Wanting to Bruise

Patenting his game after former Badger Joe Krabbenhoft, freshman Mike Bruesewitz has spent his limited time attacking every workout and every practice. Now, the main task for Minnesota high school Player of the Year is figuring out when he's going to make his Wisconsin debut.

MADISON - When he took the court for the first time in exhibition play, freshman Mike Bruesewitz claims the nerves were gone and that he was ready to start playing basketball.

When he arrived in the summer, the calm and confident stature wasn't exactly the best attributes to describe his demeanor

"It really took awhile to sink in when I first got here, doing summer conditioning and preseason stuff," Bruesewitz said. "It was a little overwhelming at first, but it's been a process getting used to everything and I feel like I've had a real good experience so far."

So when did he start to get comfortable wearing the Wisconsin uniform and calling himself a Badger?

"I got a shiner the first day of practice," he chuckled. "So it sank it then."

Getting comfortable with what he was going to be doing was the main key to getting a head start on his career at Wisconsin. When he was getting recruited as a junior, Bruesewitz received mail from UW, and one of those letters talks about in infamous hill.

Coupled with his dad's research on UW coach Bo Ryan's conditioning tactics and knowing Jon Leuer from high school, Bruesewitz, along with fellow Minnesota natives Jordan Taylor and Jared Berggren, went out and ran the hill six or seven times, just so they could get use to it.

"The workouts were obviously a step up for what you are usually doing," Bruesewitz said. "I had been working out with my high school coach and working out in general. The biggest change for me was lifting everyday. I didn't have to lift very much through high school but coming here and lifting everyday was probably the biggest challenge."

Basketball has come naturally to Bruesewitz, who was named the Minnesota Gatorade and AP Player of the Year as a senior. Finishing his career with more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, Bruesewitz posted per game averages of 17.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals as a senior, all statistics that are a tribute to his work ethic on the court and numbers that show his growth.

"The thing people would always say to me is, ‘Don't be soft' when I was a lot younger," Bruesewitz said. "That was always my goal to go to practice everyday and not to be called soft."

With that mindset, it's no surprise fans and coaches have compared Bruesewitz to former Badger Joe Krabbenhoft.

"He was up here in the summer a few times and he is a great guy," Bruesewitz said. "I came in and a freshman doesn't have that much stuff, so he gave me a couple pairs of shoes that he didn't want anymore or he never wore. Joe is a great guy and he is tough-as-nails to play against. I don't like playing against Joe, because it's kind of like playing against myself."

During the exhibition games, Bruesewitz was one of the first players off the Wisconsin bench, seeing 13 minutes of action against Bemidji State (4 points, 2 rebounds) and nine against UW-Superior (3 points, 2 boards). In the season opener against IPFW, however, Bruesewitz remained on the bench, keeping his option of redshirting still open.

Should Bruesewitz begin is his UW career Wednesday against Oakland remains to be seen but the one thing that is for certain, he wants to compete, just like his ‘sole' mate Krabbenhoft.

"Every practice is a competition to get playing time and me being a natural competitor I am, I want to play," Bruesewitz said. "Don't get me wrong, I really want to play and that's my goal this year. But if it's not in the cards or somebody is better than me or I need to learn/pick up some more weight, anything that I need to do or they tell me I need to do, I have no problem redshirting. But man, I am ready to go."

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