Logterman’s Hall of Fame life goes full circle

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Dave Wedeward
Sunday, May 11, 2008

Robb Logterman’s much-publicized move to Janesville changed his life forever.

Those who follow basketball know how Logterman came from Clinton as high school junior in 1988 and put up huge numbers in two seasons for Janesville Craig, then went on to a distinguished four-year career as scholarship player at Marquette University.

What many may not know is how the move to Craig had even greater personal meaning for Logterman. That was how he met Jenny Gruhn, also a Craig student at the time and now his wife for almost 12 years.

“If it weren’t for that move, I probably wouldn’t have met Jenny,’’ Logterman said, “and my life would have been a lot different.’’

At least for a night, that life will carry Logterman back to his second “hometown” for special honor. He will be inducted into the Janesville Sports Hall of Fame next Saturday at the Rotary Gardens.

“I have just a ton of memories and great friendships that I made in Janesville and still have,’’ Logterman said, “and it’s all very special.’’

While basketball unquestionably has been special for Logterman, his life again has taken a different turn. He got a B.S. degree at Marquette in 1994, later a master’s degree at the University of Tennessee and now is in the business world.

The Logtermans live in Hartland with their 8-year-old son, Oliver, and Robb has a sales position with Cisco Systems, a company that manufactures and sells networking and other products related to the communications and information technology industry.

Coming out of high school and maybe college, Logterman thought about coaching—but only briefly. He was a graduate assistant under his Marquette head coach, Kevin O’Neill, at Tennessee, but soon chose a different direction.

“Kevin gave me an opportunity to see what it was like to be a college coach, and I’m very appreciative of that, but coaching just wasn’t for me. I quickly decided against it. I wanted to have a life outside of my occupation.’’

Nowadays, basketball—in a relaxed atmosphere—provides that alternative for Logterman.

“I play once a week with the guys out in Hartland, and it’s a lot of fun,’’ he said. “It’s a high enough level for me. It probably degrades a little each year, but we don’t know it.’’

However, Logterman still knows what’s going on in basketball. While they maintain a close relationship with O’Neill, now employed by the University of Arizona athletic department, Robb and Jenny have Marquette season tickets and were as shocked as anybody when coach Tom Crean suddenly left the Golden Eagles this spring to take the Indiana job.

“We go to every (home) game,’’ Robb said, “and Oliver is an absolutely huge fan.’’

And it would be no exaggeration to say that Logterman has absolutely precious memories of his active days in basketball, which started close to home and saw him come up through the ranks the old-fashioned way—with hard work.

As far back as age 5, Logterman’s dribbling changed from bibs to basketball, and that begins to tell how the 6-foot-4 guard got to be the great shooter so many people remember.

“Practice,’’ he said. “Growing up, that’s all I did—work on my shot in the backyard, day in and day out, every day of the year.’’

And there’s no denying that he was one of those so-called “gym rats.”

“Oh, for sure,’’ Logterman admitted. “I used to break into the Clinton High School at night. I think they probably knew what I was up to, so eventually the principal gave me a key.

“But I’ll never forget it,’’ he said. “After cross country practice or after school, I’d put a Coke can in one of the side doors. Then, that night, I’d come back and just shoot, shoot, shoot.’’

And it all paid off. Logterman shot his way to a staggering 2,097 points in four high school varsity seasons, including 1,059 at Craig, and 1,201 more as a four-year starter at Marquette for a lifetime total of 3,298.

As a Craig senior, Logterman averaged 27.9 points a game—a figure that rarely, if ever, has been duplicated by an area player in 18 seasons since then. He set a Marquette record in making 244 three-point goals, which still ranks third on the school’s all-time list, and he was a remarkable 79.9 percent (163 of 220) free-throw shooter for the Golden Eagles.

Logterman, however, has never forgotten that it all began with Clinton coach Jim Barnstable going against the grain with an unproven freshman on the varsity.

“Coach Barnstable was the first person who really took a chance on me,’’ Logterman said, “and I’ve always appreciated that.’’

Logterman also responded by scoring 1,038 points as a freshman and sophomore in the Clinton varsity program.

So, not surprisingly, leaving those Cougars to join the Craig Cougars was difficult.

“There were a lot of great things in Clinton,’’ Logtgerman said. “We won a cross country state championship when I was a freshman, and we had great family and great friends there. So, yeah, it was a tough decision.

“The hardest part was when my dad (Robert) and I drove over to Clinton High School. I’ll never forget that afternoon, pulling coach Barnstable and Whitey (Gilbertson, the athletic director) off the football field. We went in the gym, had a talk and told them about the decision we’d made.

“It was a long ride home that day,’’ Logterman said.

One maybe accompanied by a feeling of betrayal?

