first_imgThe bond between sisters is one of the strongest that can be found in human nature. For the Wisconsin women’s basketball team, the bond between redshirt junior forward Michala Johnson and her younger sister, freshman forward Malayna Johnson, has helped on and off the court. It played a large role two years ago when one of them got the other to come to Wisconsin, and it has improved both of their games on the court and their relationship off the court.Hailing from Bellwood, Ill., a town about 13 miles outside of downtown Chicago, the Johnson sisters took very different paths to get to Madison. Coming out of high school, Michala was a blue-chip prospect who committed to play her collegiate career at powerhouse Connecticut. However, following two seasons in which she averaged just 5.1 minutes per game and wanting to play closer to home, Michala decided to transfer.While Michala was deciding between schools to transfer to, Malayna had already committed to play for the Badgers and head coach Bobbie Kelsey. ESPN gave her a score of 91 out of 100 coming out of high school, making Malayna yet another blue-chip in the Johnson family.And in a bit of a role reversal, the younger Malayna played the role of recruiter, trying to bring Michala’s talents to Madison two years ago.“I committed [to Wisconsin] first, before [Michala] even thought about coming here,” Malayna said. “I like the campus, I like the coaches. I didn’t mind if Michala came here at all. So when she decided to transfer I told her, ‘What about Wisconsin? That would be cool if we got to play together.’”Michala wasn’t originally going to come to Madison, and told Malayna that she would stay away if she didn’t want her on the same team.“I wasn’t going to come [to Wisconsin] because Malayna was here,” Michala said. “I told her if you want me to come, I’ll come, but if not I’ll go somewhere else. In high school and AAU we played on the same team and we had the same coaches and they would always compare us two. They would tell her that she needs to do what your older sister is doing. And I said if you don’t want that again, I’ll go somewhere else, but then she said she wanted me to come with her.”Luckily for Kelsey and the rest of the Badger team, Michala joined her sister and chose Wisconsin.Michala currently leads the Badgers in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game (6th in the Big Ten) while ranking second on the team with 7.3 rebounds (10th in the Big Ten). Her 55.1 field-goal percentage is also a team-high and good for third best in the conference. Michala’s 6-foot-3 height has wreaked havoc in the post for opposing teams as they usually employ a double-team simply to contain her. She has been instrumental in helping Wisconsin match last year’s win total in Big Ten play.Malayna hasn’t had the impact that her older sister has, but it would be hard to match those numbers as just a freshman. Yet her playing time has increased in Big Ten play, as she now averages 6.1 minutes per game with even more playing time on the horizon.She stands an inch taller than Michala at 6-foot-4, which is what drew Kelsey’s attention to her while Malayna was in high school.“Well she’s 6-4, so it’s not hard to understand how she can affect the game,” Kelsey said. “She can change and alter shots. Other than that she’s smart, she picks up plays and schemes really well.”“Now that [Malayna’s] been here long enough she can understand the basketball language,” Kelsey added. “She’s just finding herself out there more. So we’ll get her more minutes.”What might be the most important thing, for the two sisters that is, is the ability to be with each other almost every day. Although they may not be attached at the hip, a bond between the two certainly exists that translates to the court.Whether it’s watching each other to improve their own games, teaching one another on and off the court, or simply lending a helping hand, the sisterly bond is evident in the Johnsons’ play.“We’re best friends,” Malayna said. “We hang out a lot, even at home. Our mom raised us to be best friends. Since we’re close off the court, we kind of have a vibe on the court too.”“I’ve always tried to help her as best as I could,” Michala said. “She listens to me sometimes, but I can tell that now she’s gotten into college and started playing basketball she now understands what I’ve been telling her for a long time. But she’s stepped a lot. I mean she’s the only freshman that’s playing right now so she’s improved a lot.”“On the court she knows my voice,” Michala added. “She knows I’ll be there to help her if she needs help with a double-team or anything like that.”Next season could feature an all-Johnson front line for the Badgers but until then, they’ll continue to learn from one another. And although Malayna has improved this season with Michala’s help, there is little doubt as to which of the two sisters would win in a game of one-on-one against each other.“Me,” Michala said. “Most definitely. Without a doubt. Every time.”last_img read more


