WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Kohl says they'll know in two days if new Bradley Center floor can be used
MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Bucks' owner Herb Kohl says he'll find out in the next day-or-two whether the new floor at the Bradley Center can be used for the team's home opener.
Kohl says a crew from the NBA is inspecting the floor today-and-tomorrow -- and the Bucks will then find out what has to be done to get the floor in proper playing condition. The Bucks will host Toronto on Saturday night -- and if they cannot use the new floor, Kohl says they'll bring back the one old. Bucks' officials said the league approved the new floor and its setting before this month's exhibition season. It was used for a game and a public practice before players from the Bucks and Toronto slipped on the surface last Friday night. It was so bad, the officials called the game off before the first quarter could be played. The Bucks heavily promoted the new floor during the past few weeks. It's a remnant of the much-beloved Robert Indiana floor that the Bucks played on during the 1970's-and-80's across from the Bradley Center in what's now known as the U.S. Cellular Arena.
Many pre-season pundits have the Milwaukee Bucks missing the NBA playoffs and heading toward the Draft Lottery -- where a strong field of college talent awaits next June. However, Bucks' owner Herb Kohl vowed yesterday not to tank games to grab a higher draft spot. Kohl introduced his 15 players to a group of business leaders attending the Bucks' annual Tip-Off Luncheon. Milwaukee finished eighth in the Eastern Conference a year ago, and was quickly swept from the first-round of the playoffs by the two-time defending league champion Miami Heat. The Bucks responded by bringing in an existing NBA head coach, Larry Drew of Atlanta, and 11 new players. Fourth-year center Larry Sanders highlights the returning players. Racine native Caron Butler, a two-time All-Star, is among the new veterans. The Bucks' first-round draft choice, forward Giannis Antetokoumnpo of Greece, turned some heads with solid play during the pre-season. Kohl said all the new players were brought in for one reason -- to win games.
Bucks' power forward Ersan Ilyasova practiced yesterday for the first time since he sprained his right ankle in an exhibition at Cleveland October eighth. If all goes well at practice today, Ilyasova could be ready for tomorrow night's regular season opener in New York against the Knicks. He made it through a five-on-five scrimmage yesterday. Ilyasova says he feels much better, and his return to the lineup is a day-to-day proposition for now. Meanwhile, two other Bucks' starters returned to practice yesterday. Point guard Brandon Knight was out for most of last week with a bad hamstring, and small forward Caron Butler is coming off a sprained left ankle. Coach Larry Drew joked that he didn't recognized some of the faces on the practice floor -- but he was glad to see everyone back. Drew says he'll have both a big lineup and a small lineup ready for a Knicks' team which has also had pre-season injury problems. Power forward Amare Stoudemire did not play in an exhibition loss to the Bucks last week. Forward Kenyon Martin returned last weekend, and he's expected to play in tomorrow night's opener.
Despite the injuries at linebacker, Green Bay is on pace to have the most sacks in Dom Capers' five seasons as the Packers' defensive coordinator. The Pack has 23 sacks in its first seven games, tied for the eighth-highest in the NFL. The Packer defense racked up 16 sacks during the team's current four-game winning streak. Only one of those came from Clay Matthews, who now hopes to return November 10th from a broken thumb. Inside linebacker Brad Jones has been out for two games with a pulled hamstring. Third-year pro Jamari Lattimore has done so well as a replacement, Capers is considering a rotation to keep giving snaps to Lattimore after Jones returns. Also, Mike Neal has gotten more time than expected at the other outside linebacker spot where Nick Perry broke a foot and has missed two games. Twelve Packers have had sacks this year. Second-year defensive tackle Mike Daniels leads the squad with four. A.J. Hawk, Matthews, and Perry have three each. Capers says the sacks come from a variety of different looks shown by the Packer defense. He says it's one of the advantages of the 3-4 defense that Capers brought with him in 2009. The Packers continue to win through their injuries. They're 5-2, with a half-game lead over second-place Detroit in the NFC North. The Pack will host Chicago on Monday night.
Don't be surprised to see Micah Hyde return kickoffs next Monday night, when the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears. Special teams' coach Shawn Slocum says rookie Jonathan Franklin does not appear to be the answer, as the Packers rank last in the NFL with just 15-plus yards per kickoff return. Franklin replaced Jeremy Ross, who was caught after fumbling away a kickoff at Cincinnati. The rookie rusher has had 60 yards on three returns. Hyde -- a rookie corner not regarded for his speed -- scrambled to a 93-yard punt return touchdown in Sunday night's Green Bay win at Minnesota. He's been doing well in that department, averaging almost 19 yards per punt return. Packers' corner is also a possibility for returning kickoffs. Sam Shields is a dark-horse candidate. Slocum says it's anyone's job for the taking or quote, "whoever's out there getting the job done."
