MADISON, Wis. — Not every team has one, but every fan base knows one — that guy who annoys the heck out of you, unless he’s on your team. And often, he annoys your team, too.
It can be his demeanor, his look, his style of play. Usually it’s a combination. And he’s almost always irritatingly good.
For some, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft might be that player. Wisconsin sometimes seemingly has a roster full of them.
This year, perhaps more than ever, senior forward Mike Bruesewitz is that guy for the Badgers — a floppy-haired carrot-top with a face, that when he’s beating your team, just irks every fiber of your being.
(Fellow senior Jared Berggren, Wisconsin’s leading scorer, might be this guy for some.)
Bruesewitz is only averaging 7.4 and 5.1 rebounds. But he’s a player that does a little bit of everything, including hit one 3-pointer in each of this last six games, usually seemingly when it hurts most.
“Itâ€™s funny. I mean, I think he got under (the skin of) Indiana, (but) he really doesnâ€™t get under mine,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Monday, dubbing Bruesewitz “the curly top guy,” on the eve of tonight’s game against the Badgers. “I kind of like the way he plays because heâ€™s not a dirty player. He plays hard but he can do a lot of things; thatâ€™s what I like about him. He can put the ball on the floor, he can make a post pass, he can run the court, he can get a few rebounds, heâ€™s got energy. Heâ€™s shooting the ball better from all areas.
“You know, I donâ€™t want to make him out to be Superman but I really like the way he plays and I think in that system, heâ€™s kind of the perfect guy. Heâ€™s got a demeanor about him where heâ€™s semi happy-go-lucky within that to. For me, heâ€™s fun to watch play. I hope I donâ€™t enjoy it as much (Tuesday) night.”
The energy, the look, the demeanor — it’ll probably annoy Izzo tonight, too.
For a while, Bruesewitz lost the red hair, going with the shaved head. If I were his coach, I’d never let him do lose the mop again. Those red locks have to be worth a couple points a game, simply in terms of an opponent wanting to choke him more than they would otherwise.
I’ve often thought part of the reason Wisconsin wins — and Iowa used to under Tom Davis — is how frustrating they are to play against, beyond being good players.
And this seems to be more than an outsider’s perspective, because so many opponents are so frequently rattled by these guys.