Andrew Bogut Interview, Part Two

Andrew Bogut Interview, Part Two
Jun 21, 2005, 03:12 am
Part One can be found here

Jonathan Givony:Just in general, what kind of impact do you think you are going to have in your rookie season? Are there any goals you are setting for yourself regarding what you want to accomplish as a rookie?

Andrew Bogut: Just to improve day by day and game by game. If I start off for example having two points and two boards my first game, then have three and three my next game and then four and four after that. I just want to have a steady pace to keep improving my game, I don’t want to start off having twenty and twenty and then the next five games have nothing, you know? I just want to keep improving and keep up that consistency that I had in college and the Olympics. Rebound the ball and finish when I get it inside. Consistency is a big key and just improving day by day.

Jonathan Givony: It seems like there is a pretty good chance that you might end up on the same team as Toni Kukoc. How would you feel about that? With the Croatian connection and all that?

Andrew Bogut: Definitely. I watched him growing up. He’s a great player and he had learned to battle by just being smarter than the league. He’s definitely not the most athletic guy in the world, especially now compared with as a young player what he was, but he came over late from Europe and he just played the game because he was smart and he played well because he was smart. It was raw, he could have started for most teams in the league, but he was on a Bulls team that was great, and he understood that if he came off the roll his team would get fired up from that, and he understood that, so I think he’s just a great player definitely on the court.

Jonathan Givony: So do you think you are sitting pretty firm at that number one spot? You hearing anything about that?

Andrew Bogut: We haven’t heard anything. All that I’ve heard is that Atlanta will take me at two if I slip. So it’s up to Milwaukee to decide between me and Williams, and I can’t really control that. If they pick me…you know I’ll be very happy to go to Milwaukee, but if they don’t pick me I’ll be very happy to go to Atlanta. So I think I am in a win-win situation either way.

Jonathan Givony: Did you know that the #4 jersey is retired in Milwaukee? Have you given any thought to what number you would choose if they would draft you?

Andrew Bogut: I haven’t even really thought about that. It’s retired? Whose number was that?

Jonathan Givony: To be honest I couldn’t tell you. We just asked people to send us some questions to ask you and that was one of them right there, from a Milwaukee fan no doubt.

Andrew Bogut: I don’t know. Maybe 44 maybe? I had number six when I was growing up…so I’m not sure man, I would have to sit down and think about it, see what’s available, just go with something. I’m not really huge on a number, I would always like to have #4, but if I can’t get it then I’ll figure something else out. It’s not really going to change the way I play. I’ll just find something that I like.

Jonathan Givony: If we are talking about the Bucks, someone that there has been a little bit of buzz about is Linas Kleiza. They worked him out already and are supposedly interested in him if he keeps his name in. He’s a guy that you played against in Greece in the World Junior Championships two summers ago. He and you were considered the two best players at that tournament. Do you know him personally? Is that someone you might like to play with maybe? Is there anything you can tell us about his game?

Andrew Bogut: Oh he’s a bitch to play against. He’s tough as hell. Someone you want on your team and someone you definitely don’t want to play against. I think that if the Bucks took him and I, if we both have a chance to get drafted together then that would be an honor. He’s got a big heart and he plays hard for 48 minutes. I remember when we played against Lithuania, his team wasn’t the best in the final against us, but he just kept on fighting. They were down 30 and he just kept fighting. I think he shows great heart, and he’s your typical European guy, he’s really tough and hard nosed, loves to be physical and just wants to win. Playing with a guy like that would really be awesome.

Jonathan Givony: Like yourself, Kleiza is a foreign guy who decided to go to college instead of opting for the big money overseas. Is that something that you would recommend to fellow foreign players who are considering turning pro? How do you think they develop in college as opposed to overseas from your personal experience?

Andrew Bogut: I think it’s much better here. Europeans are signed at such a young age, at 16 they go professional. Which really hurts them because when they leave they have a 3-4 million dollar buyout they have to pay their club, and then they are losing money…a helluva lot of money. So I think that college is much better. You are under the eyes of the scouts every day and you get a free education, so I think that a lot of kids will stop looking at Europe. A lot of Australian kids that I know now are opting to come to college instead of playing in the International leagues. So hopefully in Europe kids will stop signing at age 15 or 16 and you’ll see a lot more of them over here.

