I think you need at least one of two things to be good on defense - toughness or athleticism. Right now, this team has zero toughness and little athleticism.
Wisconsin has been a great defensive team for a long time, and they do it without recruiting great athletes. But they do recruit tough, strong guys, and you can obviously see they work hard on the way they defend.
Athletes alone won't do it, without a coach committed to defense. Our 2012 team was plenty athletic, but pretty mediocre on defense. UCLA right now is awful on defense, but has very good athletes and offensive players. As much as ever, I still think you can win big by focusing on offense, but you better be great at it. Right now, we have a good offense and a terrible defense - a recipe for disaster.
That's why those first few games, IMO, were so encouraging. It's probably true that SMU and Marquette are not special, but we beat those teams handily and more importantly, they got nothing on offense. Even against Texas - a scattershot offense if there ever was one - we still held them to 50.
It seems weird to say, but I do recall Donnal blocking some shots and taking some charges in those early games, and also scoring a bit. It seems absurd to suggest his presence on the court would really help our defense, but after Wagner last night, maybe it would. At this rate, Swanigan, Bryant, and Nick Ward are going to average 30 a game against us.