Thursday, January 22, 2009

Questions Answered

First and foremost, a big THANK YOU to those that sent in questions for our man, Rob Demovsky, to answer.  We sorted through the virtual pile, and passed along the following queries to give fans a little more perspective heading into tonight's game between Green Bay and Butler.

Thanks again to the Green Bay Press-Gazette for letting us borrow Rob for this monumental HLN Blog event.  Alright, so maybe not "monumental," but you get the idea.

Q:  Is this the most talented team Coach Kowalczyk has had while at Green Bay?

Rob Demovsky:  I don't think there's any question this is his most talented team. However, I thought the 2004-05 team that had Benito Flores, Javier Mendiburu, Brandon Morris and Matt Rohde was close. That's the last UWGB group to beat Butler. This team has better athletes and therefore plays better defense and rebounds better. This team has more pieces as well. They have good shooters (Cotton, Tillema, Schachtner), good defenders (Evans, Fletcher, Berry, Nelson) and a ton of experience.

Q:  In your opinion, is there something specific that has made Butler so successful in the Horizon League year after year?

Rob Demovsky:  I asked a couple of Horizon League coaches that very question this week and no one had a specific answer other than to say they've got a great system and do a great job finding players who fit that system. That style certainly isn't for everyone, but if you find players who buy into it and believe in it, it obviously works. Some believe this Butler team is actually better than last year's 30-4 team. I'm not sure about that simply because I thought Mike Green was one of the toughest college basketball players I've seen, and guys like A.J. Graves and Pete Campbell just made big shots when it mattered. I've always respected the way Butler players and have enjoyed watching them.

Q:  Who do you think Terry Evans will guard in Thursday night's game?
Rob Demovsky:  My guess is Evans will guard either Mack or Hayward, but the Phoenix often switches on lot of screens so you might see him on different guys. However, there are times when they try not to switch. When they played at UWM, Evans almost never left Avery Smith.

Q:  Coach Kowalczyk seems to be a "target" on many Horizon League message boards and fan sites. Being Green Bay's beat writer, you're around him about as much as what's he really like?

Rob Demovsky:  I've never really understood why Kowalczyk was so disliked. Early in his career, he may have made some comments that came off as arrogant or cocky, but what Division I coach isn't that way. They all have egos. But I think he's learned from those mistakes like any good coach would. I've covered three different Division I coaches at two different schools in my 15 years of covering college basketball, and I will say that Tod is by far the most media-friendly coach I've covered. He lets me watch as much practice as I want, gives me as much as access to players and assistants as I want and takes time to explain his philosophies. And it's not just with me. He's pretty much the same way with all the local TV and radio stations. Off the court, he's a regular guy -- he likes to play golf, drink a few beers and relax with his family. He has two young children, and they've mellowed him a little bit. Like most coach's wives, his wife Julie is a saint. You might recognize Julie from her maiden name -- Nordgaard. That's right, she's the sister of former UWGB star Jeff Nordgaard.

Q:  Since we're midway through the season, who's your All-Horizon League 1st Team?

Rob Demovsky: I won't have seen every team in person until after this weekend, but I do believe I've seen all the teams at some point or another if not in person then on the Horizon League Network.

So I'd probably say the first team would be: Matt Howard, Ryan Tillema, Avery Smith, J'Nathan Bullock and either Josh Mayo or Gordon Hayward.

Too soon to say on Player of the Year although I would think Howard is the leading candidate. Hayward probably has the Newcomer of the Year already locked up. Terry Evans should repeat as Defensive Player of the Year, and Tillema is probably the Sixth Man of the Year, but he's really a starter, so maybe James Eayrs of UWM.


Bonus Question: I know you cover UWGB and the Packers, but who wins in a fight: Ditka or Big Lumber?

Rob Demovsky:  Well I am originally from Chicago, so I'd have to say Da Coach, but ...

Actually someone told me Eayrs' mom wouldn't let him play football because she was afraid he'd get hurt (my guess is he would have done the hurting), but I don't know if that's true. I'll say this, for a big guy, he's kind of a gentle giant. He's got soft hands and a great touch. The first time I saw him play, I thought no way can this guy play. I certainly don't think that now.

Thanks for all the questions. If anyone ever has a question about UWGB or the Horizon League feel free to contact me at, and please read the Green Bay Press Gazette.


  1. speaking of Jeff Nordgaard he is in Poland coaching. I have played his team twice now. He seems like a great guy and from stories i have heard he was a pretty good player as well.

  2. Thanks for the info bcrone! Always good to get updates on past Horizon League players.

    And speaking of past Horizon League players, I must assume that "bcrone" is, indeed, former Butler standout Brandon Crone.

    You can follow his professional basketball career (among other amusing stories) at: