MADISON - When asked about the kind of impact Josh Gasser could have, assistant coach Greg Gard said Wisconsin did not recruit him to sit on the bench.
Gasser didn't wait too long to show why.
In his collegiate debut, the point guard from Port Washington scored 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out three assists. Gasser also grabbed one steal against one turnover.
"He took care of the ball, he made great decisions," head coach Bo Ryan said. "People will remember the points, but he did some other things pretty well."
In just one game at Wisconsin, the 6-foot-3 guard has put his name in the record books, just behind Rashard Griffith.
With his 21-point debut, Gasser ranks second behind Griffith, who scored 27 on Nov. 27, 1993, in his first career collegiate game.
"Obviously that's going to help his confidence level and that's going to be great for us down the road," Jordan Taylor said. "We knew what Josh could do, and we've been talking about that since the season started about guys having to prove themselves. He took a step toward doing that tonight.
"He almost had a double-double and the second-most points for a debut in Badger history. Maybe he's the next like Devin Harris or something like that."
What could make Gasser an essential piece to the Badgers offense, though, is his ability to grab nine rebounds in 26 minutes at the guard position.
As long as he continues to take care of the ball and play confident, aggressive basketball, Gasser will continue to see minutes, even when Rob Wilson returns. Gasser's aggressive style showed in the 10 free throw attempts and the fact that six of his nine rebounds came on the offensive end.
"I always want to try and get my rebounds," Gasser said. "I've always been pretty good at that in my career. I knew I could bring that to our team.
"I was just trying to do whatever I could out there to help us."
Of course, Gasser's impressive debut did not come without its teaching points.
As impressive as the freshman point guard was on the offensive end, his defense left something to be desired at times, as noted by his head coach.
"He got a lesson about a guy hitting a three and then hitting another one and then hitting another one, and not making a guy move off a spot or make a guy put the ball on the floor," Ryan said. "So we guarded the three much better. They got into a little rhythm there, but he got some help from his teammates. Plus, he recognized an earlier pick up."
Smith impressive in first career start
He had just one point in 17 minutes of play, but Wquinton Smith showed what he could contribute to the Badgers if given regular playing time this season.
Smith grabbed five rebounds, all on the offensive end, while dishing out three assists and turning the ball over just once. He picked up just one personal foul in the game as well, while going 1-for-2 at the free throw line.
"His shot didn't go down, but he did the other things," Ryan said. "I thought defensively he chased on the screens pretty well, manned up on his guy, got on the glass, was opportunistic. He's just hungry to contribute. You can't go wrong with those kind of guys."
Bruesewitz continues to impress offensively
When putting together a defensive gameplan for stopping the Badgers, the first goal has to be limiting Jon Leuer's effectiveness. After that, Taylor is the secondary focus.
As for Rob Wilson and Keaton Nankivil, opponents are familiar with their names as well. After his impressive debut, Gasser is sure to get plenty of attention as well.
But not many people are going to expect Mike Bruesewitz to knock down outside shots the way he did Sunday.
"Mike looked like J-Bo out there for a stretch from last year," Taylor said, referring to graduated guard Jason Bohannon. "I don't think he hit the rim."
Bruesewitz went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc as he scored 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the floor. His one basket that did not come via the three ball was perhaps the most impressive.
After hitting a couple open shots from the outside, Bruesewitz shot faked and drove around a defender to the rim for the easy bucket. It's just one of a few things the sophomore appears ready to bring to the UW offense this season.
"He read the defensive player, that's in our shooting drills," Ryan said before adding some humor about Bruesewitz's much talked about new look. "But I think the biggest key in the offseason was he felt a few times last year that he was open and he wasn't getting the ball. So he wanted to make sure he was seen better this year.
"You can't miss the Brueser out there. You're going to find him."