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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Tucker takes reigns of new-look Badgers

[media-credit name=’DEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]tucker_dm_416[/media-credit]Vince Lombardi once said, "Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work."

The same words can be used to describe junior Alando Tucker of the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team. Hard work has been the cornerstone of Tucker's career. As a freshman, he was simply the undersized, electric power forward with the 38-inch vertical leap. Today, he is not only the Badgers' best and most clutch on-court performer, but is the backbone of their leadership.

"He has earned his stripes. He has earned the ability and the right to be the leader, because he does it as well as say it. He talks the talk and he walks the walk," UW assistant coach Howard Moore said.


Tucker came onto the Badger basketball scene in 2002, starting 27 games as a freshman power forward that was only 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds dripping wet. He averaged 12.0 points and 5.9 rebounds and was a key member of the first Badger team to win an out-right conference title since the Truman administration.

Since then, Tucker has only expanded his game and is now one of the most un-guardable players in the game. He's faster and more athletic than most big men and has a size and a physical edge over most guards, advantages that have Tucker on the pre-season Wooden Award watch list for most outstanding player in the nation. But even more impressive than the growth of his game has been the expansion of Tucker's leadership role for Wisconsin.

Tucker's journey from an upstart all-conference freshman to a full-fledged team leader has been facilitated through his effort and determination, just as his evolution into one of the country's premier players has been.

"First off, his attitude is tremendous. If you've been around Alando you know he always has a smile on his face, he plays with a passion and he has a passion for this team," Moore said.

None have been impressed more by Tucker's expanding role as a team leader than head coach Bo Ryan.

"You couldn't be around a more pleasant man than Alando Tucker," Ryan said. "I think if you take a look at Alando Tucker and you tried to find me a better person, you'd struggle."

Though the role was thrust upon him after the loss of five seniors from last year's squad, Tucker has embraced the role as a floor general, enthusiastically placing his team first and cherishing his new responsibility.

"I am down to earth with each and every one of the players. I go out with each and every one of the players, I talk to each and every one of the players," Tucker said. "I am a total team player. That is what each of the other 14 other guys understand. I'm totally for the team and that is why they follow me the way they do."

"He takes care of the younger players; he is [a] leader on and off of the floor. He has never had a bad word to say about anyone else. He is very endearing," Ryan said.

Tucker's ability to quickly adapt to being a leader has certainly been influenced by the great leaders he has played beside over the last four years. Tucker has named former standouts Kirk Penney, Devin Harris and Mike Wilkinson as teammates who have helped him transform into the player he is today.

"Alando is in his fourth year in the program. He has learned from some good leaders, with Mike Wilkinson and Devin [Harris]; those guys who have been in that leadership role, so passing the torch on to him is sort of easing the transition for the team and for him," Moore said.

Tucker's leadership also may be due to the vast amount of hard work he endures during every practice.

"He just works so hard," Ryan said. "He puts in the extra time. He does a lot of things."

Never was Tucker's work ethic more visible than during the months leading up to the 2004 season, when he was making the recovery from a foot injury that forced him to sit out all but four games of the 2003 season.

"You see all those guys getting that injury, now? I wish them luck. I hope they're all as tough as him. You really have to be tough to come back from that injury," Ryan said.

Tucker returned from the injury to lead the Badgers in scoring (15.2 per game), finish second in rebounding (6.1 per game) and become their most relied upon weapon in the clutch. Tucker led the team with 27 points in a key early season contest against Maryland. He made huge game-winning, buzzer-beaters against Indiana and Iowa, with his 3-pointer against the Hawkeyes coming in the Big Ten tournament, in what was without question the play of the year for UW. Tucker also scored 25 points in Wisconsin's season-ending loss to eventual champ North Carolina in the NCAA tournament.

Tucker has been a leader in the stat box since his arrival in Madison and this season he will be counted on again to put up big numbers and provide more clutch plays. However, his leadership role will be just as important.

"He is really looking forward to [being a leader]. That's about all we have talked about since I got the job, is how his role is going to change. You lose five seniors and now he emerges as that strong leader and he relishes it," Moore said. "He feels he is ready to step [up] and take control."

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