Tags Posts tagged with "NCAA tournament"

NCAA tournament

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UCLA Bruins, Ben Howland, NCAA, Stanford, Florida
Ben Howland is an American college basketball coach and former player. He served as the head men's basketball coach at Northern Arizona University from 1994 to 1999, the University of Pittsburgh from 1999 to 2003, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 2003 to till date. Photo: shutterstock.com

UCLA made a great decision when the hired Ben Howland to become the new coach of the UCLA Bruins. As a “Pac-10” guy I watch UCLA very closely as well as the rest of the Conference and in two years Howland has been in the NCAA Finals and in the semi-finals. As one who played on a Final Four team myself at STanford, I can attest that it is not easy to advance in the NCAA tournament. To get the the Final Four two years in a row is incredible. But the thing that impresses me most about Howland is his graciousness in defeat. I just finished watching the interview with him and all I can say is that Ben Howland is a complete class act. He was the same way last year also. He complimented Florida and gave them all of the credit even though inside we all know he was really hurting.

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Craig Smith
Craig Smith!
Last night against the Chicago Bulls I think that we showed some flashes of what is to come. First of all, Craig Smith threw down a thunderous dunk in the first have that had people on the bench remembering what Charles Barkley used to do on the court. Craig Smith has had a phenomenal training camp and pre-season. Trenton Hassell compared Craig’s jump hook to the way Antawn Jamison is able to score on much taller defenders using the same un-blockable shot. Craig and I have become good friends. I didn’t realize it, but he was in High School at Fairfax High in Los Angeles at the same time that I was in my first few NBA seasons with the Lakers. I think that Craig is going to be a big time contributor this season as a rookie and it is clear that we got a steal by getting him in the Second round of the draft. One of the reasons why Craig slipped is because he had a wrist injury around draft time and he wasn’t able to workout for teams so they didn’t want to take the risk. The funny thing is that I’ve had a similar wrist surgery and the only bad thing about it is that it just takes a long time to get better (3-6 months). Once it’s better though, you are as good as new.

We’re staying in “The Lodge” hotel close to Moline, IL and on the border of Iowa getting ready for our game tonight. Every time we get close to Iowa, Fred Hoiberg always sings the same tune: “Iowa is the best state in the union.” Freddy, I like Iowa too, but I just hope that Iowa State doesn’t have to face Stanford in the NCAA tournament!

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NCAA Tournament, Mississippi State, Minnesota, March Madness, NBA,Coach Mike Montgomery, Shaquille O'Neal, Dallas Game, Dirk Nowitzki, Target Center
Talking About Games, Fans, Coach and Players. Photo: shutterstock.com

This last week was a tough one for me. The Stanford Cardinal, my alma mater, was bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the first round by Mississippi State. However, our women’s hoops team is still alive and is led by a Minnesota native, guard Susan King Borchardt. Susan attended Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, and married Curtis Borchardt, who was a teammate of mine at Stanford. Curtis now plays center for the Utah Jazz.

March Madness is a fun time for all of us in the NBA, because it gives us a chance to talk some trash to each other (for fun of course) about how everyone’s college team is doing and how far they go, or quickly they get bounced. We spend a lot of time together on buses and planes, so inevitably there is going to be plenty of opportunities for good-natured ribbing. And I certainly got my share last week when my squad went down.

In 1998, our Stanford team made it to the Final Four in San Antonio. When we left our hotel for the game, they made us sneak out of the kitchen because there were so many wild fans in the lobby. Coach Mike Montgomery put a password on the phones in the players’ rooms, so that only family and friends could call us. As a side note, many NBA players use aliases when they check into hotels so that people can’t reach them on the phone in their rooms. I use my own name because no crazy people ever try to get a hold of me. Shaquille O’Neal’s old alias was something like Henry

Perot (not using it anymore, so don’t try), but Phil Jackson always used his real name. Kevin Garnett’s alias is… well he probably doesn’t want me to share it, sorry.

