Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - March 7, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ • UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S Spring offers fresh start for players, staff A s a player, I thought spring practice was a necessary evil. Most players feel that way. But as a head coach, I realized how important the spring is ― particularly with a new staff. I always looked at it as a time for development. This is a time when you can really teach. This is a time when you want to see your young guys take that next step in their development. In the spring, you want to see who can get on the field. You want to see who are your leaders ― who are the guys who can help you win. You also want to try to establish some depth. The freshmen finally have their legs under them and they're much more comfortable. They just have a better feel for things and what it's all about, so now they can turn it loose. Many times you see huge gains in the spring. You will see big changes in players. I remember my first spring here; we were just trying to teach them how to work. We tried to carry it over from the out-of-season program. Some guys thought we were trying to punish them. That wasn't it at all. We were just showing them, "This is how you work, this is the intensity that you have to put into the program, and this is the commitment you have to make.'' Quite a few left. I'm looking forward to watching Gary Andersen and his coaches this spring. I'm not so concerned with philosophy or that type of thing. I 20 » VARSITY MAR CH 7, 2013 just want to see how they coach. I try to do that with all the new coaches when they come in. I try to get around them and watch how they teach and how they work with kids. Those are the things that are interesting for me. Secondarily, I want to see the schemes. Is there anything different? What are we going to do to schematically? I know the package we have up front on defense will be different. When I coached we ran a combination of 3-4 and 4-3. I really don't care about fronts as much as I care about the techniques that are being used and the soundness of the defense. The players have to know what they're doing so they can play fast. That's what is important. Gary has got a philosophy and a plan for everything that he does ― how he practices, how long he practices, when he practices, all of those things. I've already seen him implement his program. I get down to the weight room to work out and I always like to see what the kids are doing. I feel like Evan Simon and our holdover strength coaches are doing a great job. They are doing some things differently. But the players have responded well. I know they're not spending as much time in the weight room but they're getting just as much done. You don't have to spend all day there. You don't have to spend all day on the practice field, either. I respect the players' time. We ask them to be here pretty much yearround. But they've got academics, they've got things that they want to do, they've got lives. It's not just all weightlifting, all football, all the time. You have to get your work done. But do it and get out of there. I'm sure this spring that the new coaches and the players will be feeling their way around a little bit on the practice field. The coaches will be getting to know the kids and vice versa. With a new system, the players will be learning what the coaches want, how they coach, and how they teach. What they've already learned is that Gary is putting them first. It's an interesting time.

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