Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 3/2/13
MADISON, Wis. They shuffled into a Kohl Center locker room in mid-December disappointed but not defeated. Wisconsin's basketball team was only hours removed from a frustrating 60-50 loss at Marquette, but here players were, holding an impromptu meeting to air their grievances on a rare day off. Wisconsin's record was 6-4, and the Badgers had dropped out of the top 25. More than three months remained in the college basketball season. The Big Ten schedule hadn't even begun. And something needed to change before the season swerved off the rails. Badgers senior Mike Bruesewitz, who missed the Marquette game with a concussion, had organized the gathering with the backing of Wisconsin's other seniors. It wasn't a conference meant to point fingers at specific players. Instead, it was to determine what the team needed to do differently to achieve positive results and which players could better utilize their strengths. "It was just we've got to share the ball more," Bruesewitz recalled this week. "We've got to make sure we lock people down. We're not going to outscore everybody and we've got to trust the coaches and make sure we stick to their plans because if we kind of stray off it, we saw what would happen, and it wasn't a very good result." Players say the meeting served as a turning point in a season that now has the potential to become something special. Wisconsin (20-8, 11-4) stands just one game out of first place in the Big Ten as it prepares to play host to Purdue (13-15, 6-9) on Sunday at noon. Since the meeting, the Badgers have gone 14-4. "I felt a turnaround after those team meetings," Wisconsin senior J.D. Wise said. "When we all sat down, it was like open floor. No matter whether you were a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior: What's your take? What do you think we need to do to be getting better? And I feel like it brought us closer because it took down that barrier. There were really no quarrels between people, but we needed to break down that barrier to help our team flow a little better. I honestly feel like ever since those meetings, we have been a cohesive unit." This is the type of senior leadership Bruesewitz, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans has brought to the team. The three frontcourt starters will be honored on Sunday as part of senior day festivities, along with walk-ons Wise and Dan Fahey. Not every team has players willing to speak up and stir the pot, but these Badgers were fortunate in that regard. If not for team-only meetings, who knows where they would be now? "It was kind of a time for younger guys to grow up, for us older guys to set a better example and lead better, and we just kept working and found a way to turn things around," Berggren said. "Now we're in a pretty good position to close out the season." Among the major points of emphasis was how the team could regain its confidence. Wisconsin was still adjusting to playing with Traevon Jackson and George Marshall as point guards after the team unexpectedly lost starting point guard Josh Gasser for the season with a torn ACL on Oct. 27. Gasser stepped into the meeting and made pointed suggestions to both players about how they could better lead the team. "I'd say probably me and Mike were two that talked the most," Berggren said. "Josh had some things to chime in, too. Obviously with him being out with his injury, it's tough for him to have a huge effect. He's obviously been through the drill a few times and has some good experience. He saw some things I think especially for George and Trae, some of the younger guards, that were kind of learning and going through their struggles at the time. We just tried to be leaders." This season, Berggren, Bruesewitz and Evans have certainly done their part on the court. The three have combined to average 28.8 points and 19.9 rebounds. Those numbers represent 42.7 percent of the team's scoring and 52.9 percent of the team's rebounds. It hasn't been the easiest ride for any of the Badgers' frontcourt starters during their careers. Berggren injured his right shoulder as a freshman and missed considerable time. Bruesewitz lacerated his leg in October and missed two games before his concussion forced him out of two more games in December. And Evans has endured tremendous struggles at the free throw line this season, shooting just 41.4 percent after being a career 71.1 percent free throw shooter before the season. He also sprained his right knee this week and is questionable for Sunday's final home game. "They've answered the challenge that the other seniors have over the years as far as setting a good example, working hard, persevering," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "Who's persevered more than this group? "I always tell them, the next 60, 70 years, you're going to be going through some of the same things. Maybe not the exact issues, but there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. You keep working, keep doing the right things, good things will happen." This season offers further proof to the seniors that possessing the right attitude and a willingness to challenge the status quo can result in something memorable. Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NBA commissioner Adam Silver supports bringing sports betting in to the light

Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia becomes first player ever banned by MLB for PEDs

Eight bold predictions for NBA All-Star Weekend

Iowa athletics department under federal civil rights investigation

2016 Naismith Hall of Fame finalists announced

Hasselbeck ‘strongly leaning towards playing’ in 18th season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Pitchers to wear new protective headwear in spring training

Klay Thompson: Warriors will shoot for all-time wins record

Bryce Harper 'squashed' beef with Jonathan Papelbon

WWE has record revenue despite perceived troubles

CC Sabathia declares himself ‘ready to go’ after alcohol rehab

Report: Suns still want to deal Morris before trade deadline

City hosts Tottenham in Valentine’s Day clash

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Is there a place for Aaron Hill with the Brewers?

The market for forwards may shape the NHL trade deadline

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

The most intriguing NBA story lines for the rest of the season

Report: Timberwolves ‘lament’ Andrew Wiggins missing weight-lifting sessions

Kevin Durant to the Warriors makes little sense

City of Atlanta, Braves fighting over iconic Hank Aaron statue

Brock Osweiler hopes to remain part of ‘very special’ Broncos

Kobe Bryant receives great gift from ‘media’ member

Ranking the best NBA/ABA Dunk Contests ever

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker