After a poor start to nonconference play nearly derailed the Wisconsin men’s basketball team’s (21-10, 12-6 Big Ten) hopes of a 14th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, strong conference play from the Badgers put them right back on track and helped them finish tied for fourth in a difficult Big Ten conference.
And it seems the Big Ten conference’s media members and coaches took notice.
When the Big Ten 2013 conference awards were doled out Monday, UW took home its fair share of the hardware — headlined by consensus choice for 2013 Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year, Bo Ryan.
For the 12th-straight year, Ryan led the Badgers to a top-four finish in the Big Ten, tying for the fourth spot with Michigan. Expected to finish near the bottom of the conference when Big Ten play began, Wisconsin held its own in one of the nation’s premier conferences, finishing the season only two games back from first-place Indiana.
After winning his third Big Ten Coach of the Year award, Ryan now sits behind only former Purdue coach Gene Keady and former Indiana coach Bob Knight.
The 2012-13 campaign also marked Ryan’s seventh-consecutive 20-win season.
In addition to Ryan’s award, three other Badgers — including junior guard Ben Brust, fifth-year senior forward Jared Berggren and freshman forward Sam Dekker — also came away with Big Ten honors.
Berggren was selected as a consensus second-team All-Big Ten honoree, while Brust and Dekker were both honorable-mention honorees.
Berggren finished the season in both the top-25 for the Big Ten in scoring (11.5 points per game) and the top-10 in rebounding (7.1 rebounds per game), while he led the league in blocks per game (2) on his way to breaking the UW record for career blocks this season with 134 in his four years of eligibility.
The 6-foot-10-inch forward also earned a place on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
Brust — who stepped into the starting lineup after contributing for the Badgers as the sixth-man a year ago — contributed 11.3 points per game for UW in addition to collecting 5.2 rebounds per game despite his 6-foot-1-inch frame.
To round off the Badgers’ accolades, Dekker’s Big Ten Honorable Mention and Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors followed a season in which the freshman averaged nearly 10 points a game for Wisconsin, playing a vital role off the bench.
Many expected Dekker’s 2013 performance to be good enough to take the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award, but Michigan State’s Gary Harris received the award instead, averaging 13.2 points and helping MSU to a second place finish in the conference.