Bruesewitz likely won’t be ready
The Wisconsin sophomore forward served as an assistant coach, an involuntary assistant coach.
Wearing a brace on the right knee he sprained in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinal loss to Penn State, Bruesewitz was held out of practice.
With UW (23-8) preparing to face Belmont (30-4) in its NCAA Tournament opener on Thursday in Tucson, Ariz., senior Tim Jarmusz and junior Rob Wilson got most of the work at the small-forward spot.
Although Bruesewitz was not available for interviews, it appears he won’t be ready to play Thursday.
“Mike comes in and brings that instant energy, whether it is rebounds or a quick score or just getting after loose balls,” Jarmusz said after practice Monday. “He does a lot of that, and he
really does help our team.
“But if for some reason he can’t play or his minutes are limited, we are going to—we’ve already talked about it—get after it as a team collectively.
“This is our last shot to do something, and we’re going to be ready.”
Bruesewitz has started 13 games this season and played in all 31. He is averaging 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game and shooting 45.8 percent.
“He has taken some nice steps not only for the rest of this year,” associate head coach Greg Gard said last week, “but also jumping on the launch pad for what is down the road in the years to come.”
More important than his numbers, however, is the pace at which Bruesewitz plays. He is third on the team in offensive rebounds (41), despite being sixth on the team in minutes per game (19.2).
Opponents who have faced Belmont marvel at the Bruins’ depth—11 players average at least 10.4 minutes per game—and their tenacity on defense and on the glass.
Bruesewitz arguably is the team’s most tenacious rebounder. In addition, Bruesewitz’s ball-handling and passing could be missed because Belmont looks to press for the entire game.
Can Jarmusz and Wilson and perhaps sophomore forward Ryan Evans fill the void with Bruesewitz likely out?
Jarmusz has started the last 17 games and is averaging 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. However, he is a combined 0 of 7 from three-point range in his last three games and 6 of 20 in his last eight games.
Wilson has played sparingly since struggling in a 32-minute performance Jan. 11 at Michigan State. He played a combined 35 minutes in the next eight games and did not play against Penn State in the Big Ten tournament.
Evans, who has played in all 31 games, got some work at Bruesewitz’s spot Monday but was moved to the scout team midway through practice.
Evans acknowledged recently he has struggled to perform consistently on offense or defense.
“The most difficult part is just putting so much pressure on myself,” Evans said.
“You feel you’re putting in so much work and at times you don’t feel that it’s going to pay off. But that is when you’ve got to keep on pushing, maybe even a little bit harder.”
Asked about the prospect of facing Belmont without Bruesewitz, senior forward Keaton Nankivil noted UW went 6-3 last season without Jon Leuer (wrist).
“We’ve been in situations like this before,” Nankivil said. “I think the thing we can do well is that we don’t put that pressure on one person to fill a spot. It’s a group effort.
“And with the kind of energy Mike can bring that’s a little bit of a void. But I think we have plenty of people capable of chipping in.”