ANAHEIM, Calif. — Will Ferrell, move over.
There’s a new Frank the Tank.
As Wisconsin players danced all over the Honda Center floor minutes after the Badgers advanced to the Final Four with a 64-63 overtime win in the Elite Eight on Saturday night, fans clad in bright red started the chant.
“Frank the Tank! Frank the Tank!”
Even if a national audience is just now learning the name after Kaminsky’s 28-point, 11-rebound performance on Saturday, at 7-foot tall, Kaminsky is rarely anonymous throughout Madison.
He’s heard the chant all year long.
State Street turns into a replay of Old School — as it did again on Saturday night, as they drunkenly and merrily shouted throughout the night — and that’s a good way to describe the Wisconsin offense, centered on their hulking center.
“He’s a pick-and-pop 7-footer, so you put a guard on him, he’ll post you up; you put a big on him, he’ll shoot a three,” Arizona’s fellow 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski said. “Up-and-unders, pump fakes — he’s just a great basketball player.”
Those low-post moves came along late in Kaminsky’s basketball career, as he finally grew into his body.
Kaminsky was a lightly regarded recruit out of Lisle, Ill., on the outskirts of Chicago — he was rated the No. 22 center in the class of 2011 — and he received scholarship offers from college hoops powerhouses such as Bradley, Northern Illinois and Northwestern.
He barely played for the Badgers for two years, scoring 1.8 points per game as a freshman and 4.2 as a sophomore.
But his finesse game improved almost exponentially, and he averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds as a junior.
The multiple pivots and the deceptive footwork and the deft touch are common to the Badgers, even if Kaminsky is just now exploding on the national scene.
How familiar are they?
During shootarounds, Wisconsin practices a double-pivot, up-and-under, pump fake move, and they’ve given it a new name.
The Frank Kaminsky.
UA players saw it time and time again on Saturday night, and many different Wildcats saw it. Tarczewski tried hunkering down in the post, and Kaminsky backed up and drained three three-pointers. Aaron Gordon tried him on the perimeter, and Kaminsky drove for reverse layups. At one point, UA coach Sean Miller tried Nick Johnson on him. Didn’t work.
“Frank Kaminsky is the reason Wisconsin is in the Final Four,” Miller said. “Late in the game, I thought it gave us a shot of momentum to take Kaleb out and try to switch, but he’s 7-foot, and he got a couple putbacks and it’s not a good feeling when you start to switch that little guy on him.”
By halftime, Kaminsky, the NCAA tournament West Regional most outstanding player, proved to be a handful. He had eight points and six rebounds and looked every bit the monster who tortured No. 7 seed Oregon and No. 6 seed Baylor in the Round of 32 and Sweet 16, respectively, scoring 19 in both games.
Still, Wisconsin trailed 28-25.
Early in the second half, Kaminsky exploded for the Badgers, scoring on a jumper, a layup and a three-pointer, all in the first four minutes, knotting the game at 34. Less than two minutes later, he dropped in another layup to give Wisconsin its biggest lead to that point at 38-35.
During the scoring spurt, people on Twitter took to comparing him to Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol, known for his crafty moves in the paint.
“The guy pivots, he’s very deliberate with his movements, he can shoot from the outside — yeah, I can see why people are saying that,” Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker said. “But I think he’s made a name for himself. He doesn’t need a connection.
“Frank Kaminsky is a household name now.”
Someone better tell Kaminsky.
After the game, reporters sprinted from the Wisconsin locker room to interview Kaminsky, who wore a sheepish smile and almost seemed bewildered.
Old School, Pau Gasol, Bewildered — seems about right.
“I really can’t explain it. There are no words to describe what this feeling is like,” he said. “It really feels like we won the lottery. I would celebrate like that if I won the lottery, but this is 10 times better.”