View Gallery (2 Photos)Bleach:In 2000, the men’s basketball team went on a four-gamewinning streak. During this streak they beat Fresno State, Arizona, LSU andPurdue to reach the Final Four as a No. 8 seed. These four wins represent themost impressive accomplishment in UW athletics history.Head coach Dick Bennett led a team that exemplified thecharacteristics found in UW basketball today: They were tough, scrappy and thewhole was greater than the sum of the parts.Most importantly, however, this group was one of the mosttenacious defensive teams the Final Four has ever seen. Led by point guard MikeKelley, the Badgers played stifling man-to-man defense that suffocated andfrustrated opponents. UW held their opponents to an average of 56.75 points agame. The team overachieved and willed itself to the best four-game win streakin Badger history.The 2000 Final Four was significant beyond the reach of thatseason, however, as the success of Bennett’s squad propelled the basketballprogram to the unprecedented success we have now. As all Badger fans know, whenUW takes the floor, they rarely are the most talented team. They are, however,the most disciplined, the most efficient and the hardest working. All thesuccess we enjoy now as fans can be traced back to that remarkable 2000 squad.Zetlin:Every year you see it on ESPN, whether it be for basketballor football. You always wonder what it would be like, just how cool it reallyis.Last year, I found out.I’ve been to a Super Bowl, a World Series, an NBAChampionship and NCAA Tournament games, but storming the court after Bo Ryan’sBadgers clinched the Big Ten Conference Championship last spring was the mostexciting experience I’ve had as a sports fan.Leading up to the 2007-08 basketball season, no one reallygave Wisconsin a chance. Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor had just graduated.There was no way the Badgers could compare to 2006-07 form, a season in whichthey were ranked No. 1 in the country.Wrong.On March 5, UW took care of lowly Penn State. The game washighlighted by J.P. Gavinski’s second-half, put-back dunk. The place wentcrazy. On senior night, Greg Stiemsma had a career night and when the buzzersounded, the mayhem began.It was like a floor version of Jump Around, a keg-lessparty. In their final home game, the seniors were hoisted up, serenaded bycheers and praises from us, their fellow students.We were all there for one reason: to celebrate achampionship to which we could all relate. Quite frankly, I felt like I waspart of the team. We all did.The trophy was presented to Bo’s Bunch. We cheered louderthan your little sister did the time she met Carson Daly. Then the senior videowas played, a tribute to Stiemsma, Brian Butch, Michael Flowers and TannerBronson.It made you proud to be a Badger. It’s something I’ll neverforget.Solochek:It sayssomething that you still can’t find an original Ron Dayne jersey.Dayne, thegreatest running back in Wisconsin history, is still as revered on campus asever. Sure, his professional career has not amounted to much, but at Madison heis still a legend.One of my firstmemories of Wisconsin football was watching Dayne run over unsuspectingdefensive linemen and cornerbacks. He was not fast, but the man could plowthrough the line. Whenever I watched a game on TV, announcers would be baffledby how many yards he would gain after initial contact. He had the potential tochange the game, and in many instances had to put the team on his back tosecure victories.On campus, Dayneis still one of the most idolized players in recent memory. The crowd alwaysgoes wild when he comes back to campus for an anniversary of his two Rose Bowlvictories, his Heisman Trophy or when he broke the all-time NCAA rushingrecord. The iconic “Ron Dayne” cheer by the public address announcer stillresonates at Camp Randall today.Although he hadmany accolades, possibly the most important thing Dayne did was put Wisconsinon the map in terms of recruiting. Since Dayne left Wisconsin, there has been astrong tradition of big, powerful running backs. From Michael Bennett to P.J.Hill, the Badgers carry a strong tradition of guys who many not run past you,but they will run over you.So the next timeyou see the Badgers sign a top running back prospect or you think about thesuccess the football team is having, remember you can owe a lot of it to TheGreat Dayne. Mason:I haven’t always bled cardinal and white. As a Minnesotanative, I grew up following Golden Gopher athletics. For better or worse (oftenfor worse), I cheered for the likes of Sam Jacobsen, Bobby Jackson and KrisHumphries of the basketball team; Chris Darkins and Thomas Tapeh of thefootball team and Grant Potulny and Thomas Vanek on the ice.Over the span of my lifetime as a Gopher fan, I saw twonational championships — both in hockey.That was the extent of the success I witnessed.Then I came to Madison, and the game changed entirely.Perhaps the most memorable sports moment of my time here came during myfreshman year when Mike Eaves and the men’s hockey team took home the nationalchampionship, the sixth in school history.There were several great things about their championship.The roster boasted a handful of exciting players, from the likes of Robbie Earlto Jack Skille to goaltender Brian Elliot. Any time you’ve got that sort oftalent, you’re going to be a fun team to watch.Making it even sweeter was that the Badgers essentially gotto play the entire tournament at home, as the Midwest regional was held inGreen Bay and the Frozen Four took place just an hour away from Madison at theBradley Center in Milwaukee.But I think the thing that was most impressive and made thisthe greatest moment was what they had to do to get there. In the regionalfinal, Wisconsin and Cornell played nearly two full games before either teamscored. It wasn’t until Skille found the net off a Josh Engel assist that theBadgers were able to advance to the Frozen Four with a thrilling 1-0 victory.After beating Maine 5-2 in the semifinals, the Badgers foundthemselves trailing 1-0 in the NCAA championship. But Earl scored early in thesecond period to knot things up at one apiece.Tom Gilbert was the hero for UW (and the entire state