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November 22, 2011

Tom's take: The test is coming

MADISON - To say Mike Bruesewitz is focused on the task at hand would do nothing but make that age-old cliché blush.

"I don't know the date of the North Carolina game," Bruesewitz said. "I don't know the date of the Marquette game, either.

"That's an honest answer."

Really?

Bruesewitz, one of the more wily players in all of college basketball, insisted he doesn't know when this Badgers squad - - one that hasn't come close to being remotely tested through four early season games - - will square off with the nation's elite team, in it's elite arena, in one of the more elite pre-conference season events in college basketball.

Don't try him.

"Until we go through the scouting report I honestly don't know," Bruesewitz said. "It really doesn't matter who we're playing or if they have a No. 1 next to their name or not. We've got to make sure we're getting better every day and making sure we're doing the stuff to get where we want to be."

The only problem to that otherwise sound logic is the fact UW hasn't had an opportunity to see if it's improved.

It's played four patsies - - four opponents that were so far overmatched UW could have blindfolded three of it's five players on the court and tied the other two's shoelaces together and still had success - - so there's really no boundary for limitations or expectations for that matter.

Maybe that's a little over the top, but you probably get the idea.

And Wisconsin's next opponent, Bradley, just lost to UW's last opponent, Wofford, a team UW beat by 36 points.

Wisconsin's following matchup in its upcoming Chicago Invitational tournament - - either Nevada or BYU - - will be an improvement, but it won't quite be the primer needed to fully anticipate the shortcomings that will certainly be exposed in Chapel Hill.

Still, it's one game.

One focus.

And as Bret Bielema's guys would say, 'One unit, one goal.'

"The stuff we're doing now would be the same stuff we'd do if we were playing North Carolina or Marquette," Bruesewitz said. "We're just trying to be the best team we possibly can be.

"Nothing has really changed."

The good news, though, is UW has a sleeping giant in Jordan Taylor.

As a preseason All-American, Taylor has yet to truly light up the scoreboard like he's proven capable on so many occasions. When the bright lights come on, so does Taylor's game.

Instead, in four laughers, Taylor has facilitated an offense that has generated nothing but confidence for several role players. Jared Berggren has set a new career-high. Ben Brust has seemingly limitless range and the confidence to match it and Ryan Evans continues to elevate his game all around.

Those are the players that will need to chip in throughout the season for UW to find the same success it's become so accustomed to. They all won't need to do it in the same game - - although UW would be nearly impossible to beat if that were to happen - - but a couple of them will absolutely need to do it consistently to beat the good teams.

Taylor senses that.

So for those of you concerned about his lack of scoring just take a deep breath. It's going to come. Especially when UW needs it.

Blowing out four overmatched teams to start the season, especially to start the season, is encouraging because early season games usually breed inconsistency and complacency.

Not this year. Not for this team.

"We're just trying to focus on our stuff," Berggren said. "We're working hard and trying to outwork everybody and every team. We're trying to take care of the ball. Tonight we had eight turnovers which coach is going to say is eight too many. So there's always room for improvement no matter who you're playing.

"We just want to be sharp every night."

Bruesewitz might not know the date his team plays the nation's No. 1, but you can be fairly certain he's cognizant of the fact his team will play the nation's No. 1. It's within the same vain he's surely aware the schedule will get increasingly tougher as the temperatures get colder and the days get shorter.

It's the nature of the beast.

And it won't be until the Badgers dive well into the belly of that beast before they truly find what they're made of.

"It's still about the game," UW head coach Bo Ryan said. "It's still about developing the players. The one thing you always have to know looking at our schedule is that there are some challenges out there.

"Right now the challenge is for us to develop and get ready for whatever's next."


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