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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bleach: Board UW’s Brueser bandwagon

The Wisconsin football team needs to avoid a South Carolina-like let down this Saturday. They will need the same intensity and focus they brought against Ohio State to beat Iowa. One more loss and the Badgers are out of the Rose Bowl hunt. Blah blah blah.

I have nothing to add to the football talk. Get a pass rush on Ricki Stanzi, win the battle in the trenches and all that jazz. The Herald sporting staff has done a nice job covering it all this week.

Which means this column will go with a more obscure twist. I could talk about how the Packers Super Bowl hopes are damaged by injuries, or how the New York Yankees have a monetary advantage in baseball but… damn, the Dirty Bird beat me to those highly original topics.


How about some college hoops talk in October?

The Badger basketball team officially started practice last Saturday, putting on a scrimmage at the Field House amid the Ohio State hoopla (how’s that for athletic department synergy. Jack Donaghy would be proud.) Which makes for the perfect excuse to spread the good word:

About the awesomeness of Mike Bruesewitz.

The lone scholarship freshman last season, Brueser – “Bruiser” – (as he should always be called) had a fairly non-descript season, averaging 7.4 minutes per game, 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds. Some games he would factor heavily in the rotation and others he would bake in his warm-ups. Turnovers came in bunches – Bruesewitz’s 0.6 assist-to-turnover ratio was the worse of any regular on the team – and his jump shot was as erratic as Bo’s facial expressions toward referees.

But there is a not-so-secret maxim in college hoops that stars are made on the freshman-year to sophomore-status jump. It is a common phenomenon around the country. Players adjust to the speed of the game, strength of the opponents and complex strategies after getting their feet wet in their first season of collegiate ball. Playing time opens up with departed seniors moving on, and the previously green freshman sees a rise in his numbers across the board in his second year.

Look no further than the last three Badger stars for examples.

Senior forward Jon Leuer, who’s name appeared on multiple preseason award lists, including the Naismith Watch, added 13 minutes a game of playing time and ticked up his points per game average six points in his second season. Junior guard Jordan Taylor jumped 17 minutes and nine points while permanently taking over the point guard role sophomore year. Even graduated senior Trevon Hughes (23 minutes, 10 points) filled the role to a tee his second year with Wisconsin.

Enter Mike Bruesewitz. After watching Brueser flash for a season, it isn’t hard to diagnose what his value will be to Bo Ryan this season.

According to statistics guru Ken Pomeroy*, Brueser finished last season with an astounding 18.5 offensive rebounding percentage.

*Ken Pomeroy is always, ALWAYS, referred to as “statistics guru” before his real name. Look anywhere on the Internet and someone using Kenpom will call him “statistics guru.” I suppose this is a mark of success in life, getting a made up title to accompany your name. Based on online comments, my title is “Mother$!#&@% Moron” Michael Bleach.

Offensive rebounding percentage? What hoops locution is this? Excellent question, invisible reader.

Basically, offensive rebounding percentage just measures how many boards one player would grab off the offensive glass over 100 possessions. It is a much more effective rate stat, rather than a counting stat for the prowess of some banger on the boards.

Brueser’s 18.5 percentage ranked third in the nation – or would have if he qualified in minutes – behind only Duke’s Brian Zoubek and Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins. DeJuan Blair, the greek god of offensive boards, grabbed 23.6 percent in 2009. Last year, Keaton Nankivil was the only other Badger in double-digits at 10.2 percent.

Add it all up, and it means the Badgers have a weapon in Brueser Bo Ryan hasn’t seen since he came to Madison. Brueser’s ability to create extra shots not only has the benefit of, you know, more points, but the morale boost that comes with being an unstoppable beast on the boards.

Just think about it – besides the rare white-man dunk in the Kohl Center, does any play get a bigger reaction from the crowd than a hustling offensive rebound kicked out to the wide-open shooter? The basketball bible has always stated the best time to get a three is off an offensive board. Look it up in Wooden 3:40.

The morale effect on the opposing team is palpable. It is like giving up a third-and-ten conversion in football – you think your job on defense is done, and now you have to bang through screens for another 30 seconds. Playing Bo Ryan-coached teams is already like sitting through a biology power lecture. Now imagine the professor pretends he doesn’t realize the class is over, and keeps talking for another five minutes. No feeling is more brutal.

With basketball season rapidly approaching, be the first to board the Brueser bandwagon.

Not only is he the next sophomore stud for UW, he will be the third most important player on an NCAA-qualifying team behind Leuer and Taylor. You can count on it, or my name isn’t “Mother$!#*&@% Moron” Michael Bleach.

Michael is a senior majoring in journalism and co-author of the blog “” Send thoughts, comments and criticisms to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @michaelbleach.

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