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Andrew Bogut Interview, Part 1

Andrew Bogut Interview, Part 1
Jun 20, 2005, 04:04 am
Jonathan Givony: Hey Andrew. Thanks for agreeing to do this. Where are you at right now?

Andrew Bogut: I’m in Utah at the moment.

Jonathan Givony: Is that your base right now?

Andrew Bogut: No. My base is in DC. I’m just down here visiting…taking care of some things.

Jonathan Givony: OK. Have you have you had your first workout yet?

Andrew Bogut: No, not yet. Milwaukee is on I think Monday and then Atlanta is after that.

Jonathan Givony: Has it been a little frustrating for you...are you itching to get back on the court at all and show people what you can do? Everyone has an opinion about what type of player you are, but you aren’t really allowed to work out for anyone and show them what you are really all about.

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Andrew Bogut: I don’t think I need to. They can pull up a tape from any game I played in over the last year and see for themselves the player I was in 2004 and the Olympics. So I’m not really worried about that…I’m just working out, working on my game. I don’t think I need to prove anything, I think I’ve proven enough.

Jonathan Givony: So how have you been passing the time since the season ended?

Andrew Bogut: I’ve just been working out every day. Lifting and shooting and doing individual workouts…and then basically just hanging out with some friends in DC that I’m training with. So not much else after that, the training regime is pretty strict, so after that I’m pretty tired so I usually just hang out.

Jonathan Givony: Do you feel like you’ve improved a lot since the season ended? Have you been working on some specific things that you didn’t do in college maybe?

Andrew Bogut: Oh definitely. I’ve gotten bigger, I’m at 255 now. I put on a little bit more weight, been getting stronger in the gym…so it’s been getting there slowly.

Jonathan Givony: Myself and a lot of other people have really enjoyed some of your interviews over the past few weeks. I think it’s kind of refreshing to see a young guy in your position who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Have people around you expressed similar thoughts? Has anyone said “maybe you should tone it down Andrew?”

Andrew Bogut: The bottom line is I don’t care what people say about me. So if someone says “you need to tone it down,” I don’t care, they can say whatever they want. I’m just going to say what I feel. If people are going to ask me a question then I’m going to answer it. I’m not going to beat around the bush and give you some bullshit answer basically. I’m basically going to answer it how I feel best. I don’t care what people think because they aren’t in my position.

Jonathan Givony: Well that’s good man. The Kobe Bryant thing for example, I think people thought that was a little bit harsh…but absolutely true if you take it the right way. Are you looking forward to the Lakers game? It’s kind of interesting with you with you guys being represented by the same agency, and that’s kind of why I really like that the most…you just really don’t beat around the bush at all (laughs).

Andrew Bogut: Yeah definitely. It was taken out of context because I never said…you know all I said was what happened with Shaq. I think everybody knows that, I didn’t need to say that already. But you know he’s still one of the best players in the NBA. I know he’s one of the best and he’ll be a hall of famer for sure. I have respect for him on the basketball court, it’s just that I don’t have respect for him off the court. Which is what a lot of people think. I’m looking forward to playing against Kobe just like I’m looking forward to playing against anyone else. It’s the NBA and I’m going to take every game as it comes. If he dunks on me or whatever, I really don’t care.

Jonathan Givony: Nice one man. I want to talk to you a little bit about the NCAA tournament. I had a lot of arguments with people both while the tournament was going on and afterwards about the way you played. How would you rate your overall performance in the tournament?

Andrew Bogut: I thought it was good you know. I definitely wanted to go further, but it didn’t work out that way and we weren’t the right team for it. So…

Jonathan Givony: What about that last game there, the Kentucky game? Have you gone back since to look back at the game, try to figure out maybe what you did wrong there, maybe what you could have done different?

Andrew Bogut: It was one of those games where I just struggled to finish. I struggled to finish from the foul line, I think if I would have hit more free throws…we lost by ten and I shot the ball poorly from the line as a team. I think that you can’t teach shooting free throws, it’s just a main part of being in the game. I didn’t shoot horrendously bad from the free throw line, I shot like 40%, but that’s bad for me you know. That’s probably the biggest thing to change, getting my legs back into my shot, just trying to finish. But they played us tough, they had much more depth than us. We were 7 guys deep and that’s it. Once we were in foul trouble we were screwed. They went all the way down to their 11th and 12th guys.

Jonathan Givony: Yeah, three 7 footers too…

Andrew Bogut: Exactly. Yeah, I mean it’s definitely not easy. We didn’t have a 4 man that can shoot the ball so that also really hurt us. They send that 4 man to double me and then they would back off of me. They put that 7-3 guy on our man and he would just stand in the paint, so every time I beat my man he was waiting for me. So that was definitely tough.

Jonathan Givony: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like in that Oklahoma game you were played in a way that I personally never saw you being played all season long, just from the high post, strictly facing the basket and almost setting up the offense like a point center. Was that a specific tactic or game plan that you guys used to just keep those guys guessing? Is seems like the Sooners were very confused…they really didn’t know how to guard you in that game?

