Mike Bruesewitz's team, the East Coast All-Stars, have begun play
in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia. East Coach All-Stars coach Guy
Rancourt emailed this update after Game Two of the tournament.
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As the team ran through the tunnel entering Saku Arena this evening they were welcomed by a group of Estonian teenagers waving an American flag. The crowd of 3,100 Estonians applauded the team's effort from the previous night, but despite airhorns blowing, fans cheering, and holding NBA veteran Zaza Pachulia to just one field goal for the game, the East Coast All Stars came up short Friday night. A 15-0 All Star run in the fourth quarter gave the group of Americans a 4 point deficit with 2:00 remaining, but the Georgian National Team countered with a 13-0 run of their own, resulting in a 98-81 East Coast defeat.
Rodney McGruder (K-State) once again came out ready to play pouring in 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. From the start the game was physical and fast as Georgia, the only participant eligible for the 2011 European World Championships, ran out to a quick 9 point lead. The East Coast front line of Jack Cooley (Notre Dame) and Elliott Eliason (Minnesota) responded on the glass to help end the quarter on an 11-2 run, knotting the game at 20-20.
The second quarter continued providing runs on both sides as the tandem of McGruder and Mike Bruesewitz (Wisconsin) hit the offensive glass hard for some easy baskets, but Georgia had the final run to open up a 49-42 halftime lead.
Early in the 3rd quarter Baye Moussa Keita was subbed out for precautionary reasons due to a minor foot injury, but enough to keep him sidelined for the remainder of the contest. With fouls mounting and the team short-handed Georgia was able to open its lead to 73-64.
Georgia again came out quickly to open up a 19 point lead with 7:34 left in the game. Anthony Johnson (Purdue) and Brandon Triche (Syracuse) then found a rhythm and combined for an 8-0 run cutting the lead to 11 points. On the next possession Cooley again came up with a big defensive rebound, receiving an elbow to the face that drew a foul and stopped play. Cooley's small cut under his eye forced him to check out briefly, but all that did was open the door for Iowa's Matt Gatens. Gatens made both free throws for Cooley, then followed with another transition basket to keep the run alive. The feisty All Stars hung tough chipping away at the Georgian lead and had the ball in their hands down 85-81 but simply ran out of gas.
Manuchar Markoishvilli lead the Georgian National Team in scoring with 20 points and Pachulia of the NBA Atlanta Hawks led them in rebounding with 9.
The team will head into its final game of the Four Nations Cup against tournament host Estonia tomorrow evening. Game time will be 1:00PM EST and televised on Estonia's ETV2.
Mike Bruesewitz's team, the East Coast All-Stars, have begun play in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia. East Coach All-Stars coach Guy Rancourt emailed this update after Friday's opening game.
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Although Pe'Shon Howard's thunderous dunk over Sweden National team center Johan Akesson put the crowd into a frenzy Friday evening, it was just a brief part of the 15-point deficit the East Coast All Stars overcame in the final 3:00 of Friday's 78-77 victory. Kansas State's Rodney McGruder was the team's hero as time ran down with a rebound and put back at the buzzer to seal the All Star win.
East Coast responded well to the physical nature of international play ending the first quarter with a 21-19 lead, but struggled to find the mark in the second quarter mustering just 11 points to trail Sweden 38-32 at halftime. Sweden continued its hot shooting in the third period stretching the lead to 63-51, and things began looking bleak as the lead ballooned to 15 points with 3:00 remaining in the contest...then the All Stars went to work.
A suffucating full court press was applied causing back to back turnovers for a Baye Moussa Keita dunk and a power layup by Notre Dame's Jack Cooley cutting the lead to 11. The team continued its intensity into the front court forcing two additional turnovers resulting in clutch 3-point field goals by Iowa's Matt Gatens and Purdue's Anthony Johnson, bringing the Sweden lead to 5 with just over a minute to play.
Following a Sweden transition basket pushing the lead back to 7, East Coast came up with a steal at half court by Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard, and a dunk over the opponent's big man that brought the crowd of 3,720 jumping out of their seats.
