By Kent Larsen
Bower Goes Home ... to Play in NCAA Tournament
MADISON, WISCONSIN -- Most players connect playing in the NCAA men's
basketball tournament with traveling to a distant city and playing before a
neutral to hostile crowd. But while LDS basketball player Ricky Bower will
have to travel to play in this year's "March Madness," Bower will be going
home. And he hopes that playing at home will be an advantange for his team.
His team, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, were once again seeded in the
tournament's Western regional, and will face Georgia State University in the
tournament's first round on Thursday in the Boise State University
Pavillion. The Badger's sophomore guard calls home Meridian, Idaho, a small
Boise suburb 10 miles west of the city.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says that Bower's mom is more excited about
the team's placement than he is. "It was crazy. Never in my wildest dreams
did I think they would come to Boise because they were in the West
(Regional) last year, but it's always been on our mind," said Susan Bower
Carlson. "We're so excited we can't stand it." And her excitement may even
give the team a kind-of home court advantage in the game, "It's great. I'm
loving this," Bower's mother said. "And we have so many friends who are
going to get to see it and they're so excited. I'm passing the word. Wear red."
For Bower the game may be the highlight of an up-and-down year. He won a
spot on the team by a minor miracle -- another Wisconsin player, Julian
Schwartz, decided to take the year off, leading the Badger's coaching staff
to pick up Bower late in the recruiting period, just after he returned from
an LDS mission to Poland.
But that same lateness turned against Bower later in the season when
University of Wisconsin officials discovered that he was ineligible because
his high school hadn't sent his grades in. Normally, the school would have
picked up the omission in their checks, but Bower joined so late that they
missed it. The grades were quickly sent in, but the NCAA still ruled that he
had violated the rules, and kept him from playing for five games.
Bower's strength at Wisconsin is his shooting. So far this season he has
recorded a 41.7% success rate on 3-point shots (20 for 48). But that hasn't
won him a spot in the regular team rotation because his defense isn't what
it needs to be. Instead, Wisconsin brings him in when facing a zone defence,
where his three-point shots make a huge difference, sometimes winning the
game for the team.
His mother is, of course, hoping that Bower will get playing time in the
game. And if she is as lucky as she was with getting him to play in Boise,
he just might end up playing most of the game.
Bower agog over UW's placement
Milwaukee WI Journal-Sentinel 13Mar01 S2