Andrew Bogut: Yeah, they were doubling me and then backing off me. Once I got the ball they were all looking at me, I could see in everyone’s eyes that they were just all on me. So guys just cut and I found em. The second they were open I just him em. That’s one of the things that I was doing all year, but people finally noticed you know? Every game I would have 3 or 4 assists hitting back cutters and then when I got doubled I would find guys for open threes, but I didn’t always get the assist because I would find an open guy and then he would find an open guy. It’s one of those things that I know I am good at but I just showed it more against Oklahoma.

Jonathan Givony: I think some people noticed that before. Kind of hard to miss how great of a passer you are. So do you think there is any comparison between the pressure of playing in the NCAA tournament and the pressure of playing in the Olympics?

Andrew Bogut: The NCAA is a little bit more crazy in the way that basketball is pinnacle in the States. Opening up in the Olympics in Athens against Greece is something you can’t experience ever in your life. People just go crazy, the fans are crazy and it’s a great environment to play in. I’d say that opening up against Greece was something special .

Jonathan Givony: A lot of NBA players want to say that there is absolutely nothing similar between International basketball and the type of basketball that is played in the NBA. From what you’ve seen, why do you think they say that, and would you agree with it?

Andrew Bogut: Well if they say that, then why is Manu Ginobili having such a great year, why is Stojakovic such a great shooter? That’s a ridiculous statement, and I doubt that the true scouts would say that. They know that the Europeans just play the game for the love of the game and never play for money and cars. A lot of these Europeans come over and for the first three years they don’t even make any money, they are paying off their European buyout and that’s something that I don’t think a lot of Americans understand. I think that’s definitely something that shows their love for the game, and I think that every team needs Europeans to be successful these days. Pretty much every team except Detroit. So I think that’s a ridiculous statement by whoever said it.

Jonathan Givony: Since you have a lot of experience with both, do you prefer playing with the trapezoid lane like in International competition, or does that take away too much from your back to the basket game? Which rule do you prefer, with the small paint or the bigger paint?

Andrew Bogut: Either way. I think that the wider paint gives you a bit more space to work, with the three point line in the NBA there is a bit more space to work one on one. The trapezoid is a bit more cramped for the cutters, there’s not as much space. But both ways work for me, trapezoid or like in college having five guys open. I think that in the NBA I’ll have a little more room to work.

Jonathan Givony: So as someone that played in the Olympics and witnessed first hand what went down there…what do you think that team USA needs to do to reestablish its dominance at the international level?

Andrew Bogut: I think they need to get good players that all understand their role. They are still the best players in the world individually; they just didn’t have the best team. And that’s been the case for the past couple of years now. I think that if they get a couple of guys who just understand their role…someone like Bruce Bowen I think would be perfect for the USA team. He just plays defense, shoots the three and you just know what you are going to get out of him. A lot of those other guys are all allstars and you just don’t know where the shots are going to come from and everybody wants theirs. I think you need to have more of a role.

Jonathan Givony: How was the experience of playing against a guy like Tim Duncan and faring pretty well, how did it help your confidence? If you didn’t play like that against Duncan, do you think you still would have had such a great season? Did that change anything in your mind about what type of player you are?

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Andrew Bogut: It definitely helped me. I don’t know if it would have changed my season…but it definitely helped me gain confidence knowing that I can play in the NBA. It obviously helped my decision to get out of college early as well. But playing against all those Europeans, they are all NBA caliber players, the Lithuanians and so on. I knew after that campaign that I can play at the best level possible even though I was only 19 years old people could what I was all about.

Jonathan Givony: I really want to talk to you about Australian basketball, but first I have a couple of questions about the draft. What do you think about the draft process as a whole? Do you think that this is the best way for teams to evaluate who the best talent is in the draft and who the best players are? What are your thoughts on how this is being conducted from a first hand perspective?

Andrew Bogut: It’s definitely hard for teams, because every team wants something different. So it’s very hard for teams to come out and just know who they want straight away. The way the draft works, if you have the 6th or 7th pick you don’t know if the player you want is going to be there, so you have to go through a lot of thinking effort, sit down with your executives and your GM and your coaches and see really who is the best. You need to put it in a number order with different players. I think its definitely tough on a GM and the coaches of the world. I think for the players it’s a good system. If you have a great year, they can afford to pay to have you workout for teams. So I think that even if you have a bad workout, you can still get drafted. So I think its there for the players.

Jonathan Givony: Lets say you had it your way, and there was no way that you could hurt your stock that much. Would you schedule a workout to go up against the three best power forwards and centers in the draft just to settle things once and for all and show who the best player in the draft is?

Andrew Bogut: I would, but my agent wouldn’t let me do that (laughs). Injuries and stuff could be a problem before the draft. You don’t want to get off on something stupid like that and have them pull out that piece of paper for your contract. So I would be happy to do that, but I think that in my situation I have proven myself. I have played against the best in the world. Getting matched up with guys like Kevin Bookout in the tournament, people said that he is going to eat me alive and so on and so forth. I think I have proven myself game in and game out so I don’t think I have to prove anything more.

