November 16, 2010

Leuer dishes 7 assists in victory

MADISON - Knowing that Jon Leuer could put big numbers against its smaller lineup Tuesday night, North Dakota frequently double teamed the Wisconsin big man.

Leuer countered by showing off his equally impressive passing skills.

"Our goal with that was trying to make him work," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "He's obviously extremely talented. Him and [Jordan] Taylor, we wanted to limit. We knew we weren't going to shut them out, but limit their looks at the basket."

The Fighting Sioux were more effective in limiting Jordan Taylor, as the junior guard added just 10 points on the night for the Badgers, on 4-of-7 shooting. Leuer still managed to put up his points, leading all scorers with 22 on 6-of-10 from the floor.

Most impressive, though, were Leuer's career-high seven assists.

"He could've had 10 assists," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "I thought he did a great job of seeing the floor and not forcing things. He'll need that against some other opponents that we play. He'll see some of the same things, but we know he can pass."

While he led the way with seven assists, Leuer was certainly not the only unselfish player on the night for the Badgers.

Wisconsin finished with 20 assists on 31 made baskets, while shooting 62 percent (31-for-50) from the floor on the night.

After Leuer, guards Josh Gasser and Taylor each contributed four assists, while Jared Berggren had two. Nankivil, Tim Jarmusz and Ryan Evans each added one assist apiece.

"They're such a good passing team, whether you play them zone or man, their bigs do a tremendous job of seeing over the top of people," Jones said. "We don't have traditional Big Ten size, so those passes were probably a little bit easier for them tonight."

It's been well documented early in the season how much Leuer has improved from last year, thanks in large part to his participation with the USA Select Team.

Most of the time, however, the focus with Leuer is on his scoring ability -- both inside and out -- and his ability to crash the boards. Little attention is given to the 6-foot-10 forward's ability to find open teammates.

"It's kind of hard to work on your passing, I feel like that's just like the more you play in open gym games, the more repetitions you get, you see things a little better," Leuer said. "That's what I was able to do tonight was just read the defense and make the play. Make the right play, hopefully.

"That's just basically it. Reading the defense and making plays."

When Leuer read the North Dakota defense, he found fellow senior forward Keaton Nankivil open more often than any other player.

As a result, Nankivil converted three times on Leuer assists, twice for dunks and once from beyond the arc. On the night, Nankivil finished with 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting.

"A lot of it had to do with how well Jon was reading that double team right out of the gates," Leuer said. "I think they decided that they were going to double the post, and Jon did a great job of finding everybody."

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