The balanced attack continued as the All Stars forced three more turnovers, allowing Syracuse's Brandon Triche (leading scorer with 17 points) to rattle off 7 points in 19 seconds. Triche was fouled on a drive to make two free throws, knocked down a gutsy 3-point shot to tie the game at 74-74, then converted on a mid-lane pullup to give them the lead with 15 seconds remaining.
Sweden responded with Anton Gaddefor's 3-pointer with 6 seconds to play, once again giving Sweden a 77-76 advantage. After a timeout by head coach Guy Rancourt of Lycoming College, McGruder stepped on the floor to provide the end-game heroics. Triche's foul-line jumper was off the mark, but UW's Mike Bruesewitz kept the ball alive, tipping it to McGruder who laid it back in as the horn sounded.
Three players, Bruesewitz, Baye Moussa Keita, and Elliott Eliason led the team in rebounding with 7. Triche finished with a team high 5 assists, Bruesewitz with 4 steals, and Mousa Keita with 2 blocks.
The victory makes the East Coast All Stars 1-0 in tournament play and 2-0 overall. Next up tomorrow night will be one of the team's biggest tests as they face NBA star Zaza Pachulia and the Georgia National Team. Gametime for tomorrow's contest is slated for 10:30 a.m. CT.
Here is a Facebook message I got from Mike talking about the opening exhibition win and what's up next.
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"We had a scrimmage against a local club team last night. The town was called Rapla (I remember the name because it sounds like the fishing tackle).
Upon arrival to the equivalent of a lifetime, the song "Buzzin" by Mann was on. One thing about Estonia is they love American music. This isn't a bad thing, but it seems a bit odd since our tour guide told us Estonia is known as 'the singing country.'
Anyway... last night played a club team and won easily. We have one practice today and then we go against the big boys tomorrow. Should be great competition.
Talking with a couple of the guys last night, last year's East Coast team played two national teams that had NBA guys. Not sure who all is going to be on the roster this year, but I'm really excited to play.
The arena has about 5 or 6 thousand seats and apparently gets filled up for events like these. Should be fun!"
East Coast All-Stars' head coach Guy Rancourt (Lycoming College) emailed me this morning the recap from the team's first game. Looks like our guy Mike Bruesewitz is fitting in quite nicely.
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Rapla, Estonia -- In what will be the team's only exhibition game for 2011, the East Coast All Stars defeated Viimsi Spordikeskuss 104-61 Wednesday evening in front of a crowd of 1,100. The All Stars were led by Syracuse sophomore Baye Moussa Keita with 11 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Iowa's Matt Gatens and Wisconsin's Mike Bruesewitz led all scorers, each with 15 points.
Viimsi struggled with East Coast's pressure defense from the start, quickly falling behind 34-15 by the end of the first quarter. Brandon Triche of Syracuse University handed out 7 first half assists to help push the lead to 66-28 at the half. Kansas State sophomore Rodney McGruder extended that lead with back to back three point field goals in the third period, stretching the team's margin to 88-41. Viimsi made a late push behind Andre Parn's 11 points, but it was not enough to help his team overcome the 104-61 final. Seven players tallied double figures for the All Stars and each of the ten man roster scored at least one basket.
East Coast will hold a brief practice in Tallinn's Saku Arena Thursday night in final preparation for their matchup Friday(11:30AM EST) with the Sweden National Team.
I heard from Mike Bruesewitz over in Estonia. Sounds like his team (the East Coast All-Stars) made it safely to Tallinn and did a little sight-seeing before practice.
Here is what Bruiser had to say:
"The first day was good and the food isn't too bad. However, the day's worth of airplane
food didn't end well. Estonia is a pretty cool place. Tallinn is right on the
coast line with all kinds of neat shops and restaurants in Old Town. The Old Town area is really cool with cobble stone streets and old
buildings. It reminds me of a medieval state street on steroids. We have our
first exhibition game (Wednesday) afternoon, but first we have a sight seeing
UW sophomore Duje Dukan is overseas playing with the Croatian National Team in the U-20 European Championships in Bilbao, Spain. He is checking in periodically with UWBadgers.com with stories from the road.
