MADISON - Entering the season as one of only two true freshmen, and the only one on scholarship, several people following the Wisconsin men's basketball team believed Mike Bruesewitz would contribute right away. While that may turn out to be true, the chance he redshirts is also still there.
Following Monday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the Minnesota native. During the conversation several topics were covered including the thought process of redshirting, playing with professional players and establishing a social life as a student-athlete.
The following is a question and answer with Bruesewitz. Audio is also provided at the bottom of the story.
What's the thought process going through your mind with the redshirt and what are you thinking with that?
Bruesewitz: Well, I had asked the coaches to not play me last night (Sunday). I'm just kind of feeling like I'm debating whether I want to redshirt or not. I'm trying to make the best decision for myself and as a team guy, I'm trying to figure out what's best for the team.
If I can contribute now, I'm still thinking about playing obviously. If I feel like I'm not going to contribute as much this year, I can get a good year under my belt lifting and trying to get my body better for next year and get my skill sets up and things like that. If I redshirt, it wouldn't be a year off for me at all. It would be a year for me to develop and make sure I get ready for the next year.
Is that the hardest thing, just getting your body right? Is that the hardest thing that you're trying to grapple with in terms of making that decision?
Bruesewitz: Yeah, that and there's other things. Academics would be the other big thing. I've had a few conversations with my parents about that. Just that fifth year, to be able to cut down my classes by about 20 percent or I could go onto a graduate year if I decided to graduate on time.
There are academics to go along with that. I mean, there's just a bunch of little things kind of picking at you. So, I mean, it's just trying to figure it all out.
Is it stressful?
Bruesewitz: I'm not losing sleep over it. The coaches are being great with me. They're being really up front with me about talking with me and letting me decide what I want to do. They're being great about that. Just taking it anytime going through practice.
The guys are great. The guys really don't care. It's kind of a personal thing for myself and the coaches are being really great about it.
Do they kind of tell you flat out where you'd be in the rotation?
Bruesewitz: Yeah, they're being real honest with me right now. I'm just trying to figure out where I want to sit. If I want to get a few minutes here or there or maybe do I want to tack on a fifth year and get a lot of minutes my fifth year. That's kind of a big decision for me.
Its just one of those things. Obviously you can chip in and get two, three or five minutes in a game here, but is it worth it in the end?
Bruesewitz: That's the thing you've got to decide with the whole redshirt thing. The other thing is just deciding how it's going to affect my abilities to maybe go onto the next level if that's what's in the cards. Obviously that's a long ways away. That's four or five years away, but that's the other thing you've got to come to terms with too. Just figuring out what will be best for myself and the team. So I'm just trying to figure it out.
Just in a general sense, how has it been going for you now that practice has been underway for a few weeks?
Bruesewitz: I'm starting to get the hang of it. I'm starting to figure out how to do things in the weight room and on the practice floor-I'm trying to figure out things-and the classroom, learning to balance everything. It was a little bit of a juggling act in the beginning just trying to figure out and get my feet under me.
I'm feeling a lot better about it. Just hanging out with the guys really helped. And coach Bo Ryan and all the coaches are great about it. We're together so much so it's pretty easy to get acclimated pretty quick because I'm one of two freshmen-me and Dan Fahey-are the only freshmen and everyone else has been through this.
So this is kind of old for them and new for me. They're helping me out and sharing their experiences and just walking me through all that stuff.
Is it kind of a whirlwind thing with classes and everything, too. Everything that comes with being a student-athlete?
Bruesewitz: Yeah, it's a little bit crazy. Most people would think, 'Oh, you're lucky, you get to go play basketball.' This is like a job. Really, you put in enough hours. You get up early and then you've got to go to class and then you've got to find time to shove some food in your face and figure out how to get all your classes done and somehow manage to maybe, you know, meet some cute girls or get a social life.
Growing up in the Twin Cities area, are you a Timberwolves fan and do you have a player that you model yourself after?
Bruesewitz: Model myself after? I was always a big Mark Madsen fan.
Really? Can you dance like him?
Bruesewitz: No, I do not dance like Mad dog.
Do you dance better?
Bruesewitz: Maybe. It's up in the air. No, obviously when you're a Timberwolves fan you like Kevin Garnett. Even when he was traded to the Celtics I became a Celtics fan instantly. But no, Mark Madsen, a lot of the Timberwolves guys, I've met quite a few of them.
I've been really fortunate that way. I got to work out in Chris Carr's facility. He brought in a lot of those pros. I was really fortunate to meet a lot of those guys and see how hard they work. Coming into here, that was really beneficial to myself. It wasn't like oh, I've got to up my level of intensity because I was working out with pros and playing against them.
That's a whole different level as well. The speed of the game was a little different obviously, but that whole experience, working out with those guys and being able to see how hard they play, really helped me, I think.
Was it kind of an eye-opener? Even on this level, isn't the speed kind of fast?
Bruesewitz: Yeah, it's starting to get there. I'm starting to figure it out a little bit. The funny thing my dad told me was that I'm a freshman in high school again. I remember that going into the games and all of a sudden the speed of the game is a lot faster and a lot more intense. People play a lot harder and the level of athletes up at this level now are the best in the country other than the NBA. This is the best competition in the country, division one basketball.
It's a little bit of an eye-opener and you've got to figure out how to play in that. Get some shot fakes. I'm not really used to shot faking that much. In high school I was a lot bigger and more athletic than a lot of guys. Then you get here and there are seven-footers that are a foot and a half above the square. Oh yeah, go get everything off the glass. So, you've just got to figure out how to play and be a little craftier and just learn how to play the game all over again.
Did you follow Wisconsin basketball for a number of years at all?
Bruesewitz: Not too much. A little bit, but more when they started recruiting me and when Jon Leuer came here. I played against Jon in high school my sophomore year. He kind of kicked our butts a little bit. That's alright, he put in a little bit of work on me. I was only a sophomore at the time.
Since he came here I started following a little bit more. As the recruitment started to pick up a little bit, I started to follow more and more teams that were starting to talk to me. Wisconsin was on the radar and I started to watch their games a little bit more.
Obviously a lot of people compare you to Joe Krabbenhoft. Is that a fair assessment in the way you play?
Bruesewitz: Yeah, it's a fair assessment. Obviously I think Joe was a lot better of a defender than I was. But toughness wise, I don't know if I want to get into a fight with Joe. I mean, the comparisons are there because Joe played so hard every night. He just did a lot of the little things.
That's what I've always tried to do, a lot of the little things, and play as hard as I possibly can. I think that's the biggest thing. Diving on the floor and getting all those lose balls and offensive rebounds and stuff. Just the little stuff that helps you win games, that's what Joe did for four years.
I'm going to try and do that as much as possible. If that helps me get on the floor, then it helps me get on the floor.
Going back to Jon for a minute, does he give you a hard time about beating you guys in high school?
Bruesewitz: No, not too much. Not too much.
He picks his spots?
Bruesewitz: Yeah, he picks his spots. He's been kicking my ass in practice for the past few weeks. He really doesn't have to go back to his older days. One of these days, if I decide to take it to him and bring it to him a little bit harder then he might bring it up again just to rub it in. He's not too bad about it.
Then one final thing with the redshirt. Is there a deadline you've set or is that something that's going to go through the whole season?
Bruesewitz: No, I haven't really set a deadline. I'm just taking my time and figuring out really what I want to do and what would be the best for the team. So there's not really a deadline. That's why I said the coaches are great. They're not like, 'Oh, you have to decide right now.' The coaches have been fantastic about it and letting me decide what would be best for myself and the rest of the team.
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