It was 6:30 a.m. by the time I left my friend’s place in Jerusalem. I had not slept a wink and had practice in roughly five hours. The sun was rising as I drove over the hilly terrain and headed to my favorite breakfast spot in the city to celebrate a Badgers win and a trip to the Final Four.
I have read several stories about the Badgers in this great tournament run, but I think its time to focus on those not hitting the big shots or taking charges for UW. Everyone talks about how the scout team of UW has a very important role and is a big part of the success that this season has been. But just who are these guys and what makes them so great? I think its time to profile each of these players to give all you Badgers fans a taste of just how special this group is.
On the floor Zach is one of the most annoying people to play against on the planet. He makes all the little plays and has the ability to change a practice because of his annoying style of basketball. Off the floor he has a very similar personality and at times can be very annoying. He is always challenging the status quo and has a very different view on the world. Good luck trying to argue with him because he usually has his facts straight and can come at you in waves. He is cordial, punctual, articulate and rocks probably the dorkiest combover in the entire country. All that being said he is an invaluable asset to the team because he is such a great teammate and despite his many quirks and aspirations he always puts the team first. This is exactly the type of guy you need in the locker room and on your team in order to have a successful program.
When I was around the program Zak was a bright-eyed youngster coming out of high school looking to make an impact in his first year at UW. Basically everything he did was annoying because he was a freshman and he did not know any better. He got some serious grooming from former walk-on legends Dan Fahey and J.D. Wise — who have an impressive resume of bros under their tutelage — and he grew up a lot last year. On the court he is a bull who shows very little fear or regard for his body. Off the court he is a high-energy guy who loves everything Wisconsin. This kid is a Sconnie through and through down to his massively oversized ears. I mean, seriously, if you happen to make it down to Dallas let me know what those things look like on the Jumbotron.
I have known Jordan since he was 15 years old. We played in the same basketball conference and in the same AAU organization for a summer. Smith is a typical suburbanite whose bro status is at an elite level. He received some of the best training in the country from former first ballot HOF Dan Fahey and J.D. Wise and has blossomed into something special. On the floor he is a pure shooter who can’t dribble with his left hand to save his life (or at least that was the case last year). If you decide to leave him open you might as well count it because he is one of the best shooters the scout team has had since Brett Valentyn laced them up for UW. Off the court he is a total health nut and might care a little too much about his hairstyle and six pack but nobody is perfect.
Evan Anderson aka EA Sports aka Sporty Spice aka Spice. The man of more nicknames and epic dance moves than any other big in the country. Evan is from the small town of Stanley, Wis., and I am pretty sure he was at least 6 feet tall when he was born. On the court he sets the hardest screens and even gave me a concussion last year just by running into me. Off the floor he is a country kid through and through. He has had more cars, boats, mopeds and motorcycles than shoes over the past four years. Evan has been around for the past four years and even though he has not contributed with points and rebounds in games he has contributed in pushing every successful big that has come through the program with him. He is a great teammate and by far the best dancing center to ever play for the Badgers.
Since I am an old guy now I do not know any of the freshmen but I just assume they are all still green around the edges and do typical freshman things that are annoying to every upperclassman.
Ever since I have played basketball I have always been a rotation guy and seen the floor but now as my first season is coming to a close my role has changed and I have been put in a role similar to the guys I just mentioned. I have always had great respect for guys who come in and play hard every day knowing full well they were not going to get minutes, but now that I am one of those guys my respect has grown exponentially. It is not easy coming to the gym day in and day out, getting extra shots up and getting beat up by starters. It really takes a special kind of person to do it.
I would be lying if I said I was not just a little bit jealous of everything these guys are getting to experience but I know I was given my four years and enjoyed much of my experience. Now I am a fan from 6,000 miles away and am very proud to be a UW alum. It is great to see the guys that I played with be so successful and I can’t wait to see them shine under the bright lights in Dallas. I will once again be seeing the sun rise as I watch my former teammates and friends battle for a spot in the national championship.
(Note:You can find the archive of Mike Bruesewitz’s Imported Bru stories and photo galleries here and listen to his latest podcast here.)