Stanford basketball has hired a new basketball coach. I don't know much about Jerod Haase. I know he coached at UAB for four years. I know he took the Blazers to the round of 32 a year ago after stunning Iowa State (14 over 3). I know he learned from/with/alongside/under Roy Williams--as an assistant coach for 13 years at Kansas and North Carolina and as a player for three at Kansas. You see, Haase coming to Palo Alto is sorta, kinda a homecoming: he played one year at Cal and is originally from Tahoe. But, you know what would have been more of a homecoming? Hiring Mark Madsen.
Mark Madsen is a lot of things. He's fiery. He's hilarious ( as you can see from the video above. It gets good around 1:05). He was nicknamed Mad Dog--partly because of his last name, partly because he was, well, a Mad Dog in the front court who played with a big bite, loud bark, and a never-back-down resolve. Shaq (yup, Shaq) once said, "He used to beat me up in practice." For those scoring at home, Mr. O'Neal had about four inches and a hundred pounds on Madsen (and might be the most dominant, physically-imposing big guy of our lifetime). Madsen was just relentless. In his nine-year NBA career, he averaged a very loud, very feisty 12 minutes a game.
Madsen is also a Stanford guy, maybe THE Stanford guy of the last two decades. His And-1 dunk against Rhode Island in the ‘98 Elite 8 might be the single most iconic Stanford men's hoops' play of all time. Twice, he was an All-American. He even came back to get an MBA three years ago (while also working an assistant coach for a year). He knows his way around El Camino and Campus Drive. He's probably eaten at Peninsula/Palo Alto Creamery a hundred times.
Madsen returning to Palo Alto would not have been unlike Jim Harbuagh returning to Ann Arbor. Both are super passionate alums who played in the pros and coached in the pros. Both have crazy charisma. Both have the capacity to inject hope in wallowing programs.
I'm sure Jerod Haase will be fine. I'm sure he will adjust to the Pac-12 and establish new recruiting ties on the West Coast. Heck, he'll probably be better than Johnny Dawkins.
But, it's hard not to wonder what could have been with Mark Madsen at the helm.