What, him worry?
It's not in Australian Andrew Bogut's nature, Mate.
He put up with Rick Majerus at the University of Utah, didn't he? Moved to a new country, weaned himself off vegemite sandwiches, became national college player of the year and got filthy rich.
Now that Bogut is in the NBA, there are no more three-hour practices and there's certainly no Majerus. Life is good. Thus, he's on record saying he loves playing in Milwaukee, which includes a fair number of Croatian-Americans to make him feel at home (he was born in Croatia).
In his return to Salt Lake, Monday, he mostly picked up fouls in a 100-80 loss to the Jazz. But the so-so night didn't seem to particularly faze him. After the game he looked the way he always does after games a little bit sleepy.
As they say Down Under, "no worries."
"No, not really," said Bogut when asked if he worries about the ups and downs of the NBA. "I can only do so much. I've got a lot of things to work on, but I can only go and do whatever the coach tells me to do. If that's being in and out of games, so be it."
Bogut's first appearance in Salt Lake since leading the Utes to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last spring was a fairly low-key affair in part due to the low attendance (16,176). But it was a warm reception nonetheless. He got in early foul trouble and mostly ran the court in the first half. In the third quarter, he pulled off a couple of slams. Loud cheers rang out and rattled around the vacant seats in the upper tier. Fans chanted his name and unfurled both Australian and Croatian flags when he went to the line. (The Bucks unfurled a flag of their own a white one.)
He finished with eight points, seven rebounds and five fouls in 21 minutes.
Not exactly a monster performance, but not a disaster, either.
Just like Bogut himself, it was neither high nor low.
Bogut's modest return wasn't unlike that of another former Beehive State collegian: Shawn Bradley, who seldom played well in Salt Lake. While Bogut's game is more advanced in his first season than Bradley's, there are similarities. Both were dominating seven-foot collegians. BYU's Bradley was selected second overall in the 1993 Draft and projected to be an important factor in the NBA, as is Bogut. But Bradley ended up spending 11 somewhat disappointing seasons in the league. The player some experts predicted could revolutionize the game averaged 8.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in his career and never came close to dominating.
Bogut was starting at power forward in the absence of injured Joe Smith until three games ago. But when Smith returned last week, Bogut came off the bench. Fine by him, he says. He figures he can afford to be patient. He is averaging 7.5 points and 8.3 rebounds similar numbers to Bradley but is drawing praise from media and coaches alike. In his NBA debut he got 13 points; the next night he pulled in 17 rebounds.
"He's been doing well," said Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts. "He'll have his ups and downs but he's going to be a good player."
Stotts added that Bogut is "a team guy and he wants the team to do well. That's his greatest strength."
In other words, so far he is fair dinkum Australian slang for the genuine article.
"I've been struggling lately," Bogut deferred.
Indeed, there are signs Bogut is poised to do fine in Milwaukee the place he says was his second choice to play professionally (behind Utah). His jersey is available in the merchandise stands for a pricey $220. Likewise, plans are in the works for a Bogut Bobblehead that will retail at over $30.
If he does well, people will soon be going bonkers over Bogut.
Although his Salt Lake reunion wasn't the performance he hoped, don't expect him to complain or elaborate. Don't expect him to lose any sleep, either.
That's not his way.
Was he nervous? Worried?
He didn't really say.
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