WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Rodgers, Lacy expected to play vs. Bears
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers say they'll have to guard against over-confidence, now that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is returning. Coach Mike McCarthy said yesterday that the league's 2011 MVP has been medically-cleared to start Sunday's contest at Chicago for the NFC North Division title.
The Packers are 2-5-1 since Rodgers broke his left collarbone on November fourth. McCarthy said he won't put the entire game on Rodgers' shoulders. Guard T.J. Lang said Rodgers is a difference-maker -- but it does not mean the other players can slide now that he's back. Rodgers said the recovery has been difficult for him -- because he thought he had a chance of returning every week since his injury. Rodgers said he hoped he would have an opportunity to play in the Bears' rematch but quote, "I know there are no guarantees in this business." Lang called Sunday's contest a playoff game for the Packers. If they win, they'll make the post-season. If they don't, they won't. Packers' running back Eddie Lacy is expected to play against the Bears on Sunday. Lacy sprained his right ankle on Dec. 8 against Atlanta, and has aggravated it each week since then. Still, Lacy has been putting up big numbers -- and has broken the Green Bay rookie season rushing record with just over 11-hundred yards. He did not practice yesterday. Meanwhile, receiver and kick returner Randall Cobb practiced in full pads for the first time since he broke a leg against Baltimore on October 13th. Coach Mike McCarthy said Cobb had a good practice, and he'll see how he feels today and tomorrow before making any judgments on a possible return. Cobb has only been running for the last couple weeks, and he's considered a long-shot to play against the Bears. Linebacker Brad Jones missed yesterday's practice with an ankle injury, and tight end Ryan Taylor was out sick. Mike Neal, Ryan Pickett, and Andrew Quarless practiced on a limited basis. Clay Matthews has already been declared out for the Bears' game with a recurrence of his injured right thumb.
University of Wisconsin linebacker Ethan Armstrong practiced yesterday as he recovers from a lingering knee injury. Also, safety Michael Caputo has been cleared for full contact after he missed the November 30th regular season finale against Penn State with symptoms of a concussion. Both are expected to play in Wednesday's Capital One Bowl against South Carolina, along with Badgers' senior safety Dezman Southward. He had surgery on his left wrist after the Penn State game. Coach Gary Andersen says Southward will wear extra padding on the wrist for the bowl game. Armstrong is third on the Badgers with 48 tackles this season. Southward has 37 tackles, five pass break-ups, and an interception.
Milwaukee Bucks' center Larry Sanders is expected to play tonight against the Nets in Brooklyn. Sanders has been out since November third, when he tore a ligament in his right thumb during a nightclub brawl in downtown Milwaukee. He had surgery, and was out for the amount of time that was expected -- six weeks. Also tonight, power forward Ersan Ilyasova is expected to return from a sore right ankle. He has not played for a week. It will give the Bucks 13 healthy players for the first time since late November. Coach Larry Drew said Sanders was quote, "active and energized" at practice yesterday. Drew was not sure what type of role Sanders would have tonight. Sanders said the bar incident helped re-commit himself to both basketball and life. He said the Bucks have "a lot of fight in them," despite their 6-and-22 record. Tonight, they'll face a Nets' team that's also struggling at 9-19. Brooklyn has lost four straight, including a 17-point drubbing by the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day.
Former Marquette University star Dwayne Wade of Miami is the top vote-getter among Eastern Conference guards to start in the NBA All-Star Game. The league released a second update yesterday on the fan balloting -- and Wade holds one of the top two starting guard spots for the East with 565-thousand votes. Former Milwaukee Buck Ray Allen of Miami, is fifth among East guards. No Bucks were listed among the Top-15 East forwards and centers, or the Top-10 guards in the conference. Milwaukee has not had an All-Star for 10 seasons. Michael Redd was the last. LeBron James of Miami is the top vote-getter so far for this season's All-Star Game, to be played on February 16th in New Orleans.
The reigning Wisconsin girls' high school basketball player-of-the-year put on a clinic last night. Arike Ogunbowale of Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels lit up the stat sheet in a 47-35 holiday tournament win over Franklin. She had 22 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Ogunbowale is a 5-8 junior guard, and college recruiters have made her one of the state's most coveted players in many years. Divine Savior coach Scott Witt said she sees the "big picture" on the floor -- and what makes her special is her willingness to share the ball and keep teammates involved. Earlier this year, Ogunbowale helped the U.S. win the Under-16 women's Tournament-of-the-Americas in Mexico.
The Milwaukee Admirals beat division-leading Grand Rapids 4-1 last night. The second-place Admirals moved to within eight points of the Midwest Division leaders, while handing Grand Rapids only its fourth loss in its last 23 games. Milwaukee scored three goals in the second period, all within seven-and-a-half minutes. Colton Sissons scored the eventual game-winner, and Miika Salomaki scored for his team-leading 21st point. Goal-tender Scott Darling won his third straight game with 29 saves. He's now 6-and-1 on the year. Milwaukee will play again tonight at home against Charlotte.