Jonathan Givony: Is it just me, or does it seem like it’s a little bit easier to be a draft prospect in Europe? Their game isn’t being picked apart every single game by the scouts, and the expectations are a lot lower from them to really produce night in and night out. What do you think about that?

Andrew Bogut: Oh, it’s definitely much easier to play overseas. In a way that if you want to get to the NBA, because like you said, they pick you apart here. They see you every day and they pick little flaws that you wouldn’t notice if you were playing overseas. So playing in Europe is definitely an advantage if you want to get drafted higher.

Jonathan Givony: We’re not going to talk about the eye stuff…but are we the only ones that are reading into Rick Majerus’ comments in a way that maybe he’s trying to sabotage your stock somewhat. Making excuses and maybe being a little bit afraid of the fact that he had the #1 pick in the NBA draft and he basically didn’t do much with him. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, would it be wrong to take it that way?

Andrew Bogut: I’ve commented on that. I don’t want to comment too much on that anymore, cause I’ve commented on that in the papers for the last two weeks…but you know if that’s your opinion, then I’d probably back you up on that one. That’s all I’m going to say on that you know.

Jonathan Givony: Right (laughs). So from training for the draft over the past few months, what are some things that you’ve found out that you need to work on for the NBA? Beyond adding strength and all that…

Andrew Bogut: I think everything man. I don’t think that anybody’s game is perfect. Jordan wasn’t close to perfection, ever, so he just kept working on it. You can never perfect your game, that’s the challenge of playing a sport, you can never be perfect. You got to bring it everyday to practice and everyday to the game. If you take one day off, someone’s going to kick your ass. I think every part of my game needs to improve to play in the NBA. It’s getting there, I just need to keep working hard at it.

Jonathan Givony: I need to ask you a little bit Australian basketball, I am not sure when we’ll have the next opportunity. First off, I think we owe you some royalties from the next check we get from our advertisers, because the traffic we’ve been getting from Australia all year long has been unbelievable. I’m not sure if there is any other country who has been more loyal and fanatic about keeping up with what’s going on with their guy, for the past two years really since we didn’t just start talking about you yesterday like everyone else. How does it make you feel to know that an entire country, 20 million people or something have your back?

Andrew Bogut: Oh it’s just awesome to know that all those people are behind me. Hopefully, my ultimate goal is to get young kids picking up a ball and playing basketball.

Jonathan Givony: I’m kind of curious to hear your thoughts on the way the NBL (Australian league) is struggling right now. Australian basketball fans seem very frustrated with the way they get very little support from the media, it seems like there just isn’t money to go around, there isn’t a whole lot of basketball broadcasted on TV whether it’s the NBA or the Australian league. How do you think you going #1 is going to help basketball in Australia?

Andrew Bogut: I don’t know if it’s going to help the NBL, because I think a lot of kids opt to go to college and do better things. It’s a poor league at the moment, because there is no money in it and there are no sponsors like you said. I don’t know if I can change that. I am just hoping to get more kids to pick up a basketball, and hopefully they can get to the NBA or get to Europe and be able to live a better life playing basketball. But I’m not sure about the NBL because Australia is football, rugby…Australian heritage sports just like Americans have American Football, NASCAR and Baseball, so it’s tough.

Jonathan Givony: I don’t want you making any promises or anything like that, but is there anything specific that you think you can do to help the sport get back to where it was almost ten years ago in Australia? Getting kids interested in basketball again?

Andrew Bogut: I don’t think it’s the kids, like I just said, they are all picking up footballs and cricket bats instead of basketball. That’s something I am going to try and change. Hopefully I can promote the game more so people get involved in the game more. But it’s tough, if you bring a new sport out in the States, like soccer has taken so long here in the States, because you know, American football is so big and baseball is so big, NASCAR, so they have so much money to advertise and promote their game. When you are a small game that not so many people follow it is hard for you to promote your game.

