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(E) Croatian Andrew Bogut is Basketball's latest rising star
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/21/2005 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Croatian Andrew Bogut is Basketball's latest rising star


Croatian Andrew Bogut is Basketball's latest rising star

I just found out that college basketball star Andrew Bogut of the Utah Utes is Croatian. He is an Australian of Croatian heritage and plays for Australia's national team. He was doing an interview for CBS and was wearing an Australian shirt and a Dinamo touque. The significance is that he is projected by most experts to be the number 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Mike Pocrnic

Basketball is an international game, and 7-foot Andrew Bogut is its latest rising star.

Utah's Bogut sure to be a tourney attraction

[published on Thu, Mar 17, 2005]
The Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. – He was born in Australia. The roots of his game are from his parents' native Croatia.

He was a star in Athens, and he has carried Utah into the NCAA tournament.

Basketball is an international game, and 7-foot Andrew Bogut is its latest rising star.

Soon, the NBA will make him a lottery pick, maybe the No. 1 choice overall. Before that, though, Bogut has some unfinished business with the Utes.

"Here's a guy that no one's been able to stop all year," UTEP coach Doc Sadler said. "He's probably the premier guy in college basketball. If they're talking about whether or not you're going to be the third pick or the first pick, that's pretty good. I mean, what can't he do?"

Sadler's 11th-seeded Miners (27-7) will try to contain Bogut and the No. 6 seed Utes (27-5) today in a first-round Austin Region game at Arizona's McKale Center. The game will be the second afternoon contest. In the first game, No. 3 seed Oklahoma (24-7), the Big 12 regular-season champion, will play 14th-seeded Niagara (20-9), making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 35 years.

The evening contests feature teams from the Albuquerque Region. No. 3 seed Gonzaga (25-4) faces No. 14 Winthrop (27-5), and sixth seed Texas Tech (20-10) plays No. 11 seed UCLA (18-10) in the nightcap.

Utah wants Bogut to touch the ball on every possession. If he does not score – and he can even hit an occasional three-pointer – then the collapsing zone defense or double-team leave a teammate wide open.

"He's throwing it out, and we're basically playing horse out there," Ute guard Tim Drisdom said. "We get a lot of open jump shots, and it's up to us to knock them down."

Bogut was recruited by Rick Majerus and was Mountain West freshman of the year last season. But his game truly blossomed with the Australian national team at the Athens Olympics, where he averaged 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in five games. He returned to the college game a wiser player.

"I'm playing with guys my age again," the 20-year-old from Melbourne said. "In the Olympics, you're playing guys who are 26, 27 with experience playing all around the world. I came back to play against guys my age and my strength. I thought I could do very well, and I've done pretty well to this point."

Bogut is averaging 20.7 points and is third in Division I at 12.3 rebounds a game. He made 64 percent of his shots, third-best in the country.

"To see what he's been able to do for this team and this program this year is really amazing," said coach Ray Giacoletti, hired after last season when Majerus resigned for health reasons. "He's the focal point, but the rest of the group has really bought in to understand that he needs to touch the basketball whether it be in transition or the halfcourt game. That's something, to me, that is even more special."

UTEP, in its first season under Sadler, wants to make Bogut and the rest of the Utes run.

"He's going to get his points and rebounds," UTEP forward Omar Thomas said. "We know he's a good player, that he's a top-five pick. He's going to do what he does. We're just going to hope he doesn't kill us too bad. We're going to play UTEP basketball and make him run up and down the court, what he's not used to, and make him guard our big man."

Thomas leads the Miners in scoring at 20.4 points per game, but Puerto Rican point guard Filiberto Rivera makes the team go.

The Purple Eagles of Niagara, whose long trip to Tucson included a 4-hour flight delay, are relishing their underdog status against the Sooners.

"Like I always say," coach Joe Mihalich said, "they've got McDonald's all-Americans on their team, and we've got guys that eat at McDonald's."

Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, of course, was having none of that. He said that Juan Mendez "could start for any team in our conference."

"We just played a fast, I mean fast, point guard in Jarrius Jackson (of Texas Tech) and Alvin Cruz is every bit as fast," Sampson said.

Gonzaga and Winthrop bring the two longest active winning streaks into the NCAA tournament. The 'Zags have won 12 in a row, Winthrop 18. Gonzaga is in its seventh straight NCAA tournament and has its second consecutive high seeding. It was No. 2 last year.

The finale Thursday features Bob Knight's Red Raiders against a UCLA team that barely made the NCAA field. Texas Tech is in the tournament for the third time in Knight's four seasons at the school.

UCLA, meanwhile, has its lowest seed in history in a tournament it has won 11 times.


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