MADISON - It was a long month for Wisconsin forward Mike Bruesewitz. The 6-foot-6 forward went about a month without hitting a three-point shot, which left him mired in an 0-for-18 shooting slump.
Then, Bruesewitz's luck turned around. He finally ended his slump against Montana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, hitting 2-of-3 shots from behind the arc to propel the Badgers into the next round.
But it didn't stop there- Bruesewitz hit another two three-pointers against Vanderbilt, helping the Badgers into the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, and showing that he could be an offensive sparkplug once again. Sophomore guard Josh Gasser put it in simple terms after practice Monday:
"He was due," Gasser said.
"I think it's good, just overall as a team, because when he's shooting the ball well it opens up a lot of other things for everyone," sophomore guard Ben Brust said Monday. "It's going to be key for him to get open and to knock down those shots against Syracuse ï¿½ and I think we've got a lot of guys who can knock down shots, and that's a good key thing against a zone."
As a whole, the Badgers have made a habit of spreading the ball around lately. They've had four or more players score in double figures in five of their last seven wins, including streak of four consecutive games. In a season where the Badgers have been over-reliant on point guard Jordan Taylor at times, that's a good sign as the team moves on in a win or go home tournament.
"The more guys we have chipping in, usually the better we are," Gasser said. "You saw in the last couple games that Ben and Mike stepped up, Ryan Evans has been playing really well, and if we keep getting contributions from everyone the more efficient we'll be."
The Badgers will need to get as many people involved against Syracuse as possible if they want to survive and advance to the Elite Eight this season. Beating the Orange's 2-3 zone defense will require the Badgers to spread the ball around and make Syracuse's defenders over-commit to one player, which should leave another Badger uncovered.
"It helps a lot," senior guard Rob Wilson said of spreading out the scoring. "A lot of guys worked in the offseason and it shows. It's just making the opponents have to worry about more than two people."
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