Former Badger bball players reflect on own, Final Four experienc - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Former Badger bball players reflect on own, Final Four experience

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Few people in America know what the Badger men's basketball team is experiencing this week.

But Roy Boone and Jon Bryant are exceptions to the norm.

Boone and Bryant are both former Badger basketball players. Both contributed on the squad that made the team's last Final Four run, in the year 2000.

"It's 14 years ago now, even though it seems like it was yesterday," said Bryant by phone from Minnesota. "It's pretty amazing we were able to accomplish that." 

Bryant now works as an investment advisor at the Wall Street Financial Group in Plymouth, Minnesota.

"It can get a little overwhelming, because there's a lot going on," Boone said. "But there's so much excitement at the same time."

"I wish I had taken a lot more pictures and bought a lot more memorabilia," from the Final Four, Boone added with a chuckle.

The 1999/2000 Badgers entered the NCAA tournament as the eighth seed in the West Region. But the team defeated Fresno State, top seed Arizona, LSU and Purdue en-route to a Final Four appearance.

The Badgers lost in the national semi-final to eventual champion Michigan State.

Bryant was named the most outstanding player of the West Regional. Meanwhile Boone went for 18 points in the loss to the Spartans.

Boone, who spent part of his high school career at Madison East and still resides in the city as a recreation coordinator for the Salvation Army and Dane County juvenile court worker, said he follows the Badger program closely. He's a season ticket holder and thrilled to see Wisconsin heading back to college basketball's biggest stage.

"I think it does a lot for the program. It brings everyone closer together," Boone said. "I feel like I'm right there with (this year's team) right now."

So who wins in a showdown between the 2000 and 2014 Badger squads?

"I think we were a little better defensively," Bryant said. "Our problem was always scoring. This year's team hasn't had that problem."

"It would be an interesting matchup," Bryant added. "I don't know who wins."

"I think we'd beat them," Boone said with a smile.

"Although we didn't have anybody like Frank (Kaminsky)," he added. "We didn't have anybody 7-feet tall stepping out and shooting three pointers."

Both former players also offered some advice to this year's team.

"Just try to live in the moment, enjoy it and realize what you accomplished," Bryant said.

"This is once in a lifetime," Boone said. "Most college players, most NBA players, don't have a chance to go to a final four."
"This is a blessing," Boone said. "So just go out there and win. Win it all."

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