The Senior Leader

Whether it was scoring, defense or being the floor leader, any questions about whether senior Marcus Landry could be the leader of this year's Badger team was answered with his performance against the 49ers.

MADISON — The fact that University of Wisconsin senior forward Marcus Landry led all scorers by a wide margin would indicate he was the best player in Sunday afternoon's game.

That's probably true. But more importantly, he was a man among boys down the stretch, when his team most desperately needed him to take over.

The Badgers held a perilous 62-61 lead over heavy underdog Long Beach State in the final minute, but Landry made sure they wouldn't suffer a shocking loss with big plays on both ends of the floor.

First, he took an outlet pass from point guard Trevon Hughes and drilled a three-pointer from the left lane to give UW a four-point lead with 29.9 seconds remaining.

"I think Marcus was the guy, from his experience, that figured some things out before anybody else did," UW coach Bo Ryan said of Landry, who had 23 points (no other player had more than 12).

On the very next possession, LBSU guard Maurice Clady streaked in with the ball from the top of the key, went up for a layup … and saw his shot swatted well into the Kohl Center crowd by a leaping Landry, his third block of the game and essentially a game-clincher.

"It's something that we do every day in practice, you practice how you play," Landry said. "I was just reading the offense and also reading the defense as far as the shot goes, and I was in the right place at the right time."

Without Landry's consistent dominating performance in the post, and his clutch plays at the end, Wisconsin might have filed this game in the loss column.

"It's a different story out there without Marcus playing the way he did today," senior forward Joe Krabbenhoft said. "He was huge."

Landry added the most spectacular play of the afternoon with 1:42 left in the first half, taking an alley-oop pass from freshman guard Jordan Taylor and throwing it down to reclaim a 32-31 lead.

"We didn't have an answer for Landry," said 49ers coach Dan Monson, who coached Minnesota as recently as 2006 and expressed familiarity with Landry's style. "He was just so strong inside that he was able to post us up and really do damage. This program does such a great job of cultivating leadership and cultivating their seniors into players that take big shots like he hit … it was Landry's team tonight."

Landry may not be the tallest Badger, but he's always been one of the most powerful and most athletic players on the team. Ryan mentioned how a preseason injury kept Landry out of some intense workouts, but obviously did not play a factor in UW's first game of the season.

"He's a worker," Ryan said. "He managed to keep his cardiovascular work up, and physically, he's in pretty good shape right now."

"We needed him (Sunday), because he was the post presence," Ryan added. "We were struggling a little bit with some of our other guys inside, and Marcus was the guy that delivered in the paint."

Ryan, who never shies from pointing out his players' mistakes on the record, did show his displeasure that Landry was a bit showy on his block of Clady's shot.

"He needed to keep that last block on the court, he got a little carried away, it was a little emphatic about sending a message," Ryan said. "The problem was there was 20-some seconds on the shot clock … if they get a three off of that, it's like, whoop-de-doo, we get a block.

"His hands were big enough, he could have grabbed the ball one-handed out of the air on that one, I thought," Ryan said with a smile. "Great help though, he moved his feet on defense, he did a really good job."

Landry was asked if he agreed with Ryan's assessment, and hesitated before playfully offering his side.

"I don't know too many people that go in the air and go, "oh, maybe I should just grab this." You're just thinking about blocking it and making a defensive play … I knew it was my job in the help position, and I didn't want to get chewed the next day in practice, so I stepped over and blocked the shot."

Along with any chance of a sickening upset in UW's season debut.

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