January 20, 2009

Hughes looks to break out of slump

MADISON, Wis. - It just is not Trevon Hughes' style to be ordinary. From the playgrounds of Queens, New York where he grew up, to the high school courts of St. John's Northwest Academy in Wisconsin, it has always been Hughes' style to showcase his confidence with the basketball.

"I'm always trying to get the best shot's for my guys," Hughes said following a recent practice. "If I see a pass that I think I can make, probably a basic pass would get through. But I'd rather do something spectacular."

Coinciding with UW's two-game losing streak has been the play of Hughes, though.

Prior to the loss at Purdue, the junior guard was doing what any good point guard has to do-he was distributing the ball without turning it over at a high rate. But over the last two games, he has struggled with 11 turnovers with only eight assists, and his aggressiveness and playmaker mindset may be at the culprit.

"That's probably what hurt me in the last two games," he said. "I've probably wanted to do too much with my handling the ball and I wasn't relying on my teammates."

Only Marcus Landry's 13.1 points per game are better than Hughes' 12.2 on the Badger roster, so Hughes does have the scoring ability.

Still, with the services of Landry, Jason Bohannon and Jon Leuer, who all average more than 10 points per game, Hughes has plenty of viable scoring options playing beside him.

And maybe that is why last Thursday's loss to Minnesota, where Hughes committed six turnovers, hit the point guard so hard.

"He's his own biggest critic," UW senior Joe Krabbenhoft said. "He recognizes the fact that he made some mistakes but we all told him that we all make mistakes out there. He knew that, we knew that and it's a team effort 100 percent of the time every time.

"He'll do a great job against Iowa, he always does."

Prior to Wisconsin's losing streak, Hughes had composed a 2.33 assist-to-turnover ratio, perhaps the staple stat of the point guard position. In Big Ten play prior to the recent skid, he had boosted that to a 4.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. So what has been the source of his recent struggles?

"I think decisions and consistency are a big thing," UW assistant coach Greg Gard replied. "And we've also got to get him some help. We've got to be able to shoulder some of that load at times if teams are going to come after him and get some helps from some other areas."

When the Badgers were trying to close out the Gophers last week, it was obvious the Minnesota pressure defense was bothering, not just Hughes, but the entire UW backcourt. For Hughes though, as the main ball handler on the team, much of the focus was put on shutting him down through intense ball pressure and traps.

And being the consummate competitor he is, it was also evident that Hughes wanted the ball in his hands during that clutch stretch because he has proven he is capable of handling the pressure before.

Against Virginia Tech earlier in the year, Hughes received the inbounds pass and beat three defenders on his way to hitting a floating runner as time ran out to seal a Badger win.

Needless to say, it will take more for his confidence to be shaken than a couple down games. But at the same time, Hughes will have to continue to realize that his teammates are capable players and he does not need to do everything himself.

"They (his teammates) depend on me and I'm always going to have the ball in my hands," Hughes said. "So I'm going to have to develop plays as they develop in the game and distribute the ball."

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