Andrew Bogut interview
Former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut cashed in this off-season, inking a multi-year contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. It pays to be big. The question now is whether the seven-foot center will deliver for Milwaukee – a franchise coming off a miserable 26-56 season, which hasn’t made the playoffs since his rookie year, 2005-06. After leading Australia in the Olympics at Beijing this summer, the 23-year-old Bogut comes into the 2008-09 campaign with career averages of 11.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He enjoyed a breakout season last year for the Bucks, posting career-high averages of 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 34.9 minutes per game.
Bobby Ciafardini of InsideHoops.com met with Bogut in Madison Square Garden on November 2 for an exclusive interview.
InsideHoops.com: Andrew, you signed a new, multi-year contract in the off-season with the Bucks. So Milwaukee is home for good, right?
Andrew Bogut: “Obviously, it’s great to have security and to know that you are wanted by the franchise. I’m going about my business now and there’s not as much pressure knowing that I don’t have to play for a contract. Now I can just go out there and play basketball. Whatever the team asks me to do, I’m going to go out and do.”
InsideHoops.com: After Milwaukee’s 94-86 win Sunday night, the Bucks are 2-2 through four games. What are your impressions so far of the team?
Andrew Bogut: “We have a high ceiling. We’re still young. We’re still learning coach’s system and we’re still learning how to play hard every night. I think that’s been a bad habit of ours the last few years. It’s a habit that’s hard to shake, too. I think if we keep pushing, we’ll be alright this season. We’ve already made some strides, but a lot of the teams that we’ll beat will obviously be around .500 teams, but we are going to go out and try and knock off some of the big teams as well.”
InsideHoops.com: In your opinion, did playing in the Olympics benefit your game, or did it hurt not to have that time off?
Andrew Bogut: “You take your lunch pail and you just go out there. The Olympics is a once in a lifetime experience. You can only play three or four of them in your career and it means something special to be surrounded by the best athletes in the world in every sport and from every country. It’s an unbelievable experience, but it is taxing on the body. People usually don’t understand that. For a guy playing in the NBA or Europe, you play 80 games a year in the NBA, 60 games a year in Europe and go out there and give up your whole summer. Obviously, you don’t get paid to play for your country. We didn’t get paid, even though people think we do. We went out there to play for the pride of our nation. There is nothing more enjoyable than that, but at the same time, you are giving up a lot from yourself and your individual game. A lot of guys took that opportunity in the summer to get rest. That can be an advantage, but for me, I wouldn’t give up anything to play for the Olympic team.”
InsideHoops.com: It was really a tale of two different games from last night in Toronto to tonight in New York. We happened different tonight that changed the Bucks’ outcome?
Andrew Bogut: “I think it was a tough loss for us in Toronto last night. We played a decent game. We made some mistakes in that we tried not to make tonight against the Knicks. We played better tonight. Our defense was better.”
InsideHoops.com: You are now in your fourth season in the NBA. Your numbers are ever-improving. Are you more comfortable out there, more settled in your role?
Andrew Bogut: “I don’t think you ever want to be too settled, because once you become settled, you lose a lot of your drive. I mean, I am settled off the court; the business side of things, the papers, contracts and all of that, but there are a lot things that I need to work on, on the court, like my free-throw shooting, which has been terrible. I need to work on being more demanding in the post. My teammates are going to come to me and I just need to go out there and score in the post, which will open up things for our guards.”
InsideHoops.com: Last season, the team goes 23-56. This year, the organization makes some moves to try and improve this team. Is the climate in the locker room different this season?
Andrew Bogut: “These four games have been the most fun I’ve had in Milwaukee. This has been the best Milwaukee Bucks basketball we have played, win or lose. Chicago was a dismal loss, but these last three games have been fun. Basketball is fun again in Milwaukee. Coach’s system is a tough system to learn, but it’s proven to get results and I’ve enjoyed the last few games.”
InsideHoops.com: Coach Skiles has a reputation for being a no-nonsense kind of guy. What are your thoughts on playing for him?
Andrew Bogut: “Coach Skiles is tough, just like he was as a player. He calls it as he sees it and I think he will get into guys if he has to, and feels the need to. Like I said to a lot of people, if you work hard, he respects you. That’s really all you can ask from a coach.”
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