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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

USA Rugby exploring possible bid for future World Cup

first_img WATCH US LIVE LIVE TV The United States will host two of the world’s biggest sporting events in 2026 and ’28 and could possibly be adding a third for 2027.USA Rugby will conduct a feasibility study to determine whether to put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup in 2027 or ’31. World Rugby announced Thursday that there will be a single process for both men’s world cups as well as the 2025 and ’29 women’s world cups.World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said in a taped statement that awarding bids for two world cups at the same time for both the men’s and women’s games allows them to consider an established nation for one with the other possibly going to a country where they feel they can grow the game.That process worked the last time it was used. England hosted the 2015 event followed by Japan four years later.“If we didn’t have a dual awarding system, I doubt we would have ended up in Japan,” Gosper said. “We were able to use the certainty of a World Cup in England which allowed us to be bolder and braver to try to drive the sport in Japan.”World Rugby is hoping to award the bids by May 2022. The process of talking to prospective nations will begin in February with the formal candidate process commencing three months later. Finalists will be evaluated in February 2022.France has the 2023 World Cup, marking the second time in 16 years it will be the host nation.The U.S. will host the soccer World Cup in 2026 and the Los Angeles Summer Games in 2028. Hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2027 would serve as a nice springboard into the Olympics.The Rugby World Cup is usually held in September and October, which would be at the height of football season and could eliminate many venues from hosting. USA Rugby CEO Ross Young did raise the possibility that a potential bid could propose the tournament being held in August and September.The 2019 world cup was held in 12 stadiums. Twenty nations competed in four pools of five during round-robin play with the top two in each pool advancing to the knockout stage.USA Rugby is hopeful of being out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the end of the year. The organization filed in March following years of increased training expenditures and lack of revenue.“We’ve had long discussions with stakeholders in supporting a bid,” he said. “We want to consider everything and do the proper backend work before putting in a bid.”Rugby 7s events have been well attended in the U.S., including the 2018 World Cup Sevens in San Francisco. The sport also has had increased television exposure. The NBC Sports Group aired 221 hours of rugby last year compared to 30 1/2 in 2014.Image credits: AP COMMENT Last Updated: 14th August, 2020 07:22 IST USA Rugby Exploring Possible Bid For Future World Cup The United States will host two of the world’s biggest sporting events in 2026 and ’28 and could possibly be adding a third for 2027 Associated Press Television News center_img FOLLOW US Written By First Published: 14th August, 2020 07:22 IST SUBSCRIBE TO USlast_img read more