Sunday, March 3, 2013

Senior Day Salute

Senior day for the Badgers always sneaks up on me. It's probably because they always go to the NCAA tournament, so their season is weeks away from ending. It's hard to believe that today's game against Purdue will be the last home game for Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, and Ryan Evans.

They've had a nice run already, and I've got some great memories of each of them. Here are a few.

Mike Bruesewitz. Bruiser is best known for his hustle plays and floor burns. But my favorite memory of him is his great play in the epic comeback win over No. 1 Ohio State in 2011. He scored 12 points on just five shots, and hit a clutch three in the final minutes. I doubt watching this video will ever get old:

Bruiser also had a real nice game against Kansas State in the NCAA tournament later that year (11 points on four shots, six rebounds). Those two performances in his sophomore year gave me high hopes for his junior and senior seasons. It turns out they were anomalies. But Bruiser has played his best game in the biggest moments—against OSU, at Purdue last year (a surprising, season saving win after the Badgers had lost three in a row in which Bruiser hit four threes on four attempts), and the NCAA games against Kansas State and Vanderbilt (10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists). So I can't help hoping that his best moments are still to come.

Jared Berggren. He is the class of this group on both ends of the court, and that's saying something on the defensive end. He too has showed up in some big games, most notably the NCAA tournament game against Syracuse last year, in which he was the best player on the court (17 points on 7 shots) when he was in the game (foul trouble limited him and a substitution fiasco kept him out for the final play). But what I'll most remember about Berggren are his monster dunks this year:

That last dunk, in the final minute against Michigan, is one of the greatest plays in Badger history. The amazing thing is that the next possession had an ever better play—Brust's game-tying half-court heave (we'll embed that video is next year's senior day salute).

Ryan Evans. It sounds like Evans's knee injury is a minor one and that he could play today, which would be great. Evans is one of the most likable players I can remember. My two favorite memories of him bookend his career. First, absolutely stonewalling Kyle Singler on a drive at the end of Wisconsin's win over eventual national champion Duke in 2009. Second, his put-back dunk against Ohio State. At the time this seemed like a catharsis:

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