Lucas at Large: Staring or not, finding role the key for Bruesewitz/Berggren

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Looking back, Mike Bruesewitz was a "4" playing like a "3" which added up to a "2."

Two rebounds in three games.

What wasn't he doing? "I wasn't beating people up inside," he said.

Moving forward, Jared Berggren wants to play like a starter as a backup.

Despite coming off his first career start.

Berggren_2011_MSU.jpgWhat does he need to be doing? "I need to be more consistent," he said.

Bruesewitz and Berggren have identified their roles and what they have to do to earn more minutes for the Badgers. Now they have to go out and do it starting Thursday night against Indiana at the Kohl Center. They both know that has to be the blue print whether they're starting or not.

"I've got to do a lot of the little things that kind of got away from me there for a couple of games," said Bruesewitz, a sophomore from St. Paul, Minn. "I was kind of floating on the perimeter a little bit - not being tough and physical inside - which has kind of been my staple.

"Since I've been here, I've been able to get inside and knock a few people around and make bodies fly a little bit and get some offensive rebounds. That's what got me minutes last year - being a tough kid inside, beating people up, stuff like that. I have to get back to that a little bit more."

As a freshman, Bruesewitz had rebounding spurts where he would come off the bench and trigger a run with his energy and tenacity. He had five rebounds in four minutes at Michigan State. He had five rebounds in six minutes against Purdue. He had seven rebounds against Arizona and Indiana.

Through this season's first three Big Ten games - combined - he had two rebounds; both in a loss at Illinois. He was blanked on the glass against Minnesota (16 minutes) and Michigan (13 minutes). He had two rebounds at Michigan State but he played a season-low 12 minutes.

Bruesewitz_2011_Illinois.jpg"I stepped back and looked (at what I was doing) and talked to a couple of the coaches," Bruesewitz said. "My minutes went down and we had conversations. And they said one thing you're really not doing is rebounding the ball as well as you can, and should be. That was an eye-opener."

In the UW's win over Illinois, he had four rebounds in 20 minutes. "I felt like I was getting back to more what I know I'm really good at doing," Bruesewitz said. "I really wasn't getting on the glass as much as I should have and or I'm capable of. That's one big area I've tried to emphasize."

After 13 straight starts, he has been coming off the bench the last three games. That has allowed him to get more of a feel for the tempo or the flow before stepping on the floor. Lately, he also has been utilized more as a "4" (power forward) than a "3" (small forward).

"Because I was playing the "3" so much," he said, "and we were playing some teams that were trying to push the ball more, I was making sure I was getting back on defense for the shooters."

 Bruesewitz added that if he couldn't get a "two-handed" rebound he was sprinting back to the other end because "we're better five-on-five than we are in a transition defense, three-on-two."

Upon further review, he knows what he has to do to be a more consistent and effective contributor. Beyond the staples - beating people up inside and making bodies fly - it revolves around "knocking down an open shot when I have one, getting on the boards and playing defense."

Over the last few weeks, Berggren has learned more about himself, too. After playing just three minutes against Michigan and six minutes against Michigan State, he got his first career start last Saturday against Illinois. He had two points, four rebounds, an assist and a block in 15 minutes.

Berggren didn't make a big deal out of his first start. Not to the degree that his family and friends did. "Obviously, I was happy to be starting," he said. "The thing I liked about it most was I knew when I'd be playing. Sitting on the bench, you have that excitement or anxiety waiting to check in."

Berggren, a redshirt sophomore from Princeton, Minn., has played 10 or more minutes only six times. "When I do get an opportunity to come into the game, I have to make some plays right away," he said. "I have to limit my mistakes and add to what the team has going as soon as I step on the floor."

He has tried to focus on being more consistent and aggressive. "If I come in and I'm tentative early," he said, "Coach may be more hesitant to put me back in the game later. But If I come in and make plays and show that I'm comfortable, I think I'd be more likely to get more playing time."

So much is predicated on the matchups. "Illinois had a lot of bigs and it was a better matchup when we could put Jon (Leuer) at the 3-spot,'" Berggren said. "It's different from game to game."

But he can control one thing from day-to-day - maybe the most important thing in the big picture. And that is? "Coming ready to work every day in practice and trying to improve," he said.

That also applies to Bruesewitz, whether he's being threatened or not by UW coach Bo Ryan to cut his bushy hair if his production doesn't pick up. It's all done in a joking manner. And, for now, he has no plans on getting it cut. "I'm getting it trimmed in a couple of weeks, but nothing too major," he said.

The mop-topped Zach Morley was also given some wiggle room by Ryan who's well aware of the historical ramifications associated with Sampson (Ralph Sr. and Ralph III notwithstanding).

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