New Indees coach brings passion to the bench

Few Independence players have brought more intensity to the court than Brett Brandenburg did when he suited up for the Indees and now he hopes to use that to take the program to another level as its head coach.

“I hope to bring a different energy to this program as the head coach this year,” Brandenburg said. “I want us to believe that we can compete against any team and work as hard as we possibly can each and every night we take the court. I am very passionate about the game of basketball and hope that rubs off on the team this year.”

The 2013 Independence High School graduate was an assistant for Brad Wesley a year ago and also assisted with the varsity baseball team. He was a part of the rejuvenation of the school’s sports programs, playing on football, baseball and basketball teams that won a combined three games in 2011, a number that increased to 18 his senior year as the programs continued to improve from there.

After winning the Dairyland Conference Small Division in 2017-18, the boys basketball program has struggled, winning three games last year. Brandenburg is hoping to get it back on track.

“My expectations for this year are that we remain competitive in every single game and win as many as possible,” Brandenburg said. “I expect us to compete every night on the defensive end of the court. I also believe if we can get contributions from some of our young athletes that we can really surprise some people this season. I am very excited to work with this group.”

While the team graduated leading scorer Chris Killian (18.3 points per game) and leading rebounder John Roskos (6.9 rebounds per game), they do have experience returning.

Brandenburg noted Tyler Kingsbury, Ben Pyka and Kevin Ramirez as players he expects to step up this year. Kingsbury averaged 13.4 points per game last year and led the team with 22 made three pointers. Pyka scored 6.5 points and Ramirez saw his playing time increase as the season progressed.

The new Indees coach will be able to draw from successful coaches he played for. He noted current Independence girls basketball coach and former football coach John Zilla as one of his biggest influences. 

 “He is a great leader and one of the best coaches I have ever had,” Brandenburg said. “He has developed and coached some of our most successful programs here at Independence and I hope to be able to do the same with our boys basketball team.”

Brandenburg also played for Tim Richert, a coach who was only at Independence for one season, but later went on to win a state championship at Young Coggs Prep in Milwaukee. 

“He brought a ton of energy and passion for the game that I hope to be able to bring to the team,” Brandenberg said of Richert. 

Independence’s season began on the road when they played at Boyceville on Tuesday of this week. They’ll head to Coulee Christian in West Salem this coming Monday and to Cashton on Thursday before finally playing at home, against Black River Falls, next Friday.

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