ofWisconsin) that night as his third-period goal proved to be the game — andchampionship — winner.Yes, there’s nothing sweeter than a national championship.Doing it the way these Badgers did, however, made it even sweeter.Braun:What bettermoment in Wisconsin history than the winning of the school’s only men’sbasketball national championship in history?In 1941, underhead coach Harold Foste, the Badgers received an invitation to the NCAATournament for the first time in school history. Instead of waning in the earlyrounds, Wisconsin took the title, and after that, the school didn’t even smell anational title until 59 years later when the Badgers advanced to the Final Fourfor the second time in school history.Students atWisconsin today — except for the most senior members of the student body —didn’t see that 1941 feat, but perhaps it meant more to the school than anyother title it can boast. Who cares if the Badgers only had to beat three teamsin the NCAA Tournament to win the championship?Even with headcoach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has yet to crack the Elite 8 in the tournament inseven tries. That alone proves how difficult it was for the men’s basketballteam to accomplish what it did.It only took 34points to beat Washington State back in 1941, but that low-scoring affair gaveWisconsin its proudest moment in school history.
The star that shines brightest in the constellation of power basketball conferences remains, now almost perpetually, the Big East. From No. 3 Syracuse to the No. 25 upstart Cincinnati Bearcats, eight schools from the nation’s most complete conference continue to litter both NCAA polls. A Big East-flavored top 25 is about as close to a given as sports will allow.Each year since 2004, the gauntlet from hell, which poses as the Big East conference, has yielded at least five schools in the year-end polls and has sent more teams to dance in March than any other conference in the country. And it appears that in 2011 we will not encounter an aberration to that compounding trend.But what has made this conference into the powerhouse that it has become? Why do we, year in and year out, find ourselves staring at Jim Boeheim’s shiny head on the big stages or have to, once again, root against another Bob Huggins-coached team replete with players who have no intentions to graduate from college?It’s the coaching.Whether athletes remain in college for the full four years or not, rosters frequently change, meaning that, barring removal from their positions, coaches are often the only constant.And the head coaches in the Big East are far and away the best group in the country.Two of the coaches, Boeheim of Syracuse and Jim Calhoun of Connecticut, are now fixtures in the record books as they, with each passing season, climb closer to the acme of all-time wins by a head coach (currently held by Bob Knight with 902).Boeheim (843 career wins), a devout professor of the 2-3 zone, consistently produces teams that frequent the late rounds of the NCAA tournament. But aside from Carmelo Anthony, with whom the Hall of Fame head coach won his only national championship, the list of superstars that have come through Syracuse runs rather short. In fact, the list might end with ‘Melo. Derrick Coleman? Sherman Douglas? Maybe that’s why the practice facility is already named the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.Seven regular season titles with an abbreviated list of remarkable players leads me to believe that Boeheim is directly responsible for the school’s success.Jim Calhoun, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee himself, has encountered even more success than Boeheim, winning two national championships and six Big East championships over the course of his career. During those title runs, he has had the aid of several outstanding athletes such as Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton.But even with future NBA champions, winning two titles with distinctly different teams points to Calhoun as the reason why.The list of coaches in the Big East who have made a significant impact, not only in the conference, but also nationally, goes on.A rung down from the two Hall of Famers sits a group of coaches who have already found their own success in the nation’s toughest conference. Rick Pitino, whose mantra remains “shoot now, ask questions later,” has led three different schools to the Final Four (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville), a resume that seems to fit nicely with the rest of the conference’s coaches.Also in that second tier, Jamie Dixon, in his eighth year as head coach at Pittsburgh, has molded his team into a perennial high seed in the NCAA tournament; an impressive feat considering the Pittsburgh job is the first head-coaching gig he has held.Throw in Mike Bray of Notre Dame, the third-longest tenured coach in the Big East (behind Boeheim and Calhoun) and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins who, aside from his maligned reputation of failing to graduate his players, continues to produce deep tournament runs, and you come up with a wealth of accomplished head coaches unrivaled by any other conference in the country.But even then, the list of talented Big East coaches continues. Jay Wright of Villanova has led his team to six straight 20-win seasons with two Elite Eight and one Final Four appearance over that stretch. And the new coaches on the block, Buzz Williams of Marquette and Georgetown’s John Thompson III, have had early success as well.No other conference in the land has the collection of quality at head coach like the Big East. The ACC may have Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Gary Williams, but after that, the names read rather vapid. Again, the ACC is undeniably down this year.In the Big 12, after Bill Self and Rick Barnes, no one has proven themselves as a great coach. The verdict is still out on Frank Martin until he wins without Michael Beasley.The reason for the Big East’s dominance is clear: they have the best coaching. And the success of those coaches perpetuates the inflow of good players who want to play for a thriving program in the best conference in the country.
