Thursday, December 31, 2009

My top 10 sports moments of the decade

Yes, the much anticipated has finally arrived on my blog. Here are my personal top 10 moments in L.A. and Badger sports over the past 10 years. Please keep in mind that I've only been a true Badger fan since 2007, so I won't have a lot of the great moments such as the 2000 Rose Bowl and Final Four or UW's first Big Ten Championship since 1947, etc. Either way, enjoy:

10: Manny comes to the Dodgers

In the dog days of summer, I was working for KNBC Sports in Los Angeles when I got the inside information that Manny Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers. What did he do? Well, aside from creating excitement in the Dodger organization for the first time since I could remember, Manny nearly batted .400 and almost led the team in home runs by season's end. He alone propelled the Dodgers to a playoff berth and was perhaps the best hitter in the second half of the 2008 season.

9: Michael Flowers beats Texas

In my first year as a student at Wisconsin, the men's basketball team had just lost Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor a year earlier to graduation, leaving them with Brian Butch and Michael Flowers as the only true veteran leaders on the team. Flowers' miracle three-point bucket to beat Texas on the road was among the first huge wins (others included Marquette, Michigan State) of the 2007-08 season that saw the Badgers win the Big Ten title and make the Sweet 16 before falling to Davidson.

8: Butch beats Indiana

About a week after I got blasted online for alleging that Kelvin Sampson was a cold-blooded cheater, the Badgers stuck it to the Hoosiers in Indiana, thanks to Brian Butch's bank three pointer with only seconds remaining in the game. That game was the beginning of the downfall of the Indiana basketball program, and it solidified the Badgers' status as the Big Ten's top team.

7: Badgers clinch outright Big Ten Championship

In my first year at UW, I never thought the men's basketball team would come away with an outright Big Ten title. Led by Michael Flowers, Brian Butch, Marcus Landry and others, the team completely bought in to Bo Ryan's swing offense, and used all of its tools to defeat every Big Ten opponent except Purdue.

6: Kobe drops 81

How could I leave this one out? It's difficult to describe exactly how Kobe was able to do it, but his 81 points over the Toronto Raptors is pretty unfathomable. Check out this Youtube video of every bucket Kobe scored in the game. It's worth it.

5: Alley-oop to Shaq seals comeback over Trail Blazers

In Phil Jackson's first year as head coach of the Lakers, he, Kobe and Shaq were able to perfect the triangle offense, with a few hiccups against a great Blazers team. With Arvydas Sabonis, Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire and others, the Blazers jumped out to a 15 point lead with the clock ticking, but the Lakers — who hadn't lost three straight all season — didn't let up. Kobe crossed Pippen over and threw up a perfect pass to Shaq who threw it down, virtually sealing the win for L.A.

4: Fish in 0.4

"It's over." After Tim Duncan hit a ridiculous 21-footer with 0.4 remaining to put the Spurs up by one, that's probably what most Laker fans were thinking. Then Derek Fisher got the ball, threw up a prayer, and I, like every other Laker fan around the world, was screaming and running around my house in disbelief. Looking at the replay, it is simply a remarkable shot, one that I will always remember.

3: Steve Finley walk-off grand slam to clinch playoffs

At the end of a season that saw then-general manager Paul DePodesta trade away Paul LoDuca and Guillermo Mota for Hee Seop Choi and Brad Penny, there was pretty much nothing that could make me worse about the Dodgers. Down by two runs in the ninth inning against the arch-rival Giants, L.A. made a huge comeback, loading the bases for Steve Finley with the bases loaded. When he belted one to deep right, it didn't matter if it didn't go out, but it did, and I and the rest of Dodger nation knew we would breathe for at least a week in October.

2: Horry's buzzer beater

On the night of my Bar Mitzvah, the Lakers were wrapped up in perhaps the best playoff series of the decade. The Kings boasted Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie and Vlade (Floppy) Divac against the Lakers' Kobe and Shaq parade. After Kobe missed a layup, Shaq missed one from two feet out, but it wasn't over. Divac batted the loose ball out to Robert "Big Shot Bob" Horry, who swished home the biggest shot of the decade in Lakers basketball. The shot tied the series at two games apiece, and still remains as one of the biggest shots in NBA history.

1: Wisconsin nukes Duke

Trevon Hughes had the game of his life, the Kohl Center crowd was as loud as it will ever be, and the underrated Wisconsin men's basketball team shocked the No. 5 Blue Devils, sparking one of the biggest celebrations in my time at UW. Our Herald photographer Jeff Schorfheide got an incredible shot of Jon Leuer celebrating (seen above), and that pretty much summed up the night. For the next two weeks — and even til today — Badger fans have been talking about that game, and for me and my friends who were in attendance, it was perhaps the best sports moment of my lifetime. It sealed a win for the Big Ten in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and that one win probably would be enough on UW's résumé to put them in the NCAA Tournament once again, making that every single year in the decade.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wow, it's been a while

After my most challenging semester (both academically and at the Herald), I'm happy to say that I made it through in one piece, and I somehow only have eight days before I leave for Paris.

So that's it. After being a part of the Herald for two and a half long semesters, I will now cede my post to Jordan Schelling, who has been on the sports staff longer than I have been. If you want to check out my last column, you can see it here. While I think I made it pretty clear in that article, I really do cherish all my time at the Herald, and it wouldn't have been the same without my peers and coworkers who made work a great atmosphere and one that I'll really miss. I served as the Statistics Editor, Associate Sports Editor, Sports Editor, and covered the women's basketball team, men's basketball team and volleyball team.

