Last season was one helluva roller coaster ride for the Wisconsin men's basketball team, their six months of ups and downs marked by a national number one ranking, an early exit from the NCAA tournament, and the most wins in program history. The team is looking for another big season this year, and kicked off the show with a public Midnight Madness-style practice at the Kohl Center last Friday evening.
The "Night of the Grateful Red" featured player and coach intros, 3-point and dunking contests, a dance show, a video tribute to the 1941 national champion Badgers and an autograph session. One of the crowd favorites was the dunk contest.
This turned out to be a battle between senior guard Michael Flowers and junior forward Marcus Landry, the latter ultimately winning the finals with a dunk off the bounce. "Landry's winner was a creative effort," noted State Journal sportswriter Rob Hernandez in his live-blog of the event. "He lobbed the ball off the floor, grabbed it in mid-air and threw it down while falling to the floor. That drew three 10s from the two student judges and Bucky Badger."
Looking to judge a couple of their dunks for yourself? Several videos of the two Badgers making their case with the hoop follow, starting with a clip featuring Landry's first dunk.
"Of course, you can't tell much from a night of drills and contests, but you can pick up a few impressions," writes Badger hoops blogger Phil Mitten, commenting on incoming freshmen Flowers' and Landry's leadership, and the demographics of the team. "Why does the three-point shooting contest stand the test of time and the slam-dunk competition does not anymore?," he asks, concluding that the dunk showdown was something of a letdown.
Hopefully the upcoming season won't be. The Badgers begin their new season with a pair of exhibition games against Edgewood and UW-Eau Claire in the first full week of November before starting their run with a game against IPFW and a slew of teams in the America's Youth Classic tournament, all at the Kohl Center.