UW Health Sports Medicine 

Burcin previews the 2014 Big Ten Golf Championships


April 21, 2014

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– Head men’s golf coach Michael Burcin addressed the media on Monday as his Badgers prepare for the 2014 Big Ten Championships. Wisconsin has the weekend off of competition before heading to French Lick, Ind., for the Big Ten championship on May 2-4. 

A complete transcript of Burcin’s remarks is below.

Opening Statement: It's nice to be home this weekend. We go to French Lick a week from Wednesday. Excited about Big Tens. It's been an interesting year. We've had three guys have really good years, and it's been a little bit frustrating in those bottom two spots.

I think we had a little bit more production out of those two spots, I think we'd be in the mix for NCAA. If you look at the numbers, everybody that is not a freshmen has achieved a career low this year. So certainly good things are happening. (We are) just a little thin yet, and we're working on that.

You graduated four seniors and you have three freshmen that are playing for you. Talk about assuming the leadership role and talk about the freshmen and how they transitioned.

The freshmen have done a great job.  I thought Kelly (Sheffield UW volleyball coach) made a good point. I think they are all probably pretty frustrated with how they've played, but they have gotten so much better. Richard (Hubbard) came in, he was a top-30 kid in the country, expected to do a lot, and he got hurt early. So he really didn't get off to a good start and hasn't really ever fully recovered from that start.

They certainly offered a change in culture to the program in how they practice and their attitudes and their expectation. It was huge having those guys. From a leadership standpoint over the long haul, certainly Robert (Jacobsen), Zach (Balit) and Jack (Watson) have done a tremendous job. Those guys certainly could do more, and we've talked about with them trying to be All-Americans and working towards that.

Week in and week out, those guys have done a great job. They've put us in position where, with some more help, we could be in the NCAA mix. So those guys have done a great job.

Is that sort of how it is when you're relying on incoming freshmen to really pull a lot of weight?  Do you just sort of shrug your shoulders and say, that's how it goes sometimes?

Yeah, I guess the old saying is the best thing about freshmen is when they're sophomores. They're awesome kids. And you really don't know what you're going to get.

I was just talking to Richard (Hubbard) last night, the kid was recruited by everybody, and he thought he was going to come in and just beat up on everybody, and it just hasn't worked out like that.

We are very young. We're especially young at the bottom of the lineup. We're going to be even younger next year, but we'll have seven of the guys that we recruited, and that's good. So it's frustrating, but it's good frustration. They're eager to work and they're excited to come to practice every day.

Their day is coming. It is. There's a lot of pressure on those guys to fill those two spots, and that's a lot to handle.

Michael, how's Zach (Balit) made the transition really from his days at South Carolina up here now to Wisconsin?

Thank God he's from Canada because the snow isn't such a bother. No, he's done great. I was there for a year with him and I don't know what would have happened if he would have stayed. But he came here and really went through a golf game overhaul, from an instructional standpoint.

He's spending a lot of time with a guy in Chicago, Brett Packee, who does a great job. He played okay last year, was really inconsistent, and this year he's really coming into his own. I think his numbers don't really show how well he's played. I think he's played better than that.

Still a little inconsistent at times, but the kid was walking on at South Carolina 2 1/2 years ago. So to get to where he is now, where he's really probably one event away from being in the mix for being all-league. I know he's having fun. He loves it here. He's glad he made the move. He's playing a ton of golf. He's been great. I'm glad he made the decision to come.

The Big Ten has eight teams ranked among the top 100, including Illinois at No. 8. It's a very competitive conference. Can you talk about what your expectations are?

Yeah, Illinois is not going anywhere. He does a great job, Mike (Small) at Illinois. They're as good as anybody in the country and I would expect them to compete for a national championship again.

It’s always kind of tough to get a read on the league early in the spring because we're all coming out of that crappy weather, but kind of the usual foes are there, Northwestern, Illinois. Those two teams are always good. It's going to be interesting.

There's a couple of teams there that they need good weeks at Big Ten to slip into that NCAA picture.  The league is better than it was last year, which is good. I think even the teams kind of in the bottom half, which is where we are now, we're much better, so it's a great league. It's very underrated.

Do you think you can surprise a few people, maybe even yourself, at Big Tens?

Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me at all actually. We've had a round and a half or two rounds almost every week where we've been beaten up on teams that are probably ranking ahead of us. It happened at Iowa midway through the last round. We had climbed to fifth place and beaten up on three or four Big Ten teams.

It wouldn't surprise me. What is important for us is the consistency level. We have to get to a point where those top three guys don't have to play perfect for us to play good.

That's kind of where we're at right now. If we get a little bit of help in those last two spots, I don't see why we wouldn't have a good week. But we've got to take a little bit of load off those three guys. That's really important for us.

So wouldn't surprise me because we've done it in spots. It just hasn't been consistent.

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