January 12, 2010

Bruesewitz poised to contribute

MADISON - Mike Bruesewitz has compiled a pretty nice stat line over the course of the past two games on the boards.

Considering the freshman forward has played a combined 10 minutes against Michigan State and Purdue over the past week, his 10 rebounds look pretty solid. Now, with the injury to Jon Leuer, Bruesewitz will likely get a few more minutes per game to continue his efficient play.

Following a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the Minnesota native. The following is a question and answer with Bruesewtiz as he prepares for an expanded role in the coming weeks.

Does it help that Jon has been in foul trouble the past couple games and was out a little bit in the last game, too? Does it help because you guys have done it before with him out of the lineup and you've been productive, even last game when he wasn't scoring?

Bruesewitz: Yeah, it does help. In different games people have stepped up like Ryan Evans in the second half on Saturday. Against Penn State, Ryan really picked it up when Jon was in foul trouble. Jared Berggren has picked it up and I, myself, have and even the guards.

It's not just one person's role to pick it up. It's everybody's. It's the team's job to try and help everybody else out and try to stay on track with what we've been doing the last few games. Knowing we have senior guards helps with Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon.

They know what they're doing and know how to help us out. Losing Jon obviously hurts, but, like you said, knowing that we can do it, I mean, it's not like we haven't done it before.

You're probably one of those guys that will get some more action. Is that a challenge that you embrace being that next person to step in. Coach Bo Ryan always says you've got to be ready.

Bruesewitz: Yeah, it's before every game I hear that. Okay Mike, you've got to be ready in case somebody does something stupid or foul trouble like what happened with Jon when he got hurt.

I always come in with the mindset that I've got to be ready. Some games I don't get in like earlier this year when I didn't get in some of the early Big Ten games. Then other games like Purdue and Michigan State, I got into. I've just always got that mindset that I don't know how much I'm going to play.

I could sit on the bench the whole game or I could play eight to 10 minutes or eight to 15 minutes. So, I just got to come in mentally prepared for every game, as does everybody else on the bench.

Was it emotional around the locker room when you guys found out about Jon?

Bruesewitz: We didn't find out about Jon until later that day. I was with my family and we were just kind of hanging out. I found out and I just kind of kept it to myself. It's kind of a team thing. It hurts obviously, but it's like we said, we've just got to keep moving forward.

How much does your development at this point into the year help you get ready for this situation rather than if it was happening in the first or second game of the year where you're still new and still trying to get into the swing of things?

Bruesewitz: It helps greatly. To be completely honest, the thing that's really going to hurt me with this-I mean, it's great that I will be able to hopefully step in and play a lot-But the thing that's really going to hurt me is I'm not going against Jon everyday in practice now. To be completely honest, that's one thing that's really helped me (and that's) going against Jon every day in practice.

He's a couple of inches bigger than me, he's two years older than me and he's got a lot of experience. He really teaches me a lot. I have to work extra hard just to guard Jon. That's the thing that's going to probably hurt the most for me personally. I don't get to go against Jon for the next 4-6 weeks, or however long he's going to be out.

He's going to be out for a while and I don't get to go to practice against him which is not fun for me. I mean, I personally view it as a challenge everyday to go against Jon and Keaton Nankivil and all the other bigs.

Mike, what does it take to be a good rebounder in this league?

Bruesewitz: I couldn't tell you. I've only been in the league for a little bit.

You're doing alright though. You've had 10 rebounds in 10 minutes over the past two games.

Bruesewitz: I'm doing alright. I don't know, I've always prided myself on being a good rebounder. Me, personally, I'm a little bit undersized in the Big Ten especially. I feel like I want it more than a lot of guys and I've got kind of a bigger butt.

When I was younger, I learned how to rebound because I used to play with a lot of older guys. The only way I touched the ball was getting offensive rebounds or defensive rebounds. So I learned really at an early age how to use my body and how to use my hips and my butt and get angles to where I can jump and go and get the ball for myself and tips and stuff like that.

So I learned at an early age how to rebound.

Kind of switching gears and going to the offensive side of the ball. It seems like you're pretty confident taking shots but they're not necessarily going in. Are you still feeling confident with everything offensively?

Bruesewitz: Yeah, I feel pretty confident. I'll be completely honest, I haven't made a jump shot yet in a Big Ten game. But, you know, I try to come in about two or three times a week and try to get shots up with one of the coaches. I come in and shoot about half an hour before practice. I try to get up about 300 or 400 shots before games. So I feel confident in my shot.

I've been known to shoot the ball. I came in and people said, oh yeah, you can shoot the ball. Through high school I was able to shoot the ball to at least 15 feet and then my senior year I tried to extend that to threes. So, you know, just the fact that they're not going in right now, it does suck.

I'll be completely honest. I'll be like, 'Gosh, I just need one to fall.' I've had a few in and outs. But, you know, I feel confident in my shot and the thing that really helps is that they've seen me in practice and they know I can shoot. So, when I get in the game, the guys around me say, 'Oh, you're fine. Knock the next one down. You'll get it.'

So the guys around me really help me with confidence.

So it keeps it from getting tense for you.

Bruesewitz: Yeah, me shooting the ball, like Coach Ryan says, if we get a good look every time he doesn't care who shoots it. As long as it's your shot. I feel like I can contribute anywhere from getting rebounds to shooting 15 footers to threes.

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