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For week ended March 12, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 09Mar00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS RM Madsen Featured In USA Today
('Mad Dog' rules the Cardinal)
USA Today 9Mar00 S2
By David Leon Moore: USA Today
Madsen sets dutiful example for No. 3 Stanford

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA -- With 'March Madness' approaching and a major game tonight between Stanford and Arizona, USA Today featured LDS returned missionary and Stanford star Mark 'Mad Dog' Madsen in a cover story that once again emphasized Madsen's unique mix of aggressive play on court and off-court nice guy.

Author Moore attributes Madsen's success to simple hard work, a value given to Madsen by his parents. The fifth child of 10, he saw his father Duane, an investment banker, get up at 3 a.m. daily to start work to support the family. And his parents provided him and his siblings with plenty of work, each taking a share of the load of running a large family, "We couldn't have made it with this big a family," Duane says, "without the children doing a lot of the work."

Stanford's basketball team has been the beneficiary, as Mark has been a major contributor to the team's success during the past three seasons, where it has earned a Pac-10 championship, been rated No.1 nationally and made the Final Four in last year's NCAA championship.

Meanwhile, Madsen's off-court personality has turned him into one of the most popular players in school history. At a recent auction of his memorabilia by the Stanford boosters, the prices for his memorabilia "went off the charts." writes Moore. Three game jersey's went for $3,500 each and a visit from Madsen to a child's birthday party went for $4,000. "I couldn't believe what people would pay for one of his jerseys," says Madsen's mother, Erlyn. "I started to think, 'Hey, I've got a lot of his clothes at home.' "

And the combination of his on-court play and off-court good nature continues to earn him respect and admiration. "He's like this warrior," says Arizona's stellar power forward, Michael Wright. "It's a challenge to play him. If you're not ready, he's just going to dominate you." Madsen and Wright were both at spring tryouts for the NBA recently in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and there became friends. However, given Madsen's on-court intensity, that likely will not affect how either plays.

UCLA's coach Steve Lavin agrees, "He's the kind of player that coaches die to have on their team. To me, he's the classic example of a kid who plays smash-mouth basketball, knocks you on your butt, then extends a hand to help you up, then comes right back after you and smashes you to the floor again and then helps you up again. That is really what the spirit of college athletics is supposed to be about."

And his reputation has even affected his teammates. Not all of them are willing to emulate his LDS lifestyle, they do try to match his effort, leadership and on-court selflessness. Some even say that these qualities are what have made Standord a national championship contender.

Madsen keeps up his commitment even in practice, according to his coach, Mike Montgomery. But teammate senior guard Alex Gelbard says. "I think practice is maybe where he has his biggest impact. You better bring your elbow pads and your mouthpiece, because Mark is coming to PLAY." And this respect comes in spite of Madsen's belief that he isn't a great talent, "I'm not a guy who can go out and make a bunch of three-pointers," he says. "I'm not a great ballhandler. So I feel that my contribution needs to come from hard work and being focused on doing the little things, whether it's sealing off my man for a post move or setting a screen."

Regardless, Montgomery says Madsen contributes in ways that don't always lead to great statistics; his statistics don't quite measure up to player of the year honors. "Whether Mark will get a lot of postseason honors, I don't know, because people are always attached to numbers," Montgomery says. "But I don't imagine anybody being any more valuable to a team than Mark is to us in so many different ways."

But Madsen's off-court demeanor may be what gets him the most admiration, "Off the court, Madsen's demeanor is like a preacher," writes Moore. "outgoing, kind, polite and earnest. On the court, he's basically Dennis Rodman. OK, a nice, clean-cut Dennis Rodman ... who will actually shoot."

This demeanor extends to his fellow players, where Madsen has had a great impact, starting in the locker room. Out of respect for Madsen, his fellow players have toned down the language in the locker room from an "R" rating to a "PG" during the past couple years, "I have no control over that," says Madsen, laughing. "I do know I'll walk in some times, and all of a sudden stuff is getting censored. It's not like I'd be offended or get mad, but I appreciate the effort the guys make. It's not something I've asked them to do. It's just something they do."

Teammate Gelbard says they wouldn't do that for just anyone. "Not everyone embraces his views, but everybody respects them," Gelbard says. "He's so eternally positive and optimistic that he might put off people a little at first. But gradually, by sheer force of his personality, he wears you down. It's hard to have an absolute, unbended faith in anything. But he just believes what he does, and he lives it every day and you have to admire that."

Outside of basketball, Madesn remains just as busy. He's co-president of the LDSSA at Stanford and on the executive board of the NCAA's student-advisory council. "He's not a guy who just goes home and naps," Montgomery says. "He's involved."

Given this demeanor, the way he acts at home, his parents still wonder at his on-court persona, "In reality, he's one of the most loving, kind, patient people I've ever seen," Duane Madsen says. "He doesn't have a lot of money now, but at Christmas or my birthday, he'll write me long letters expressing his sentiments and how he feels about me as a father. In many ways, he's more of a puppy dog than a mad dog."

See also:

Power forwards: foes on court, friends off (Tucson) AZ Daily Star 9Mar00 S2 By Bruce Pascoe: Arizona Daily Star


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