A Final Salute to Joe Krabbenhoft

This video is about two months old, but it still resonates. Today, ESPN showed a montage of the most physical plays of the year, and this one was included. I went to high school with Wisconsin senior Joe Krabbenhoft and I still remember the first time I watched him play. I was a junior and he was just a freshman. He’d been out the whole season recovering from a broken wrist. Still, he was inserted into the starting lineup as soon as he was healthy.

Long story short, our high school — Roosevelt (Sioux Falls, S.D.) — was playing a road game at Yankton, which featured Willie Jones, a 6-5 senior who went on to play defensive line at South Dakota State. An all-out beast to say the least. In the first quarter, Krabbenhoft drives off the top of the key, gets a step on his guy, and Jones shifts over to cover. Krabbenhoft lowers the shoulder, sends Jones flying and its a blocking foul. A real physical play, and you’d think Krabbenhoft would be spooked by it. Nope. It turns out he’s standing over Jones, looking down at him like, “That’s all you’ve got?”

It’s hard to show toughness in basketball, but that was the most impressed I’ve ever been. It’s no surprise Krabbenhoft went on to have such a workmanlike career at Wisconsin. I’m going to miss watching him play.

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