Nov. 2, 2011
BY MIKE LUCAS
UW Athletic Communications
When he was alone with his thoughts in a gym this summer, he was thinking about the upcoming UW season and "finishing around the basket and getting a good touch on my hook shots.''
That might translate into shooting 1,000 hooks with each hand.
"So that it's automatic when you get into a game,'' Jared Berggren said.
Up until now playing time has been anything but automatic for the 6-foot-10 Berggren, a redshirt junior from Princeton, Minn., who's entering his fourth season in the Wisconsin program.
But he knows that his playing role will expand and his readiness will now come into focus because of the graduation losses of two critical frontline players in Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil.
"Jared is ready,'' observed UW head coach Bo Ryan. "It's his time.''
Berggren acknowledged as much during last Monday's basketball media day at the Kohl Center.
"I'm in a little different role now,'' he said. "I waited my turn behind Jon and Keaton and it's fun to have a little more pressure on you -- a little more expectations.
"I'm not just hoping for minutes, but expecting minutes and expecting to contribute.''
Berggren sounds ready.
"He's right in the middle of it now -- it's his time -- and he's prepared,'' said UW associate head coach Greg Gard. "Now the spotlight is on him, and it's time to step up.
"The biggest thing for him is being consistent and with that comes confidence. If you're confident you have a tendency to play at a higher level for a higher period of time.''
Was confidence an issue for Berggren earlier in his UW career?
"At times it probably was,'' Berggren said. "I thought that I was doing OK in practice and then the game would come around and maybe I would get a few minutes and get pulled out quick.
"I think there were times when I started questioning myself, `What am I doing wrong?' Things like that. But I tried to keep working through it.''
"I've gotten better every year as I've worked into the system; doing things the way Coach Ryan likes them done. I feel more comfortable, stronger and more athletic than I have in the past.''
Berggren has been forced to deal with a balky shoulder in the past, and that's a key.
"We just have to keep him healthy now,'' said Ryan, adding that Berggren has been one of the hardest workers during the off-season in the weight room.
Besides being driven or motivated to improve, urgency can also be a driving force for a player like Berggren who's looking to get on the floor, and stay there.
"He knows that he's not sitting behind anybody,'' Gard said. "It's his opportunity to grab.''
Berggren has prepared accordingly. "As the years go by, you get more and more accustomed to how we do things here,'' he said. "But my preparation has been the same every year.''
To this end, he concentrated on "working hard in the weight room and spending extra time in the gym by myself and working out with my high school coach when I was home for a few weeks.''
During his shooting workouts, Berggren would start within two feet of the rim with post moves and hook shots and gradually work his way out to the 3-point line.
His emphasis was on repetitions -- and finishing inside.
"If you miss a shot,'' he said, "you know that you can get better.''
And it doesn't get any better than this for Berggren.
"You can say it's kind of my time now,'' he said, echoing the others.