WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Raji reportedly signs one-year deal with Packers
GREEN BAY - It appears that the Green Bay Packers will keep B.J. Raji for at least one more year. ESPN and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel both say the 27-year-old defensive lineman is close to accepting a one-year contract worth four-million dollars.
Raji is an unrestricted free agent, but several scouts have told the Journal-Sentinel he did not appear to push himself last year -- and his value might be reduced when free agency begins next Tuesday. Raji was able to pressure the quarterback once every 87 snaps last season -- not nearly as much as in 2010, when he had one pressure for every 32 snaps. That was also the season Raji scored on a pick-six in the NFC Championship Game at Chicago. The Pack went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
The Milwaukee Wave indoor soccer team and its owner are accused of reneging on a large loan. Thomas Phillips of Caledonia has taken the Wave and owner Sue Black to court. According to the lawsuit, Phillips said he lent Black $200,000 soon after she became the team's CEO last year. She was apparently supposed to make quarterly payments -- but Phillips said he only received $100,000 dollars last August. WISN-TV of Milwaukee said Black had asked for a short-term loan of $10,000 last December to meet the team's payroll -- but she has not made arrangements to pay that money back. Black told WISN she could not comment on the suit, and she's focusing right now on the Wave's upcoming playoff run in the Major Indoor Soccer League. The Wave will play Missouri Sunday and Monday in the league semifinals.
Former University of Wisconsin defensive tackle Tim Krumrie was named today as one of 162 player candidates for the College Football Hall of Fame. Krumrie, who's from Mondovi, was the defensive MVP for the Badgers in the 1982 Independence Bowl. He was a consensus first-team All-American in '81, and he went on to a notable pro career with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals, playing in Super Bowl XXIII. Other nominees for the College Hall are former Green Bay Packers' player and executive John Dorsey, a linebacker at UConn -- ex-Packers' receiver Sterling Sharpe from South Carolina -- and former Green Bay quarterback Tim Couch from Kentucky. Two former coaches from Wisconsin were among 26 nominated for the Hall -- Forrest Perkins from UW-Whitewater and Art Keller of Carthage. More than 12,000 members of the National Football Foundation will help pick the inductees. A 17-member panel will make the final selections, to be announced in May.
Eighty Wisconsin boys' high school basketball teams will begin their sectional playoffs tonight. It's down to the Sweet-16 in each of the five divisions. Four-hundred teams were sent home during last week's regionals. Three defending champions are still in the running -- Germantown in Division 1, La Crosse Aquinas in Division 3, and Whitefish Bay Dominican in Division 4. Division 2 titlist Pulaski lost in last Friday night's second round. Randolph, the Division 5 champion from a year ago, lost its first-round contest last Tuesday night. All five AP No. 1s are still alive -- Brookfield Central, Mount Horeb, Manitowoc Roncalli, Dominican, and Green Bay Northeast Wisconsin Lutheran. The boys' sectional finals will be played Saturday. The final four in each division will advance to the state tournament next week in Madison. Meanwhile, the second round of the girls' high school regionals will take place tomorrow night.
_______________________________Verona was the first to advance this afternoon at the WIAA boys' state high school hockey tournament in Madison. Verona shut out Superior 3-0 in the first quarter-final at the Alliant Energy Center. Charlie Parker and Brogan Baker each had one goal and one assist, as Verona advanced to tomorrow's semi-finals. They'll play either Green Bay Notre Dame or defending champion Eau Claire Memorial. Those two were squaring off in the afternoon's second quarterfinal. Tonight, Wausau West takes on the University School of Milwaukee. And Onalaska faces Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago. The girls' state hockey tournament begins tomorrow with the semifinals. Championship games for both tourneys are set for Saturday._________________________________
The UW-Green Bay women's basketball team can clinch at least a share of its 16th straight Horizon League title tonight. The Phoenix will close out its regular season at home against Oakland this evening and Detroit on Saturday. UWGB need to win at least one of those contests to continue the nation's longest active streak of regular season league titles. The Phoenix have won 10 of their last 11 Horizon contests, with the only loss coming at Youngstown State on February 23rd. Green Bay is 11-3 in league play. Oakland comes in at 7-7 in the conference and 12-15 overall. Oakland averages almost 16 assists per game, second only behind Green Bay. The Golden Grizzlies also lead the conference with four blocked shots per outing. Senior Bethany Watterworth leads Oakland with almost 15 points a night. Sophomore Kaili Lukan leads Green Bay with 12 points a game. Also tonight, the Wisconsin women play Minnesota in their Big Ten Conference Tournament opener.
Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke says he'll announce in about a week who will start for the Crew in their regular season opener on March 31st against Atlanta. The skipper says he's not being indecisive -- but too many things can happen to his pitchers during Spring Training, and he'd rather not change a rotation once he sets it. Today, right-hander Kyle Lohse will start for Milwaukee in an exhibition game against Colorado. Right-hander Jordan Lyles is expected to get the start for the Rockies. For the second time this spring, the Brewers will have instant replay at their disposal. Roenicke did not see the need to use the new system the first time against the Chicago Cubs. Milwaukee is 4-4 in the Cactus League, after beating Oakland yesterday 7-2.
Scooter Gennett is not making a good first impression, as he tries to beat out Rickie Weeks for the Milwaukee Brewers' second base job. Gennett is only 1-for-13 this spring, with four strikeouts and a batting average of point-077. Meanwhile, Weeks is hitting .444 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of one-point-393. The veteran Weeks adjusted his batting stance over the winter, as he recovered from hamstring injury that kept him out for the final two months of the season. Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke says he knows Gennett can hit. He batted .358 last August and September for the Brew Crew, with five homers and 16 RBI's. The skipper says he has told Gennett not to worry so much about the numbers. Instead, he wants the youngster to focus on having quality at-bats, plus a steady presence on defense. Weeks was given the start at second this afternoon, when the Brewers started taking on the Colorado Rockies in an exhibition in Arizona.
For the first time, a UW-Madison athlete has been named a candidate for the Bowerman Award as the country's top competitor in men's track and field. Badgers' junior Michael Lihrman has been put on a watch list for the award, after he set a new NCAA Division I record in the indoor weight throw last month. His toss of 79-feet, seven and a half inches shattered his own school record by four feet. It was also the world's longest weight throw so far this year. The Bowerman Trophy has been presented each spring since 2009.
________________________________The University of Wisconsin will have to break a seven-game losing streak in order to advance in the Big Ten women's basketball tournament. The 11th-seeded Badgers will play Number-six Minnesota in the first round tonight in Indianapolis. The winner goes against third-seeded Nebraska tomorrow. The Badgers have dropped 13 of their last 15. Two of those losses were at the hands of the Gophers -- 64-53 in Minneapolis on January 23rd, and 63-50 in Madison on February 12th. Wisconsin enters the tournament with an overall mark of 10-18 under third-year coach Bobbie Kelsey. She insists her team has not given up, and they'll be ready to take on the Gophers who come in at 19-11. Earlier this week, Badgers' junior Michala Johnson was named an All-Conference first team selection by the league's coaches, and a second-team pick by the media. She averages 16-and-a-half points a game, with a league-leading 57-percent shooting in conference games.