WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Badgers ready for Final Four match-up vs. Kentucky
ARLINGTON, Tex. - Frank Kaminski and the Wisconsin Badgers will be playing the Kentucky Wildcats in tonight’s Final Four game in Arlington.
Kentucky (28-10) had quite the up-and-down season, with a roster loaded with young talent. Five starting freshman to be exact. While Calipari’s squad seems to always have young talent, Wisconsin associate head coach Greg Gard tells reporters that upperclassmen have always been the biggest strength of the Badger’s program. Young talent versus experience will be on full display, as the two teams vie for a shot at the national title. Tip-off to follow tonight’s other Final Four game between Connecticut and Florida.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan says the NCAA Tournament is really a series of three two-game tournaments. And the goals remain the same each time -- to win and stay alive. Ryan is leading the Badgers to the Division I Final Four for the first time, with a semi-final match-up against Kentucky tomorrow night. The 66-year-old Ryan has been asked this week whether he has reached out to other coaches to learn more about the Final Four experience, and how they got their teams ready for it. Ryan says people forget that he won four national Division III championships with UW-Platteville in 1991, '95, '98, and '99 -- and whether it's D-I or D-III, the pressures and the challenges are the same. Ryan said coaches have actually becoming to him this week to get tips on handling the hyped-up atmosphere. Wisconsin junior guard Josh Gasser says he and his teammates have not felt extra pressure -- and it's because of the way Ryan handles things. Gasser said the coach prepares for games the same way, whether it's in April or back in November.
Before the Wisconsin Badgers play Kentucky tonight at the NCAA Final Four, Milwaukee native Phillip Nolan will be on the floor for UConn. He's a sophomore big man for the Huskies, who will take on Florida in the first national semi-final in Arlington Texas. The 6-10 Nolan attended Milwaukee Riverside and Vincent high schools. He played 27 minutes in last Sunday's Connecticut win over Michigan State in the Elite Eight round with four points, four rebounds, and a critical blocked shot. Huskies' coach Kevin Ollie says Nolan is doing the things it takes for his team to win -- and he highlighted a dunk Nolan made near the end of the victory over the Spartans.
The Milwaukee Brewers spoiled the home opener and World Series championship rings ceremony in Boston, handing a 6-2 loss to the Red Sox. Milwaukee put up four runs in the ninth inning, jump-started by a Lyle Overbay two-RBI double. Slugger Ryan Braun, assigned to designated hitter due to his re-aggravated thumb injury, was 0-for-5 in the win.
A new franchise record has been set in Milwaukee… one that the Bucks don’t want. The Chicago Bulls handed the Bucks a 102-90 loss at the United Center last night, tying the record for losses in a season at 62 set by the 1993-94 team that went 20-62. With six games left in the season, Milwaukee has a three-game lead over Philadelphia for the top pick in this year’s draft. Bucks are back at home tonight to face the Toronto Raptors.
There's more trouble for Milwaukee Bucks' center Larry Sanders. The NBA has suspended him for five games for violating the league's drug program. Sanders said he used marijuana. He apologized, and the Bucks said collectively in a written statement that they're disappointed by the suspension. It's been a horrendous year for Sanders. He was out for six weeks at the beginning of the season, after he tore a thumb ligament during a brawl at a downtown Milwaukee night club in early November. Sanders then played in 23 games before he suffered an orbital fracture in his right eye in a February 8th loss to Houston. He had surgery, putting him out for the rest of the season. The drug suspension will begin as soon as he's able to play -- presumably at the start of next season. That's when a four-year, $44-million contract extension will kick in for Sanders. During his limited play this season, he averaged eight points, seven rebounds, and almost two blocked shots per game.
Wisconsin NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth will try to take the lead in the Sprint Cup standings, when he competes in the Duck Commander-500 on Sunday in Fort Worth Texas. Kenseth, a native of Cambridge, is second in the season point totals with 218 -- nine behind first-place Dale Earnhardt Junior. Kenseth has Top-10 finishes in four of his six races so far. Paul Menard of Eau Claire is also entered in Sunday's event, along with Beloit-born Danica Patrick and Travis Kvapil of Janesville. Their starting order will be determined in tomorrow's qualifying. Also, the NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers will race in the O'Reilly Auto Parts-300 tonight at the Texas Motor Speedway. Kenseth is entered. He finished 7th and 12th in a pair of practice runs for that race. The Camping World Truck Series is off for another month.
Milwaukee 6, Boston 2
Cleveland 7, Minnesota 2
Kansas City 7, Chi. White Sox 5
Philadelphia 7, Chi. Cubs 2
Beloit, Burlington (PPD)
Wisconsin, Peoria (PPD)
Chicago 102, Milwaukee 90
Milwaukee 4, Iowa 1