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A good guy to look up to
Times photo: Christopher Heimerman Wisconsin Badger Joe Krabbenhoft receives a pass from Pat Murphys basketball camp attendee Joseph Dahmen during a rapid-shooting drill at Monroe High School Tuesday night. Krabbenhoft spoke, fielded questions, ran drills and even put together a series of dunks to wrap up the camps session.
MONROE - Joe Krabbenhoft stopped by Pat Murphy's youth basketball camp Tuesday to dispel a few basketball myths.

The University of Wisconsin basketball standout and South Dakota native riveted his audience and preached about school coming first, the often-glamorous game of hoops second.

"Every single one of those blonde little kids reminds me of myself," the close-cropped Krabbenhoft said. "On the court, I just have fun and play hard. Off the court, doing the right thing can make a bigger impact on their lives. School's always got to come first; you can never forget about why you get to play in the first place."

Krabbenhoft started into a shooting drill from the zero-foot range - the same way Kirk Penney did a few years ago - and built it out to the perimeter. A student of the game, Krabbenhoft listens closely when his steadfast coach Bo Ryan tells him to hone his fundamentals first, and from the ground up.

"When I came in as a freshman, I was going 150 percent and rushing everything," Krabbenhoft admitted. "I just had to slow things down, calm things down and listen to my coaches."

As a result, his shooting percentage leapt nearly 15 percent between his sophomore and junior years. But he takes more pride in having finished third on the team in rebounding and fourth in assists.

A few camp attendees listened to the versatile 6-7 guard-forward's encouragement through a few shooting contests.

Finally, the owner of no collegiate dunks put on a quick highlight reel of rim-rocking slams, including a nasty two-handed reverse jam. The subject of his reluctance to dunk arose during a brief question and answer session and he entertained the youngster's inquiry with an ear-to-ear grin.

While he's stood his ground with such one-and-done collegiate talents as former Ohio State monster in the middle Greg Oden and the beastly Michael Beasley of Kansas State, Krabbenhoft stays below the rim for a reason. He's broken his foot several times, stealing some spring from his hops. But the truth be told, he'd sooner see two or three points on the board off someone else's shot rather than see his highlight on SportsCenter.

Future Cheesemakers and, as Krabbenhoft hopes, potential Badgers all poked the camper next to them as his speech rang familiar. The same lessons Krabbenhoft shared are loose interpretations of the gospel of Murf, which is, in turn, from the great book of Bo.

"They're getting the same message from a different source, but from a bigger level," Monroe boys coach Pat Murphy said. "When he said the word, 'Dominique,' that's one of our post moves, so the kids got a kick out of that."

Murphy was ecstatic to have Krabbenhoft take time in his busy schedule to stop by, as his always-hustling, gritty style mirrors the image Murf tries to instill in his clubs.

"Our message to these kids was that you can make an impact on a game in ways other than scoring points," Murphy said. "You can be a great teammate with defense, hustle and all the stuff Joe talks about.

"Everybody asks me, 'Who's gonna start?' and I always say, 'Whoever our best offensive rebounders are.'"

Krabbenhoft literally leaves it all on the floor in tracking offensive boards and other loose balls. Because of his reckless abandon, he spends almost as much time at UW Hospital as he does at Kohl Center.

"There's no way to keep track of every little stitch," Krabbenhoft said. "But in terms of the number of times I've needed stitches, we're going on 40.

"The ball's between two guys and I'll go head first; I'm not scared to get hurt. I already have a girlfriend; I don't think she'll dump me if I have a couple more stitches."