Apr 3, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari and Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bo Ryan during a press conference before the semifinals of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Cats, Badgers – Let’s Swing Dance!


Mar 29, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (right) dribbles against Arizona Wildcats center Kaleb Tarczewski (left) during the first half in the finals of the west regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Yes – You read the title correctly.  But in this article, we’re not talking about the 1920s dance craze, we’re talking about Bo Ryan’s swing offense that he and the Badgers use.

Every team has their signature.  Kentucky has John Calipari’s famous dribble-drive offense.  Wisconsin has the swing offense.  But, what does that even mean?  At first mention of swing offense, it sounds as though it’s some kind of dance rather than a basketball strategy.  However, the swing offense is very effective in breaking down defenses and it does so by design.  Patience is key if any team expects to guard the swing offense effectively.  In the case of tomorrow’s Final Four match-up between the Cats and the Badgers, guarding the swing offense will be even more difficult simply because of the Badgers’ seven-footer, Frank Kaminsky.

Just simply adding the sheer size of Kaminsky alone will cause problems for any team that plays the Badgers.  However, that may not play as big of a role tomorrow, granted that Kentucky’s smallest player out of the starting line-up is 6’6″ in the Harrison Twins.  But, how Kaminsky plays such a vital role in Wisconsin’s offense is the way the offensive sets are designed in the first place.  Coach Ryan will load one side of the court with the one, three and five positions for the ball-side triangle, then the two and four positions will be placed on the opposite side of the ball-side triangle.  By loading one size, it will take attention off of one side of the court, giving the opportunity for either an open shooter or an open lane for an easy basket.

Keys to success against the swing offense is to simply watch the ball and have trust in your fellow teammates.  The whole point of the swing offense is to get teams off guard.  For an example, if a team ineffectively guards the five position, such as Kaminsky or transitions slowly out of a double team, then there will be an available shooter ready or someone else will be ready to drive the lane.  In fact, Wisconsin doesn’t shoot the ball that often either, they only have attempted 841 shots on the season.  Kentucky has attempted 1,075 shots this season to give a measure of have little the Badgers shoot.  Therefore, the Badgers will likely wait for a low shot-clock situation almost every possession.

Staying aware will be the difference-maker for whether or not the Cats will continue dancing or not.  As long as each player for the Cats stays on their man, they shouldn’t have a problem making their way to the national championship game (likely against Florida).  But, the true difference-maker will likely be the transition game.  If the Cats can disrupt the Badgers’ rhythm of how they set their half-court offense and allow the Badgers’ to play to their pace, then the Cats have an even better chance to advance on to the national title game.  Creating fast breakaways and obtaining key steals and block shots will help ensure the game goes in the Cats’ favor with the dribble-drive style of play.

Here is a video that will help better explain how Wisconsin’s swing offense works as well:

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