UW's Gasser returns to scene

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Around once a month, Joan Gasser will open up her email and fire off a short note to her son, and sometimes a clip of the video of the shot will accompany it.

"The Shot" -- as it's known in Wisconsin sophomore Josh Gasser's life -- is one Michigan fans won't likely forget, regardless of how much they'd like to.

Neither will Gasser, who returns to Michigan on Sunday with the Badgers for the first time since he banked in a 35-foot buzzer-beater to give the Badgers a 53-52 win over the Wolverines last season.

It was a critical moment and made him sort of a star in his home state and hometown of Port Washington, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb.

Celebrity came instantaneously. By the time he returned to Madison after making the shot, he had hundreds of Facebook messages with clips of the shot attached.

It followed over the summer as he'd see people whisper, point and stare when he was eating at restaurants or at the Summerfest festival in Milwaukee.

"I'm pretty humble and get a little embarrassed by stuff like that, so I try to act as normal as I can. A lot of times it is parents who will come up to me and ask if I could say hi to their kids and stuff," Gasser said. "But it happens to pretty much everyone on our team so it comes with the territory."

Almost 11 months after Gasser's heave beat Michigan, here's how players on both teams remember it.

Wisconsin trailed by two points, 52-50, after then-Michigan guard Darius Morris missed a free throw with 31 seconds left. The Wolverines had fouls to give, so they fouled the Badgers four times in 16 seconds to keep the Badgers from setting up a play. The final time Michigan fouled, with six seconds left, Wisconsin inbounded the ball.

It ended up in the hands of Wisconsin star guard Jordan Taylor on the left wing.

"I remember helping on Taylor and I thought that I got the steal," Michigan guard Stu Douglass said. "I hit the ball but didn't knock it out of his hand and he passed it to Gasser."

"I tried to retreat out of the double-team," Taylor said. "I threw it to Josh at the top of the key and I just remember he kind of shot it quicker than he used to."

"Douglass closed out really hard on me so I had to get a shot up quick and flicked it up there," Gasser said. "As it was in the air I thought it was going to bank in and luckily it did. It left my hand a little shaky. In a regular instance I would have shot-faked and let him fly by me and took the shot. But I had to get it up there and took the shot."

Douglass flew past him trying to block. Momentum slowed him on the right edge of the court and he turned left as he stopped running to see it go in.

He immediately fell to the floor.

"I was just in disbelief, complete shock," Douglass said. "It was one of the weirdest ways I've been a part of a game-ending shot."

Michigan's entire team was stunned. The Wolverines retreated to the locker room as Wisconsin celebrated and danced.

Taylor looked at Gasser after the banked-in 3-pointer, ran at him, carried him a few steps and then bodyslammed him to the Crisler Arena floor in excitement.

The rest of the Wisconsin team followed.

"Jordan is a strong kid, to say the least," Gasser said. "So to be hit by him to the ground, it's like a running back rushing into you, but it was worth it."

Michigan's locker room was silent, the quietest the Wolverines had been following a game all season. They had won six of eight games at that point to put themselves into contention for the NCAA tournament, and they thought, in that moment, like those dreams were barely hanging on.

"The last four or five games last year, it was like, 'Michigan, win this one and you'll get in.' Then we'd win that one and it was like, 'No, you have to win this one,'" Douglass said. "It kept going on and on and on. We thought that one would cement our place in the tournament.

"Luckily we bounced back and won games after that."

Michigan beat Minnesota and MIchigan State to end the regular season and ended up reaching the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

As for Gasser, his fame grew, but he hasn't watched the shot recently. Joan wasn't even there for it -- Gasser said she watched at Tello's Grille and Cafe in Port Washington, a usual Wisconsin-game haunt for Gasser's family and friends when they aren't in attendance.

But on that night, Gasser said Tello's exploded in cheers. Their hometown boy had become a star.

"It is something that I'll look back in a few years when my career is over," Gasser said. "And be pretty proud of it."

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.