After Frank Kaminsky scored a program-record 43 points Tuesday night at the Kohl Center, the junior center on the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team headed back to his apartment with the intent of finishing some homework.
“I tried,” Kaminsky said, “but I wasn’t very effective.”
Kaminsky made himself a pizza and spent about 2½ hours reading and, until it became too overwhelming, returning the text messages that began appearing on his phone before the final buzzer sounded in the No. 12 Badgers’ 103-85 victory over North Dakota. Family, friends and even some people Kaminsky didn’t know congratulated him on a magnificent performance in which he went 16 of 19 from the field, including 6 of 6 from 3-point range, to break the previous UW single-game scoring record of 42 points shared by Ken Barnes and Michael Finley.
There were more than 200 messages in all, with Kaminsky’s phone constantly buzzing right up until he finally dozed off sometime after 1:30 a.m. When he awoke Wednesday morning, Kaminsky fielded a call from his father, who tried to put things in perspective.
Frank Kaminsky Jr., who had a fine basketball career at Lewis University in suburban Chicago, played professionally in Europe and South America for a bit and coached at the high school and college levels in addition to helping out his son’s travel teams, had some simple advice for Frank III: Move on.
“I once again put my coaching hat on and I told him, ‘It was fun to celebrate and it was a great achievement, but it’s over,’ ” said Frank Kaminsky Jr., who made it clear to his son that his focus needed to be on preparing for today’s game against Bowling Green. “Forty-three (points) is wonderful, but if he gets two (Thursday) and they lose, it doesn’t mean anything. And I know Frank, the way he was raised, team is always first. He’ll be ready. He’ll be ready to go back to work.”
The elder Kaminsky told his son that Wednesday’s practice needed to be his best of the season. Frank III remembers one other thing from the conversation.
“I think his exact quote was, ‘I’m going to come to Madison to beat you up if you get lazy,’ ” Frank III said.
Frank Jr. is a regular at UW games, but Tuesday night he was in Las Vegas for a trade show. He and two co-workers settled into a sports bar at the Bellagio and watched on the big screen as Frank III, a 7-footer who is two inches taller than his dad, began hitting shot after shot after shot.
He had a career-high 21 points by halftime and added 22 more in the second half.
“I’ve seen him do that before a couple times,” Frank Jr. said of his son, who scored 39 points on 16 of 18 shooting as a junior at Benet Academy during an Illinois High School Association postseason game against Glenbard North. “It’s what I’ve been waiting to see him do. He needs to get comfortable. And when he gets in that comfort zone, anything can happen.
“I always talk to Frank about just playing naturally and catching it and shooting and not thinking. I think where he struggles sometimes is he thinks too much and he hesitates. I could just see (Tuesday) when he was catching the ball, there was no hesitation whatsoever. It was just catch it and put it up.”
Frank III admits his struggles are sometimes caused by paralysis through analysis. He recently had a talk with his mother, Mary Kaminsky, a former Northwestern volleyball player, about that very subject.
“My mom said, ‘You look like you go out there and analyze the game before you do anything,’ ” Kaminsky said. “She said, ‘You can’t do that anymore. It got you to where you are now, but now it’s time to go out and take it.’ It’s something I really took to heart.”
Kaminsky has shown flashes of being a dominant player, most recently during the second half of UW’s 69-66 victory over UW-Green Bay on Saturday night at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon. Kaminsky scored 14 of his team-high 16 points after halftime, including nine during a 17-4 run that helped the Badgers turn a seven-point deficit into a 60-54 lead.
But Kaminsky took it to a whole new level on Tuesday night. One of the most enjoyable parts for his father, watching some 1,700 miles away, was seeing the genuine excitement on the faces of his son’s teammates.
“This is a pretty cool team,” Frank Jr. said. “The parents are just really nice people. I watch the kids play and it’s fun to watch. After being a coach as long as I’ve been a coach, to see how these kids play together and look out for each other, I think that was probably one of the most impressive things was how much Frank’s teammates were supporting him getting this thing. I know he’s appreciative of all they did for him.
“It’s good stuff. Real good stuff.”