The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team will be without Mike Bruesewitz for at least a month after the senior forward sustained a freak injury to his lower right leg during a team workout Tuesday.
The Badgers, who officially begin practice for the 2012-13 season on Saturday, were scrimmaging during a team workout inside the Nicholas-Johnson Pavilion practice facility adjacent to the Kohl Center when Bruesewitz sustained a laceration on his right leg after running into the back half of a basket standard. A source close to the program said Bruesewitz came in contact with the sharp edge of a large weight that is bolted into the standard to secure it.
According to the source, the laceration was at least 12 inches long and extended from his knee to his ankle. It was deep enough that Bruesewitz's bone was exposed, resulting in a horrifying scene for his teammates.
"Everybody's heart kind of dropped," the source said.
Fortunately for Bruesewitz, UW's coaching staff and training staff were on hand and acted quickly. Trainers attended to Bruesewitz to stop the bleeding until an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital, where he remained overnight after surgery.
Bruesewitz was released from the hospital Wednesday morning and, according to a news release, has begun rehabilitation.
Tom Dasovich, who was Bruesewitz's coach at Henry Sibley High School in St. Paul, Minn., said he spoke to his former player on Wednesday morning.
"He seemed to be in pretty good spirits," Dasovich said. "All things considered, I think he's doing OK."
The source said it was initially feared Bruesewitz suffered a compound fracture in his leg. The news release issued by UW said Bruesewitz will be out four to six weeks, but it's difficult to estimate how much time he'll actually miss because this type of injury isn't common for athletes.
"From what they were saying, it missed a lot of his major nerves or arteries and veins," Dasovich said. "It's still a very serious cut and sounds like a very serious injury, and with that there's always the potential for infection and complications, but it sounds like they originally thought it might be (worse)."
UW begins exhibition play on Nov. 7 against UW-Oshkosh at the Kohl Center. If Bruesewitz is sidelined six weeks, he'd miss four regular-season games: home games against Southeastern Louisiana (Nov. 11), Cornell (Nov. 18) and Presbyterian (Nov. 20) and a game at Florida on Nov. 14.
If Bruesewitz is sidelined longer than six weeks, he could miss UW's two games in the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 23-24 and a Nov. 28 game against Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Badgers have six more non-conference games scheduled in December before they begin Big Ten Conference play on Jan. 3 vs. Penn State at the Kohl Center.
The 6-foot-6 Bruesewitz, who has earned a reputation as a high-energy player who dives for loose balls, takes charges and is a pest on the offensive glass, averaged 5.6 points and 5.1 rebounds while starting all 36 games last season as a junior.
Bruesewitz is one of three returning starters in the frontcourt for the Badgers, joining senior center Jared Berggren and senior forward Ryan Evans.
UW coach Bo Ryan has several options to replace Bruesewitz if he misses game action.
Among the candidates is 6-7 forward Sam Dekker, a highly regarded incoming freshman who led Sheboygan Lutheran to a WIAA Division 5 state title last season.
Prior to Tuesday's workout, Ryan sat down with the State Journal to preview the season. He was asked what realistic expectations were for Dekker this season.
"What did I say about Josh Gasser (two years ago)?" Ryan said. "But Rob Wilson had an injury. Rob was the guy that probably, if he doesn't have the hamstring injury, then maybe Josh doesn't get anywhere near as many minutes and doesn't come on the scene with the triple-double (against Northwestern), that type of thing.
"So here's Dekker, (a) multi-faceted player. Who knows what number of minutes he's going to get? But he's producing in these workouts. So are our other guys. Yeah, he can play. And he's getting stats in our workouts like a more seasoned veteran would."
Competing with Dekker for playing time will be juniors Zach Bohannon and Duje Dukan. Bohannon sat out last season after transferring from Air Force and was awarded a scholarship this season. Dukan averaged 0.7 points in 13 games last season and missed a significant portion of UW's preseason conditioning after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
UW's other returning frontcourt players are sophomore center Frank Kaminsky, who appeared in 35 games as a true freshman, and third-year sophomore center Evan Anderson. Ryan also has some intriguing options in the backcourt and could use a three-guard lineup at times.
As for Bruesewitz, Dasovich is convinced he'll return to the court as inspired as ever.
"He's obviously a little bit down, because he was so excited about the year and getting off to a good start and how good their team is going to be," Dasovich said. "It looks like he'll hopefully be a big part of it but will just have to miss some of the (early) stuff they'll be doing."