We can call it the Pittsnogle effect. Where an otherwise decent player — such as West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle — catches fire during March Madness, and with the aid of Sportscenter and Gus Johnson, becomes a sensation over night.
With his vibrant, blaze orange 'do, and 100 percent energy 100 percent of the time attitude, Badger forward Mike Bruesewitz is approaching Pittsnogle status. The sophomore forward first made waves for grabbing nine rebounds in 28 minutes and knocking down two three pointer to go with it against Belmont after spraining his knee just five days before. He followed up that performance by scoring 11 points and pulling down six rebounds against Kansas State. Combine the raw numbers with an energy most of us can't muster up on our best days, and it is easy to see why Brueser — excellent nickname? Check. — has quickly become a Tourney favorite.
One more good game against Butler today should fully push him into the Pittsnogle stratosphere.
For the Badgers, a team rarely associated with such cult status, Bruesewitz sticks out to head coach Bo Ryan for more than just his hair.
"I'm still about substance, not flash. I like my players to be that way," Ryan said.
"But Mike Bruesewitz is a guy who can stir the pot. I call him the mixer. And, you know, it's obvious that he really doesn't care what other people say, because I've said so many times anybody that would wear his hair like that obviously isn't concerned about his looks or anything other than how he plays. He concerns himself with the most important part of life, and that is what can I do, and I'm going to try like the dickens to do it well, and that's just the way I live my life."
Bruesewitz value can be seen in the energy of his teammates as well.
With a sophomore trying that hard for that long, Bruesewitz pushes his fellow Badgers to play harder just by doing his own thing.
"He's tough to deal with on the court. And off the court, you know, he's got a heck of a personality. He's a pretty exciting kid to be around. He's definitely different. So it's fun to have him on the team," UW point guard Jordan Taylor said.
"He's an inspiration to all the guys on the team that way, because no one, no one has outworked him," Ryan added.
When asked where he get's such a tenacity for the game, Bruesewitz will tell a story any reporter who has covered the team for more than a week will know.
Growing up, he used to play with his dad and older brother in "old man gym." And as usually the smallest guy on the floor, not to mention the youngest, Bruesewitz said he knew he had to go and get the ball on his own if he wanted to touch it at all.
Thus his relentless work on the boards was created.
"I think a lot of times people see the high energy on the floor," Bruesewitz said. "If guys are down, especially in practice, I'll try to do something to spark it, make it a little bit better practice. Off the floor, I am probably a little bit more relaxed."
There is one guy Bruesewitz inevitably get's compared to as another Bo Ryan disciple:
Ryan wouldn't compare the two other than to drift off to a scenario of them both playing for UW at the same time.
"It's just a shame that the two of them couldn't have been here at the same time, Joe Krabbenhoft and Mike Bruesewitz, there would have been some really interesting practices," Ryan said.