Training for college basketball is grueling: hours of shooting everyday, wind sprints, long evenings in the weight room, a limited social life and a strict diet. This is tough for any guy in his late teens and early 20s, but for Geoff Hogan it took an incredible amount of self-discipline over the past year. He wasn’t even on the team.
Hogan, a 2007 Flathead High School graduate, walked onto the Division I Tulane Green Wave basketball team this fall. He had originally shown up in New Orleans in the fall of 2007 hoping to make the Green Wave’s baseball team, but by the spring had shifted his attention to basketball. Not many athletes can seamlessly transition from sport to sport at a D-I school.
After contacting the basketball coaches, Hogan said he began training on his own without any assurance that he would make the team. For months he lived in the gym, practicing his shot for hours everyday. He also ran a mile or so per day, mixed in with wind sprints and weight lifting. He played intramural to stay in sync with the rhythm of the game.
Hogan continued his disciplined workout routine over the summer when he came back to the Flathead to be with his parents. Then in the fall he went to his first walk-on tryout with seven other hopefuls. Tulane coaches took the eight men through two hours of “high-intensity drills,” Hogan said, gauging two main criteria: skill level and conditioning.
“They can tell on the court who had really been working on this and who just kind of showed up,” Hogan said in a recent interview.
Four of the eight players, including Hogan, were asked to return for a second tryout. Hogan increased his wind sprints while training and showed up in better condition for the second. He was one of the three walk-ons chosen for the team.
“I was really excited,” Hogan said. “Through that whole thing you felt you were just kind of in the dark and just waiting to hear something. Then I got that phone call.”
Ultimately, Hogan was his own trainer and coach throughout the past year until he made the team. Fred Febach, who coached Hogan at Flathead, has seen first-hand Hogan’s perseverance and self-discipline. Febach said Hogan was a remarkably consistent player in high school, largely because he paid such great attention to honing his skills. He didn’t just show up to play on game day.
Hogan played varsity for three years under Febach, forming a dynamic duo with Brock Osweiler the last two. Hogan, a 6-foot-6 forward, and Osweiler, a 6-foot-8 post, presented considerable match-up difficulties for opposing teams.
Febach said Hogan could step out and play on the wing, shoot the jumper or post up. He was a solid rebounder and passer as well.
“He’s a gifted athlete, there’s no doubt about it,” Febach said. “He didn’t know anything else but to work hard. I think that’s a blessing for someone who’s gifted, to have a passion to get better.”
Through eight games last week, Hogan had seen playing time twice for Tulane. He has yet to take a shot in a game. He said he understands his role on the team, which includes pushing the starters in practice and stepping in during games when he’s needed.
Against Western Kentucky on Dec. 6, the coach told him to keep one of the Hilltoppers’ big guys off the board because he had been controlling the glass. Hogan went in and did just that, even grabbing a couple of rebounds for himself. His parents watched that game on the Internet.
Hogan can’t say if a scholarship awaits, but he has enough to think about as the heart of the season is approaching. One thing that seems concrete, however, is that basketball is his sport for college. He had previously entertained thoughts of football, as well as baseball.
Expressing deep gratitude for his high school coaches, Hogan said he doesn’t take his opportunity for granted. He also thanked Dewey Michaels, a former MSU player and Hogan’s mentor in high school.
Febach considers himself lucky to have coached Hogan.
“He’s got great ambitions and he knows what he wants to do and he’s willing to take a risk and that says a lot about him as a person,” Febach said. “Whatever he decides to do, I think he’ll do very well.”
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