October 22, 2009

North excited to coach during scrimmage

MADISON - It would be a pretty sure bet that most college basketball media days around the nation didn't feature a two-time United States open golf champion at their respective events. Wisconsin is different.

In fact, two exceptional golf talents will don the Kohl Center floor Sunday afternoon as celebrity coaches during UW's red-white scrimmage as both Andy North and Steve Stricker, Wisconsin natives, will man the sidelines.

While neither are basketball guru's per se (Stricker was a standout hoops player at Edgerton high school near Madison), they both follow the program closely if their schedule's provide.

Following UW head coach Bo Ryan's press conference Tuesday afternoon, "coach North" addressed the media. The following is a transcript from his pre-scrimmage press conference.

Andy, why don't you just tell us how this came about and how you were asked to be a part of this and then we'll take a question or two.

North: Well, coach (Ryan) and I were at some event around golf and Steve was around and we got to talking about some things and said, 'Gee, that would be kind of cool if you guys coached against each other.' We did that six years ago, six or seven years ago. It might have been Bo's second year and we had some fun. We thought we might try it again.

And if we could drum up a little bit of notoriety for the game and get some people to show up and get a chance to see this group of kids play on Sunday, it's a benefit. That's kind of what we're hoping for.

Coach North are you going to run and gun or are you going to hold true to those values….?

North: Now, do you want my honest answers or coach speak here?

I want honest answers.

North: I have no idea what we're going to do. I'm just looking forward to seeing what seven or eight guys I get. That's going to be the key. It's going to be a lot of fun.

Who do you want?

North: Oh shoot, you'd like to have the best players. But as coach said, this is going to be a very interesting group this year. They're fairly deep at all positions. There's a lot of competition going on right now so I think there will be two pretty balanced teams and we'll see a good game.

As competitors talking to competitors, with you winning two U.S. opens and Steve doing what he did this year, what can you tell the players that they can take with them and help them?

North: I think the interesting thing is the game we play isn't much different than the game these guys are playing. There are so many things in sports that are along the same areas. You hear coaches talk about playing one play at a time and playing one possession at a time. It's the same thing in our game. You can only play one shot at a time and you need to focus on that shot and do the best you can.

It's the same thing for these guys. If you win every possession, you're going to have a good night. If you're winning most of the possessions you're going to have a good night. That's how coaches coach for years. Let's go out and play that possession as hard as we can and if we win that possession, that's a good one on the column. If you get enough on that column, you're going to have a win when the game is over.

Competition is competition. Laying it on the line, it doesn't matter what sport you're playing, to work hard and get yourself into a position to where you can be nervous coming down the stretch of a game, a tournament, or whatever it is, that's what these guys work for. We've had a little bit of experience doing that and that's what's fun. Putting yourself in a position where you're a little nervous, where you might need an extra drink of water coming down the stretch because you can't make things happen out of your mouth sometimes.

It's just nice to be in position to feel those things and then prove to yourself that you can do it. That's where these guys are trying to figure out right now.

As far as your basketball knowledge goes compared to Steve's, who has the advantage?

North: I'm not so sure there's a big advantage here. Obviously I hang around these guys a lot more than Steve does. Steve was a very good player in high school. Steve is a very good competitor, but we're going to beat them. We're not supposed to say that coach speak are we?

We do have a wager on this game. We're not going to say what it is, but there is a wager on this game. It's important for us.

What's the wager on the game?

North: It's a dollar figure. Not a lot, but it's something that will be painful to have to give him at the end of the night.

Coach, being that the game is being played on a Sunday is there an advantage to the team that's in the red?

North: (Laughing) Well, we'll have to see what team your coaching. You can't wear a whole lot of red if you're the white team can you? So, it'll be a lot of fun and it's a great opportunity for our fans to get a chance to get a look at what this team is going to be like this year.

If you remember last year, this was kind of Keaton Nankivil's coming out party. He had 24 points or something in the game. We're hoping that some of the younger guys can jump in there and show people that gee, we've got a lot of good players on this team. And hopefully, they'll have a lot of fun with it.

Who are you excited to see this year as the year plays out with some of those younger guys?

North: Well, I think you look at Pops (Trevon Hughes) and J-Bo (Jason Bohannon), you know what they're going to do. I think the rest of them, to see how Keaton has grown as a player, how Jon Leuer has grown as a player. Jared Berggren is, I think going to be a very nice player, to see what he's accomplished over the summer.

As coach was saying, you'd like to see the improvement. I went off to the hill a couple of days and watched the guys run the hill a couple of times. There are some guys that are in terrific shape that struggled with the hill last year. They went up and down the hill like it wasn't a big deal. If anybody has not tried to do that, you aught to just go out there and try it once or twice just to see if you can get up the hill without killing yourself.

It's a great conditioning tool that they use here. But the Rob Wilson's, you know, all the guys who we saw bits and pieces with last year, have they improved enough that they get 15 minutes a game, or 18 minutes a game or even more? So it's going to be interesting to see.

The two guys that we redshirted last year as freshman (Berggren and Ryan Evans), I think people are going to be real interested to see what they have to show and where they've come. They've both come a long way, so it will be interesting to have them get out there and have a chance to finally do it. It's hard for these guys sitting around for a year and not getting a chance to play. I'm sure that they'll be pretty jacked up on Sunday to get a chance to go out there and actually do it in a game situation.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when you first approached Steve about this he was asking for some points in this game?

North: Yes. He was actually begging for some points. My retort was is he going to give me some shots the next time we played? Which I definitely need. I definitely need a bunch of them. He's a grown man. He doesn't get any shots. He doesn't get any points or shots.

What's your handicap for this game?

North: What's my handicap? I don't know. Hopefully after it's over, I'm scratch. Basically, what we're going to be able to do is sit on the bench and say good going guys. I think that's about as extensive as this is going to get. We're going to have some fun with it and see if we can manage not to take too many technicals and that sort of thing.

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