WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Bucks open NBA season tonight in New York
The Milwaukee Bucks will open their 45th N-B-A season tonight against the Knicks in New York. Starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova practiced fully yesterday, and he could play tonight after being out since October 8th with a sprained right ankle. The Bucks are counting on a youth movement to help the team win games, while winning the public support necessary for a new arena -- the fate of which could determine the Bucks' future in Milwaukee. This summer, general manager John Hammond brought in a new coach in Larry Drew and 11 new players. Some are seasoned veterans who can help the young prospects grow. 21-year-old Brandon Knight is Milwaukee's starting point guard, already a two-year N-B-A veteran with Detroit. Center Larry Sanders, who had a break-out season a year ago, was rewarded with a four-year contract extension. 22-year-old John Henson shows promising signs at forward. 18-year-old Greek native Giannis Antetokounmpo -- the Bucks' first-round draft choice -- created a buzz at small forward during the pre-season. The veterans include Racine native and two-time All-Star Caron Butler, shooting guard O-J Mayo from Memphis, and former Bucks Carlos Delfino, Luke Ridnour, and Zaza Pachulia. Sanders and Ilyasova are among just four holdovers from last season.
Green Bay Packers' tight end Jermichael Finley wondered if God was punishing him during the first moments after his devastating neck injury 10 days ago. Finley gave an account of his ordeal in Sports Illustrated's "Monday Morning Quarterback." His neck was jarred by a shoulder from Cleveland defender Tashaun Gipson, as Finley fell to the Lambeau Field turf for six minutes before being removed a stretcher. He spent parts of five days in a hospital with a bruised spinal cord. The hit came while he was running after a catch. He said it unfolded very quickly. Finley said he saw Gipson from a corner of his eye, and he lowered his head and shoulders to protect his knees. He said he remained conscious but could not move. Finley said the scariest thing was seeing fear in the eyes of teammate Andrew Quarless as he stood nearby. That told him something was really wrong. As he was being hauled off, Finley wanted to show the fans he was okay by giving a thumbs-up - but his arm couldn't move after it went up halfway. Finley wants to play again, but he's not sure if it will happen this season. If he never plays again, he said he has a 10-million insurance policy that will help his family be financially-secure for life. The 5-and-2 Packers are getting ready to play Chicago on Monday night.
The Packers will see Jared Allen at least one more time in a Minnesota Vikings' uniform. The veteran defensive end was the subject of trade rumors as yesterday's N-F-L deadline approached, but he didn't go anywhere. Seattle, Dallas, and Denver were said to be interested in the 31-year-old Allen -- but Minnesota did not pull the trigger. Allen leads the Vikings with four sacks this year, but he did not get as much as a tackle in Sunday night's Minnesota home loss to the Packers. Rookie left tackle David Bahktiari kept Allen in check -- and he hopes to do the same on November 24th, when the Packers and Vikings renew their rivalry at Lambeau Field.
Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland sat out of yesterday's practice. Coach Gary Andersen says he plans to be careful this week in getting the senior Borland ready to return on Saturday at Iowa. Borland -- a candidate for three national awards -- strained his right hamstring 11 days ago in the Badgers' win at Illinois. Andersen said he expects Borland to play against the Hawkeyes. Marcus Trotter filled in with the Number-One defense at practice yesterday. Trotter played the final three quarters against the Illini after Borland got hurt, and had a fumble recovery and nine tackles.