Long wait over for Butch

Former prep All-American is bigger, stronger and searching for playing time

It has been a long wait for the Wisconsin men's basketball team and an even longer one for a certain 6-foot-11 player that waited on the bench last season. Luckily for both, the wait is over because Brian Butch can finally dispose of the redshirt he chose to put on last season and officially don the Wisconsin No. 32 jersey.

When Butch joined Wisconsin redshirting was always a question but with the list of accomplishments he acquired over the years, it at first seemed like an unlikely option. At Appleton West High School he did enough to earn first-team Parade All-American honors, McDonald's All-American honors and was named Wisconsin State Player of the Year twice by the Associated Press. While all of those accolades looked good on his basketball résumé, he did not have the right amount of strength to compete right away at the collegiate level.

After a long period of uncertainty the conclusion was clear: Butch needed the time to gain more strength and learn how to play the college game. One year later, Butch is now ready to show what a difference a year can make.

"My comfort level and confidence have definitely improved from last year at this point," Butch said. "Last year at this point it definitely was a situation where I didn't exactly know what was going on, you know I was doing all this, and now I've been through it a year. It's one of those things where I've adjusted and I'm pretty comfortable with it. Each day I practice I get a little more and more comfortable."

Butch accomplished his goal of gaining more weight and added about 30-40 pounds from last season to put his weight at 240. Playing with extra pounds, however, has been a new learning experience for him.

"Putting on that extra 40 pounds you know the spring and the summer I had that, it was difficult to adjust to at first," Butch said. "I felt a lot slower but as soon as the summer came I started doing some track workouts and stuff like that. I felt that my weight was where I wanted it to be. I felt real comfortable with it and then coming in here this fall after the summer workouts I felt really comfortable with my body. I feel extremely comfortable where it's at right now."

Butch increased his strength in the process.

"I think the main thing has been that I've been able to get down and post up a little bit better," Butch said regarding any changes in his game. "And that was a big thing; last year I was getting moved around a lot and now I'm kind of more stationary as far as being able to get my position in the post instead of flopping around all over. I'm able to sustain my position and be able to just stay there and post up strong."

As usual, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan did not indicate during Wisconsin's media day Thursday who will be in his starting five or his regular rotation. He probably will not have a firm idea until the first game of the season. If Butch plays hard during practice and fits into Ryan's scheme of having the "five best players on the court" then he could be a viable starting candidate or at least claim regular minutes.

"Brian doesn't worry about that burger name anymore," Ryan said, jokingly referring to Butch's McDonald's All-American honors. "Brian's just playing for the Badgers and he's trying to contribute and the main thing is he just keeps working at his execution to become a real good player and not worry about anybody else's expectations and he's doing exactly the right thing. He's just trying to get better, perform and he knows who he is and what he can bring to the table."

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