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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Smart to stay put, Marquette coaching serach continues

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RICHMOND, Va.  - It appears that Shaka Smart will stay where he is.  A number of media outlets said the Virginia Commonwealth men's basketball coach from the Madison area has taken his name out of consideration for other jobs -- including the opening at Marquette.  

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia quoted VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin as saying today, "Shaka Smart is our men's basketball coach" after incorrect reports late yesterday that he had taken the job at Marquette.  ESPN said the 36-year-old Smart spoke with his incoming recruits and coaching staff yesterday, assuring he would not go anywhere.  Smart, who played high school basketball at Verona, is 137-46 in five years at VCU.  He's been a hot coaching commodity ever since his team made the NCAA Final Four in 2011.  Meanwhile, Marquette continues its search to find a replacement for Buzz Williams, who left last Friday for Virginia Tech.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have finalized their bullpen for at least the start of the regular season.  Left-handed reliever Zach Duke is being put on the 25-man roster, while reliever Rob Wooten is being sent down to Triple-"A" Nashville.  Because of Duke's veteran status, the Brewers were required to tell him by today whether he'll start the season with the Crew next Monday.  Tyler Thornburg, a starter late last year, will stay up with Milwaukee as a long reliever.  The Brewers also appear to be keeping Rule-Five pitcher Wei-Chung Wang.  Meanwhile, Jeff Bianchi appears to be the final bench player on Milwaukee's Opening Day roster.  That's after utility player Elian Herrera was optioned down to Nashville.  The Brewers were playing their third-to-last Arizona exhibition this afternoon against San Francisco.  Shortstop Jean Segura missed his sixth straight game with a sore shoulder.

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 Oakland knew exactly what it was getting when former Packers' receiver James Jones joined with the Raiders last week.  Raiders' GM Reggie McKenzie was the Pack's pro personnel director for all but one of Jones' seven seasons in Green Bay.  And McKenzie had no problem signing the 29-year-old Jones to a three-year, ten-million dollar free agent contract.  At the NFL owners' meetings this morning, Raiders' coach Dennis Allen called Jones a "big, physical player" with "big, strong hands" and an "outstanding leader."  Allen said Jones is a veteran who still plays at a high level, and brings intangibles to his team.  Those intangibles are what the Packers might miss -- not on the field, but in the locker room.  Over his tenure in Green Bay, Jones became a strong leader among his teammates both on-the-field and off.  The closest thing the Packers have to a leader at the receiver's spot is Jordy Nelson -- and Nelson has not had the ups-and-downs that Jones has had to face.  Jones dropped some big time passes in his early years but matured to be among the NFL's leading touchdown receivers.

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Tom Fairbanks of UW-Superior made the national Division III baseball Team of the Week from D3baseball.com.  Fairbanks, a senior outfielder, batted .621 in seven games last week with three homers, six triples, a pair of doubles, 10 runs scored, and 20 RBI's.  It also earned him the WIAC's position player of the week award.  UW-Stevens Point right-hander J.P. Feyereisen is the league's honored pitcher.  He gave up two runs in 14 innings and struck out 11.  In softball, Taylor Pierce of Eau Claire is the WIAC's position player of the week.  The junior third baseman started in ten games over spring break with four doubles, a triple, and a homer.  Kelynn Sporer of Whitewater is the pitcher of the week.  The junior right-hander won three games last week, striking out 18 in 21-and-two-thirds innings.

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Six women's hockey players from Wisconsin have been named to the NCAA Division IIIAll-America teams.  The coaches' association selected senior defenseman Laurel Hill of Saint Norbert College to the first team, along with UW-Stevens Point senior forward Cassandra Salmen.  Sheboygan native Michelle Greeneway of Lake Forest was also picked to the top squad, as well as Saint Thomas goaltender Alise Riedel from Hudson.  Stevens Point goalie Janna Beilke-Skoug was named to the All-American second team, along with River Falls forward Katie Batters.  The six players were among 12 All-Americans representing the western part of the country.  Twelve others were honored from the east.

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UW-Milwaukee junior Christina Colarossi is the Horizon League women's tennis player of the week.  She went 5-0 in her matches last week, including a pair of doubles' victories with teammate Kristin Kurer.  Colarossi led UWM in team wins over Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis, Oakland, and Detroit.

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Kara Vance of Lawrence University in Appleton has been named the Midwest Conference softball pitcher of the week.  Vance, a junior, scored a pair of victories in her team's spring trip to Florida.  She threw a six-hitter against Bethel of Minnesota.  Vance's other win came in Lawrence's comeback victory over New York-Fredonia in which she threw two innings of no-hit relief.

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Stephanie Kuzmanic of Carthage College and Kaitlyn Thill of U-W Whitewater have both been named to the coaches' Division-Three All-America team.  They were among ten honorees.  The coaches also gave 30 honorable mentions.  Sally Linzmeier of UW- Superior received one of those mentions, as did Amy Mandrell of Whitewater.  The new honors come after Kuzmanic made the D3hoops.com All-American second team, Linzmeier made the third team, and Thill was picked to the fourth squad.

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Seven men's hockey players from Wisconsin have been named to the coaches' All-America teams for the NCAA's Division III.  National champion Saint Norbert of De Pere has two of the six first-teamers -- senior forward Zachary Vit and junior goaltender David Jacobson.  National runner-up UW-Stevens Point also has two players on the top squad -- junior defenseman Kyle Brodie and junior forward Garrett Ladd.  Forward Mason Baptista and defenseman Marian Fiala, both of Saint Norbert, were named to the All-America second team.  So was Eau Claire defenseman David Donnellan.  A total of 30 players were named to three national teams.

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Chad Langley of Marian University in Fond du Lac is the baseball position player of the week in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.  Langley, a senior first baseman, batted .417 in six games in Arizona last week.  He went 4-for-5 with two RBI's in Marian's ten-run victory over Augsburg College.  Langley had a .583 slugging percentage for the week.  In softball, Jennifer Reicher of Concordia-Wisconsin is the honored position player.  The rookie outfielder batted .455 and scored nine runs in six games during Concordia's spring break. 

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