Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - April 3, 2014

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

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18 // VARSITY April 3, 2014 BY BARRY ALVAREZ // UW DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS BEHIND THE DESK D ick Vitale called this week to invite me to a charity function and all he wanted to talk about was Bo and the great job that he has done in developing players on this Final Four team. He used Frank Kaminsky as an example of how far someone has come in a year ― from a guy aver- aging four points a game to some- one who has been dominating the tournament. On my way into the office the other day, I was listening to sports talk radio and they were all talking about Frank and how he might be the best big man in the country. That's what Vitale was saying: he can shoot the 3s, he can handle the basketball, he has great foot quick- ness and he can shoot with both hands around the bucket. Frank has been really impressive. I'm really happy that all of our players will get to experience a Final Four. And I was absolutely thrilled for Bo when he got to cut down the net after the Arizona vic- tory. Last Saturday, you had two well- coached teams playing a physical game where there were no easy shots. Everything was contested, it was belly-to-belly defense and they both slugged it out. They had bad calls, we had bad calls. Every call was important because it was such a tight game. I loved the way we played. I thought the Arizona and Oregon games were two of the best I've ever seen. Looking back, there was never any doubt that we had a home court advantage in Milwaukee. The fans were great. People in the busi- ness said it was the loudest college crowd they had ever heard. That can juice up your players. It helped us on some runs, par- ticularly in the second half against Oregon. But the guys still have to play. They're the ones who have to make the shots and play defense. And they've done it well enough over the last two weeks to get to Texas. I've been to a couple of Final Fours when Bo was there with his father. I knew how much it meant to him to be around Butch. So I know this a special time for Bo and his family. I never bought into the notion he had to get to a Final Four to validate his career. I don't believe in that any more than I believe you can't be a great quarterback if you've never won a Super Bowl. His body of work speaks for itself ― all of the games that he has won and how he has done it. He hasn't cut any corners. He hasn't compromised any of his values go- ing after certain players. He's a teacher and a coach. That's something that has never changed. There was an awesome story in the New York Times about Bo's players and how much time they spend on being students despite some of the challenges presented by all the travel and missed classes. You hear so much nowadays about paying the athletes. And the impression is that the guys just come to school to go to the NBA. Or they just come to school to go to the NFL. The Times story really examines what some college athletes are all about ― guys who are coming to Wisconsin to get a degree that is meaningful and, at the same time, competing at a very high level. When you see our student- athletes studying for meat-and-po- tatoes courses during the midst of a Final Four run, it speaks volumes for what our university is all about. I don't know if that happens every place. But it definitely sends the right message. All of the talk this week is about four basketball teams, and we're one of them. They'll be talking about Wisconsin on every radio station, every newspaper and every TV station in the country. I think it's foolish if anyone says going deep in the NCAA tourna- ment or to a Final Four ― or going to a BCS Bowl or to the Rose Bowl ― has no educational value to the university. It's really invaluable. It makes your alumni, all over the world, feel very proud. And for those people who don't know anything about Wisconsin, all of a sudden, they may find that they like us and our style of play. All in all, we've had a great year with three teams going to the Final Four in volleyball, women's hockey and now with Bo's team. I always preach don't take this for granted ― it's really hard to win. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Appreciate it. Embrace and appreciate a remarkable run

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