Neenah Coach Scott Bork on 6-9 240 Matt Heldt

Recently, Neenah Rocket head coach Scott Bork spoke to me after his Neenah Rockets lost to three time defending Germantown 67-63 at the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout. This was a rematch from the WIAA finals held in Madison last March. I wanted to ask him about his star 6-9 Center Matt Heldt[rated #58] who has signed on to play at Marquette next season.

John Dodds: Tough lost to Germantown 67-63, but you really battled them. It was a great game.

Coach Bork: “They are very good and very physical. They had a couple of runs in the first half and the second half where he had some of our key guys subbed out trying to get into the game. They are solid. Their kids are very good.”

John Dodds: You seem to have a better matchup with them from a physicality standpoint than you did last March at State.

[Coach Bork looks on as Matt Heldt commits to Marquette last November ]

Coach Bork: “Yes, we have made strides in that area being able to match their physicalness. You don’t get a lot of good moves against Germantown because they defend so well.”

John Dodds: Your center, Matt Heldt, had a “quiet” 28 points.

Coach Bork: “That’s what we need. Matt has to be our go to guy. When we get the ball to him, good things happen to us both for him and for the other guys on the team, getting more open looks on kickout passes. He felt a little better tonight. He has been sick for the last two weeks. He seemed to get his second wind for the first time in three games.”

John Dodds: Heldt looks much improved from last March. I know from the’s rating that he has risen from #158 to #58 on their top list of player rankings. What did he do over the summer or really in the spring to improve so much?

Coach Bork: “Matt works hard. He is in the gym all the time. But a big thing for him is he got into the weight room. He worked with our strength trainer all through spring and summer and into fall. Last year when he ended the season, he was worried about not getting tired from the extra weight lifting before the AAU season. Since his mind was set on Marquette, I think that made it easier for him so he could just focus on getting stronger and putting in that extra effort. It has really paid off for him.”

John Dodds: Coach Wojo was hired in April. When did he first contact you? Was it right away?

[Heldt was able to power in 28 pts vs a physical Germantown team.]

Coach Bork: “Well, I think Henry (Ellenson) got the first call and Coach Orr (Rice Lake) probably got the first call there. As far as him calling me, it was on Day 2 that he was on the job. He called me and said, “I have heard some really good things about Matt and I would like to come around to see him and meet you. We want to make him a priority.” From that day forward, he asked us what days we have an open gym so that Coach Carawell can come up. As soon as Coach Carawell was hired, he was up here. He came and watched him and Coach Wojo made the effort to see Matt in Minnesota. All the big names were playing in other AAU Tournaments and they all sent their assistants (to Minnesota), but Coach Wojo made the effort to go there (to see Matt) and also get down on the other ones. That was the big difference.”

John Dodds: I am a big fan of post play. Whatever you do to work with him, Matt is very well schooled on drop steps move and back to the basket post moves.

Coach Bork: “Coach Pronschinke works with our post. Coach Al Krueger is in there with the bag, so our kids, they are never working without some kind of pressure in body and something leaning on them. They need to learn to finish through that. Matt has good feet. Having that is a good starting point for him.”

John Dodds: He runs the court really well too.

Coach Bork: “Yes, he does. He is a little drained right now after being sick but hopefully he will get physically to where he was about a month ago.”

John Dodds: My dad was a basketball coach at Tosa East and his best team in 1970 (24-0) lost to Neenah in the WIA State Semi-Finals. I still haven’t gotten over it by the way.

My dad always said that Neenah has the best program in the state. Ron Einarson has the feeder programs in from 5th grade on running his offenses and defenses. Nobody has a better program from grade school to high school than you do.

Coach Bork: “That goes back to Coach Einarson. He had everything going. He had kids playing year round. They ran rec leagues at the middle school where the kids would play in the summer and just Neenah kids. In those days, you had 50 kids in a class each wanting to play. Since I have been here as an assistant, Coach Scott Anderson continued the tradition. Those guys really helped develop the youth program. We have some really good coaches at the youth level to help us a lot.”

John Dodds: I saw you on TV play Kimberly about a month ago and you are playing a lot better now at a much higher level. Would you agree?

Coach Bork: “Yes, we are. That’s why we come to this Christmas tournament, for the competition. Our goal is to not be undefeated. Our goal is to be best prepared at the end of the year for the tournament and you do that by playing the best competition.”

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