Right now, the Ed Orgeron bandwagon is barreling up and down I-110 at breakneck speeds, gaining momentum at every turn. A win over Stanford, the No. 4 team in the nation and an opponent USC hadn’t beaten in the last four tries, warrants such a swell of support from fans and players.Not so fast · Interim head coach Ed Orgeron has incredibly turned USC’s season around, but he is not the best choice to permanently lead the team. — Razan Al Marzouqi | Daily TrojanPat Haden can’t be nearsighted now. Not after the Kiffin saga. Orgeron should not have the interim tag lifted, no matter what the result against UCLA is in two weeks. He has somehow turned the media’s attention back toward USC, but if he becomes permanent head coach, then USC will win as many national titles as it has won since Matt Leinart and [redacted] left Troy.Coach O is winning thanks to scrappy plays and a positive attitude. He has been not just backtracking, but sprinting in the opposite direction from the ways of Kiffin.“The whole team has picked up more physicality and become tougher,” redshirt junior defensive end George Uko said after Saturday’s win.The problem with his strategy is that perennial national title contenders don’t win titles through scrappiness or discipline; they win them by dominance.Alabama has won two straight titles by going out every week ready to throttle their opponent. The same goes for Oregon, which performs at such a high level that each loss makes headlines across the nation. Even if the Ducks are title-less, they’ve established themselves as a team to be feared. Another team on the list: the 2005 USC team that averaged just shy of 50 points per game.USC needs a head coach that has the offensive pedigree to help the Trojans steamroll their opponents. The Trojans want scores like 62-28 over Cal rather than 19-3 over Utah. Even though USC allowed 483 yards (albeit some in garbage time) in Berkeley, the excitement and perceived dominance was miles ahead of the win over Utah, where an exceptional USC defensive performance was mostly overlooked because of the offense’s less than stellar play. Injuries have drastically impacted USC’s offense this year, which means the read on offensive coordinator Clay Helton as the playcaller is still unclear.Under Orgeron, USC would probably win nine to 10 games per season consistently. USC’s recruiting appeal, combined with soon-to-be-lifted sanctions, will allow the Trojans to reel in elite talent from across the country, and talent wins out more often than not in college football.Orgeron, however, is not the kind of coach to lead teams to undefeated or one-loss seasons year in and year out, which is the unwritten expectation at this program. He motivates well, but bringing in different speakers and meals every week doesn’t lead to real results. Orgeron’s players love him and have admitted to playing harder because of it, but being the program leader at a school like USC requires much more than locker room rah-rah.Orgeron has been put in a unique situation as the interim head coach. Kiffin was the nasty ex-boyfriend, and Orgeron is the rebound relationship. The first few dates have gone well, with Stanford being the best one yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to tie the knot.The best-case scenario is hiring a new head coach and keeping Orgeron on staff in his role as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Orgeron insists he’s learned from his mistakes at Mississippi, where he went 10-25 in three seasons, and I’m inclined to believe him. To see whether he can be a full-time head coach, though, should be the risk of another school with smaller expectations and a less-qualified pool of coaches to choose from.There’s still a chance, however, that Orgeron will stick around. If Steve Sarkisian is fired by Washington and would be willing to return to USC as the offensive coordinator, then a Trojan Family reunion might have a shot of making things work.Still, the USC job is one of the most coveted in the world of college football. Orgeron is not qualified for the most prestigious coaching position this side of Texas (sorry, Steve Alford) — at least not yet. A UCLA win is what fans want most right now, but what’s more important is what happens in Pat Haden’s office once the lights go out in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the final time in 2013. Trojan fans should hope rationality is the key factor in his decision. “Four-Point Shot” runs every other Wednesday. To comment on this story, email Jacob at [email protected] or visit dailytrojan.com.Follow Jacob on Twitter @Jacob_Freedman