Last year, Mark Madsen wrote a 15-page thesis on role models for a freshman Writing and Critical Thinking class at Stanford. His subject: Dennis Rodman.
"He is a role model, in a lot of ways," Madsen said. "I definitely have looked at him as a player too."On Friday, Madsen did a stunning impersonation of the Worm -at least on the stat sheet, where his career-high 17 rebounds and team-high 16 points helped third-seeded Stanford outlast 14th-seeded College of Charleston 67-57 Friday in the opening round of the Midwest Regional in front of 21,158 in the United Center. Stanford (27-4) will meet 11th-seeded Western Michigan (21-7) in the second round Sunday.
But that's where the comparison between Madsen and Rodman ends. "I have no tattoos, concealed or otherwise," Madsen said. "And I'm not going to get any, either."
Madsen, a well-scrubbed sophomore from Danville, Calif., is a Mormon. Remember Rodman's cutting remarks about Mormons during the Bulls' stay in Utah in the NBA Finals?
"That's right," Madsen said, his eyes lighting up. "I forgot all about that."
Madsen is more intrigued than offended by Rodman's words. He views the Worm as dispassionately as a scientist, having read dozens of articles on him and analyzed passages from his controversial autobiography, "Bad as I Want to Be."
"Obviously, some of the stuff he does, I don't agree with," Madsen said. "But in other ways, he's lifted himself out of some pretty hard circumstances. I don't admire everything he does, but you have to give him credit for working as hard as he does."
At 6 feet 8 inches, 235 pounds, Madsen is, like Rodman, rarely the biggest body banging under the bucket.
"Tenacious, a little undersized," Stanford captain Pete Sauer said of Madsen. "When he steps off the court, all comparisons end."
Had it not been for Madsen's work - he hauled down eight offensive boards, more than the entire College of Charleston lineup combined - the Cardinal might have been in trouble against the lithe Cougars.
College of Charleston is the worst kind of opponent for a high seed: an athletic, talented team that has produced under tournament pressure. The Cougars knocked off Maryland a year ago and nearly upset Arizona, the eventual national champion.
Charleston showed no fear of Stanford. The Cardinal enjoyed a massive height advantage, but it couldn't finish off the Cougars until a reserve swingman, Ryan Mendez, stepped off the bench and knocked down a pair of 3-point bombs.
The first gave Stanford a 56-54 lead with 3 minutes 55 seconds to go. The second, a minute later, put the Cardinal up 59-56 and drew a comparison with another member of the NBA champs.
"The second one was where Michael Jordan doesn't have the range to make that shot," said Charleston coach John Kresse, whose team bowed out with a 24-6 record.