MADISON — Former Wisconsin standout Joe Krabbenhoft is back with the Badgers. This time, he brings his grit and never-say-die attitude to the coaching staff to help lead a team oozing with talent.

When Krabbenhoft was offered the assistant coach position at UW, he didn’t have to think very long about it.

“Watching the transition, to get to be a part of the transition (from Coach Ryan to Coach Gard),” Krabbenhoft described. “It was the easiest decision of my life…next to marrying my wife probably.”

The former Badger played at UW from 2005-2009 under Ryan and Gard, who was an assistant under Ryan at the time. Krabbenhoft was a part of four NCAA Tournament teams, and was especially known for his aggressiveness, defense and hustle, epitomizing a tough, physical Big Ten basketball player. In addition, Krabbenhoft made the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2006, the All-Big Ten Defensive Team in 2008, and honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2009. After his senior year, Krabbenhoft was given the Big Ten Medal of Honor Award for his toughness on and off the court, and graduated as the only Badger of all-time to finish with at least 750 rebounds and 250 assists.

After graduating, Krabbenhoft played in the NBA D-League and overseas, before rejoining Wisconsin as the team’s video coordinator in the 2012-13 season. He would move onto South Dakota State as an assistant coach for three seasons from 2013 to 2016.

“It was my first opportunity to get on the road and recruit, and first opportunity to get on the floor coaching, instructing, developing scouting reports for players. I worked for an incredible coach, a great boss…I definitely enjoyed my time there [South Dakota State].”

“I was watching closely ever since I left, both as a former player and as a fan, obviously enjoying those magical Final Four runs,” Krabbenhoft said about watching the Badgers from afar. “And as a player, we were all in those group messages and group chats every single game, hoping that the Badgers would win.”

Moving forward, Krabbenhoft and his teammates were really pulling for Coach Gard to be more than just an interim coach after Coach Ryan retired.

“From Coach Ryan to Coach Gard, we wanted it to be one of our own to take over for us, because we knew what it meant for Coach Gard’s future. We just don’t want this to end, we want to hold on to it forever.”

Krabbenhoft of course has a very close relationship with Gard from his playing days and his year as the team’s video coordinator. Gard, Krabbenhoft, associate head coach Lamont Paris, and assistant coach Howard Moore are very familiar with one another, and that has become obvious in their morale  thus far.

“Communication with these guys has been constant. When I came, it wasn’t just to play and get my papers. Coach Gard and I have stayed in touch for the past seven years…it’s more than just a job opportunity.”

Krabbenhoft knows how successful UW has been recently, but hopes he can take some of what he learned with South Dakota State and bring it home to Wisconsin.

“Everywhere you go, you want to try to learn something. Whether it’s in recruiting, coaching, developing relationships with media, fans, players, parents, everything.”

Krabbenhoft has experience playing and coaching and knows the Wisconsin Badgers as well as anyone. The former Badger is already a great addition to an already loaded coaching staff and roster.

Photo courtesy of UW Athletics.