Well, the European Championships tournament ended and unfortunately we did not do as well as we wanted (or should have done), but it was a great learning experience for me getting to compete at a very high level in European basketball. It also gave me a great opportunity to get actual game experience that I didn't have much of this past year.
Spain ended up winning the tournament and the MVP was Nikola Mirotic who the Chicago Bulls took with the 23rd pick in this year's NBA Draft. This shows the wide variety of talent at this tournament.
Not only did I play against players who are playing professionally in Europe, but some are in fact at colleges in the U.S. which was good to see what my competition will look like for the next few years. Some of the colleges who were represented at the European Championships besides Wisconsin were UConn, Alabama, Florida, San Diego, Boston College, Davidson and many others.
Personally, I played a variety of positions during the last few weeks, from the 2 to the 4. I really spent a lot of time working on my versatility, so I'll be able to help the team in any way I can when I get back to Madison.
Now that the European Championships are over, I'm lifting and practicing on my own time to get ready for a very fun and exciting year of Badger basketball in 2011-2012.
Thanks everyone for reading these entries and coming along on my trip trip. I hope all is well back in Madison and I'm looking forward to joining the team again soon,
Wisconsin junior Mike Bruesewitz has been selected to the East Coast All-Stars, a 10-man national team that will compete in the Four Nations Cup in Estonia from August 5-7.
Bruesewitz is one of five Big Ten players on the squad, joining Iowa's Matt Gatens and Bryce Cartwright, Purdue's Anthony Johnson and Minnesota's Elliott Eliason. Syracuse's Brandon Triche and Baye Mousa Keita, Pe'Shon Howard of Maryland, Rodney McGruder of Kansas State and Jack Cooley from Notre Dame complete the squad.
"I'm really excited for the trip," Bruesewitz said Monday from JFK International Airport. "I've never been out of the country, so it's going to be a whole new experience and I can't wait to be in that environment. Our team looks pretty good. It's going to be a lot of fun."
The team began with a short two-day training camp at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., before traveling overseas Monday for the international competition. Brueswitz and the East Coast All-Stars are scheduled to play an exhibition game vs. Viimsi Spordikeskuss before beginning the Four Nations Cup.
"We'll practice once in Estonia, then scrimmage the local club team," Bruesewitz added. "We'll have a day off, then play three games in three days. We'll be playing three national teams, so there is no age limit or anything; this is each country's top team.
"I think we're going to be able sightsee around Tallinn a little bit. Matt Gatens and I were doing a little research about Estonia and it looks like there are some neat things to see and cool historical sites."
During the tournament, the team will face Sweden on Aug. 5, Georgia on Aug. 6 and wrap up competition vs. host Estonia on Aug. 7.
Ryan Evans participated in a similar trip last August with a Global Sports Academy team that played five games in Belgium, Italy and England.
"I talked to Ryan a little bit about his trip last year and he said it'll be fun," Bruesewitz said. "He said, 'obviously you're trying to win, but you're also there to enjoy it, meet new people and share new things.'"
Roster # NAME HGT CLASS POS. SCHOOL 01 Anthony Johnson 6-3 R-Fr. Guard Purdue 05 Matt Gatens 6-5 Sr. Guard Iowa 12 Baye Mousa Keita 6-10 So. Forward Syracuse 20 Brandon Triche 6-4 Jr. Guard Syracuse 21 Pe'Shon Howard 6-3 So. Guard Maryland 22 Rodney McGruder 6-4 So. Forward Kansas State 24 Bryce Cartwright 6-1 Sr. Guard Iowa 31 Mike Bruesewitz 6-6 Jr. Forward Wisconsin 45 Jack Cooley 6-9 Jr. Center Notre Dame 55 Elliott Eliason 6-11 R-Fr. Center Minnesota
Itinerary July 31st - Training Camp (Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA) August 1st - Training Camp (Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA) August 2nd - Arrive in Tallinn, Estonia / Team Practice August 3rd - Exhibition vs Viimsi Spordikeskuss August 4th - Team Practice August 5th - East Coast vs Sweden (10:45AM EST) August 6th - East Coast vs Georgia (10:45AM EST) August 7th - East Coast vs Estonia (1:00PM EST) August 8th - Team returns to US
UW sophomore Duje Dukan is overseas playing with the Croatian National Team in the U-20 European Championships in Bilbao, Spain. He is checking in periodically with UWBadgers.com with stories from the road.
