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For week ended February 06, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Stanford's RM Madsen Punishes Opponents, With A Smile
Associated Press 2Feb00 S2
By Rob Gloster: AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA -- LDS college basketball star Mark Madsen is the heart of the Stanford defense, helping hold opponents to 33 percent shooting, best in the nation. Madsen is gaining a name for himself as one of the most intense and physical players in the game.

But in spite of how physical he plays, opponents say he is one of the nicest players they have faced. In one recent game after drawing an offensive smile, "Mad Dog," as he is known, shakes his head with an aw-shucks smile and reaches to help the defender he has just flattened from the floor. Madsen never looses his temper, according to Coaches, and he is known for animated chats and handshakes with fans after every game.

At 6-foot-9, 240-pounds, Madsen, 24, who plays power forward, is a senior this year. "He gets down and dirty, he dives for the ball, he sets screens, he's really tough on defense underneath. He plays very physical ball, but he doesn't give any cheap shots," said Washington State's Chris Crosby. Washington State was beaten 63-38 by No. 2 Stanford last Saturday. "He helps you up if you get knocked down. He'd just as soon smile at you as hit you."

Washington's Thalo Green agrees, "Madsen has got to be the toughest guy I'm playing against this year because of his strength and his positioning under the basket. He seems to know exactly where the ball is at all times. He's very physical, but I would not call him a dirty player at all. He is a real stand-up guy. He's a great guy."

Madsen is also a returned missionary who served in Spain for two years. Somehow Madsen has managed to produce targeted aggression that is focused only during play, but which disappears as soon as play stops. "It is kind of interesting how a guy can play that hard, with that much passion, and be able to not get upset with stuff -- but that's just the way he is," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "He's not a mean-spirited kid. I think that's what's so neat about him, or unique in a way, is that his intensity is just a natural way to play the game. It's not a malicious thing, you don't see him ever cheap-shotting someone. Mark plays hard, but there's a difference."

Madsen got his nickname "Mad Dog" from his fifth-grade gym teacher. But Madsen says his intensity is just the way he is. "I think I'm a pretty calm person. I think that's easy for me. In general, I'm not super high-strung, I'm not high-intensity. I really have to push myself to be intense. Every time I go on the court it's a challenge to maintain intensity."

This week Stanford, and Madsen, head into one of their most difficult weekends of the season. The Cardinals play at UCLA on Thursday night and at Southern California on Saturday. Both opponents have been ranked this season.


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