BY MIKE LUCAS
UWBadgers.com Senior Writer
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin coach Greg Gard doesn't obsess over missed shots.
"I don't yell at guys about missing," he said. "I'll talk to them about bad shot selection. That's different. But if they have a wide-open shot and they miss, I'll say, 'Get the next one. Maybe you don't have your feet quite set. Or slow down. Maybe it's a small mechanical thing we can work on.'"
Anxiety can bring on more misses.
"When people get in that mindset — driven and motivated by the misses — that's when the wheels fall off the track and you press," he said. "You can't be a good offensive player and press. You have to play instinctually and play relaxed. When you shoot the ball, you can't be under mental stress."
Relax is the operative word for Gard (with all due respect to Aaron Rodgers who coined it).
"Sometimes you just need to relax and do other things," Gard said. "Don't worry about the shooting. Worry about, 'Am I going to the glass every time I can? Am I blocking out every time I can? Am I doing a good job screening?' Do the intangibles and let the scoring come naturally. Don't force it."
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Over the last three games, the Badgers are 14-of-65 (.215) from beyond the arc. Yet, they won all three over Rutgers (overtime), Illinois and Indiana despite shooting less than 41 percent from the field. In the Big Ten, they're 7th in field goal percentage (.439) and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage (.339).
If he chooses, Gard can point to the only numbers that matter: 9-1. The first-place Badgers, winners of nine out of 10 conference games, and 16 of 17 overall, will put their seven-game winning streak on the line Thursday night at Nebraska in the only meeting of the season between these teams.
Wisconsin is 7-3 outside of the Kohl Center.
"You have to replicate home as much as possible on the road," Gard said. "The key things for a game never really change. We don't change what is going to be important for us. We worry more about us than probably we do the opponent.
"Defensively, it's what we do in transition and on the glass in minimizing runs and open-court opportunities and live-ball turnovers. Offensively, it's being as efficient as possible and trying to make sure our offense helps our defense by getting to the foul line."
The UW has averaged 28 free throw attempts to Nebraska's 16 over the last four meetings.
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