Saturday, February 9, 2013
Two players and the shot that shook Kohl
By Andy Katz
Jared Berggren (left) and Mike Bruesewitz celebrate after UW's win over No. 3 Michigan.
Mike Bruesewitz's pass was in stride, perfectly thrown, hitting Ben Brust in motion so all he had to do was think about the shot without collecting the ball first.
"Mike put it perfectly. I caught it, squared up right away," Brust said by phone from Madison, Wis., a few hours after Saturday's thrilling 65-62 overtime victory over No. 3 Michigan. "Without that, the shot doesn't get off. If that thing gets tipped, then that's the game. Mike put it right where I needed it. I think there is a quarterback tossup in the fall. Mike should compete for it since that pass was on the money.''
Brust buried the running 3-pointer at the buzzer to send Wisconsin into overtime against the Wolverines, two-plus seconds after Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 3-pointer over Bruesewitz to give Michigan a 60-57 lead.
Wisconsin had fouls to give on the Hardaway shot since it had committed only three in the second half to that point. But the Badgers elected to play defense.
"I wasn't trying to foul, I was going after the steal,'' said Bruesewitz by phone. "He came off the ball screen, and I tried to swipe at it and maybe foul him in the process, but it didn't get called. At that point, you can't really foul because he was shooting a 3 and then he's knocking down free throws."
On the ensuing inbounds, Bruesewitz said as soon as he threw the ball to Brust he knew it had a chance.
"I still feel completely, I don't know, like it's just another game right now,'' Brust said. "It's going to hit me. I don't know when. When Mike got the ball, I made my cut, and he led me perfectly. He put it in my pocket, I got squared up without wasting any time. I knew as soon as it left my hands that it was pretty good.''
This shot by Ben Brust forced OT in a game Wisconsin would eventually win against Michigan.
Bruesewitz trailed the play and immediately said he told Brust to settle down since there were five more minutes to play.
"I wanted to win the game right there,'' Brust said. "But then I knew we had overtime and had to get focused.''
That he did, as Brust hit a 3 that proved to be the difference in a low-scoring OT. But it's the shot at the end of regulation that will be long remembered in Madison. Brust will get the credit for it, but Bruesewitz's pass should be remembered as well, much like Brandon Paul's to Tyler Griffey on Thursday night on Illinois' improbable game-winning basket at the buzzer over No. 1 Indiana.
"I saw that, too. Brandon Paul put that pass right in Griffey's pocket, and he laid it up and in," Brust said. "I got it in stride, to my right hand. Caris LeVert is like 6-foot-5, and he is long and athletic and he did a good job contesting it."
With the win -- UW's second over a top-three team this season (at Indiana) -- the Badgers moved to 17-7 overall, but, more importantly, 8-3 in the Big Ten, tied with Michigan for second and a game back in the loss column behind Michigan State and Indiana (both 8-2).
"We've had early setbacks with Josh [Gasser] going down with an ACL [in the preseason], my leg injury [a major laceration that required surgery in the preseason] and a concussion," Bruesewitz said. "We've been injury-prone, but a lot of guys have stepped up. There aren't one or two great teams [in the Big Ten]. There isn't separation between the top teams and the middle of the pack."
Having young guards mature and develop provided an early-season hiccup, but Bruesewitz said the expectation within the locker room has remained a league title.
"We've always thought we could win the Big Ten and win a national championship," Bruesewitz said. "That hasn't changed."
As for Saturday's memorable moment at the Kohl Center, well, that one will be talked about for a while. Brust said he can't wait to get a framed photo of the shot. He knows it will have a special place in his home.
"I just want it somewhere where we can talk about it," Brust said. "It's going to be a moment I'll remember forever. I'm just grateful for the opportunity."