WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Bucks open training camp
ST. FRANCIS - Milwaukee Bucks' coach Larry Drew gave his team an immediate challenge in yesterday's first day of training camp. Drew wants the Bucks' defense to hold opponents to 43-percent shooting this season.
The Bucks had the NBA's 15th-highest defensive field goal percentage last season at almost 45-and-a-half percent. Forty-three percent would have made Milwaukee the third-best in that category, and Drew calls it a good target for the Bucks to shoot for. Drew said he has a lot of teaching to do -- and the players know it, with 11 new faces on the squad from a year ago. The Bucks held two practices yesterday. First-round draft choice Giannis Antetokounmpo (yah-niss an-teh-to-koom'-po) said it was nice but a bit painful. The 18-year-old forward from Greece said he needed to hear things twice on occasion in order to get them. The Bucks' first exhibition game is next Tuesday night at Cleveland.
Despite not having a game on Saturday, the University of Wisconsin football team practiced yesterday. Offensive line coach T.J. Woods says the Badgers have a lot to clean up, after their seven-point loss at Ohio State last weekend. Wisconsin committed five false-start penalties in that game, and the line had three of them. Woods says the bye week is the perfect time to address it. Guard Ryan Groy and tight end Sam Arneson each had two false starts. Woods says the Badgers can never win a tough game in an opponent's stadium until they clean up the mistakes. Wisconsin has two byes in October. Their next game is a week from Saturday at home against Northwestern. The Badgers are 1-1 in the Big Ten so far, and 3-2 overall.
The Green Bay Packers have not had a receiver catch 100-or-more passes in the regular season since 1995, when Robert Brooks became the second Green Bay player to do it. Sterling Sharpe was the other. He surpassed 100 catches twice, and he holds the team record with 112 receptions in 1993. So what about this year's crop of receivers? James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb say they wouldn't mind catching 100 -- but not if it means having a one-dimensional offense with less of a chance of winning. Nelson says it's better to be balanced, and his goal is somewhat different -- to scamper for more yards after his catches. Jones says it's tough to achieve 100 catches with all the receivers the Packers have -- and he adds tight end Jermichael Finley to that list. Cobb led Green Bay with 80 receptions a year ago. Many were shorter passes from the slot position. He says 100 catches would be nice, but winning a championship would be nicer. Cobb is the only one of the four Packer receivers mentioned here who was not around in the 2010 season -- and therefore, he's the only one without a Super Bowl ring. This year's Packers are 1-2. They'll resume practicing today for their Sunday home matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Milwaukee Brewers' general manager Doug Melvin says he believes Ryan Braun will be accepted by his teammates next year. At his season-ending news conference yesterday, Melvin said the Brewers will need Braun to produce, and do all the things every other player does. The 2011 National League MVP served a 65-game suspension and admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs, after denying for almost two years that he did so. Melvin said Braun was punished, there's no need to go into the details anymore, and there's nothing else to discuss about it. The Brewers' GM said it's possible that Braun could move from left field to right next year to make way for Khris Davis to start in left -- but Melvin said he has not mentioned the subject to Braun yet. Melvin said it's possible the Brewers could return to the post-season in 2014, but a lot of work would have to be done. The team had late-season comebacks over the past two years, after struggling early on. Melvin says that's not good enough.
Former Brewers' manager Ned Yost has been given a two-year contract extension to manage the Kansas City Royals. He led KC to its first winning season since 2003, with an 86-and-76 mark this year. The 86 victories were the most by the Royals since 1989. They had 42 wins after the All-Star break, the most in the American League. Yost says his Royals need to keep growing. The 59-year-old skipper has spent the last four years in Kansas City, with a record of 284-329. The team has increased its win total each year since he's been there. Yost managed the Brewers for almost six years, ending in 2008 when he was fired with 12 games left before Milwaukee just barely made the playoffs. Yost is also a former catcher with the Brewers.
Madison area native Phil Kessel has signed an eight-year contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The deal reportedly averages eight-million dollars a year, with a limited no-trade clause. Kessel turns 27 today. His new contract will take effect next season, after his current five-year deal expires. Kessel is starting his fifth year with the Leafs, after playing his first three NHL campaigns in Boston. He was a standout at Verona, and he bypassed his home area Badgers to play at the University of Minnesota for a year before turning pro. Maple Leafs' general manager David Nonis calls Kessel "one of the premier wingers and elite goal scorers" in the NHL. In a lockout-shortened season a year ago, Kessel led Toronto with 20 goals, 32 assists, five power-play goals, four game-winning goals, and 161 shots. He also had four goals and two assists in seven playoff games. Kessel has a total of 185 goals and 194 assists in 504 NHL contests -- as well as 139 penalty minutes.