It was not that long ago when Jared Allen was Aaron Rodgers' worst nightmare. The Minnesota Vikings' sack leader has had some timely hits on Green Bay's quarterback over the past six years -- but not during last night's Packer victory at the Metrodome. Packers' rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari kept Allen in check. Not only did Allen fail to sack Rodgers, he was not recorded with any tackles on the Sunday Night stage. Allen leads Minnesota with four sacks this year -- and Packers' coach Mike McCarthy said Bakhtiari just keeps getting better and better. McCarthy said the rookie has been consistent quote, "right out of the gate." Meanwhile, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports says Allen could be dealt away by the NFL trade deadline, which is tomorrow afternoon. Glazer said Vikings' officials have talked about dealing Allen -- and the Vikes would need at least a third round draft choice. That's what the team would receive if the 31-year-old Allen leaves as a free agent. He's making $14.3 million dollars this year.
It was a night of firsts for the Green Bay Packers' in their 44-31 victory at Minnesota. Micah Hyde had the Packers' first punt return for a touchdown in almost one-and-a-half seasons. Hyde's 93-yarder was the first since Randall Cobb returned a 75-yarder for a score against San Francisco on Opening Day of 2012. It was also the fourth-longest such return in Green Bay history. The Packers also gave up their first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2003. Vikings' rookie Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff 109 yards for a score, the first time the Pack got burned like that since Jerry Azumah of Chicago returned an 88-yarder almost a decade ago. Punter Tim Masthay -- who's been handling kickoffs this season -- never kicked for the rest of the night after the Packers went to Mason Crosby to try and keep the ball away from Patterson. Green Bay had no punts for the first time since 2010 playoffs at Atlanta -- and the first time in the regular season since 1989. Casey Hayward played in his first game of the season, after being out with a nagging hamstring injury. He had one tackle in his debut. Green Bay remains in first in the NFC North by a half-game over Detroit.
The Milwaukee Brewers will have one representative in the "Fall Stars' Game" which features the best minor league prospects. Right-handed starter David Goforth will play for the West Division in a contest against the East on Saturday night in Surprise Arizona. The game used to be known as the "Rising Stars Game." It will start at seven on Saturday night, and will be shown on MLB Network and MLB.com. The two rosters have 21 of MLB.com Top-100 prospects -- including the No. 1 prospect, Minnesota Twins' outfielder Byron Buxton. The Brewers drafted the 25-year-old Goforth in the seventh round in 2011 from the University of Mississippi. He pitched at Single-"A" Brevard County and Double-"A" Huntsville this season, going a combined 11-8 with a career-high 94 strikeouts in 125 innings with a 3.17 ERA. Last year, Goforth went 10-and-8 for the Class-"A" Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
University of Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen expects senior inside linebacker Chris Borland to play on Saturday at Iowa. Andersen told reporters today that the coaches will be careful with Borland at practice this week. They'll see how he's dealing with the hamstring problem that caused him to miss the final three quarters of Wisconsin's victory at Illinois 10 days ago. Borland and the rest of the Badgers had a bye this past Saturday, and they rested their aches-and-pains a little. Borland leads the 22nd-ranked Badgers with 57 total tackles this season. He also has two sacks. Saturday's game at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium is set for 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on ABC.
The University of Wisconsin defense does not expect to see a spread-offense for a change, when it plays at Iowa on Saturday. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda says he expects the Hawkeyes to quote, "run, run, run, and then take shots" with play-action passes designed to fool a run-minded defense. Aranda says the Iowa offense is built much like Wisconsin's, with a powerful running game and multiple tight ends who can be open at any time. Aranda says the Hawkeyes are by far the most physical opponent the 22nd-ranked Badgers will face so far. Iowa has improved a running game that ranked last in the Big Ten a year ago. The Hawkeyes ranked sixth in the league this year with 189 rushing a yards a game and 10 touchdowns on the ground. They have two solid rushing performers -- Mark Weisman with 91-and-a-half yards per game, and Damon Bullock with 45-per-contest. Both are considered physical, straight-ahead runners who are good at breaking tackles. Wisconsin expects to be ready with the nation's fourth-best rushing defense. The Badgers give up almost 88 yards per game on the ground.
Austin Damaschke of Concordia-Wisconsin has been named the offensive football player-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Damaschke, a junior quarterback, threw for a school-record 425 yards in Concordia's 45-28 win over Lakeland. He threw one touchdown pass, and ran for four others with 111 total rushing yards. The 536 all-purpose yards also set a team record. Dylan Rose of Benedictine was named the defensive player-of-the-week. Trevor Walzak of Benedictine won the weekly honors for special teams. The NACC also gave its weekly honors to Emily Ciesielczyk of Concordia-Wisconsin in women's soccer, and Jordan Winkler of Madison Edgewood in women's volleyball.
Milwaukee area native Ed Dobernig of Lake Forest College has been named the Midwest Conference football defensive player-of-the-week. Dobernig, a senior corner from New Berlin, recovered a fumble and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown in a 17-10 Lake Forest victory at Cornell. He also had an interception, three pass break-ups, and six tackles. Monmouth running back Trey Yocum was the top player on offense. Kicker-and-punter Jon Gurchak of Lake Forest received the weekly special teams' honors.