Jonathan Givony:From what my friends in Australia tell me, ten years ago things were doing much better. You had a bunch of Australians getting drafted and with Luc Longley winning those championships with the Bulls there seemed to be some kind of resurgence. Now that seems to have died off for one reason or another. That’s kind of sad because Australia has some great athletes, a lot of height and especially the infrastructure to develop them. You look at the medal count from the Olympics every 4 years and Australia is always head and shoulders above the pack in the medal count per capita, just being very competitive in every single sport. So why not basketball?

Andrew Bogut: I think that’s just the way they feel. Basketball did really well in the 80’s and then there weren’t that many NBA players besides Luc Longley so there wasn’t really a big fan base to see basketball. I think that the big thing was that when basketball got cut from pre-direct TV it all went downhill. You had to buy cable and a lot of people didn’t want to do that to watch basketball, so it all just went downhill from there. A lot of guys left the game to go to other places, so it was less publicized, and then Australian football, rugby and cricket saw that basketball was down so they decided to advertise more, get more money and more people to their game and that’s just the way it worked out.

Jonathan Givony: Any thoughts on the future of the national team? With young guys like Brad Newley and established vets like David Andersen, and then throwing you into the mix, do you think there is any chance for some success in the next few years?

Andrew Bogut: I think Brad Newley will make the league. He is a great athlete, but he should have went to college, but he made that decision himself. Steve Markovic is a kid who was at the Treviso camp in Italy and did very well. There are a lot of young kids coming out. Adam Bruce, plays at the University of Baylor. He should have been the Big 12 freshman of the year, but for some reason he didn’t get it. Daniel Kickert from St. Mary’s…there are a lot of young kids, especially who are playing in college that are going to be very good playing for our country. So yeah, I think that in a couple of years we are going to have a very good national team.

Jonathan Givony: Do you think you are going to follow the same route that guys like Nowitzki took, meaning going over to qualify for International tournaments every summer and then playing in international tournaments? Or would you maybe go more for something like Ilgauskas who doesn’t really seem to give a damn about his national team and doesn’t ever play for them at all? Which direction do you see yourself going more towards?

Andrew Bogut: Definitely more like Nowitzki, but it’s hard to get to the qualifiers since it’s at the worst possible time of the year…at a time of the year when you need rest, you can’t play basketball 12 months a year and I think that’s the problem. I think Ilgauskas if his team doesn’t qualify in the Olympics then they aren’t going to play well at the European championships, his team is going to get beaten up at the European championships by the Yugoslavians, Croatians and so on. So I think that’s primarily the reason why he doesn’t go.

Jonathan Givony: There’s something like 150 Australians in the NCAA right now, maybe more than that, I’m not sure. How come that’s become so much of an option for Australian players? Is there just a really strong recruiting process that goes on? Really strong ties between the high schools and AIS? What’s going on behind the scenes there?

Andrew Bogut: I just think that a lot of people started doing it, and they were successful in doing it. They end up being successful straight away and go to the NBA, or they go to Europe. So I think that a lot of kids just really want to have more options. If they don’t they either go to the NBA or they are looked into the Australian league or you are locked into going to Europe. So you have that much more options, I think a lot of kids see that now.

Jonathan Givony: Do you have any sleepers for us? Maybe some Australian players that we might not know about and should?

Andrew Bogut: I think that Daniel Kickert has a chance to go the NBA. He can shoot the ball really well. Aaron Bruce has a chance if he keeps working hard. Brad Newley you guys already know about. Steven Markovic has a chance if he keeps working hard too. So those are probably the four main guys that are young that have a chance to get over here.

Jonathan Givony: I see you mentioned that we know about Newly. Have you been following our coverage this year at all?

Andrew Bogut: Oh yeah, I used to go on DC quite a bit, but you guys changed now so I haven’t been on the new one yet. I haven’t been on the net for a while.

Jonathan Givony: Alright Andrew, I really appreciate your time. Best of luck with your workout on Monday and in the draft in general and we’ll see you in the NBA I guess.

Andrew Bogut: OK cool man. Thanks, I appreciate it.

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