March 16, 2011
• Blog: Post-practice update on Bruesewitz
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Mike Bruesewitz woke up Wednesday to the brilliant sunshine illuminating the mountains surrounding the team hotel. By sunset, he’s hoping to know whether he can play against Belmont in Thursday night’s second round game of the NCAA tournament here at the McKale Center.
As a whole, the Badgers could use a wake-up call after losing their last two games and Bruesewitz might be able to supply that much-needed spark if he feels comfortable enough to play with a sprain in his right knee; an injury that knocked him out of the Big Ten tournament.
“Today will be the deciding factor, I’m going to try and do some live stuff,’’ said Bruesewitz, who has done some cutting and shooting on Tuesday under the close supervision of team physician Dr. John Orwin. The day before, he had been limited to pool workouts with UW athletic trainer Henry Perez-Guerra.
“Me and Henry have been pretty much best friends for the last two and a half days and I think I’m starting to get in his hair a little bit,’’ said Bruesewitz with a laugh.
It was no laughing matter when Bruesewitz went down awkwardly in last Friday night’s game against Penn State. He tried to cross over, missed a step and rolled his ankle. Bruesewitz later watched the replay. “But Henry wouldn’t let me see it again,’’ he said.
Bruesewitz thought worst-case scenario.
“Sitting there, I thought I might have done something bad; something really bad,’’ he said. “I turned over on my back and Jordan (Taylor) was there and he saw the concern on my face and he kept telling me to breathe. He was being a good teammate.’’
For Bruesewitz not to play with his teammates was difficult. “You can rip my arm off and I’d still want to go back out there and play,’’ he said, pointing out that he would not be going through the rehab process now if there was any chance that he could do more serious damage to his knee.
To this end, Perez-Guerra has reassured Bruesewitz on the big picture.
“Henry has told me multiple times that he’s trying to get me ready for this game (Belmont),’’ he related, “but he also said, ‘If you’re not ready that’s OK because we’re looking out for your future and I’m looking out for your best interests.’ He’s been great.’’
“Mike has been extremely dedicated to the process,” Perez-Guerra said, “His efforts and passion to get back on the floor is representative of the entire team’s motivation. He’s doing whatever it takes.”
This is a new experience for Bruesewitz, who has never had any major injuries.
The Badgers will take part in an open practice Wednesday afternoon at the McKale Center. That will be followed by a practice at a local high school. “When we do some live stuff, I’ll know more,’’ he said. “And the thing is, I’m going to have to be really honest with myself and really honest with Henry and Dr. Orwin.’’
He only has two options.
“I can say, ‘Yeah, this feels really good, I’m going to give it a go,’’’ Bruesewitz said. “If I can’t it’s going to be one of those things where I don’t think I can do this 100 percent and I don’t think I’m going to be able to help the team. We have to make sure that we make the right decision together.’’
Bruesewitz knows how to play only one way.
“I’m about going 100 miles per hour, running through walls, hustling after everything, playing defense,’’ he said. “I have to feel comfortable doing that. It’s more about me seeing if I can do it today and if I can, I don’t think I’d be afraid to play on it during the game. I’ll go hard.
“I really don’t know another gear,’’ he continued. “I talked to my parents and my dad was a little concerned that I might not be the same player after this. My mom was like, ‘He doesn’t know any other gears.’
“I’ve never not played hard. I’ve never known how to do it any other way. We’ll see how it goes.’’
Reflecting on the Penn State loss, he admitted, “I don’t think it was any easier to play in than it was to watch. It was pretty brutal. Nothing seemed to fall. We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.’’
That was yesterday to his thinking.
Today is a much different day.
Today the sun came up and glistened off the Tucson Mountains.
“We understand this is a pretty good opportunity for us,’’ Bruesewitz said. “We’ve got a pretty good seed in the tournament and we’ve got a bunch of seniors who know what’s at stake. Me, personally, I want to win games. But we all want to send these seniors out the right way.’’
If everything falls into place, Bruesewitz would like to be able to play X-number of minutes against Belmont – just enough to keep some of his teammates fresh. He would also like to be a spark. “That’s something I’ve always tried to provide – come in and shake things up,’’ he said.
Bruesewitz grinned. “People have always told me ‘When you come into the game, something is going to happen,’’’ he said. “That’s something I’ve always prided myself on – getting some energy going. Diving on the floor and running through somebody to get a loose ball is a pretty big message.’’
And it can be contagious.
Bruesewitz excused himself.
“I’m going to go hang out with Henry again,’’ he said.