At the Final Four we lost a semifinal game to Kentucky by one point in overtime. The only consolation was that they wound up winning the whole thing. When we got back to school it was like a circus. Someone had circulated a fake e-mail that our point guard, Arthur Lee, was going to leave early for the NBA and a lot of the fans on campus were going berserk, because they loved the way he played. Now that Stanford is out, I think I’m going to cheer for Washington. I love the way guard Nate Robinson plays and how fearless he is.

Last week in the Dallas game, I fouled Dirk Nowitzki and did something to my wrist. I took myself out of the game immediately, because I knew something was wrong. They took X-rays on the wrist at the arena during halftime and told me it was fine. They taped it up like a boxing glove and I finished the game. Injuries are part of basketball and this one is pretty severe because I can’t really catch or use my right hand very much at this point. On Monday, they injected my wrist with dye and then took an MRI to see exactly what happened. I am going to a hand specialist in the Twin Cities this week, so I’m hoping to see all of you at the Target center soon. I’ll talk to you next week.

— Mark Madsen

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Boston Game, Rotation, Latrell Sprewell, Ervin Johnson, Mike Montgomery, Golden State, NBA Head Coach, Minnesota
Talking about boston game, teammates, old college coach and economic lessons. Photo: shutterstock.com

The Boston game this past weekend was a great example of the need to “always stay ready.” Toward the end of the game the score got closer and closer and the rotation tightened up. Latrell Sprewell, who had started the game, sat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter. Sometimes when you sit too long you can get tight and your mind can start thinking any one of a million things if you let it. But Latrell stayed focused on the game and he was still involved by cheering his teammates on and staying positive throughout. Ervin Johnson always tells us, “You can’t control how much you’re going to play, but if the coach calls your name, be ready.” Spree was ready to go and he knocked in the game-winning shot.

It was good to see my old college coach, Mike Montgomery, last week when we played Golden State. We talked before the game for quite a while and he shared what he loved and the hard things about being an NBA head coach. Mike was one of the big reasons that I chose to attend Stanford over UCLA when I came out of high school. He’s a total family man and as a side note, his wife, Sarah, is from Minnesota. I remember early on in my conversations with coach, he talked about the goal to make it to the Final Four. Finally in 1998 with Arthur Lee and Jarron and Jason Collins, we made it to the Final Four before losing to the eventual champions Kentucky in overtime.

People ask me all the time how athletes at Stanford can go to class and compete in their sport. I studied Economics and there were some classes that were incredibly hard with an unbelievably tough grading curve, and of course some classes that were easier. The trick was to balance things so that you didn’t have more than two of those hard classes during the season.

One year I remember taking two finals on the road in St. Louis during the NCAA tournament. A teammate and I were so worried about this macroeconomics class that we studied on the plane, on the team bus, and pretty much everywhere else during that trip. We both studied so hard we almost got sick. I don’t think I’ve ever studied that hard before or after that class. Our professor arranged for the test to be administered in a conference room at our hotel.

One interesting thing I learned from that class is this: There was an economist named Malthus back in the day who said that the world couldn’t produce enough food for it’s growing population. He added that there would be food shortages and vast numbers of people would die from starvation and that the world’s population growth would stagnate. On one hand it makes sense–there’s a finite amount of land that can be farmed. In this macro class, we actually studied a mathematical model called the Solow Model that showed how the world has been able to grow enough crops to keep up with an exploding population rate. The variable that Malthus did not account for was technological/scientific advances in growing crops. Economists sometimes refer to technological advances as “manna from heaven” because such advances keep happening every year and crop production continues to expand and develop annually.

Well, I figured I’d get at least one economics lesson in too while I had the chance to write this diary. If I forgot anything on that explanation hopefully all the econ majors out there will write me and set me straight. I’ll talk to you next week!

— Mark Madsen