Morning State Sports Briefs: U.S. to play with Canada in world women's hockey championship
OTTAWA - The United States and Canada will play each other tonight in the title game of the World Women's Hockey Championships in Ottawa. And it's guaranteed that at least one Wisconsin player will win a crown, since the Badgers have stars on both squads.
Last night, Team USA scored all of its goals in the third period to beat Finland in the semifinals, 3-0. Ex-Badgers Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker scored for the Americans, and Madison area native Amanda Kessel had an assist. Former Wisconsin goal-tender Jessie Vetter had 11 saves. Ex-Badger Meghan Duggan will also suit up for tonight's title game, along with former Wisconsin star Meghan Mikkelson for her native Canada. The Americans are in the title game of the world tournament for the 15th straight year. Knight - who was named last night's U.S. player-of-the-game - is in her sixth world tournament, along with Vetter.
Gary Payton, a nine-time NBA All-Star who spent a small part of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, was named yesterday to the Basketball Hall-of-Fame. He'll join fellow NBA star Bernard King - coaches Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian, and Guy Lewis - and seven others in an induction ceremony on September eighth in Springfield, Massachusetts. Payton played 17 seasons in the NBA - his first 12 and a half years with Seattle before he traded to Milwaukee in 2003, when popular Bucks' guard Ray Allen was dealt to the SuperSonics. Payton played just 32 games in Milwaukee, including six playoff contests, before leaving for the Lakers as a free agent in an apparent search for a title. He didn't win it in LA, but Payton did win an NBA championship ring with the Heat in 2006. Milwaukee fans, meanwhile, never stopped feeling jilted as they loudly booed Payton each time he returned with an opposing team. Payton averaged 16 points for his career, and was fourth all-time in steals and eighth in assists. And he's a two-time Olympic medal winner with Team USA.
Marty Blake - who started a long pro basketball scouting career in Milwaukee - has died at age 86. He passed away yesterday in suburban Atlanta. Blake scouted far-and-wide for NBA players, and he became known as the "Godfather of Scouting." Blake started his career in 1954 when he became the general manager of the former Milwaukee Hawks at age 27. He became the league's top scout in 1976, and he started the NBA's first pre-draft camp six years later. Blake made sure that NBA teams knew about obscure Division-Three stars like Jack Sikma, who played at Illinois Wesleyan and later for the Milwaukee Bucks - and Milwaukee native Terry Porter, who starred at UW-Stevens Point and coached the Bucks with a 17-year pro playing career in between. NBA Commissioner David Stern said Blake helped teams understand the value of scouting. And he did it long before the Internet and mock drafts.
University of Wisconsin men's basketball head coach Bo Ryan is this year's winner of the Coaches-versus-Cancer Champion Award. The honor is given each year to a coach that's been heavily involved in the program's fund-raising, education, and promotional efforts. Ryan - this season's Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year -- created the annual Coaches-versus-Cancer Gala at the UW, and has raised one-and-a-half million dollars for the American Cancer Society since 2007.
Former University of Wisconsin football safety Jim Leonhard is about to join his fifth NFL team, as he starts his ninth year in the pros. The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Leonhard, who spent last season with the Denver Broncos. He had two interceptions and 17 tackles in 16 games. The 30-year-old Leonhard, who's from Tony near Ladysmith, has eight career interceptions and three-and-a-half sacks in 61 starts. He played his first three pro seasons in Buffalo before spending a year in Baltimore, and three years with the New York Jets.
The UW-Whitewater baseball team moved up three spots to Number-11 in the new national Division-Three poll from D3baseball.com. The Warhawks are 15-3 so far. UW-Oshkosh dropped two places in the new poll to 21st at 12-and-2. Stevens Point returned to the Top-25, weighing in at No. 23. La Crosse also received votes. Kean of New Jersey is the new No. 1, after being sixth a week ago. Last week's leader, Cortland State of New York, fell to seventh.
In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will try again tonight to get their first home win of the season. The Rattlers got crushed by Cedar Rapids, 10-2 last night near Appleton. The Beloit Snappers are at Peoria again, on the heels of a 4-1 Chiefs' victory. There's a trio of day games in the Midwest League today. Kane County hosts Clinton. Fort Wayne plays at West Michigan. And Bowling Green entertains Lansing. Tonight, Lake County is at Great Lakes. South Bend hosts Dayton. And Burlington is at home against Quad Cities.
University of Wisconsin senior Meghan McIntosh has been named the Big Ten softball pitcher-of-the-week, after she tossed her second no-hitter of the season on Sunday against Minnesota. McIntosh struck out eight and walked five, as she became the first Badger to throw a no-hitter against a Big Ten opponent.
Bryce Taylor of Marian University in Fond du Lac has been named the baseball pitcher-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Conference. Taylor, a sophomore right-hander, struck out a career-high 11 in eight shutout innings of a 7-0 rout of Rockford last weekend. Cory Walden of Aurora was named the league's top hitter for the week. In softball, Stef Wilmore of Alverno College in Milwaukee was named the NAC's position player-of-the-week. The senior catcher had multi-home run games both Saturday and Sunday, as she accounted for a third of her team's 33 RBI's last week. Wilmore also tied a school record with a 14-game hitting streak. Emily Mahoney of Dominican was named the league's pitcher-of-the-week. Also, the NAC recognized Martin Hinze of Concordia-Mequon and Mary Erickson of Wisconsin Lutheran in outdoor track - Jacob Mortell of Wisconsin Lutheran in men's golf - and Skip Turner of Concordia-Mequon.
In the Midwest League...
Cedar Rapids 10, Wisconsin 2
Peoria 4, Beloit 1
Quad Cities 12, Burlington 2
Kane County 6, Clinton 5 in 10 innings
West Michigan 11, Fort Wayne 4
South Bend 6, Dayton 0
Great Lakes 6, Lake County 5
Bowling Green 4, Lansing 3