Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bogut Speaks

Andrew Bogut: Remember him?

Amid the Yi Jianlian soap opera, Mo Williams signing and Charlie Bell squabbles, you can almost forget that Andrew Bogut managed to offend some people with both his mouth and his hair this summer. Entering a pivotal third season, the former first overall pick is coming off an uneven sophomore campaign, improving statistically but lacking consistency before a foot injury shelved him for the final 16 games of the season. Over at RealGM one of the Aussie posters was kind enough to transcribe an interview Andrew Bogut did for Handle, an Australian basketball magazine. There's no online version of the mag, but you can see a picture of the most recent Bogut cover here (as a sidenote, is Bogut on the cover of every other issue?). It's a pretty wide-ranging discussion, so here are some highlights:

Q). At the All-Star weekend, you told me you were looking forward to working on your game this off season. What is it that you’ve been doing?

A). I needed to get back into the weight room. I haven’t really had an off season where I could lift, and I’ve felt my body getting stronger, especially my legs. When you’re playing 12 months a year, you can’t lift much in the legs because you’re body wont take it, and now I’m on the court every day, but I’m not overworking - certain days I just shoot for an hour and that's it. My trainer keeps me on my toes, and he never lets me know what we’ll be doing, so I never know what to expect. The best thing about basketball is you can never be perfect. No one has ever been perfect, and you can always get better, change something and improve. I’m looking to improve every facet of my game. The game gives you so much back. If you’re willing to do the work, you respect what it takes to be on an elite level.
Larry Krystkowiak reportedly told season ticketholders last week that Bogut weighed in at a fit 270 pounds when he came back from Australia, a figure that I did a double-take at. Remember last year Bogut showed up at around 255 pounds to start the season (he's been listed at 245), but looked a step slow and easily winded early on, later admitting it was too much. The bulk was mainly in his upper body when he probably needed it more in his base, so it's encouraging to hear his new regiment was focused there. I'm definitely to curious to see if a) Bogut is really 270 and b) he can carry that much weight effectively, but at this point he sounds like a guy who might be on the verge of having a breakout season.
Q). How did the coaching change affect you last year?

A). The fact Terry Stotts was fired was a reflection of our team losing games. In any sport today the coach can be a scapegoat - look at Kevin Sheedy in Essondon - and, unfortunately, that’s the nature of the business. Stotts felt like he was in the hot seat early on, and he told us so in a couple of team meetings. He wanted to continue to coach the way that had made him successful, and you have to respect that about the guy. He was unlucky, in a way, because in January we went on a roll with six straight wins before Michael Redd and Mo Williams went down, which twisted his fate. Larry Krystkowiak is a great acquisition; he’s a hard nosed coach and I think it was a positive move for the organisation, but I do think Stotts was a great coach for whom the pieces just didn't fall into place.
Bogut's ambivalence for Stotts was never much of a secret, but you at least need to give Bogut credit for saying polite things about Stotts since the switch. Some have used Stotts as a scapegoat for Bogut's inconsistency, but at some point you have to grow up--certainly if Krystkowiak can't get the best out of Bogut he'll be out of excuses.
Q). Is it reassuring to know that you’ll be with the Bucks for more seasons?

A). It’s nice, but the NBA is a business first and foremost: you don’t know what will happen. They re-sign me today, but can trade me tomorrow if they can bring in a player of a higher calibre, or who is a better fit. If Miami packages Shaq and Wade up for me, Redd and another player, the Bucks would make the move - who wouldn’t? You just never know what might happen in the NBA, but I’m very happy to be in Milwaukee, and I always have been. I love the people there, and they’ve been very helpful since I arrived. It’s a small city, so getting around isn’t a problem, and I just brought a house, so I’m finally going to get out of my apartment. I think a large part of my growing pains for these first two years was the fact that I went from living in an apartment to spending all my time in a hotel on the road, so there wasn’t any change up. Now when I get home after a road trip, I’ll have a little serenity and a backyard to relax in.
Ah, say all the right things, Drew. We love it! No, seriously, we do. He apparently moved to Mequon, so now he's really made it.
Q). Ever feel that you will be ostracised for your comments?

A). The toughest thing is always what your team-mates think. I spoke to a couple of our players to get my point of view across and explain myself to them. They knew from day one that I wasn’t the kind of guy who was in the NBA for the fame and the lifestyle that comes with that, and they’ve respected me for that. The way The Age article came out it makes it seem like I was calling them out, which I wasn’t. If it was worded in a different way , things wouldn’t have blown up, and I know that’s my own fault. I’m sure I’ll cop it from other players in the league, but I’m not afraid of going back to the US because of that, and I look forward to the challenge. I think in my first two seasons in the NBA, I might have taken a step back and have only just gotten my feet wet. I’m comfortable with where I’m at, and my team-mates are comfortable with me. I’m not looking to take crap from anybody, but I definitely respect Etan Thomas’ point of view. He has a right to say what he did, not just because he’s an American guy, but because he was making a point that was correct. I’m surprised that there weren’t more responses like that. If someone said something like that about Australia, they’d cop it from all angles. I’m definitely outspoken at times, and I should be able to keep quieter at times but, saying that, I definitely don’t want to be someone’s puppet.
The Thomas/Bogut thing seems pretty much done and dusted, at least in part because Bogut isn't a high profile player and Milwaukee isn't a high-profile team. So we likely won't hear much about this story once the season starts, but it'd certainly be interesting to see if Bogut and Thomas have a chat the next time the Bucks play the Wiz.

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