Josh Gasser simply does whatever it takes

Josh Gasser is one of the most admired players on the Wisconsin basketball team for two reasons. He's a winner and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win. Gasser is a big reason that the Badgers will play in the national semifinal game Saturday night for the second year in a row.

When Josh Gasser’s teammates and coaches talk about what he means to the Wisconsin basketball team, it always comes back around to one phrase.

He will do whatever it takes.

Gasser, who has started all 38 games this season, is averaging 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the line. His assist-to-turnover total this season is 67-to-18.

He does it all.

“He does everything,’’ said sophomore guard Zak Showalter. “He’s a leader. He leads by example. I watch Josh every day and see the little things he does, and the things he can contribute to this team and I try to model my game around him and the stuff he does.

“You just watch what he does on the court and off the court, and you know that he is just huge to our teams’ success.’’

Sophomore guard Jordan Hill called Gasser “Captain America.”

“He is willing to do whatever it takes to win whether he has to take an elbow to the head or whatever the case may be,’’ Hill said. “He’s got that kind of mindset.’’

Gasser said when he came to Wisconsin he realized pretty quickly that he wasn’t going to be the big scorer that he was in high school. Instead, he knew that he was going to have to embrace his role.

“I just wanted to do anything I could do to help the team, anything I could do to be on the court,’’ Gasser said. “The reason I came to Wisconsin was because I wanted to win championships and compete for championships. This year we’ve done that. I think the wins speak for themselves and that’s the proudest I have from my career at Wisconsin.’’

Wisconsin assistant coach Greg Gard agreed that Gasser is a winner.

“I think he doesn’t really care about anything other than making sure at the end of the day when the horn goes off that Wisconsin wins,’’ Gard said. “He’s extremely competitive. He’s a lot like his head coach in how he’s driven. He doesn’t say a whole lot. He’s a guy of pretty few words. But our best leaders over the years in our program have always been guys that have done it more by example than by what they’ve said.’’

Gard said he is simply a great competitor. And he said it doesn’t matter what the sport or what he’s doing, he’s going to compete.

“It doesn’t matter if he’s playing football where he was a really good quarterback in high school or baseball, anything he plays, he has a competitive edge to him,’’ Gard said. “That’s what makes him who he is and that rubs off on other guys and permeates through the program. We’ve had a lot of guys over the years that have had that blue collar, grit, toughness that morphs itself into other guys in the room.’’

Gard said that Gasser is one of those players who doesn’t necessarily fill up the stat sheet but he makes big plays that aren’t statistic-based.

“A great one last week in California was the errant pass against the press where he outraced everybody to get it in the last couple of minutes of the game,’’ Gard said. “It’s just that ‘my will is better and bigger than yours’ type of plays and is want-to that sets him apart in terms of those kinds of things.’’

Hill remembered one from last season at Purdue.

“To end the half someone had a breakaway layup and they made it but Josh was racing as hard as he could to beat everyone else down the floor and dove just to try and tap the ball out of the guys’ hands,’’ Hill said. “If the guy is willing to sacrifice his body like that, there’s no telling what he will do to win.

“I think we all respect that and we don’t take it for granted. It just makes everyone else better.’’

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