“Sure, there were certain effects, especially with (the feelings for) coach Barnstable and the fact that he went out on a limb and made a controversial decision to bring a freshman up to the varsity,’’ Logterman said. “That was unheard of back then.’’

But a move to Janesville, where Robert Logterman was a longtime employee of Parker Pen, wasn’t unheard of in the Logterman household.

“We were always discussing the idea of moving to Janesville,’’ Robb said. “But before that, it never worked out.’’

When it did, things still weren’t easy.

“My dad had taken a different position in Woodstock, Ill., so he had quite a commute from Janesville,’’ Logterman said. “So obviously it was quite a commitment on my mom and dad’s part, and I’m very appreciative of the commitment they made.’’

Before that, Logterman had become friends with Beloit Memorial’s many talented players through summer playground basketball. He also attended summer camps conducted by Gene Van Galder, then the Purple Knights’ head coach, but ultimately was drawn to Craig.

“It just happened,’’ he said. “There was no recruitment involved.

“It was a combination of what coach (Bob) Suter and coach (Stan) DuFrane built that drew me to it,’’ Logterman said. “And if I wanted to move on in basketball, go to the next level and be around kids who had the same passion, that was the place go.’’

And it didn’t take long for Logterman to get things going at Craig as junior in the 1988-89 season. In his first Big Eight game, he sank a three-point shot with three seconds left in overtime to give the Cougars a rousing 88-87 victory at Barkin Arena in Beloit.

That set the tone for a continuation of the great rivalry with the Purple Knights, which saw both sides have their share of thrills and disappointment during the Logterman years.

“All the Beloit games, even the ones we lost, are some of my greatest memories,’’ Logterman said. “There’s weren’t too many games at Marquette that were more memorable than those ones with Beloit.”

Typical of the times, Craig went on to sweep the Big Eight series from Beloit in ’88-89, but had a shocking finish to a conference championship season. The spectacular shot that started it all wouldn’t fall for Logterman at the end of a pulsating regional title game at Parker, leaving Beloit with an 85-84 victory and ultimately a trip to the state tournament.

But it was payback time a year later. Beloit, fresh off its first Big Eight championship since 1977 and with visions of capturing the school’s eighth state title, had its 18-game winning streak shattered in a shocking 97-93 regional semifinal loss to Craig at Barkin Arena.

Logterman led the way with 29 points amid a display of awesome talent on a night filled with enough emotion to last a lifetime.

“I look back and think of the talent that was on the court when we played Beloit my junior and senior years,’’ Logterman said. “Between us, we had six kids who went to Division I schools.

“They had (Ty) Evans and (Michael) Hodges, who went to Richmond. We had the Jackson twins (Jim and David, who went to Virginia Tech) and (Ben) Berlowski (UW-Green Bay).”

And, of course, there was Logterman, who had a deep appreciation of both teams on that fateful 1990 night.

“I even felt bad for the Beloit team when we beat them my senior year,’’ he said. “That was the year they were going to state and have a good shot at winning it.’’

Logterman felt a lot worse a week later, however, when he scored a career-high 43 points, only to have Mukwonago rally from a 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and stun the Cougars, 80-77, in a sectional championship game at Craig.

That deprived Logterman of his last chance to play in the state tournament. But by then, as the Big Eight Player of the Year, he had come a long way under the superb guidance of Suter and Craig assistants Tom Neuenschwander, Bob Pedersen and Jack Hoag, and the Associated Press first-team all-state selection was ready for the next step.

Marquette was waiting in the wings, with the promise of great opportunities for Logterman and future teammates Damon Key and Jim McIlvaine.

“I never aspired to go to Marquette, but I think Kevin took us by storm,’’ Logterman said of O’Neill’s instant impact on the three prized recruits.

“When he came to town, he captured our interest immediately,’’ Logterman said. “I think we recognized we could build something there, which we did.’’

Logterman’s college career began with daunting, but memorable, games at Duke and Kansas. His first win was over Wisconsin, 69-58, but he had the frustration of losing to the Badgers the next three years.

However, Logterman and his Marquette teammates went out in a blaze of glory. They were 20-8 and NCAA tournament qualifiers as juniors in 1992-93. With Logterman as a co-captain, the Golden Eagles reached the 1994 Sweet 16 as a 24-9 team that rolled to an unforgettable win over Kentucky in the second round before losing to Duke.

“When we came to Marquette, they were in pretty sad shape, considering where they had been. Becoming a Sweet 16 team is something we’re pretty proud of,’’ Logterman said.

But the road wasn’t always easy—especially for Logterman, who developed into far more than a super shooter.

“Kevin always said, ‘If I stop being hard on you, it means I’ve given up on you,’’ Logterman said of his relationship with O’Neill. “And, yes, from day one, he was hard on me. But he got the best on me.’’

As for the life-changing move to Janesville, Logterman will be the first to tell you that brought out the best of everything.

Last updated: 9:11 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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