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Wisconsin’s remarkable Final Four run

first_imgThe 2000 Final Four-qualifying Wisconsin men’s basketball team took the game invented by James Naismith and turned it into an ugly slugfest of a competition that made Dean Smith’s four-corners offense look like a Steve Nash fast break.Coached by Dick Bennett, the Badgers tugged, pulled, pushed and any other verb you can think of to make up for the athletic limitations of the team.To say they played at a snail’s pace would be an insult to that majestic, shelled Gastropoda.The team struggled to score — averaging 59.9 points per game for the season — and boasted only one player who even averaged double digits, the legendary Mark Vershaw, at 11.8 points per game.So, what is there to make of a team that sent offensive basketball back 20 years before the creation of the 3-point line?They were completely and totally awesome.Led by point guard Mike Kelly — he, of the 5.0 points per game average, most of which came on fast breaks from his 2.6 steals per game — the Badgers played defense better than any team in the country. With fundamentals Tim Duncan would envy, UW never gave its opponent a clean look at the basket, forcing teams to earn every point.By season’s end, Wisconsin opponents had managed to score a pre-shot clock-like 55.8 points per game.Coming into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed, the Badgers knocked off opening-round opponent Fresno State, No. 1 seed Arizona (featuring Richard Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas on the roster), LSU and finally Purdue to reach the Final Four. In the four games leading up to an epic showdown with eventual NCAA Champion Michigan State, UW averaged a whopping 64.2 points per game and held its opponents to a mere 55.7 points per game.Score one for underdogs everywhere.Best of all, this Badger team pissed off then-Kansas coach Roy Williams to whine in a way NFL wide receivers would be proud of.“Are you going to tell me you didn’t like [a 99-98 victory over UCLA the following season] more than 19-17 at halftime?” Williams quipped the next season, alluding to the Wisconsin versus Michigan State Final Four. “We’re trying to make it a game of basketball skills, not a weight-room contest.”On behalf of Wisconsin fans everywhere Roy, you can shove it.Bennett took a Big Ten bottom feeder and made them relevant in his time at UW. Current coach Bo Ryan has built on this success in much of the same vein, emphasizing defense and ball control.All this sprung from a No. 8 seed reaching the 2000 Final Four, in whatever way it could.last_img read more

Lagos Farewell Testimonial for Amodu, Keshi Holds July 23

first_imgEnakeno EdhowoThe Lagos State Government in conjunction with the Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, have set up a committee to oversee the Lagos Farewell Testimonial Match for the two departed former Super Eagles chief coaches, Amodu Shaibu and Stephen Keshi, which has been scheduled for the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere on July 23, 2016.The Chairman of the committee who is also the President-General of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, said the event which is meant to raise money for the families of the departed coaches, would also celebrate the two illustrious sons of Nigeria. The money raised would be added to whatever the two families get from other donations across the country.“The Farewell Testimonial match would see the Super Eagles players battle against Lagos All Stars team in the main match of the day, while the curtain raiser would be a game between the Lagos SWAN team and the Supporters Club. This would be followed by Musical Concert where prominent Nigerian musicians and comedians would perform in the entertainment aspect of the programme. This aspect of the event is coordinated by veteran music act, Chris Mba.”Ladipo noted that, the involvement of the Lagos State Sports Commission and the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, will help boost the goal of the event which is basically fund raising.The Coordinator of the event, Mr. Effiong Nyong, said yesterday at a media parley organised to announce the plans of the committee that: “Amodu and Keshi must be celebrated with a fanfare as they left solid footprints on the sands of time. It is sad that we won’t see the two indigenous coaches that qualified Nigeria for three editions of the World Cup out of the five the country competed in, again.“We intend to celebrate Lagos as the state where these coaches were made. Keshi started from St. Finbarr’s College in Lagos and also played top international matches as a junior and senior at the National Stadium in Lagos, while for Amodu, as he achieved all the feats at the club and national team levels chose Lagos as his home.“He left his family in Lagos to go to Abuja and Benin City to pursue owed monies before he met his death.”Nyong hinted that the focus of the committee may extend to make the event annual, as the success of the July 23 event will go a long way in determining what happens next.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more