"Coach Richie Johnson really mentored me from a young age because I would always be at the YMCA," Koenig said Friday. "He was the director so he gave me a lot of tips and I went to all of his camps, so he taught me a lot. Obviously my high school coach was one of the best coaches I've ever had, kind of made me earn everything, everything I got in high school. He just taught me how to play defense, all the little things."
Koenig had a coming-out party of sorts in the Final Four in 2014. He scored 11 points off the bench against Kentucky in the national semifinals, which helped motivate him to raise his play to the level it has been in 38 games so far this season.
"Yeah I thought that was really good for me to have that kind of game, especially at that stage," Koenig said. "It kind of gave me motivation for this year to kind of do what I did in that game more consistently, and I thought I've done a pretty good job of that this season. I'm definitely going to try and stay on the attack and be aggressive against Kentucky."
The Badgers are back at the Final Four with many of the same players, but the team is noticeably looser ahead of what is considered by many as a high-pressure, high-stakes atmosphere.
"I think we're more experienced, having played at AT&T Stadium on that big of a stage for the first time in 15 years or whatever it was," Koenig said. "I think that gave us a really good experience. We're going to try and use that game as some motivation."
Koenig has seen his numbers dip a little during the NCAA Tournament, but you could argue he should have been the Big Ten Tournament MVP. Regardless, he will play a big role in Saturday's rematch with undefeated Kentucky. Tip-off is approximately 7:49 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.