If you're interested, here are some of my favorite articles I've written over the past few years. Hope you enjoy!

- Marcus Landry: Father, Husband, Sibling, Badger
- O'Brien Schofield nears end of long UW journey
- Retirement not an option for Iverson
- Burress' treatment comparatively unfair

I also was able to achieve my goal of writing articles for all four sections of the Herald: Sports, News, Opinion and Arts Etc. Just to prove I'm not strictly a sports writer, here they are:

Arts: Warren G to bring signature gangsta sound to Madison
Opinion: Where in the world is Rene Gonzalez?
News: Bo Ryan to coach USA basketball team in Serbia this summer

I'll probably have a few more posts before I leave, so check back before I start my Paris blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First column of the semester

Earlier this week, The Badger Herald sent out its mail-home issue to all the new freshman enrolling in UW for the fall. Take a look at the article here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Farmers Market

This isn't related to sports at all, but thanks to a great suggestion from my mother, I decided to post some thoughts and photos from my morning at the farmers market here in Madison. Every Saturday, people from all over the Madison area come together on Capitol Square to check out the great produce, cheese, bread, and pretty much everything organic you can think of. The food is incredible, and it's really a great experience, so I thought I'd share it.

This is a pretty typical scene on Capitol Square on Saturday mornings (when weather permits). Hundreds (maybe thousands, I really don't know) of people come to take in the beauty of the city and everything the market has to offer. My personal favorite is the spicy cheese bread, which is pictured here to the right. It's not really spicy at all, but it's so delicious and it's served fresh out of the oven. Generally, a group of friends will buy a loaf of it and just eat it on the grass in front of the capitol building while it's still hot. My friend Curren and I couldn't finish it, but we'll probably just stick it in the oven when we want to eat it next.

Since I eat out so much in Madison, I get the opportunity to try out a lot of great local restaurants, but I will say that the produce and most of the food offered at the market is some of the best I've ever had in the city. I took some pictures of the vegetables just to give you an idea of how fresh everything is here. And what's even better about this farmers market compared to other ones I've been to, there's so much variety among the different vendors. Just to give you an example, there are — to my knowledge — three different vendors that sell piping hot spicy cheese bread. Mmm...

I can't even tell you how many vendors sell sugar snap peas. I haven't tried them personally, but I hear they're great. They also have fresh carrots, herbs and spices, jams, etc. But probably my favorite part of the farmers market — aside from the cheese bread — is the incredible assortment of cheeses from all over Wisconsin. One stand in particular has the best cheese I've ever tasted. It's pretty pricey, but there aren't too many places where you can get raw milk (like I know what that means...) cave aged bandage wrapped cheddar cheese. Here's a shot of the cheese stand right below.
I have quite a bit more, but I think you've probably gotten the idea by now. Essentially, the farmers market is one of those reasons students wake up early on Saturday mornings after a night of intense Wisconsin style fun. If you ever go to Madison, make sure you stop by the farmers market, you won't regret it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lakers turn game 1 into joke

The Lakers were magical. That Magic didn't really live up to their name.

You can talk about how poorly Orlando shot the ball (29 percent) or how bad Dwight Howard played, but when it's all said and done, Kobe outscored the Magic's top three players, and the Lakers absolutely destroyed Orlando in game 1.

Now begins the discussion (at least in my head) of whether or not this highly anticipated matchup — though not as hyped as Kobe vs. LeBron was — could turn into a huge bust.

Can the Lakers sweep the Magic? Probably not, but I think it will be pretty close. Unless Michael Pietrus figures out a way to stop Kobe (haha), I really don't think the Magic will slow down the Lakers. It all starts with Kobe, and he can then distribute the ball and get his other teammates involved. Don't forget that last night, Bryant had eight assists in addition to his 40 points, so he's not just scoring.

It might be a bit of unwarranted speculation after a game where the Magic were clearly unprepared to defend Kobe and Lamar Odom. Perhaps game 2 will give me something to cheer about instead of changing the channel in the fourth quarter to the Dodger game, which was far more entertaining. Either way, I smell a championship for LA.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy June & Thoughts on the Dodgers

Well, it was fun working for the Mallards for a few weeks, but I won't be part of that staff anymore for a number of reasons, but I just want to let everyone know that I'll still be blogging — it just won't be about the Mallards. In fact, I'll probably be writing a lot more than I did before, so keep on the lookout for some previews, thoughts, and updates about the Dodgers, Lakers, and Wisconsin athletics.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Badger updates

This past week has been a pretty quiet one for Badger athletics, but there have been a couple of bright notes for UW over the past few days.

Men's track sophomore Robert Dehn made the second best javelin throw in UW history, and in the process qualified for the NCAA Mideast regional in Louisville, KY. The Wisconsin State Journal has a pretty interesting feature story on the Owatonna, Min. native, following his athletic career. Check out Andy Baggot's story here.

The women's rowing team also gave us some good news, as they qualified for the NCAA finals. The Badger women notched the best time of the remaining boats. In fact, they were leading throughout the entire race. The Badgers finished with a time of seven minutes and 15.35 seconds. They will face Stanford, UC-Berkeley, Clemson, Yale and Virginia in the final.