WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: McCarthy says Packers to evaluate whole squad
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy says he's not looking to make big changes in his staff. But at his season-ending news conference yesterday, McCarthy said the team's overall evaluation process is only in its third day and quote, "We'll do everything we need to do as we push forward to next season."
McCarthy was asked about the future of defensive coordinator Dom Capers. The coach said Capers is quote, "an outstanding football coach, and I'm glad he's on our staff." Capers was targeted by fans for Green Bay's defensive shortfalls, especially when quarterback Aaron Rodgers was out for almost two months with a broken collarbone. After the Pack's playoff loss to San Francisco last Sunday, McCarthy noted that some young players were forced into action before they were ready. Today, the coach said he was impressed with his young players and how they've grown -- and the Packers will get better because of it. Speaking of Rodgers, McCarthy questioned whether the Packers were too reliant on him. As the coach put it, "He makes a difference when he walks on the field, and in the meetings, and when he's practicing." Asked about Rodgers' contention that the Packers need only a couple pieces to be a great team, McCarthy said the Pack has work to do -- and as usual, the roster will turn over about 25-percent from this season to next. McCarthy said quote, "I don't see any windows closing."
The Green Bay Packers now have 57 players under contract for next season, after signing two more to reserve-futures' contracts. They are linebacker Chase Thomas and offensive lineman Jeremy Vujnovich. Thomas played his college ball at Stanford, and was on Atlanta's practice squad for most of this past regular season. Vujnovich took part in Green Bay's orientation camp last year, after playing at Louisiana College.
An offensive tackle who spent at least a little time with the Green Bay Packers was found dead in a Tampa Bay hotel. Sheriff's deputies said 35-year-old Todd Williams of Bradenton, Florida apparently complained to his mother that he was feeling sick last Friday. She found his body Monday, just hours before his alma mater Florida State won the national college football championship. Authorities said foul play is not suspected, and an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death. Williams was a top high school prospect in Florida, and he was a redshirt on Florida State's national champion team from 1999. Media reports said the NFL's Tennessee Titans drafted him in 2003, and that he also spent time with Green Bay and Tampa Bay. The Packers' Web site did not list Williams as playing a regular season game. Pro Football Reference.com said Williams played seven games for the Titans in 2004-and-'05, all off the bench.
Perhaps the greatest of the Green Bay Packer greats turned 80 today. Quarterback Bart Starr helped the Packers win five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls in the "Glory Years" of the 1960's under Vince Lombardi. When he retired, Starr's career completion percentage of 57.4 was the NFL's best. His Green Bay team lost the league title game in 1960, but it never lost another playoff game. Starr's post-season record was 9-1. His quarterback sneak at the goal line to win the 1967 "Ice Bowl" was shown numerous times on TV, as the Packers were about to play last Sunday's cold-weather playoff loss to San Francisco.
Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo will not have to compete with Josh McDaniels for the head coaching job at Cleveland. Media reports said McDaniels -- who runs the offense at New England -- has removed himself from consideration. That word came down yesterday, when McAdoo was reportedly interviewed for the Browns' coaching job. McDaniels, a former head coach at Denver, was said to be a leading candidate for a job that opened up when Rod Chudzinski was fired on the final night of his only season at Cleveland. McAdoo was given nice endorsements from Packers' coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers says McAdoo is a good listener, raises good questions, and deserves any opportunities he gets. McCarthy said McAdoo has prepared himself for potential opportunities -- and he'll do a quote, "phenomenal job" wherever he goes. McDaniels had interviewed for the Browns' job along with defensive coordinators Todd Bowles of Arizona and Dan Quinn of Seattle.
Former Milwaukee Bucks' center Andrew Bogut says things might have been different for himself and his old team, had he not been severely injured in 2010. Bogut said he lost some of his shooting touch after he fell to the floor against Phoenix in April of that year. He severely injured his right shooting hand and elbow. Two seasons later, the 7-foot Bogut broke his left ankle in his final Milwaukee game against Houston. A few weeks later, he was traded to Golden State for shooting guard Monta Ellis -- who has since moved on to Dallas. At first, the trade looked like a steal for Milwaukee, after Bogut played in only a handful of games for the Warriors over the next year-and-a-half. But now, it's the Bucks that appeared to get the short end of the deal, as they struggle to a 7-27 record while Golden State basks in a 10-game winning streak. The 29-year-old Bogut is finally seeing his potential realized this season, averaging eight points and 10-plus rebounds per game. He said he wished he could take his devastating injuries back, but they're part of the game. Except for a one-game suspension, Bogut has played in all 36 of his contests for Golden State this season.
