Saturday, February 7, 2009

Only knowing one way to play

St. Mary's center Omar Samhan recently told a story about how former Laker Mark Madsen (pictured here), who'd graduated from the same high school as Samhan, would return in the summers to scrimmage with Samhan.

More than anything, what Samhan remembers about those practices is Madsen's work ethic.

"He played so hard," Samhan said. "He played like he was in practice with Shaq and Kobe and those guys. He dove for a ball, and I asked him, 'What are you doing? You could get hurt.' And he said, 'I only know how to play one way.'"

Madsen, a former standout at Stanford who played nine seasons in the NBA and won titles with the Lakers in 2001 and 2002, would give Samhan advice, too.

"(Madsen) always reminds me that basketball is a game, to enjoy it and always, always play hard," Samhan said. "You start out playing the game for fun, not getting a scholarship or making money. Those are just bonuses if you're extremely fortunate. He says he sees too many players who don't have fun anymore."

[Worked color for Thursday night's St. Mary's game against USF, so I had a chance to watch Samhan, who had 12 points in 23 minutes. Doing TV again tonight when the Gaels (19-3) travel to Santa Clara.]