MADISON, Wis. -- To some, the names Bruesewitz, Berggren and Evans might sound more like a major law firm than a major Division I college basketball starting frontcourt.
But Mike Bruesewitz, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans are certain that people who don't know much about their games will discover soon enough that they can play ball for the University of Wisconsin at a pretty high level.
And the trio will need to live up to that billing in order to replace last year's stellar frontcourt of Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz, who became household names for Badger fans across the state before graduating.
"People are saying, 'You guys are unknown,' but it's not like we're scrubs," Bruesewitz said. "It's not like we've been sitting on the bench behind Jon and Keaton and we haven't been working ever since we've been here. We've practiced just as much as those guys and we got better. We had a great summer."
All three players are expected to begin the year as starters when Wisconsin opens its season against Kennesaw State on Saturday at noon in the Kohl Center.
Bruesewitz, a 6-foot-6 junior from St. Paul, Minn., has the most playing experience among the three returners. He appeared in all 34 games last season, making 13 starts in place of Jarmusz and averaging 20 minutes per game. During three NCAA Tournament games, he averaged 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Berggren, the team's 6-10 center, appeared in 29 games with one start and averaged seven minutes per game. He'll be a key cog in the middle of the Badgers' offense alongside Bruesewitz and Evans, who will fill the two forward spots. The starting backcourt consists of senior preseason All-American point guard Jordan Taylor and sophomore Josh Gasser.
"It is nice starting," Berggren said. "I can't say I don't enjoy it. I know every game I'll be out there right from the start, whereas last year, sometimes I thought I'd come in early and we'd get a few timeouts into the game and matchups are going a certain way and all of a sudden I'm questioning if I'm going to get in at all."
Evans, a 6-6 forward, played 34 games last season and averaged less than 12 minutes per game.
Collectively, Bruesewitz, Berggren and Evans tallied just 10.8 points per contest a year ago with 6.5 rebounds. Not surprisingly, all three should have an expanded role in the offense this season.
During Wisconsin's 80-54 exhibition victory against Division III UW-Stevens Point, the trio accounted for 35 points and 11 rebounds.
The most notable difference in this year's frontcourt play likely will be where shots come from within the offense. Leuer, Nankivil and Jarmusz had an affinity for firing 3-point shots. They shot 145 for 364 from long range (39.8 percent) last season. That's an average of nearly 11 3-point shots per game from the frontcourt.
"We'll be a little bit more of an attacking team," Bruesewitz said. "We've got guys that are a little bit more undersized. I think we can try and get to the rim a little bit more off the bounce. Berg last year showed that he was probably our best back-to-the-basket scorer. He's going to be having an unlimited amount of opportunities to do that this year. He's going to be the guy, so we've got to get production out of him."
Evans suggested the starting five would need time to gel as a unit in key game situations because they rarely, if ever, appeared in games at the same time in years past.
"There possibly is a little bit more pressure on everybody, including Jordan," Evans said. "He doesn't really know what he has because he hasn't been in the big games with all of us. It's going to be interesting to see how things pan out."
During his weekly press conference on Monday, Badgers coach Bo Ryan said the biggest challenge for Bruesewitz, Berggren and Evans would be understanding spacing and timing together on the court.
"In the frontline, we're looking to replace the defensive read and reacts that the three guys that moved on this past year gave us," Ryan said. "We've got a lot of work to do to get our frontline ready to be as advanced as maybe the guard positions defensively on how to read and react to screens."
The style of play won't be exactly the same as last year's team, which finished 25-9 with a berth in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. But Bruesewitz and his frontcourt teammates are hoping the results are similar.
"I think it's just kind of coming out and showing, 'Oh hey, we're not a bunch of bums that sat behind Jon and Keaton,' " Bruesewitz said. "We actually can play. I think we'll surprise some people that way."
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