Checking in with you on Day 7 of the European Championships in Bilbao, Spain. The team has gone 2-4 since we have been here, with wins over Latvia and Lithuania and losses to Sweden, France, Austria and Serbia. The loss to Serbia was today's thriller... a one-point (80-79) heartbreaker.
I got hurt during one of our friendly games with the French, straining a muscle near my hip, so every movement of my hips like running or shooting would ignite the strain. As time went on it got better and thanks to our team trainer helping me out and cutting down the swelling, I was able to miss minimal time and keep playing in the games.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I feel like I need to take advantage of it and not let anything ruin it or prevent me from playing and experiencing the European championships.
Our team was placed in a tough position at the start of the tournament when our main point guard left the team. That's a big loss considering he was on the All-Tournament team for the World Championships two years ago in New Zealand with the likes of Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack.
His leaving put us at a great disadvantage because we didn't really have a floor leader or anyone to organize the team. So with the extra roster spot we called a point guard who participated in the U19 World Championships this year but with our bad luck, he was injured in one of the last games in the tourney the same way I was and he opted out of joining the team.
So, essentially we were left without a true point guard that we were used to and comfortable with. This has brought some distress and questions to the team. In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons attributed to our poor performance the first couple games and why we haven't done as well this year. But we have adjusted as time has gone by and played better.
As far as me personally, I've been playing more and more getting back from the injury and getting back into the flow of things now. In the last game I played about 25 minutes and most of my time that I play is spent on the wing or at the 2. I have also played a little at the 4 spot also.
[Editor's note: Dukan had 6 points and 3 rebounds in a win over Lithuania and finished with 8 points (2-for-5 from 3-point range) and 3 rebounds in the loss to Serbia. Dukan's game-by-game stats]
There haven't really been many stories except that I've really come to see here what a bond basketball can create. I've met kids from France, Sweden, Montenegro and many other places that are in the United States playing basketball and we have shared our experiences and talked about the differences between Euro and U.S. ball. Everyone has agreed that it has taken them longer than expected to get adjusted and acclimated.
I guess one funny story is that I've been sort of a translator for the guys here because I studied Spanish for six years. So whenever they have questions they go get me and I have to ask and deliberate. It's really testing my Spanish ability.
On the one day we had off between games, the team went to the Bay of Biscay, which is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Spanish coastline. From there, it is open water so it's very windy as it is basically open ocean. It was truly a magnificent sight because the waves and water was so wild but it was right on the coast. For the 30 minutes that we were there walking around, it rained twice and the wind never stopped.
We walked around the city of Bilbao as well to get a feel for what Spain is like. Seeing the other teams walking around the city reminds me of Indianapolis during the Big Ten Tournament and how the tournament takes over the whole city.
We have three more games left against Serbia, Lithuania and Austria. Serbia and Lithuania both faced similar problems to us where they were expected to do well in the championships but the team didn't collaborate at the start of the tournament. We are now focused on what we have in front of us these next three games.
I'll write back soon to keep you updated. Hope everyone is handling the 100+ degree weather in Madison.
Considering the physical nature of Big Ten basketball - the hand-to-hand "combat" and the "warfare" in the paint - Zach Bohannon may be ahead of the curve in his transition to the conference.
Before transferring to Wisconsin, Bohannon took part in combat survival training at the Air Force Academy. What better way to get ready for road games at Michigan State and Purdue?
"Probably one of the toughest things I've done in my life so far," he said.
First things first; Bohannon must redshirt the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules. That will give him time to adjust to his new surroundings in preparation for his final two years of eligibility.
In turn, Bohannon, 21, will try to take advantage of the wait by stabilizing his weight; something that he wasn't able to do during his two years at the Academy because of the rigid training demands.
That included six weeks of basic cadet training during Bohannon's first summer in Colorado Springs; and three weeks of combat survival training during his second summer.
"They take a group of about 10 guys and put you in the woods for about 9 days," Bohannon said. "They gave us three rabbits and two chickens. We had to kill them for our food.
"They taught you how to survive on your own - evading the different forces that might be out there - laying low for hours without getting caught.
"There were different tactics and scenarios. If you were a downed pilot, you had to carry around 70 pounds of weight on your back - without a doubt, it was tough; toughest thing I've done.
"You were just so excited to get back to your dorm and the cafeteria food that you hated."
He lost 15 pounds the first summer and 20 the second as his weight dipped below 180. He got back up to 200 for his sophomore year. Currently, he's carrying 215 pounds on his 6-foot-8 frame.
"I've been able to hold on to this weight consistently over the last five or six weeks," Bohannon said. "And it feels really good being able to work out at a high level, too."
More often than not, a transfer is apt to be viewed as a "work in progress" - even if that transfer's last name still resonates with Badger fans because of the connection with his older brother.
Jason Bohannon played in the second most games (135) and made the fourth-most 3-pointers (212) in school history, while scoring 1,170 career points to rank No. 22 on the all-time UW list.
"J-Bo" naturally cast a shadow over "Z-Bo"; never more so than after Jason Bohannon was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Iowa culminating his high school playing days at Linn-Mar in Marion, Ia.
"One of the things that I worried about even in high school was, 'Wow, Jason had a heckuva career, I don't know how I'm going to be able to follow that,'" Zach Bohannon admitted.
Enter their dad, Gordie Bohannon, a former Iowa quarterback who instructed Zach, "Don't worry about trying to be the next Jason Bohannon, just worry about being Zach Bohannon."
He took those words to heart.
"I kind of took that mindset in high school and had a pretty good career; nothing close to what Jason did and some the records that he broke," Zach Bohannon said.
"Still, it was kind of important to make an identity for myself; I really wanted to get away. That's why I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy in the first place - to not be in that shadow anymore.
"But the one thing I learned was that Jason made me who I am today - and I didn't know why I was trying to run away from that."
Looking back, he felt like it was "kind of an immature decision" to use the pressure inherent to following in the footsteps of his brother as "one of the underlying reasons" to not go somewhere.
Not that Zach Bohannon has any regrets about his two years at the Academy. On the contrary, he believes that he's a "better person" for having gone through what he did as an Air Force cadet.
But adding to the urgency and complexities of his decision was the fact that he would have gone on the clock as a junior and been obligated to a military commitment following graduation.
That was simply not something that he was interested in doing.
"Besides the discipline, which is a given at a service academy," Bohannon said, "the one thing I probably learned the best was summed up in this quote, 'Tough times don't last but tough people do.'
"They give you a ton of quotes and that was the biggest message overall; the one that I carried out during the time I was there - as tough as times gets, it will never end up being that bad."
Injuries prevented Bohannon from reaching his expectations last season. He missed the first 10 games after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his knee and a torn ligament in his thumb.
Averaging 13 minutes in 22 games, including one start, Bohannon shot 49 percent from the field and averaged 4.3 points. Against Utah, he had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
There will be few, if any comparisons between J-Bo and Z-Bo and their shooting mechanics.
"I really can't describe it, but all of my teammates at Air Force gave me the nickname, 'Paul Pierce,'" said Zach Bohannon in reference to the unconventional form of the Boston Celtics guard.
"They tell me I have an ugly game. But the results speak for themselves.
"Jason had a textbook jumper growing up and it just continued during his college career. I was always a post (player) and never really had the ball skills because I was taller for my group."
