WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Braun speaks to media, says he's sorry
MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun said today he's "deeply remorseful" for denying that he took performance-enhancing drugs for almost two years before coming clean.
The 2011 National League MVP took food donations at Miller Park for the needy at Thanksgiving, and spoke his first words to reporters since taking a 65-game suspension in late July. For the most part, Braun said he wanted to go forward. He refused to embellish on his previous written admission which didn't even mention the Bio-Genesis clinic, much less the reported PED regimen the clinic had him on. Braun also refused to say much about calls for him to give back his MVP award. Braun said he wished he could change pretty much everything, but he can't. Asked how he thinks he'll be received next Opening Day in Milwaukee, Braun said he's had lots of support around the community. He also said he expects a great relationship with his Brewers' teammates in 2014. Braun also said he made amends with Dino Laurenzi, the man he criticized in his infamous 2012 news conference on how Laurenzi mishandled his October drug sample. Braun now wishes he never said that, and he denied paying Laurenzi a settlement. Braun also talked in the past tense about his friendship with Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They had a Brookfield restaurant together which closed after the Bio-Genesis scandal busted open. Again, Braun refused to elaborate, saying quote, "He had been a great friend of mine for a long time. He's a great person."
The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team will try to stay undefeated tonight, when it plays West Virginia in the title game of the Cancun men's basketball challenge in Mexico. The 10th-ranked Badgers improved to 7-0 last night with a six-point victory over Saint Louis in the semifinals. Wisconsin is off to its best start in the Bo Ryan era, with its first 7-0 record since the Badgers reeled off 11 straight wins to start the 1993-94 season. Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson fueled a second-half run which helped the Badgers beat the Billikens. Tonight, Wisconsin will face a West Virginia team that's 5-1 after defeating Old Dominion in last night's other semi-final at Cancun, 78-60. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 12-point lead at the half, and they led by as many as 25 later on. Four West Virginia players scored in double figures in that game, led by Eron Harris with 19.
In Division III basketball, the UW-Stevens Point men will host Saint Olaf on Thanksgiving Eve. The Pointers are ranked second in the nation by D3hoops.com, after a 3-0 start. Point has trounced Lawrence, Edgewood, and Hope College by an average winning margin of 27 points. Saint Olaf comes in at 2-and-1, after a six-point win over U-W Platteville last Sunday. In D-III women's basketball, third-ranked Whitewater will host Illinois Wesleyan of the CCIW. Whitewater is 4-0, with a total victory margin of 34 points in its last two victories over Chicago and Edgewood. Both those were road wins. Illinois Wesleyan is 3-1, after losing to Stevens Point by two last Saturday.
The Milwaukee Bucks will have their longest losing streak in 17 years if they fall to the Washington Wizards tonight at home. The Bucks have dropped nine straight, their longest since March of 1998. A 10th straight defeat would be the first for Milwaukee since March of 1996, when they dropped 15-in-a-row. Turnovers continue to plague the Bucks. They’ve averaged 18 mistakes in their nine straight losses – and opponents have averaged 20 points off those miscues. Milwaukee is 2-11, worst in the Eastern Conference and the second worst in the league behind Utah. Tonight, the Bucks will face a Wizards’ team that has won four-of-its-last-five, with a 6-8 record. Point guard John Wall has scored at least 30 points in his last three games. He had 31 last night, when Washington topped the LA Lakers 116-111.
With the Milwaukee Bucks struggling, perhaps their biggest star is the new floor that's expected to be used for the first time in the regular season tonight. The Bucks had heavily promoted the floor, which resembles the popular Robert Indiana design the Bucks used at the old Arena in the 1970's-and-'80's. It has large "M's" across each half of the court. The new floor was refurbished after an exhibition game against Toronto was halted on October 26th because the players were slipping too much. A satin finish was blamed.
Don't look for Aaron Rodgers to make a surprise appearance tomorrow. Green Bay Packers' coach Mike McCarthy listed Rodgers as "out" for the Thanksgiving contest at Detroit. Matt Flynn took all the snaps with the starters at practice the past two days, and he'll get the start against the Lions. McCarthy said he was also happy to get corner Sam Shields back, after he came off an injured hamstring. Shields will have the task of facing Lions' star receiver Calvin Johnson. Shields is officially listed as probable for tomorrow -- along with Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Johnny Jolly, Josh Sitton, and Nick Perry. Brandon Bostick is questionable after he suffered a concussion last Sunday against Minnesota. Running back Johnathan Franklin also had a concussion -- and he's out for tomorrow along with C.J. Wilson, Jamari Lattimore, and Rodgers. McCarthy said it helped that the Packers have played the Lions once already this season. He said it allowed his staff to start game-planning last Thursday and Friday -- and he said the team is ready to go. Green Bay is a half-game back in the NFC North behind co-leaders Detroit and Chicago.
Former University of Wisconsin linebacker DeAndre Levy is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions for the Detroit Lions, whom the Packers play tomorrow. The fifth-year pro from Milwaukee Vincent High School has five picks for the Lions' defense. He leads Detroit in solo tackles with 66, and he's tied for the team lead in pass break-ups with 11. Packers' guard Josh Sitton said Levy is a good athlete who has gotten better the past couple of years. Green Bay quarterbacks' coach Ben McAdoo says Levy has steadily improved, is quick to react, and is having his best year with Detroit. He'll apparently stay with the Lions for a while, after he signed a three-year contract extension in the spring worth nine-and-three-quarter million dollars. Levy is one reason Detroit has improved its run defense to the fourth-best in the NFL, while its pass defense languishes at 28th against the pass. The Lions have not allowed a rushing touchdown in seven-and-a-half games. They co-lead the NFC North at 6-5, and will host a Packer team tomorrow that's 5-5-1 after their tie last Sunday against Minnesota.
It does not sound like Packers' coach Mike McCarthy will take Josh Sitton to the woodshed for the critical comments the guard made about the Lions' defense. On his weekly WTMJ-Milwaukee radio segment this morning, McCarthy was asked to respond after Sitton called the Lions' defensive line "scumbags," and used an expletive in describing coach Jim Schwartz. McCarthy said that as far as speaking to the media, he only asks his players not to create questions for everybody else in the locker room. And McCarthy said quote, "Those comments did not create that." Sitton said on a Milwaukee radio show yesterday that the Lions defense goes after quarterbacks and takes cheap shots all the time -- and it's how they're coached.
Concordia-Wisconsin quarterback Austin Damaschke has been named the offensive player-of-the-year in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Lineman Luke Sebald of Wisconsin Lutheran is the season’s top defensive player. Greg Etter of Concordia-Wisconsin is the NACC’s coach-of-the-year. Damaschke, a junior, led the league with 3,171 passing yards, a completion percentage of 62-point-eight, and 24 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 61 yards a game with 12 scores. Sebald, a junior, led the league in sacks with eight-and-a-half. Etter led the Mequon school to a 6-0 conference record, and the Falcons’ first NACC championship. Jarrett Lecas of Benedictine is the freshman-of-the-year.