A busted garage door meant my car wasn't going anywhere Sunday afternoon. But that wasn't going to stop me from attending Wisconsin's season opener against Southern Directional State. So after waiting an eternity for a cab and stumbling to my seats a minute late, I settled in for a good old fashioned butt-whooping, administered by the good guys.
A lot was made of the faster tempo that Wisconsin seemed to play at on the offensive end, with quicker shots. But I'm going to chalk that up to the quality of the opponent, who were simply overmatched. Same goes for the ball movement. I was really impressed with how well this team delivers the ball into the post. I'll withhold my excitement until I see it replicated against Florida this week.
So with those caveats out of the way, here are three things that stood out to me from my view in Section 103 ...
Memorable first shots for all newcomers
This is borderline trivia material. All four Badgers making their regular season debut on Sunday sank their first shot attempt. Redshirt freshman point guard George Marshall banged home a straight-on 3-pointer about 15 seconds into the game, ultimately finishing with five points and two assists. Next up was true frosh Sam Dekker. He took a quick pass off of ball reversal around the perimeter and nailed a wing 3-pointer. The Kohl Center crowd's cheer even seemed to have a little extra pep in it for their future star. Dekker finished with eight points.
In the second half, the Z-Boys got into the act. Transfer Zach Bohannon hit (wait for it) ... you guessed it, a 3-pointer in his first shot attempt as a Badger. He received a pass from Brust, gave a pass fake to get rid of his defender, then sank what might have been the most wide open jumper of the day.
Zak Showalter was the only one with the guts to get his hands dirty on his first bucket. He scored shortly after entering the game with around eight minutes remaining by converting a traditional three-point play off an offensive rebound. Showalter's defender was in no way expecting him to hustle from the 3-point line on the left wing all the way down to the opposite (right) side of the basket for the rebound.
Not to mention Showalter nearly brought the house down with his put-back dunk attempt off a J.D. Wise missed layup. Ups, son, ups.
Brust active, impressive
Junior guard Ben Brust was a pretty easy call for 'Man of the Match' regardless of how dominant Jared Berggren was. I mean, a double-double?! Last year, Brust would have been the last guy I'd have predicted a double-double for out of the entire rotation.
Brust spearheaded a remarkable rebounding effort by the Badgers with a career-high 11 rebounds -- five of them offensive. These weren't cheapies either. Brust was skying down low, among teammates and opponents alike who are much taller than him. He possess underrated athleticism. Brust also hit two 3-pointers (one a 26-footer) en route to 14 points. The best part of that is he only attempted two treys; he generally appeared comfortable with his dribble, probing the defense for easier buckets.
It's great to have Bruiser back
Along with the surprising news that Duje Dukan would be redshirting, word also came out prior to the game that Mike Bruesewitz would dress with the team and be available to play. When he was the first sub off the bench, that was unexpected. The fact that he wound up not missing a shot, and scoring 10 points in 13 minutes was downright amazing.
After hearing so many stories about how gruesome his leg injury really was, I honestly did not want him to hurry back and figured him lost until at least the Vegas tournament. But sure enough, Bruesewitz returned early -- exactly four weeks and five days after surgeons used over 40 stitches to repair a severe right leg laceration. The best part is he looked like himself out there with the ginger 'fro, tipping rebounds and mixing it up. Here's to a successful and healthy senior season going forward for Bruesewitz.
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