Working and Waiting

Sitting and watching the Badgers through the first 16 games of the season, Wisconsin freshman Jared Berggren keeps learning, improving and waiting for his time to contribute.

MADISON – This experience is a foreign one for freshman Jared Berggren.

Spending Wisconsin's first 16 games sitting at the far end of the bench, Berggren still waits for his chance to make his first impact for the Badgers, an opportunity that he's yearning to have.

"It's a goal for me to help the team as much as I can," Berggren said. "I am going to work hard everyday to earn my time or push other guys to make them better. I enjoy working hard. When we have time off, it just doesn't feel right."

Berggren still would like to play a role this season, but it's looking likely he'll join forward Ryan Evans in taking a redshirt. Since Berggren has yet to see game action, he still has the option of keeping one year of eligibility.

Although he will likely not be a factor when Wisconsin hosts No.18 Minnesota Thursday night, Berggren, a native of Princeton, Minn., will likely be at the center of the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry in the years to come. A four-star recruit and 15th-ranked center in the country by Scout Media, Berggren chose UW over Minnesota, feeling more comfortable that Bo Ryan and his staff could develop his talents.

Even so, the resurgence of Minnesota (15-1, 3-1 Big Ten) hasn't gone unnoticed on Berggren or any of his fellow Minnesotans – Kevin Gullikson, Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor.

"They are having a great season and when both teams are playing well, that makes for a great game and a great rivalry," Berggren said.

Sitting at the far end of the bench hasn't been all doom and gloom for Berggren, although sitting instead of playing is an entire new concept for him. Last year for Princeton H.S., Berggren average 25.8 points per game in 28 starts last season, Berggren has had to embrace the change from being the main weapon to becoming a role player in a program with talented post players.

"You just have to set aside everything like that because it's just great being a part of the team," Berggren said. "Obviously I would like to play, but if being on the bench is the best thing for the team right now, that's fine. I just want to make everybody better in practice and am 100 percent fine with that right now."

Right now, Berggren's role is developing into a sound post presence and being physical on the scout team. For this week, Berggren's role has been to copy the agility of junior Damian Johnson (9.2 ppg) and the size of Ralph Sampson III (6-foot-11, 220 pounds), something that has come naturally to him since he's been guarding Jon Leuer and his perimeter skills and the post presence of Keaton Nankivil.

"I am trying to play on the outside a little more like Jon can and Keaton has got good footwork for a big guy, which makes me want to learn his moves in the post," Berggren said. "I just want to get big on the post. Going against those guys has definitely made me better and they've been teaching me the things I need to know and the things coach expects."

One of those things that the staff is expecting of him is to be more aggressive in the post with his shooting and rebounding. Showing flashes of that ability at times, Berggren knows the consistency is what is holding him back from becoming a key contributor, something he has learned by taking note from the end of the bench.

"You always keep your ears open in the huddles during games and listen to everything Coach is talking about to Keaton or Joe or the other big guys," Berggren said. "I just try to learn from those guys and everything they do – be aggressive, getting bodies on guys and boxing out. I try to absorb all the mistakes and learn from their mistakes so you aren't making the same mistakes they are."

Whether he keeps his redshirt on or not for the remainder of the season will remain a mystery. The only thing Berggren knows is that he made the right decision and his anxiousness won't subside until he finally steps foot out onto the court.

"The last two years that I've known that I was going to come here, the excitement has just been building," he said. "Getting to be apart of this program is pretty special and I can't wait until it's my time."

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