UW-Green Bay is the pre-season favorite to win its 16th straight Horizon League women's basketball title. UW-Milwaukee was predicted to place fifth in a poll of coaches, sports information directors, and media. Green Bay only has one starter returning from a year ago -- guard Megan Lukan. She led the team in assists with almost four-and-a-half a game, while scoring just over seven points. Lukan made the All-Horizon League pre-season first team, along with Angela Rodriguez of Milwaukee. Rodriguez averaged 13 points a game a season ago. Panthers' coach Kyle Rechlicz has three starters back, and five of her six top scorers returning. Breannah Ranger of Green Bay made the all-conference second team. Coach Kevin Borseth returned to UWGB last year, after five seasons in the Big Ten at Michigan. The Phoenix went 29-3 a year ago. They were 51-1 the past three seasons in conference regular season play.
UW-Milwaukee forward Kelly Lewers has been named the Horizon League women's soccer player-of-the-week on offense. Lewers, a junior, scored both goals in a 2-nothing Milwaukee shutout of Green Bay. She also had one goal and one assist in a win over Youngstown State. Sarah Reynolds of Oakland received the league's weekly defensive honors.
Kayla Price of UW-Milwaukee is the Horizon League's volleyball player-of-the-week on offense. Price, a sophomore, averaged 12-and-a-half assists per set in a pair of road sweeps. She had 39 assists last Saturday against Oakland, when the Panthers hit a season-high .409 -- the highest for UWM since 2009. Jenna Cavanaugh of Youngstown State is the Horizon defensive player-of-the-week.
The University of Wisconsin women's hockey team remains at No. 2 in a poll released this afternoon by U.S. College Hockey Online. The Badgers improved to 6-2 overall, after sweeping a pair from Lindenwood of Saint Charles, Missouri this past weekend by a combined score of 9-2. Minnesota received all 15 first-place votes, with a mark of 8-0. Meanwhile, the Badger men dropped two more places to No. 13 in their College Online poll. Wisconsin had a bye this past weekend. They're 2-2 in the young season. Minnesota is at No. 1 in the men's as well as the women's polls. The Gopher men are 5-0-1. In Division III, defending national champion UW-Eau Claire is No. 1 in the men's pre-season College Online poll. Saint Norbert of De Pere is second, and Stevens Point is 13th. The Milwaukee School of Engineering also received votes, as did River Falls and Superior.
The Marquette University women's soccer team clinched the first regular-season title in the re-organized Big East Conference, with a 6-0 home win yesterday over Providence. Maegan Kelly scored twice for the Golden Eagles, who improved to 8-0 in conference play with one match left. Marquette is also 15-3 overall. The University of Wisconsin women lost a 1-0 match at Indiana yesterday. Abby Smith scored the lone goal in the 78th minute, as the Badgers dropped their regular season road finale. Wisconsin dropped to 4-5-1 in the conference and 9-6-2 overall.
The University of Wisconsin men's soccer team is only at .500 in Big Ten play -- but the Badgers have the longest home unbeaten streak in the NCAA's Division I They've either won-or-tied 11 straight matches in Madison, after 1-0 victory yesterday over No. 17 ranked Michigan State. Wisconsin officially had a team goal, after the ball deflected off a Spartans' defender before going into the net. The Badgers scored their fourth shutout of the year, to improve to 2-2 in conference play and 10-3-2 overall. Michigan State dropped to 8-3-3 overall, and 1-2-1 in the Big Ten.
The Marquette University volleyball team is 7-1 in the new Big East Conference, after sweeping Georgetown at home in three sets. Freshman outside hitter Autumn Bailey had 18 kills and 11 digs for the Golden Eagles, who are now 15-5 overall. The Wisconsin volleyball team has dropped into a fourth-place tie in the Big Ten, after a 3-1 home loss to Illinois yesterday. The Badgers out-performed Illinois in almost every statistical category. Wisconsin out-hit the Illini .218 to .204. The Badgers also had 59 kills to Illinois' 57, and 21 errors to 24 for the victors. Deme Morales had 17 kills for Wisconsin, as it fell to 6-4 in the Big Ten and 17-5 overall.
Steve Stricker of Madison remains at No. 7 in the new World Golf Rankings. He remains 11 places above a year ago in the world ratings, and has not played since the President's Cup earlier this month. Many of the top pros will compete in the World Golf Championships' H-S-B-C tournament later this week in Shanghai -- but none of Wisconsin's PGA regulars will make the trip to China. Jerry Kelly of Madison, who tied for 19th in Malaysia over the weekend, jumped seven spots to 191st in the new World Rankings. The Top-15 players remain unchanged from a week ago. Tiger Woods is still first, followed by Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, and Henrik Stenson.