The University of Wisconsin women's basketball team will play at Michigan tonight. The Badgers won their Big Ten season opener last Friday at Illinois, 76-64 (OT). Senior guard Taylor Wurtz is the reigning Big Ten Player-of-the-Week, after she tied a career-high with 27 points against the Illini while pulling down a career-high 19 rebounds. Wisconsin is 8-5 overall, and will face a Michigan squad that's 1-0 in the conference and 10-4 overall. The Wolverines have won three straight after beating Ohio State by 15 last Sunday. Four Michigan starters are scoring in double figures, led by junior guard Shannon Smith with just over 15 points per game.
The Marquette University men's basketball team will play its first Big East game tonight at league newcomer Xavier. The Golden Eagles are 1-1 in the newly-reworked conference, and 9-6 overall. Marquette is coming off a 10-point victory over DePaul last weekend. Senior forward Davante Gardner surpassed the one-thousand-point mark for his career with 28 against the Blue Demons. Xavier, of Cincinnati, is 2-0 in Big East play and 12-3 overall. The Musketeers are coming of an 11-point win over Butler at home last weekend. Guard Semaj Christon scored 20 points in that game, and he's Xavier's leading scorer with just under 15 a night. Marquette is 46-and-15 against Xavier, mostly from its days as an independent. Their last meeting came in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, when the Golden Eagles beat the Musketeers by 11. Also tonight, the Wisconsin women are at Michigan. The U-W Parkside men-and-women play at Missouri-Saint Louis.
University of Wisconsin men's soccer defenseman A.J. Cochran is giving up his senior year to turn pro. Cochran has signed a deal with the "Generation Adidas" program, which makes him eligible for the Major League Soccer Draft next Wednesday. Cochran was the Big Ten's defensive Player-of-the-Year last fall, and scored a pair of game-winning goals along the way. He was also a semi-finalist for the Hermann Trophy, given each year to college soccer's top player. TopDrawerSoccer.com projects him to be a Top-10 pick in the MLS Draft. Badgers' coach John Trask said Cochran's pro prospects are quote, "a tremendous testament to the work he has put in at the UW." Trask called it an exciting time for the Badger soccer program. By signing with Generation Adidas, he'll be eligible for funding to complete his college degree in the future.
Ripon College has named Kevin Rengo as its new cross country-and-track coach. He was most recently an assistant at Northwestern of Saint Paul for two years. Rengo competed in track-and-field at UW-River Falls for three years where his best events were the pentathlon, decathlon, and javelin.
There's a light schedule tonight in Wisconsin Division III college basketball. Two women's games are on the docket in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Lakeland plays at Rockford, and Marian travels to Milwaukee to face Wisconsin Lutheran. Lutheran is second in the league at 5-1. Concordia-Wisconsin has played three more contests, and the Mequon school is in first place at 8-and-1. Also tonight, the Mount Mary women are at Northland of Ashland. In men's play, independent Maranatha Baptist travels to Martin Luther. Maranatha, of Watertown, is 1-8 with a six-game losing streak. The Crusaders have not played since December 16th, when they fell to Aurora by 16.
University of Wisconsin freshman goal-tender Ann-Renee Desbiens has been named the WCHA women's hockey Rookie-of-the-Week. Desbiens stopped 50-of-51 shots last weekend, when the second-ranked Badgers swept Saint Cloud State in a pair of contests. She earned her third career shutout last Saturday, with 28 saves. Desbiens is now 8-0 on the season.
Wisconsin golfers Mark Wilson and Jerry Kelly will tee off this afternoon in the PGA's first full-fledged tournament of 2014, the Sony Open in Hawaii. The Badger State was not represented at last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions, because no state players won a tournament in 2013. However, both Kelly and Wilson have won the Sony event in Honolulu. Wilson, who's from Pewaukee, won it in 2011. Kelly, of Madison, won the Sony Open in 2002.