WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: McCarthy to decide starting QB for Packers tomorrow
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers' Head Coach Mike McCarthy says he'll announce tomorrow whether Aaron Rodgers will start at quarterback for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at home against Pittsburgh.
The coach said Rodgers looked very good at today's practice -- but he's still not medically-cleared to return to action after missing the better part of seven games with a broken collarbone. McCarthy said Matt Flynn took most of the snaps at practice today, and the coaches need to get Flynn ready to face the Steelers. Also, McCarthy said defensive end Johnny Jolly suffered a significant injury when he hurt a shoulder last weekend at Dallas. For the second day in a row, defensive end C.J. Wilson was limited at today's practice as he tries to return from an ankle injury suffered last month. Also, running back Eddie Lacy sat out of practice for a second straight day with his lingering ankle injury -- but he expects to play against the Steelers. Linebackers Brad Jones, Nick Perry, and Mike Neal all sat out of practice with various injuries. Tight end Brandon Bostick also sat out.
Officially, it's Week-16 of the regular season. But the Green Bay Packers consider Sunday's home contest against Pittsburgh as a playoff game. Rookie corner Micah Hyde said he and his teammates have a "win or go home" mentality. Coach Mike McCarthy says he views it as a semi-final game -- a contest the Packers must win in order to stay alive in the real playoff chase. The Packers are 7-6-1, in second place in the NFC North. They would win the division and get a home playoff game if they can beat the Steelers this week, and the Bears in Chicago on December 29th. McCarthy has urged his players to watch video of the Steelers, instead of watching the national networks and get caught up in the playoff gossip. The coach is also doing his best to avoid a letdown, which he says is natural after a major victory like last Sunday's 23-point comeback win at Dallas.
After having his worst season a year ago, Mason Crosby is having one of his best. The Green Bay Packers' kicker has made a career-high 88-percent of his 34 field goal attempts. And he's on pace to score at least 140 points for the third time in his seven-year career. Crosby would join David Akers of Detroit and Stephen Gostkowski of New England as the only kickers in NFL history to have at least three 140-point seasons. Crosby has 125 points with two regular season games remaining -- including Sunday's home contest against Pittsburgh. Crosby was on the hot seat this summer after making just 64-percent of his field goal attempts a year ago. He still managed to score 100 points last season -- and if he does it next year, Crosby would tie Ryan Longwell as the only Green Bay kickers with eight straight 100-point campaigns. While the rest of us were focusing on the Packers' comeback at Dallas last weekend, Crosby quietly booted three field goals in that game -- including a 57-yarder. He has made 5-of-7 from 50 yards or more this season.
The Milwaukee Brewers have created a Wall-of-Honor at Miller Park, to recognize players and other personnel who've made significant contributions over the years. Fifty-eight players, coaches, and team executives will be part of the inaugural class to be inducted on June 13th. They represent all of the Brewers' team eras, from 1970 on. Vice president Rick Schlesinger says the purpose of the Wall-of-Honor is to immortalize those who've either spent a major part of their playing careers with the Brewers, or have a notable legacy with the organization in some other way. Former Brewers' infielder Craig Counsell said he saw something like this is San Francisco, and he thought it was a terrific way to honor all who've made major contributions to the team. Anyone who meets one of seven criteria will be a part of the Wall-of-Honor. They must have two-thousand or more plate appearances with Milwaukee -- one-thousand or more innings pitched -- 250 appearances as a starter or reliever -- winner of a major award like the MVP or the Cy Young -- managers of pennant-winning Brewer teams -- those immortalized with statues in front of Miller Park -- and those in the National Baseball Hall-of-Fame who've played for the Brewers or managed them. In addition to the 58 inductees, seven other active big leaguers have met the criteria. They'll be recognized after they retire.
University of Wisconsin men's hockey forward Nic Kerdiles is one of 26 U.S. players who traveled to Sweden for next week's World Junior Championship. Three players were cut yesterday. Two more forwards and a defenseman must be let go by Monday. Team USA will open the tournament against the Czech Republic a week from today, and they'll start defending the title they won a year ago. Kerdiles says he's excited about the opportunity, and he knows the expectations are high. Kerdiles says the keys to victory are to keep it simple and quote, "play USA hockey -- play hard, skate hard." Two other former Wisconsin residents are also on the tentative U.S. roster -- defenseman Will Butcher of Sun Prairie, who plays for the University of Denver -- and defenseman Ian McCoshen from Hudson, who skates for Boston College. McCoshen scored for the U.S. Junior National Team, when it beat Minnesota State 3-2 in overtime last night in Mankato. He and Quentin Shore scored for the U.S., before Hudson Fasching of the Gophers scored the game-winner at 3:41 into the extra period. The Americans will play Sweden in a pre-tournament contest on Friday night.
The bottom two men's basketball teams in the Midwest Conference will square off tonight, when Beloit College plays host to Knox College. Knox is 0-4 in league play. Beloit and Illinois College are next-to-last at 1-3. Saint Norbert leads the men's standings at 4-0. The Knox College women are also playing at Beloit this evening. Knox is 0-4, tied with Grinnell. The Beloit women are 2-2. Saint Norbert and Illinois College are tied for the conference lead, both at 4-0. In non-conference Division III action tonight, the UW La Crosse men are at Division II Southwest (Minn.) State. On the women's side, Lawrence plays at Finlandia. And independent Maranatha Baptist hosts the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
All of Wisconsin's Division I college basketball teams have the night off. In Division II, the UW-Parkside men will close out their non-conference schedule tonight when it hosts Indiana University-Dabney. Parkside is 6-1, but has not played in 12 days -- when the Rangers lost at Division I Chicago State 90-81. Andy Mazurczak scored 22 points for Parkside in that game. Tonight, they'll face an Indiana University-Dabney team that's still looking for its first win after an 0-12 start. The Lions are provisional members of the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association. They're coming off a 94-87 loss to Oakland City on December 12th.
_________________________Stef Strauss-Thompkins, a former women's soccer standout at UW-Parkside, will be inducted into the Great Lakes Valley Conference Hall-of-Fame. She's one of six people who have been named to the 2014 class that will be enshrined on May 20th at a banquet in Saint Louis. Strauss-Thompkins is a Racine native who anchored a Parkside defense that posted 46 shutouts during her career from 2001-through-'04. She started all 75 games during her time at Parkside, and was named the league's player-of-the-year and its top scholar-athlete in 2004.________________________Paige Witter of Lawrence University in Appleton is the women’s swimmer-of-the-week in the Midwest Conference. Witter, a freshman from Denver, took first in the 100-yard butterfly and the 500-freestyle in a dual meet against UW-Oshkosh. Witter was also a part of the winning 200-medley relay team. The men’s swimmer-of-the-week is Chris Walsh of Knox College.