Wisconsin now has a 24-game winning streak at home. Do you sense that there is intimidation for teams coming in? Do you guys feel like you have a dominant home court now at the Kohl Center when you look at how good you have been the last couple of years in this building?
"I don't know. Heck we went and played Michigan State two years ago and I didn't know they had won 54 straight because I never read any of that stuff. Afterwards everybody was all excited and said ‘you know you broke their streak.' I didn't know how many games they had won. I don't think other coaches worry about that too much either. Or 53 games – whatever it was with Michigan State. Do we intimidate other teams? No way. They don't care."
Ohio State has some transfers come in this year and you've had Zach [Morley] come in. I'm not asking you to talk about Ohio State, but can you just talk about your philosophy as far as having community college or junior college players come in and how you have seen them fit in with the team? Obviously Zach has fit in very well.
"It is an equal opportunity program that we have here, so there is… You can come in in various ways and contribute. You've got to be on the team though. Not everybody gets to be on the team. But we're looking constantly at people who are in high school, maybe in prep school. Some people go to prep school, junior college, community college not for grade reasons, but simply because they have some other aspirations down the road and maybe what they had offered before wasn't something that they were comfortable with so they wanted to get some more time and take a look at some different options maybe as they grew. I had a player at Platteville that was a junior college player that stayed home because he was doing chores around the house so he stayed at the local community college in Clinton and then came with us at Platteville and man, did a great job for us. [His name was] Pete Stremlow. My feeling is that if they are willing to work and be a part of it, it never matters to me where they are from. Everybody deserves a chance."
Mike Wilkinson has become a much better finisher recently around the basket as opposed to earlier in his career. Why do you think that is?
"That is a good basketball point. He had some things that he was doing when he left the floor – that he wasn't finishing to the target and the idea of more vertical rather than horizontal effort to the basket makes a big difference. That's what he has been a better job of – is the vertical rather than the horizontal. We don't want people long jumping, we want them high jumping around the basket, exploding around the basket. Each and every day we go over that with our post drills or at least talk about it. It is nice to see students of the game. He is better. He's got to do it all the time and that is what he is working on. He is working on being as consistent as he can. But he has done a better job at it, which helped him earn [Big Ten] co-Player of the Week this past week. I was happy for him."
I just wanted to ask you a few things about the post moves that your team does. Is it five different moves that you guys work on?
"And then every once in a while when a player does something that I haven't seen before, I'll call it the "Freddie Owens" or the "Mike Wilkinson." There are five old NBA players that east coast guys started using years ago for certain moves."
In terms of your coaching, did it start off as five or has it grown over the years and if so can you just talk about the evolution. Was the McHale first or was it some other move?
"Probably the Moses was first – not for what you are
thinking. As soon as I said that I knew what you were going to think…No, the
Moses Malone - the drop-step power move. That is probably the one that was seen
by so many big men, or done by, performed by so many big men and seen by so many
people. The [George] Mikans and people like that. Mikan has the Mikan drill, but
not a Mikan move. I think the Moses Malone, the drop-step power move was
probably the one that… and is the one that is probably used the most. The
McHale, the Kevin McHale is the jump hook. The Jack Sikma is a step-back, a
reverse pivot that he got away with for years in the NBA. How a guy seven feet
tall from a Division III school with a bad perm can do as well as he did I have
no idea. But he did and he was tough. The Jack Sikma move – that is a great
move. The Dominique Wilkins – the up-and-under. Show the ball, tuck it away,
crossover. Most people just call it a crossover, but that is the Dominique
Wilkins. Jokingly I always say Dominique would finish it with a dunk but most of
our guys just finish it with a straight move. And then the other one is the
Bernard King. Bernard King would catch it in the post and it is a front pivot.
It's a little jump shot when you can't get to the rim. He would shake guys off
with his opposite shoulder – lean one way, come back the other. And Bernard King
only scored 35 points per game for how many years in the NBA on basically one
move. I always admire people that can last as long and do what they did in a
professional league like that pretty much using one go-to move. I mean, if I
have player that is really good with one… you have to have a counter, but there
are some guys that use three or four pretty effectively. I've only had a couple
of guys that could use all five. [Assistant coach] Robby Jeter for example has
the best jump hook of anybody I have ever seen other than McHale. And it might
be better than McHale's."