Is Evans the Key to Turning Around the Season?

EvansWisconsin enters this weeks games at Purdue and vs. Nebraska struggling to find the answers to stop it’s first major skid since the six game slide of the 2008-09 season.  Well, not only are Bo and the gang searching for answers, so are we.

One thing that seems to be correlated with Wisconsin and winning games this season is the play of Ryan Evans.  

The Junior had been a major disappointment for this program on the offensive end of the court, that is up until this season.  

He was considered a major question mark as a starter going into 2011-12 because of a lack of production on the offensive end of the court, but as the season has progressed there may not be a single player more important to Wisconsin winning than Evans.  

Going into 2011 Evans was only averaging 3.2 points a game and this season he has broken out to average 9.9 points a game on the whole.  

O.k., well that’s all fine and dandy, but what does that have to do with Wisconsin winning games?  

Well in the Badgers 12 wins Evans is averaging 11.1 points a game and grabbing 6.8 rebounds a game as well and he is shooting 41% from the field too.  

In the 5 losses so far this year he’s averaging nearly 4 points a game less (7.2) while shooting just around the same percentage (41.7% in losses).  Additionally we don’t see his defensive production really slipping that much as he’s actually averaging 6.6 rebounds a game.  

Obviously the point differential can be a major sticking point in why the Badgers aren’t winning.  However, if you look inside the numbers even further you see that it’s his touches, efficiency and ability to be an engine to get the offense going that’s truly the difference.  

In victory Evans is only averaging 8.1 field goal attempts per game, yet is scoring 11.1 points a game.  Contrast that with the 5 losses and he’s attempting 9.2 field goals per game and scoring only 7.2 points a game.  Clearly it’s not about quantity but quality for him this year.

On the season he’s shooting 45.9% from the field, up from 31.1% last year and is hitting on 33.3% of his 3 point attempts, up from 0%.  Starting to see a pattern?  

He’s up on nearly every category, and sure some of it is because he’s averaging nearly 16 minutes more a game, but I will tell you that if these stats weren’t happening he wouldn’t be seeing 27 minutes a game or starting at all.  

Additionally Evans is averaging nearly an assist, steal, and block more per game on the whole.  In the 12 victories for Wisconsin he is averaging 1.9 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game, key stats in being a catalyst for this team.  But in the 5 losses for the Badgers he’s down to 0.6 assists per game and 0.6 steals per game.  

Perhaps nothing else shows you just how important he is offensively than his free throw stats.  In Badgers victories Evans is getting to the free throw line for 3.8 attempts, so nearly 2 fouls committed against him per game alone.  But in the losses he’s only averaging 1.4 free throw attempts a game, meaning he’s averaging just under a foul committed against per game.  

Just look at yesterday’s game when the Badgers only got to the line 5 times and where Evans only scored 6 points while going 0-2 from the free throw line.  Get to the line double the amount and I bet the game is a lot closer than the barrier that was a 12 point Michigan lead in the 2nd half.

In conference play the Badgers sit at 1-3 right now and his importance couldn’t be more highlighted than in those 4 games.  As Wisconsin kicked off conference play Ryan Evans recorded a career best 22 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal in a victory at Nebraska.  While in the 3 losses so far he’s averaging just 6 points, 6 rebounds, and has averaged giving up 3.6 fouls a game.

Need any more proof of his importance?  Going into conference play Evans hadn’t had more than 3 fouls in any game so far this season.  In the last three games he’s had a foul out (5 fouls), 4 fouls, and 2 in the game yesterday.  

Having him on the court clearly means something to this team.

Sure Jordan Taylor is a key to Wisconsin winning, but what point guard isn’t?  Staying hot from behind the 3 point line is also a major factor, but as a single individual there may not be anyone more important than Ryan Evans to help Wisconsin escape from the funk they are currently in.  

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site