first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “We need a consultant to tell us whether we are charging adequate fees,” said Eva Yuan-McDaniel, deputy director of planning for the Los Angeles Planning Department. “Some cases are close to full-cost recovery, and other cases are just unbelievably low,” she said. “If we can have full-cost recovery, that would be much less burden on the general fund – and that’s less subsidy with taxpayer money.” The planning-fee review comes as the city is facing falling revenues and a tightening budget. To lessen the drain on the city’s general fund – which pays for basic city services such as police officers, firefighters and street paving – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s budget team has initiated studies to see whether Los Angeles needs to charge higher fees. Los Angeles taxpayers are subsidizing more than half the cost of processing new development approvals in the city, according to a Daily News review. In many cases, the planning fees developers pay cover just 40 percent of the expense of staff review and public outreach. In controversial or complicated projects, the fees might cover only 20 percent of the cost. Taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab, which can top $10,000 in some cases. Now, as Los Angeles leaders face a budget crunch and prepare to cut city services, the city has approved a $150,000 study analyzing the possibility of raising planning processing fees. About 13 departments are analyzing the need for fee increases or have recently completed analyses that have justified fee increases. This year, the city raised ambulance fees and fees levied when city crews clear brush on private property. Next year, the city will consider raising fees for animal services, transportation and the Police Department. “When we have a tough budget year, we look at whether we are really recovering the cost of providing a service,” Chief Administrative Officer Karen Sisson said. “It does cost us to provide certain services, and when our expenses go up, we need to make sure we can cover those costs.” Some community activists were surprised, however, that Los Angeles has not attempted to recoup the cost of processing new development applications – especially amid a building boom over the past several years. “All the fees have been going up for residents,” said Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino, who also cited recent increases in water rates and sewer fees. “It’s unfair to force the full burden of fees on the residents and then give away the store to developers.” But it’s not just the Planning Department. The Department of Building and Safety has not raised its fees in 14 years, even though the department’s workload has soared 80 percent in recent years. “We changed the way we do business. We’re doing more with less,” spokesman Bob Steinbach said. The Department of Building and Safety is now comparing its fees with other cities’ charges. Yuan-McDaniel, with the Planning Department, said the city’s planning-fee structure is so old and complicated – there are 160 different fees – that nobody has attempted to overhaul it. Politics has played a role, too. The business and development community does not always welcome fee increases. “It’s always been this notion of being business-friendly,” said Councilman Ed Reyes, who heads the council’s Planning and Land Use Committee and has pushed for higher fees. “We were not as aggressive in raising that concern.” With the city’s financial crunch – and new Planning Department leadership that has pledged to reform the project-approval process – Reyes said he is hopeful that L.A. taxpayers won’t keep subsidizing development for long. Holly Schroeder, with the Building Industry Association’s L.A. chapter, said the development community could accept higher fees – if the city eases the bureaucracy, which would save developers money. “Sometimes it takes longer to get a housing project approved than it takes to get a drug approved through the Food and Drug Administration,” she said. “If they had a real, rational, effective process that would work, we’re willing to talk about fees paying a greater portion or all of that process,” Schroeder said. In the last few years, L.A. has begun charging full cost for projects that go through the expedited unit. Developers get more speedy service and pay for the staff hours it takes to process their applications. Based on bills sent to developers by the expedited unit, planning officials figure the current planning fees cover about 40 percent of the cost of processing an average project and only 20 percent of the cost of a more complicated or controversial project. Neighboring cities already charge higher fees than Los Angeles. The city of Santa Clarita charges among the highest planning and development fees in the region – yet it was recently ranked one of the most business-friendly cities by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “We don’t expect our existing residents to pay for development,” said Robert Newman, director of public works for Santa Clarita. He said city fees are based on the staff time needed to process applications, and they’re updated about every five years. “We’ve had very few complaints on the fees we charge,” Newman added. Glendale charges slightly higher planning fees than Los Angeles, and it attempts to recover the full cost of processing development applications. “Even though we’re trying to set the fees at full-cost recovery, we’re nowhere near full-cost recovery,” said Jeff Hamilton, a senior planner with the city of Glendale. Still, Burbank charges fees significantly lower than both Los Angeles and Glendale. “Each year we’ve been trying to increase our fees little by little,” said Joy Forbes, deputy city planner with the city of Burbank. “But we always look at the cities nearby, and the council likes the fact that we’re always right under Glendale and Pasadena. “While we continue to increase fees, we’ll probably never be over those cities.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more