“Someone’s got to be national champion, so why can’t it be us?”

first_imgView Gallery (2 Photos)INDIANAPOLIS — When it came to college, Gordon Hayward Sr. indoctrinated his son from Day One.He bought him sweatshirts, took him to football and basketball games and decorated both his kids’ rooms with a certain school’s colors: black and gold.As in, the black and gold of Purdue University.Hayward, Sr., and wife Jody were proud graduates of Purdue, but when it came time for their children to pick colleges, that black and gold turned to blue and white.As in, the blue and white of Butler University.“I told both my kids, ‘I’ll pay for you to go in-state and you can go wherever you want for four years…just don’t take more than four years,’” Hayward, Sr. joked.Both Gordon and twin sister Heather chose Butler, and both are student athletes. Heather plays tennis and Gordon opted for basketball.“It was obvious at Butler you were going to be a student athlete,” Hayward, Sr., said. “It was such a great fit for him because it’s unselfish team basketball, the way it should be played. Coach (Brad) Stevens and his staff were outstanding; they were everything that he was looking for.”There was no doubt in anybody’s mind Gordon Hayward was a gifted athlete. Growing up he played basketball, soccer, baseball and tennis. Like many Indiana kids, he was passionate about basketball and pretended to be Reggie Miller.Hayward played on the traveling team for basketball, the all-star team for baseball and was the No. 1 singles player in tennis at Brownsburg high school.But it wasn’t until his junior year that coaches viewed him as a potential Division I basketball player.When Hayward started high school, he was 6 feet tall. With both parents at 5-10, they assumed he would not grow taller. Hayward Sr. and his son focused on sharpening his skills as a guard, no matter what height he would reach.“I did tell him at the beginning, ‘You’re going to be a guard at some point, might as well be a guard now,’” Hayward Sr. said. “Second of all, what was I going to teach him? All I could really teach him was guard skills because I’m 5-10; I’m not a post player.”Hayward’s high school coach, Joshua Kendrick, remembers the first time they met. Six years ago, when Kendrick first arrived in Brownsburg, he had a meeting and open practice for returning players. Hayward’s talent was apparent.“There was this scrawny little kid who was about 5-10 and he weighed about 110 pounds and didn’t look like much,” Kendrick said. “But you could tell he had some skills; he could pass the ball well, he could shoot the ball well, he handled it well and just had a poise about him.”Yet, what really was memorable was Hayward’s email later that night.“Coach said anything that can help us out we can win sectional, and I was like, ‘We can win the state championship,”‘ Hayward said.“It was really a brash and bold statement for that young man to make,” Kendrick said.By his senior year, Hayward grew to 6-8 and led his Brownsburg team to the Class 4A Indiana high school boys basketball state championship.Down 39-38 to Marion with 2.1 seconds remaining, Kendrick had two options with Austin Fish inbounding the ball from the sideline: one was Hayward and the other was big man Julian Mavunga, who is currently at Miami (OH).“I told Austin to find one of those guys that are open, throw the ball to them, and they’ll get it done for us,” Kendrick said.And after a deflection, Hayward was the one that got it done.“I’ve heard Bob Knight say ‘Watch Gordon Hayward, he always pursues the basketball, he’s always around the basketball,’” Kendrick said. “Sure enough, two years ago Gordon continued to pursue it, and after it was deflected, picked it up and put the ball up on the rim and it went in.”As for his teammates, they didn’t want the ball to go to anyone else.“On the court he was the guy everyone was comfortable watching have the ball. Whether it was his ball handling skills, shooting skills, free-throw ability or calmness, everyone always had a relaxed state of mind when he was in control,” said Blake Hall, a friend and teammate of Hayward’s since the fourth grade.Now, in his sophomore year at Butler and in the Final Four, the 6-9 forward still has the same mentality he did in high school.Stevens says his school’s first NBA prospect is a “tough, tough guy” and is a team player. When asked about the NBA Hayward said, “Right now it’s just focusing on Butler basketball. I’ll leave that for after the season.”Whether the end of that season will include a national championship isn’t yet know. What is known is that Hayward will take the same approach into the weekend that he took at Brownsburg High School, that there’s no reason to dream if you’re not going to dream big.“I don’t think you should stop short of anything,” Hayward said. “Our whole goal was to win a national championship and someone’s got to be national champion, so why can’t it be us?”A team of Indiana University journalists is reporting for the Final Four Student News Bureau, a project between IU’s National Sports Journalism Center and the NCAA at the men’s tournament in Indianapolis.last_img read more

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Wisconsin finishes 4th at Big Ten tourney

first_imgOn a day when most people were inside trying to stay warm, the women golfers of the Big Ten were participating in the 37th annual Big Ten Championship.The tournament was held at University Ridge Golf Course in Verona, and with a temperature of 45 degrees and winds up to 16 mph, conditions were far from ideal.“It was a very challenging day,” Wisconsin head coach Todd Oehrlein said. “The tough conditions made it difficult, but it boils down to character and mental toughness, the willingness to go out there and compete the whole round.”Coach Oehrlein has preached this all year to his team and today was a prime example of why. His players seemed to get the memo.“I don’t mind the bad weather for the most part, because I tend to concentrate on my game more,” UW junior Carly Werwie said. “You just have to make sure not to get frustrated too easily or else you’ll be in for a long day.”Of the 66 participants, Werwie finished tied for seventh with an eight over par. Her teammate, senior Molly Schemm, came into the tournament playing extremely well, finishing the previous two weekends as the top scorer for UW. Schemm ended the fourth round with a 76 and shot 14 over par for the entire tournament, good for 20th place.For the third year in a row, the nation’s eighth-ranked Purdue Boilermakers won the Big Ten Tournament as a team. The winning didn’t stop there, as freshman Boilermaker Laura Gonzalez took first in individuals with an eight under par. It was quite an accomplishment considering the expectations of her prior to the tournament. Without a tournament victory to her name at the collegiate level, not many people felt confident or even considered the idea of Gonzalez having a chance at winning the biggest tournament of the year. This didn’t seem to matter to Gonzalez though, who wasn’t focused on those around her.“I didn’t even realize exactly where I was on the leader board,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t even want to know.”What made her accomplishment even more impressive was the fact that she shot the rounds low score of 69 on a day where everyone was struggling with the treacherous conditions. In fact, Gonzalez’s three under par was the only sub-par score of the round. In a situation where everyone else seemed to struggle in the bleak weather, Gonzalez shined, which she attributes to her hometown of La Hulpe, Belgium.“Being from Belgium, I’m used to the bad weather,” Gonzalez said.The last round did not go as smoothly for other golfers, including freshman and Madison-native Alyssa Elliot, who finished the tournament 21 over par. When everyone opens up the newspaper and glances at the results, some may chalk up Elliot’s weekend as a struggle, but look further. Until Sunday, Elliot was only nine over par with nine birdies in the first 54 holes.By finishing 48 over par as a team the Badgers placed fourth in the tournament. With this, UW is on the verge of a NCAA Tournament bid. Fans and players can’t help but get excited, but Oehrlein wants to take a more subtle approach.“Let’s just get in first,” he said.But tomorrow’s decision of whether UW will make the tournament will not determine success for the Badgers.“Just to play for Wisconsin is an honor in itself,” Schemm said. “I couldn’t be happier.”last_img read more

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