Getting his Groove Back

Tim Jarmusz (Brad Fedie/09)

Stuck in an offensive slump that also affected his defensive abilities, sophomore Tim Jarmusz went back to basics, something that provided results for the Badgers in Indiana.

MADISON – Some days, Tim Jarmusz feels he has what it takes to be a solid contributor. Some days, the game, the system or the fundamentals become too much to handle.

Such his life for a sophomore trying to make it through his first full-season Big Ten grind.

"It's tough sometimes," Jarmusz said. "When you make a mistake, you just have to fight through and pretend it didn't happen. Having a short memory is the important thing. Every possession counts. There's so much that has to be done that you have to be focus all the time."

Emerging as a defensive presence last season, Jarmusz' struggles this season stemmed from focusing too much on the offensive side of the ball.

Although playing in all of UW's 25 games entering the week, Jarmusz was averaging only 3.3 points per game and had scored in double figures only once (an 11-point performance against Green Bay). Although he's shooting 46.4 percent from the floor, Jarmusz has only attempted 56 shots, skewing his numbers, and has committed 17 turnovers.

As a result, the toughness and grittiness he showed on defense vanished, along with his minutes.

"He was pressing a little and he's growing into a role where he feels he has the opportunity to score a little more a game," associate head coach Greg Gard said. "He just needs to continue to be opportunistic with rebounds and loose balls and turn on that scrappiness, bloodiness and feistiness we saw earlier in the year."

"He needs to do those little things that don't always show up in the box score."

When Jarmusz and his Badger teammates take on No.6 Michigan State (20-5, 10-3 Big Ten) in East Lansing Sunday, it will be the little things that will determine Wisconsin's fate. Against Indiana, those unheralded little things started to return to Jarmasz' repertoire.

Playing 18 minutes, Jarmusz scored only five points, but grabbed two rebounds and didn't commit a turnover (the most minutes he's played without a tournament all conference season). But it was the stuff away from the ball (setting screens, working within the offense, staying gritty on defense) that drew praise from his teammates.

"The things he did for us tonight aren't going to show up in the box score, but (Jarmusz) helped create a lot of scoring opportunities for us," said senior forward Joe Krabbenhoft, who scored a career-high 18 points against Indiana. "The more Tim plays, the more comfortable and confident he gets."

Added Jarmusz: "I think my shots and putting the ball on the floor has improved a little bit more. I need to shoot it to see what I can do out there. Once you see it, you're aware of what you can do and it gets a little easier."

Things did not become easy for Jarmusz last season, where he saw duty in 22 games, but certainly had his bright spots down the stretch, logging 66 minutes in the final 11 games and was a defensive catalyst for the Badgers off the bench.

"Everything was little bit new to you and it took time to pick everything up," Jarmusz said of 2007-08. "I just kept going hard in practice and kept trying to learn new things. By the end of the year, I was learning those things and the confidence started growing."

That confidence is starting to bloom once again, as the fundamentals he once put on the back burner have been reintegrated into his game in hopes of a jump start. During Wisconsin's five game winning streak, the engine seems to be roaring again.

"The thing with Tim, he's a pretty tough kid," Gard said. "He's battled through it and gone back to find that grittiness. We like tough kids out on the floor. That's why if he (stays tough), he'll be out there for us."

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