first_imgIt was only fitting that in order to interview Wisconsin sophomore forward Joe Krabbenhoft, a wait was necessary, as he can usually be found in the training room getting patched up after a practice or a game. Over the last two seasons, Krabbenhoft, a native of Sioux Falls, S.D., has developed the reputation of being one of the most competitive and hardest playing people on the court.”It’s not a show when he gets into the game,” assistant coach Greg Gard said. “He plays extremely hard. Every game, every practice and every thing we do, he is going 100 percent.”Krabbenhoft’s tough mentality has also attributed to the number of injuries he has sustained during the season. During a game against Indiana this year, he suffered a blow to the head that caused him to bleed profusely.”He keeps Henry (Perez-Guerra), our trainer, busy with stitches and cuts and things like that,” Gard said.Of course, due to his competitive nature, he kept on playing until the officials forced him to the sidelines.”It’s just the way I play,” Krabbenhoft said. “Every team needs a couple guys like that. I’m not the only one on this team. Sometimes I bleed a little more than most guys on this team. So, it’s just the mentality of the guys on this team and not me individually.”Krabbenhoft’s style of play is what brought him to Madison to play for head coach Bo Ryan. Naturally, he plays the wing or the three spot on the court, which is the same position Wooden Award candidate Alando Tucker plays now. Although he may not start at that position, he has played crucial minutes off the bench. When he comes in for Tucker, he feels no pressure. Rather, he looks at his roll as essential to keeping the team going when the scoring leader is resting on the bench.”I don’t feel any pressure,” Krabbenhoft said. “Of course, when Alando goes out, some shots need to be taken, some rebounds need to be grabbed and, overall, it’s a big gap to fill. I just try to do my best, and I don’t think there is any way that I can do what Alando does. He is one of the best players in the country, and am I? No, not yet.”This season, Krabbenhoft has played in all 26 of the Badgers’ games and is averaging 20.3 minutes of the bench. He is also averaging five points and five rebounds per game — third best on the team — and had many crucial boards against the Iowa Hawkeyes last weekend. The numbers he has put up this season are already better than his freshman year. Ryan appreciates having a player who can constantly learn and improve his game.”Your average Joe, he (is) anything but average,” Ryan said in a press conference earlier this fall. “He works hard. He is constantly trying to learn as much as he can. You can see that in his improved play. You always like those guys who listen and get better. That’s what you hope for in players, is to see development and to see the absorption of information that you are trying to pass out.”One of the great aspects that Krabbenhoft brings to Ryan’s swing offense is his versatility. He just doesn’t play guard or forward but has the ability to play in the post, on the wing or anywhere in between.”We play him in three different positions, either a two, a three or a four,” Gard said. “Within our system, there is not a whole lot of variation in terms of what you do within those positions. He has become very versatile. He has become one of our better perimeter defenders. Between him and Mike Flowers, we assign them to play their best perimeter defenders defensively.”Krabbenhoft acknowledges that he can play several different positions and enjoys doing so.”I like that. It gives me the options to do a little bit of everything while I’m out on the court,” Krabbenhoft said. “[When] coach gives me the opportunity to be out there, I get to handle the ball a little bit, and I get to go inside a little bit. It’s what I like to do, and it makes it fun for me.”Not only is Krabbenhoft competitive on the court, but also off the court; he is known to never back down from an argument.”He is probably the guy on the team that likes to argue the most,” guard Michael Flowers said. “He will argue about the simplest things. It could be whether Diet Coke tastes better than regular Coke. He will argue his point to death. He will always want to come away with the ‘W’ no matter what it is.”Although he may have a competitive nature, Krabbenhoft will always be one to support his teammates.”Joe is the type of player you want on your team because you know he will do anything to help the team,” Flowers said. “He’s one of those guys that if you are hanging from a cliff and you have a rope, you are going to want to have him holding that rope because you know he won’t ever let go.”last_img

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