Bruesewitz needs to break out of shooting slump
That’s not what Mike Bruesewitz hopes to discover in the NCAA Tournament games set to be played at The Pit.
Wisconsin’s junior forward would prefer a touch of March Magic.
“I’m trying to figure out how to provide that again, get it going again,” he said this week after practice. “It’s the NCAA Tournament so it’s the best time of the year.
“If you can’t get excited for this you’re not a human being. You’re not a basketball player.”
Fourth-seeded UW (24-9) opens the tournament at 1:10 p.m. Thursday against 13th-seeded Montana (25-6), the Big Sky regular-season and tournament champion.
As a sophomore last season, Bruesewitz provided UW with defense, rebounding, scoring and overall energy in three NCAA games.
Despite playing on a sore right knee he sprained in the Big Ten tournament, Bruesewitz averaged 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds and hit 8 of 14 shots (57.1 percent) in three NCAA games.
His knee is sound now. His defense, save for a handful of lapses in UW’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament, has been solid. He leads the team and is ninth in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (2.0 per game) and is second on the team and 13th in the league in total rebounds (5.3 per game).
His Achilles’ heel, particularly in the 15 games since UW’s 67-62 victory at Purdue on Jan. 12, has been shooting.
Bruesewitz is shooting just 26.9% from three-point range and 38.0 percent overall. To be blunt, those numbers look gaudy compared to his numbers over the last eight games.
During that run Bruesewitz has:
-- Hit 25 of 75 shots overall (33.3 percent), including 7 of 30 over the last eight games (23.3%).
-- Hit 5 of 38 three-pointers (13.2 percent), including none in 14 tries over the last eight games.
His last three-pointer came Feb. 9 at Minnesota, when he hit 1 of 5 attempts.
Bruesewitz hit his first three-point attempt, 3 minutes 18 seconds into the game, but then missed his next 4 threes. Overall, he has missed his last 18 attempts.
Fortunately for UW, Bruesewitz hasn’t allowed the shooting woes to infect other areas of his game.
He has averaged 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 turnover per game during the 15-game stretch.
“Offensively if stuff isn’t going right for you there’s a lot of parts of the game where you can add to the team and help the team win,” said Bruesewitz, who is averaging 4.6 points during the 15-game stretch. “That’s kind of been my motto ever since I’ve been here.”
You won’t find a more pleasant, carefree player on the UW roster than Bruesewitz.
Yet it was obvious after Bruesewitz missed all three shots, including 2 three-pointers, in the loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament that he is weary of talking about his shooting woes.
Asked if he was still looking to hit just one shot to take the lid off the basket, Bruesewitz said:
Asked if he needed only one shot to get back on track, Bruesewitz said:
Asked if he was tired of talking about the subject, he said:
“I guess. . . . You guys have talked to me about it enough so I think you can look back at all the interviews you’ve done and find every quote I’m going to give you.”
Senior guard Jordan Taylor anticipates Bruesewitz will be fine against Montana and beyond if UW advances.
“Mike knows he can play,” he said. “It helps to see the ball go in. I think that would help him a lot. I know he has been struggling a little bit, but every person on our team has struggled at some point this year.
“You can’t say there is a lot of basketball left, but I know Mike will come out on Thursday and he is going to come out swinging.
“He’s going to be aggressive. He’s not going to (be) passive. And that’s what we need him to do.”