MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin men's basketball newcomer Jared Berggren has yet to step foot on the court during any of the Badgers first seven games. But still, even with the lack of playing time, the Minnesota native has yet to decide if redshirting is his best option.
The following is a question and answer with Berggren following Thursday's practice:
Have you put any more thought into what your plans are for the rest of the season in regards to redshirting?
Berggren: You know, it's still kind of the same situation as before where I'm still kind of playing a wait and see type game. I had two more talks with coaches and they said it might be a good possibility that I'll take a redshirt, but I'm still just kind of leaving the option forward as far as if I can start getting things going, pick things up in practice a little bit, hopefully I'll be able to work myself into the rotation. If not, I'm not going to go in at the end of the game or something like that to where I would jeopardize losing my redshirt. For now, that's just kind of how we're playing it. They're not putting me in at the end of the game, keeping the redshirt and just keeping that as an option.
Is there a certain or absolute deadline that you have set as to when you would make a decision?
Berggren: I'm not sure exactly when, but I think eventually, I would fully declare. As far as now goes, I'm just kind of leaving it open and hopefully I can get something going. I'm still definitely working hard and trying to work my way into the rotation. If not, then as I said, keeping the redshirt as an available option. I know that's always a good thing, especially for big guys (because it allows) another year to develop. So having another four years after this to play would obviously be a good thing for me.
Is it just that transition coming into the college game from the high school level taking a little longer, especially for you as a big guy?
Berggren: Yeah, I think so. I mean I need to get a little better as far as playing stronger in the post, being more aggressive, a little quicker defensively and things like that. It's just definitely a transition coming from high school to college and sometimes it takes a little longer for big guys I guess, not to use that as an excuse obviously, but I think it's taking a little time to adjust. Hopefully I can keep improving and maybe work my way into the rotation.
What have you learned so far, just from watching the games?
Berggren: There's all kinds of things. You always keep your ears open in the huddles and things like that during games and listen to everything that coach is talking to Keaton Nankivil and Jon Leuer, some of the other big guys. Just trying to learn from everything they do, just being aggressive, getting bodies on people, boxing out and things like that. Just trying to observe all the mistakes and learn from their mistakes so you're not doing the same thing, making the same mistakes that they are and just trying to improve just by listening.
Are those the guys that you primarily go against in practice? Keaton and Jon? And what have you learned from them and their particular games?
Berggren: Yeah, mostly. I'm just trying to learn from what they do. Jon is a little bit different where he's got more perimeter skills than I think I do. Obviously that's something that I'm working on to is trying to play on the outside like Jon can a little more. Keaton, he's got pretty good footwork for a big guy, so I've tried to just learn how he does it with the ceiling and the post and getting big on the block. Things like that.
You said you have met with the coaches a couple of times. Have they said anything to you in regards to what you absolutely have to do to get in the mix?
Berggren: Just be more aggressive. They've said that I've shown flashes as to where I can play, but I think I just need to be more consistent and more aggressive. I know I need to get better at being stronger in the post and just more aggressive in going after rebounds and stuff like that. I know I can do it, it's just a matter of being more consistent.
Is this kind of a tough situation for you. I assume that you have been playing for most of your career and haven't had to sit out much.
Berggren: It's definitely a little different going from high school where obviously I was the main player and things and then coming here. It's a different role to fit into. You just got to set aside ego's and everything like that. It's just great being a part of the team. Obviously, I'd like to play, but I don't mind being on the bench if that's what's best for the team right now. As long as I can keep working in practice and make everyone better. If that's what I need to do, I'm 100 percent fine with that for now.
When you see somebody who redshirted like Brian Butch and what he was able to do his fifth season, does that kind of put your mind at ease?
Berggren: I mean, yeah, absolutely. There's no shame in taking a redshirt and I know it will only make my game better. (It's) another year to get my feet better, get stronger and just learn everything coach has to say in huddles and stuff like that. If you look at any big guy that's redshirted, especially big guys, they take a little longer to develop sometimes. Looking from what Brian did, he had a big big year his fifth year senior year. I think some other guys, I think Mike Wilkinson was another one who definitely benefited from a redshirt. If that's what I ended up doing, it's only positive things that happen out of taking an extra year to develop.
Have you had any sort of contact with any of those guys?
Berggren: Not much, Brian's been around a little bit earlier this year, I'm not sure where he's at now, but I've talked to him. Mike was around in the summer a little bit too, but I haven't really talked about redshirting per se with them, but they've been around a little bit.
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