Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Brust: A Detailed Look At The Career Of A Team Leader

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers’ season is on the line this Thursday night against the Bears of Baylor. Winner advances on to the Elite Eight and the loser gears its focus to next season. Except there will be no “next season” for Ben Brust.

This next game is, potentially, all the senior guard has left. But don’t tell him that; he’s not looking to hang ‘em up quite yet. He is the only starting senior that Wisconsin boasts and he’s certainly excited to still be dancing.

Over the course of his career, Brust has shot his way into the Wisconsin record books. He owns the all-time record for most three-pointers in a career (228). It was never in doubt whether or not he would leave behind a legacy as a top shooter. But, what he’s done this year is show that next year, not only are the Badgers going to lose their best three-point shooter — they’re losing a great all-around player.

The first thing comes to mind when thinking about Brust, besides hard work, is consistency. Need evidence? Look at his three-point shooting percentage the past three seasons. 2011: .389, 2012: .389 and 2013: .389. It simply does not get more consistent than that. Yeah, crazy huh?

Now lets look a little closer at each of his seasons in Madtown.

Mar 2, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Ben Brust (1) during the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Bryce Jordan Center. Wisconsin defeated Penn State 71-66. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Freshman Year:

In 2010-11 he didn’t see the court much, which is quite common for freshmen guards in the Bo Ryan era. He averaged only 3 minutes-per-game. But, he used this time to learn and grow within Wisconsin’s swing offensive system.

Sophomore Year:

2011-12 was the year that Brust made his presence known in Madison. He averaged a strong 7.3 points-per-game while playing only 21.3 minutes-per-game. Brust began to hit threes with regularity and was counted on to do so. In 2011-12, the Badgers made a run to the Sweet Sixteen; much like they find themselves this year.

Junior Year:

His breakout year, 2012-13, was the year Brust became a team leader. He would earn an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honor while averaging 11.1 points-per-game. Regularly he was called upon to hit big shots in big games and often times, he delivered. The play he is most well-known for is his miraculous game-tying three point heave against Michigan. That play still gives us goosebumps and will always live on in Badgers lore. But, some forget that he went on to hit what would be the game-winning three in overtime of that game, too. Damn, that’s clutch. I included the clip below for your enjoyment. In his junior year, Brust did all of the little things exceptionally well, too. He had his “best” season in the categories of assists, steals and rebounds as a junior. His leadership was noticeable on the court and when Bucky was bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament you just knew he’d come back for a strong senior campaign.

Senior Year:

We are currently in the midst of the 2013-14 season, where Brust was once again named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. Hopefully this season lives on for a few more weeks (If it does I’ll run an update to this story…Fingers crossed). Brust became more than a respected, gritty, three-point shooter during his senior year. He became a legitimate threat to take his opponent off the dribble, drive to the hole, take a foul and then complete the three point play — in 2013-14 he is shooting an impressive .901% from the free-throw line. His defense is stronger now than it has ever been in his four years of wearing cardinal and white and he is a definitive team leader. Oh, and he’s scoring more, too. He is averaging exactly 13 points-per-game this year (good for second on the team, behind First Team All-Big Ten center Frank Kaminsky) and is on the court for all but six minutes a game. His value is unquestioned and his poise will be dearly missed next year. Current freshman, Bronson Koenig, will attempt to pick up the slack in the three-point shooting department for Bucky next season.

This year began better than any year had ever began for the Badgers, as they started 16-0. And then after a rough stretch of play, Bucky rebounded, going 11-2 in their last 13 games. Of those 13 games, at least eight must be considered very tough games. Brust is a major part of all of the success that the Badgers have had this year; as they received a 2-seed in the tourney. In the dramatic comeback against Oregon, Brust hit four three-pointers and was instrumental in Wisconsin’s victory. In the process, he broke the all-time school record for three-pointers — which happened to be the biggest shot of the game. Check that shot out below. Lets hope he has another big game against Baylor on Thursday night and continues this exciting season and career.

As you can see, he has quite a knack for answering other team’s big three-pointers with even bigger shots of his own. Listen to him discuss the exciting win over Oregon below. I assure you, it’s quite a fun interview.

Brust will certainly go down as a classic Badgers success story. A kid who came in and worked hard, found his niche and eventually developed into a team leader. Not to mention, the amount of success Wisconsin has had since he’s been on the team. That, in itself, is a statement about his impact on the court.

So, we at Badger of Honor want to extend a sincere thank you to Ben Brust, for his phenomenal career and success in Madison. But, lets keep that career going for another couple weeks!

Keep on Ben Brust and keep on Wisconsin.

 

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