More then Meets the Eye

Although he averages less than four points per game, the production senior Tim Jarmusz brings to the court in terms of defense, intelligence and experience is worth more than a couple three pointers.

MADISON – As soon as he released the ball, Tim Jarmusz knew he had made a mistake. Consider it a rarity.

It was at the 7:46 mark in the first half of Wisconsin's 76-66 victory over Illinois Jan.15 when Jarmusz was looking to swing the ball to freshman Josh Gasser. He didn't ball fake and he never saw senior guard Demetri McCamey break for the ball, resulting in a lay-up and two free throws at the other end.

"It just slipped my mind, and I made a mistake," said Jarmusz. "I was like, ‘Oh jeez.' You just have to do whatever you can to get it back."

That turnover aside, there haven't been too many other mistakes caused by the 6-6 senior forward from Oshkosh. In 487 minutes played, Jarmusz has turned the ball over just five times, a stat that averages out to one turnover every 94.7 minutes played, the best in the Big Ten.

In his first 16 games, Jarmusz committed only two turnovers compared to 20 assists, an impressive 10-to-1 turnover ratio.

"I've just learned over the years from being under Coach Ryan that taking care of the ball is huge," Jarmusz said. "You want to make sure you can get a shot every time down the court. You don't want to give the team any momentum or any easy baskets."

Underappreciated because he's not a dynamic scorer, Jarmusz is constantly the lightning rod of criticism because of his lack of offense. Averaging only 3.8 points per game, Jarmusz has attempted only 68 shots in 21 games (3.2 per game), but plays an average of 23.2 minutes per game, including eight starts.

The reason? Much like the reason Wisconsin in underappreciated nationally, Jarmusz has been a key attribute on the defensive end, as his fundamentals were the reason McCamey shot 3-for-13 from the field in that game.

That's just one of the things that makes Jarmusz a valuable member of No. 19 Wisconsin (16-5, 6-3 Big Ten), who face reeling Michigan State (13-9, 5-5) Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.

"It's a long list of the things he brings to this team on a daily basis," UW assistant coach Lamont Paris said. "They aren't necessarily stat stuff. They are items that don't jump out of the score box, but things that are vital to this team: defensively what he brings, overall toughness, being one of our best guys going after loose balls. Two or three plays make a big impact in the game."

Playing on a team headlined by two 17 point per game scorers (senior Jon Leuer at 19.7, Jordan Taylor at 17.2), Jarmusz has no problem accepting the supporting role in front of him. It's a matter of pride, according to Jarmusz, to be rewarded with minutes because he understands UW Coach Bo Ryan's concepts: not giving up open shots, when to switch assignments, who to guard, where to force the player, when to take the shot and much more.

"There are a lot of little things that the more repetitions you get, the more comfortable you get," Jarmusz said. "Everyone wants to score and play, but I know who the go-to scorers are. For us to have success, you have to get them the ball. That's where our team is going to have success and if we can help, and we can play good defense, it's going to help the team that much more."

When Jarmusz does chip in, like the 3-pointer from the corner just before halftime against Illinois that jump started the Badgers' strong second half, he'll connect with the same fluid motion he's had since playing for Oshkosh West.

Jarmusz has made 13 of his last 32 (.406) 3-point attempts over the last 10 games. He is shooting 35.0 percent from long range this year. Overall, he is a 35.2-percent career 3-point shooter.

"He's accepted the role and he's flourished in that role," Paris said. "If he was taking 12 more shots a game, that's probably shots Jon and Jordan aren't getting early in the game that may affect how they play early in the game. It's stuff you don't even take in to consideration. It's important for Jon and Jordan to get going early and Tim is a big part of that."

Jarmusz helped hold then-Michigan State's leading scorer, Durrell Summers, to three points on 1-for-6 shooting when the two teams met Jan.11, a game in which Wisconsin blew a nine point second-half lead to lose in overtime.

With the Badgers 3.5 games behind No.1 Ohio State in the conference race, Wisconsin can afford too many more slip ups. The Badgers also can't afford to have a defensive presence like Jarmusz on the bench against a team with three double-digit scorers.

"He's has no ego," Paris said. "It's hard to find these days, particularly with what goes on in this world with recruiting. A lot of these guys have egos, but Tim definitely doesn't. He could score 12 or 13 points one game and attempt one shot the next game. Whatever we order up for him, he's willing, ready and able to do it."

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