tournament. It just sucks that it happened at this time on the biggest stage.

“We would have liked to have set the tone physically more but we didn’t, and they came out on top.”

MORE: Alex Poythress’ contributions should not be ignored

The two plays that will receive the majority of the attention when discussing Saturday’s game are Aaron Harrison’s made three-pointer with 5.7 seconds remaining and Traevon Jackson’s miss just before time expired. But in a game decided by a single point, there are a number of spots within the contest that impact the outcome. And for a team that is expected to lose just one starter in guard Ben Brust, the tough end to what was an impressive season will serve as a catalyst for the 2014-15 edition of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Kaminsky, who improved by leaps and bounds from his sophomore season to 2013-14, stated following the game that he’ll be back for his senior season and Sam Dekker did the same with regards to his junior campaign. They’ll get better this offseason, as will Josh Gasser, Bronson Koenig and the other rotation players who have eligibility remaining.

With this being the case, the expectation for Wisconsin is a simple one: to reach this point in hopes of scripting a more satisfying conclusion.

“This is a sour taste,” Kaminsky said. “We are going to be back next year. We are going to be better than ever. We will all be ready. It’s going to be a long road to get back here, but I know we will make it.”

  1. jjh1982 - Apr 6, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    It took double and triple teams to stop Frank the Tank

  2. orngnbl - Apr 6, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Of course they will be back next year. What NBA 3’s and 4’s could these guys possibly guard?

    • chunkala - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:47 PM

      People thumbs down because they don’t want to hear the truth. Sad.

  3. barkleyblows - Apr 6, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    It’s laughable to even think these guys would be in the NBA

  4. taskforcefreddy - Apr 6, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    What’s laughable are your comments. Of course they’re not NBA bound. Wisconsin doesn’t recruit or produce NBA prospects. They recruit system players that stay four years and graduate. But year after year they compete with the likes of the Kentucky’s and the Arizona’s. Had WI pulled the game out last night, they would have beaten three teams that had at one time been ranked #1 in the country during the season. Impressive.

  5. barkleyblows - Apr 6, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    And where is Wesconsen now??

    On Wesconsen!!!

  6. barkleyblows - Apr 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    That’s because nobody athletic enough would wanna play at a garbage school like Wesconsen. True story.

  7. hodaghunter - Apr 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Doesn’t coach or produce NBA prospects or players?? Wisconsin is an academics school first and foremost. Second, Wisconsin has produced many very sound nba players and nba prospects.
    Jason Bohannon
    Brian Butch
    Sam Dekker
    Devin Harris
    Trevon Hughes
    Frank Kaminsky
    Joe Krabbenhoft
    Marcus Landry
    Jon Leuer
    Kirk Penney
    Greg Stiemsma
    Jordan Taylor
    Alando Tucker
    Mike Wilkinson

    • chunkala - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      Who other than Devin Harris has don’t squat in NBA?

    • pauleky - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:35 AM

      Tired of the “academics” comments, which are just thinly veiled insults of Kentucky. UK has multiple top-ranked programs and many prestigious graduates who were not basketball players. But, if it makes you feel better after a loss, go for it. Just realize you appear as ignorant as you’re insinuating UK students are.

  8. barkleyblows - Apr 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    Hahaha that’s funny!! Thanks for the laugh!

  9. barkleyblows - Apr 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    All those players you mentioned are just lighting it up in the nba huh? Haha. I stopped after I saw Brian Butch lmao!

  10. chunkala - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Where was Dekker contemplating leaving to? McDonalds?

  11. kidfootball - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Dang, Wisconsin must be doing something right.

    All I smell in here is butthurt.

    On Wisconsin.

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