Momentum of a Different Kind

He has the lowest scoring average among the five starters, but ask his teammates what junior Tim Jarmusz brings to the table and you are liable to get a wide range of positive remarks in his favor. A big energy guy for UW, the Badgers will need Jarmusz when they open the conference season against No.15 Ohio State Thursday.

MADISON - The starting five of the Wisconsin men's basketball team is as diverse as one could imagine.

Junior Jon Leuer – the team's leader in points with 17 per game – has turned the mid-range jumper into a work of art; senior Trevon Hughes' play-making ability at the point-guard position makes him one of the best in the country; senior Jason Bohannon is a three-point marksman and junior Keaton Nankivil has become more comfortable with his role in the post after each game.

Then there's Tim Jarmusz and his statistics, which are currently buried deep in the shat sheet. The junior is shooting only 38 percent and averaging 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. But when it boils down to it, there are few people that do more unsung things on the floor than Jarmusz.

"He definitely helps us out and does all the little things, whether it's diving on the loose floor for a ball, taking a charge or sacrificing his body," said Leuer. "Those things don't go on stat sheet but are something we definitely recognize and appreciate. They may go unnoticed to the average fan, but we don't forget about them."

Jarmusz's consistency is what has cemented his status in UW coach Bo Ryan's starting lineup, a place he'll most likely be Thursday afternoon when the Badgers take on No.15 Ohio State in the Big Ten Opener at the Kohl Center.

In three seasons for UW, Jarmusz has provided defensive intensity, stability and, like Leuer said, some energy on the court without having to score a point. In 68 career games, Jarmusz has scored in double digits only once (11 vs. Green Bay in 08) but with Leuer and Hughes (16.4 ppg) off to a fast start, there's no need for the Oshkosh native to shoot after every touch.

"He'll probably never be a 20-point per game scorer and he doesn't have to be," associate head coach Greg Gard. "He fits a role, he understands that role and he's accepted that role. He knows he has certain responsibilities are there and he's very cerebral that way. He understands the game very well."

After only dishing out 13 assists his sophomore year, Jarmusz has already assisted on 11 buckets and continues to take what's given to him. A career 45.8 percent shooter (55-of-120), Jarmusz has settled into his roll without having the pressure of carrying an offensive burden.

"Everyone wants to be able to score a point; that's just part of playing basketball," Jarmusz said. "If I didn't want to score, I would be lying, but I would rather just win.

"It's simple for me really – getting the ball to the scorers, playing good defense, hitting the open shots when guys penetrate or the bigs kick it out and convert hustle opportunities. It's all about having fun and playing basketball."

It's been fun so far this year for No.23 Wisconsin (10-2), who have themselves back in the national rankings this week after a winning four straight games. The resume for UW is starting to match the qualifications for an NCAA Tournament team – two wins over ranked opponents, a third-place finish in the Maui Invitational and a team confidence that was missing at points during stretches of last season.

"We had five incoming freshman last year and this year, everybody knows each other better," Jarmusz said. "We know each other's moves, we've practiced on the court more and we understand each other. The seniors are doing a great job of leading us and the juniors know what is going on and what's to be expected. It's a group thing, and that's what we love doing."

But in order to have a successful, cohesive group, everyone has to bring something different to the table. Jarmusz has proven that, despite his struggles from the floor and the perimeter, his work ethic is the best character trait he can bring on a daily basis.

"The thing with Tim is he is consistent, day in and day out, whether it's a Monday practice or a Wednesday game or anywhere in between," Gard said. "He's steady eddy, he goes hard every single possession and he sets the bar in terms of work ethic."

After opening against the Buckeyes, Wisconsin has four of its next five conference games on the road, a daunting task for any squad, but a welcome challenge for a program that wants to erase all memories from a six-game conference losing streak that dampened the month of January.

"The Big Ten conference is going to be a battle each night and you have to approach it like you are playing the best team in the country each night," Jarmusz said. "You've got to show up for it, and sometimes that wasn't there last year.

"We've got a great starting five down the board. We have two good bigs that can score outside or in the post and two guards that can penetrate. We have guys that can hit the open shots like JBo and Pop and overall are very balanced. The sky is the limit for this team. We just need to look at the task at hand."

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