UW senior guard Jordan Taylor offered this early scouting report on Zach Bohannon. "He's just like J-Bo in his mannerisms, but he's a little different player," Taylor said. "He's bigger so he can use his size; he's a good defender. His stroke isn't as pure as J-Bo's but he still makes shots."
Zach Bohannon had options once he left the Academy. Some programs met his needs more than others.
Over the last four years, Zach Bohannon has attended a handful of games each season at the Kohl Center. After talking with UW head coach Bo Ryan this spring, he was sold on the Badgers.
"The first time I talked to coach Ryan I was almost ready to commit on the spot to the walk-on position he offered," he said. "He wasn't like any past coaches who promised me anything.
"He said, 'I'm going to promise you an opportunity - that's the only thing I can promise you.'"
That's all he wanted to hear. As a result, Zach Bohannon is now looking forward to developing his game and individual skills during his redshirt season.
"I feel like the swing offense is perfect for me," he said, "just because of the versatility that it gives to each player within the system. We ran it in high school my sophomore and junior years."
Already, though, he's had his eyes open to the challenge that awaits him.
"I kind of had an understanding of the final product here when they pulled back the curtain," he said. "But I never really knew what was behind that curtain and all the hard work that they put in until I finally saw it this summer.
"Without a doubt, I think the two years at Air Force is going to help me with my transition (to Wisconsin). But I know I have a long ways to go here. The Mountain West was a heckuva conference the last few years; fourth in the RPI.
"But it's still nowhere close to the day-in and day-out grind of the Big Ten. When you get a feel for the work ethic necessary during the offseason, you can only imagine how hard it is going to be once you get into the season."
Jason Bohannon, who played last season in Germany, shared a little bit of his wisdom.
"Do everything the way you're told to do it," J-Bo told Z-Bo.
Jason Bohannon also said, "You have the solid foundation already from the Air Force Academy, so it's just a matter of time before you get set into the Wisconsin 'ways' and how we do everything."
UW sophomore Duje Dukan is overseas preparing with the Croatian National Team for the U-20 European Championships in Bilbao, Spain, later this summer. He'll be checking in periodically with UWBadgers.com with stories from the road.
Hey Badger fans, hope you're all enjoying your summer. Things are flying by overseas.
Just got to France today before our game with the French.
In the meantime we were in Italy for a tournament with Serbia, Finland and Italy which was a good tournament for us to get in game reps. It also gave us a chance to get used to playing with each other before the European championships so we can really hit our peak then.
Our first game was against Finland, who definitely surprised us as they shot the ball really well, which allowed them to beat us. It was a tough game but a good first game because it was a wake-up call, as our next opponent was our huge rival, Serbia. It's always a game of pride when you play them.
From the get-go we were really active and jumped on them early and they never recovered. Beating Serbia was very big because they are a very good team who many people believe will get a medal in Spain in the European Championships.
Our final game was versus Italy and it was interesting to see how hometown refs really value/side with the hometown team. But despite that, we were still in the game even though our coach got tossed and everything. In the end, we lost by 6 and overall the tournament went well because we were able to get acclimated to each other and beat a very good team.
I learned a lot in those 3 exhibition games about European basketball. One of the things was that languages come in very handy because your opponent has no idea what you're saying so you can call out plays and tell everyone exactly what to do and they won't know a thing. The border with referees is also a big one because they are generally from all over Europe and not all of them speak English well enough so it's hard to communicate with them.
The most common excuse or saying I've heard from them is, "I'm sorry I don't speak English." Another thing was how much skill is valued over strength because there are many kids who are weak here, but they are effective because they are smart and have good skills.
So, now we're in France for two "friendly" matches with the French prior to heading to Bilbao, Spain, for the European Championships. These two games against the French will be weird because they are also one of our opponents in group play of the Championships. So both teams will be hiding some of their sets, as well as giving everyone fair minutes so we don't get too familiar with each other.
Hope everything is well back home and everyone is doing great. Sorry for the long delay between journal entries, but internet access has been rare.