Wisconsin men’s basketball is off to its best start in program history and the emergence of a Badger big man has given it a presence down low that was desperately needed. Junior forward Frank Kaminsky burst onto the college basketball scene with his record setting 43-point performance against North Dakota Nov. 19, 2013 and has held the attention of basketball analysts ever since. The Badger Herald caught up with Kaminsky to talk Wisconsin’s record start, the pressure of winning and Will Ferrell.
The Badger Herald: You have a big target on your back now that you are off to such a good start. Do you like that?
Frank Kaminsky: Yeah, we love it when teams are gunning against us. We love it that we’re the opponent that they circle on their schedule. Crush their dreams, that’s what you are trying to do.
BH: Have you been able to take a step back and think about the accomplishment of owning the best start in the history of the program?
FK: I haven’t really given it any thought. I just want to go out there and just win every single game.
BH: Some of the national media are already calling you the most improved player in the country. What do you think about that?
FK: It doesn’t really mean much. This year I’ve had a lot more opportunities to go out and play. If they want to say that, that’s cool — I like the attention, but I still have a lot of things I have left to prove.
BH: What is the biggest difference for you between last season and this season?
FK: The increased role and more things expected of me on offense and defense. With playing a lot more minutes than I was last year, I’m just trying to go out there and make the right plays all of the time.
BH: How did it help in your development sitting behind a guy like redshirt senior forward Jared Berggren?
FK: He helped me a lot. I had to find ways to score on him in practice and then I had to guard him in practice a lot. He was a skilled player and he was very good on the defense end, so I had to learn a lot of ways to score and I think that’s something that really helped me.
BH: Is there a player that you’ve looked to and molded your game after?
FK: Dirk Nowitzki. I’ve always loved the way he plays because he’s not overly athletic and he’s not fast but he goes on there and makes his presence known.
BH: Looking back to your 43-point game against North Dakota, the whole Kohl Center was cheering “Frank the Tank” and you were having the game of your life. What was that like for you?
FK: I didn’t know I was going for a record, but once I figured out after and I heard everyone booing when I was coming out, I kind of had a hint of what was going on. It was a fun environment.
BH: What do you think of the fans calling you “Frank the Tank”?
FK: I was called that in high school too, so people used to make Will Ferrell “Frank the Tank” posters.
BH: Is that your nickname with the team here?
BH: But you are an “Old School” fan?
FK: Oh yeah, I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan.
BH: After the 43-point game, what did you do when you went home? Watch ESPN? Call your parents?
FK: I tried not to turn my phone on for a while, but I was on my phone for most of the time when I got home. I had “Sportscenter” up and my roommate was recording it because, I mean, you’re not going to not record that.
BH: You opened “Sportscenter” that night after the game. What was that like?
FK: ”Sportscenter” has always been one of my favorite shows. I’ve watched it my whole life. Before school I would wake up in the morning and turn on “Sportscenter” while I was eating breakfast. So, to be on it was actually pretty cool.
BH: After you hit a three in a game you flash up a symbol with your hand. What’s that all about?
FK: That came from the “Hunger Games.” Those are definitely my favorite books that I have ever read. It is the District 12 salute from the movies.
BH: When did you start doing that?
FK: Right after I saw “Catching Fire” before the season.