Ready to Roll

Having to sit, watch and take accurate notes during his redshirt season, freshman Jared Berggren is ready to flex his muscles in the post for Wisconsin. Through a couple weeks of practice, his improvement hasn't gone unnoticed.

MADISON - Watching his team struggle without a solid game-in and game-out post presence, freshman Jared Berggren was wondering if he had made the right decision.

Stuck with the challenging decision of whether to or not to redshirt, Berggren chose to take the year off to strengthen himself mentally and physically, a decision looks to provided a boost to UW's frontcourt.

"It was definitely a good thing for me," Berggren said of redshirting. "It gave me a whole year to practice with the team and work with strength coach Scott Hettenbach, improving my body to get stronger and get physically ready to handle the physical play in the Big Ten and be able to contribute this year."

The noticeable strengths have been obvious to the coaching staff and will be obvious to onlookers tonight, as Wisconsin opens its exhibition season against Division II Bemidji State at the Kohl Center.

Berggren has eliminated fat and replaced it with muscle, weighing in at 240 pounds. His lean frame has allowed him to be quicker to spots, he's become more comfortable in UW coach Bo Ryan's system and he's more physical in the post when it comes to rebounding and finishing.

But it's the things he noticed from the end of the bench during Wisconsin's up-and-down season were the biggest factor into Berggren's physical off-season workouts.

"I think the biggest thing for me to see what it takes to be a good defender and how quick you always have to be moving," Berggren said. "You can't fall asleep on defense, you've always got to be fighting and battling for position. You can't ever relax on the court."

That philosophy has pushed Berggren during the first weeks of fall camp. Realizing juniors Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil have the starting positions in front of him, Berggren's goals are nothing less than playing time, even going so far as pushing himself so the coaches use him in a three-man rotation.

"Our whole team, we have a good mix," Berggren said. "J-Bo and Pop have been good leaders bringing along these young guys. People like myself, Ryan Evans, Jordan (Taylor) showed some good things last year, Rob (Wilson), I think all us guys can fit together and get some good things done on the court this year."

Although he's not shy on the basketball court, having set Princeton (Minn.) high records for career points (1,561), rebounds (823) and blocked shots (434), Berggren, after a year away from the court, can definitely feel the excitement brewing of an upcoming season, a season that starts tonight.

"It's been a long time like you said since I have played, not since high school in a real meaningful game," Berggren said. "I am definitely looking forward to it, it's going to be exciting and I am looking forward to it."

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