Jonathan Givony: Do you watch a lot of college basketball? Do you think you have a pretty good handle on people in this draft?

Andrew Bogut: I follow basketball everyday. Read and watch it everyday. That’s my life basically. I watch a lot of NBA and grew up watching a lot of NBA. Obviously being in the college market I follow that quite a bit as well. I don’t know who should be where, though, that’s up to the GM’s to decide.

Jonathan Givony: Besides yourself, with no regards to the draft, who would you consider the top big men out there?

Andrew Bogut: Sean May is one that comes to mind. But he’s only 6-7, measuring in at 6-7 I think that’s going to open up the eyes of some scouts because he isn’t as big as he was listed at. Other then that there aren’t too many pure centers. I think Sean May will play the 4, so if you say centers, there aren’t too many more that come to mind. I couldn’t really say, Sean May is really the only other one that could play the center position but I think he’s a bit too small that deserves to be drafted highly.

Jonathan Givony: Looking at your combine results…on first glance I actually thought you did fine. Your vertical leap is only a half an inch less than Emeka Okafor’s, and your lane agility time is much better. I don’t remember anyone ever calling him not athletic. To put up the bar 13 times for a 7 footer with a big wingspan isn’t that bad, although everyone knows you need to continue to add strength like every 20 year old 7 footer in the history of the NBA draft. But still you read about people continuing to criticize and it just doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense anymore. How did you personally feel about the results of the combines?

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Andrew Bogut: I was happy. In the bench press I was a bit fatigued so the bar felt a little heavier than it usually does. But I proved to people, like you said, that I can jump, I can do all those things that a big man needs to do, it’s just that I didn’t really have to do them that much at Utah. Conserving energy, playing 40 minutes a game, just finishing the basketball with a layup makes me happy, I don’t have to dunk the ball every time, as long as it gets through. I was definitely happy with the results and I think that they opened up some eyes with people that said that I’m not athletic. I’m as athletic as the next guy. I’m not a Kevin Garnett by any means, but I’m not a Vlade Divac either.

Jonathan Givony: Do you think there might be a fundamental misunderstanding amongst casual fans regarding what the difference is between what a guard needs to be able to do in the NBA and what a 7 foot center needs to do? I get the feeling that people think “well Chris Paul has a better vertical, and Martynas Andriuskevicius can run the floor one thousands of a second quicker than Bogut,” but I just don’t know if people realize that a center’s job isn’t to handle the ball from end to end and then dunk from the free throw line. Do you ever get that same feeling or is it just me?

Andrew Bogut: Not really. There are a lot of people, and the smart people know what I can do and what I am going to play. There are just certain people out there that don’t know much about the game and they see a big white guy and they’re like “he’s just not going to be any good.” You know Chris Paul is also 170 pounds so of course it’s a lot easier for him to get up off the ground. I’m 250 pounds, it’s a lot tougher for me to get my body off the ground. It’s just one of those things that I don’t really care about. I don’t take notice of it or whatever comes of it. I actually hadn’t heard anyone mention that there are other guys that are jumping higher than me. I think that most smart people realize that of course most guys should jump higher than a big guy.

Jonathan Givony: So does this whole “great white stiff” theory, does that give you any extra motivation to prove people wrong?

Andrew Bogut: Not really, because there’s been the great black stiff too. There’s been Kwame Browns and there have been Michael Olowokandis too. Everyone forgets about those guys, but they went #1 in the draft too. That’s just the thing in America, the big white guy isn’t supposed to be as good as the big black guy. That’s something I can’t control, and I’m just going to work hard. There have been a lot of white guys who went late in the draft and turned out to be allstars. Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Stojakovic and so on. I really don’t have a worry in the world. I know I can play, and I don’t care what the color of my skin is.

Jonathan Givony: Looking at your physical attributes; your size, vertical leap and wingspan, it seems like you have quite a bit of potential in terms of shot blocking. Is that something you think you’ll be able to do more of at the next level, considering that the refs are more lenient, you’ll have an extra foul to use and hopefully someone to back you up if you leave your man for a weak side block?

Andrew Bogut: Yeah, well I didn’t want to try and block shots in Utah because I didn’t want to get in foul trouble. A lot of people are like “well Bogut should be a better shot blocker.” Yeah, but coach Giacoletti called me and told me that he doesn’t want me blocking shots (laughs). He sort of complimented me when I did attempt to, because I was showing heart and stuff, but he told me “if a guy has a layup, try not to foul him, because if he’s going to finish it then just let him go. Don’t try to block and foul him. Obviously if someone is going to try and dunk on you you can take him out, but we don’t want you to get a cheap foul like that. So either take a charge, or try to block his shot once it leaves his hand early.”

If someone was going hard to the basket I wouldn’t even try to block it, especially in college, it’s much softer, you can’t even body up on people. I’ll pick up 2 or 3 quick fouls in a half and I’m on the bench for the rest of the half. That would really hurt our team.

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