Joe Krabbenhoft returns to UW men’s basketball as team’s video coordinator.
Always look to what you can do next. It’s a Bo Ryan strategy straight out of the UW–Madison men’s basketball playbook. But the last time former All-Big Ten Badger basketball player Joe Krabbenhoft ’09 took that advice to heart, he wasn’t thinking about how to follow up a three-pointer or a missed defensive assignment. He was contemplating his future off the court.
“Coming to grips with no longer playing was tough,” says Krabbenhoft. “I love the competitiveness and the camaraderie of being a part of a team.” But his physical style of play took a toll on his body, and after three years of playing professionally, Krabbenhoft knew it was time to consider what he could do next.
He had wanted to get into coaching since his high school days. And when he heard there was an opening on the UW’s staff, Krabbenhoft knew this was his shot.
“I let Coach Ryan and the staff know that someday I might come calling for a job,” he says. So now Krabbenhoft, who played at the UW from 2005 to 2009 and still shares the Badger record for most career games played at 136, is the program’s video coordinator.
A student of the game, Krabbenhoft is no stranger to the film room. But now, instead of hunkering down to find weaknesses he could exploit as a player, he is immersed in breaking down both opposing squads and the current Badger team to pick apart their offenses and defenses. “I also make sure the laser pointer batteries don’t go dead … so Coach Ryan can point out all the mistakes [after a game],” he jokes.
In all seriousness, Krabbenhoft knows his education has just begun. “The things I’m going to learn are endless,” he says. “For a young guy like me pursuing a coaching career, this is an important first step, because video really teaches you what to look for in preparing players and teaching them how to improve. To be a part of this program is an unbelievable opportunity.”
Just don’t call him Coach Krabbenhoft — at least not yet. While he’s an important member of the UW men’s staff, under NCAA regulations, video coordinators are not allowed to participate in any on-the-court coaching. And even though he is just a few years removed from being a Badger player himself, he can’t even scrimmage with the team.
Krabbenhoft’s professional career included stints with the NBA Development League as well as with teams in South Korea, Greece, and, most recently, Spain in 2011–12. After playing basketball at such a high level, he now has to find other ways to satisfy his competitive juices.
“I’ve talked to some [other former Badger players] who still live in town, like Charlie Wills and Mike Flowers,” he says. “I’m sure we could put together a pretty good summer league team or get a little YMCA league action going on. That could be a lot of fun.”
Published in the Winter 2012 issue