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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Lamb blasts US speed skating organization after finishing last

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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Lamb blasts US speed skating organization after finishing last
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

After finishing last in the five-thousand meters yesterday, former Wisconsinite Maria Lamb lashed out at the U-S Speed-skating organization. The 28-year-old Lamb -- who was raised in River Falls -- said most U-S skaters have performed remarkably well in recent years in spite of the team's leadership and not because of it. After speculation that the U-S could win 10 speed-skating medals at the Sochi Games, they still had none after all the individual events were completed -- while Dutch skaters have cleaned up with 21 medals. Only two relays remain on the schedule. A lot of blame has gone to the new "Mach-39" high-tech skin suits the U-S competitors were wearing, but Lamb said it's only the "tip of the iceberg." She said former U-S Speed-skating director Mark Greenwald caused a lot of damage by quote, "treating people wrong or just out-right pushing them out." Lamb also singled out long-track performance director Finn Halvorsen, saying he quote, "destroyed so many good athletes, at least their performance at the Games, due to a lot of his calls and actions." New director Ted Morris, who started last fall, said he and new U-S Speed-skating president Mike Plant will quote, "do a full evaluation and figure it out." Nancy Swider-Peltz, who coaches Brian Hansen in Milwaukee, criticized the team's choice of high-altitude training, taking the team to the Italy Mountains and then putting skaters in untested skin suits at Sochi. Swider-Peltz tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she's tired of being told that quote, "science is the only answer -- that intuition and experience are not good enough."

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The U-S Olympic women's hockey team will play for the gold medal today against Canada. Madison area native Amanda Kessel and former Wisconsin Badger Brianna Decker helped the Americans make the finals with a 6-1 rout of Sweden on Monday night. Decker also had two assists in that game. Ex-Badgers' goal-tender Jessie Vetter only needed to make eight saves, as the U-S out-shot Sweden 70-to-9. Canada comes in after a semi-final victory over Sweden. The U-S won its only women's hockey gold medal the year the sport was introduced in the Olympics in 1998. However, the Americans were the runner-ups each time except 2006. Canada has a 2-to-1 edge over the U-S in Olympic title games -- and they beat the Americans 3-to-2 last week in the preliminary round. Today's opening face-off is at 11 a-m. Meanwhile, the U-S men's hockey team is gearing up to face Canada in their semi-finals tomorrow. Team U-S-A advanced with a 5-to-2 win over the Czech Republic yesterday, while Canada eliminated Latvia. Madison native and former Badger Ryan Suter had three assists against the Czechs, and Madison area native Phil Kessel scored the team's final goal.

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The Marquette men's basketball team lost to 11th-ranked Creighton last night, 85-to-70 in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles ended a three-game winning streak. They also missed a chance to pocket a signature victory for a season in which its N-C-A-A Tournament hopes are slipping away. Creighton led by 10 midway through the first half, and never trailed after that. The Bluejays shot a blistering 62-percent from the floor, as they won their third straight to stay atop the Big East standings. Doug McDermott scored 17-of-his-25 points in the second half, and Ethan Wragge hit six three-pointers as Creighton improved to 12-and-2 in the conference and 22-and-4 overall. Deonte Burton scored 11 for Marquette, which only made 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles are now 7-and-6 in the Big East and 15-and-11 overall. They're at DePaul on Saturday. Tonight, the U-W Milwaukee men play at Youngstown State. The Green Bay men are at home against Valparaiso. The Wisconsin women entertain Michigan State. And the U-W Parkside men-and-women are both home against McKendree.

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Wisconsin guard Ben Brust injured his lower back at practice yesterday. He was driving through the lane when he was inadvertently hit from behind from a defender. Brust got up slowly, and he was later examined by a U-W trainer. Officially, he's considered day-to-day. The Badgers' next game is not until Saturday at Iowa. Brust, a senior, has started all 26 games for Wisconsin this season, with 13 points and almost five rebounds per contest. He has scored in double figures in all but six games.

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The struggling Milwaukee Bucks could lose one of their veterans to an N-B-A contender before the league's trade deadline at two this afternoon. There's talk that guards Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour may be on the block -- along with forward and Racine native Caron Butler. Media reports say the Bucks are not close to any deals at this point -- but that could change as the day wears on. The 33-year-old Butler is in the final year of his contract, and the Bucks will have to decide whether they could re-sign him this summer. If not, a deal may be in the offing. A few weeks ago, Butler complained about a lack of playing time as coach Larry Drew gave his younger personnel as a chance to play as the losses mounted up. Ridnour and Neal have not played much lately, either -- but Butler hit seven three-pointers on Tuesday night, during Milwaukee's home win over Orlando. The Bucks, with the league's worst record at 10-and-43, will host the Denver Nuggets tonight.

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Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gannett both reported to the Milwaukee Brewers' Spring Training camp yesterday. Neither has been told officially whether they'll start the season at second base. Manager Ron Roenicke said over the winter that Gannett has the upper hand -- but Gannett says he's taking nothing for granted, and he expects an all-out competition for the job over the next month. Weeks proclaimed himself 100-percent healthy, after he missed the final two weeks of last season with a ruptured left lateral hamstring tendon. Gannett took over and batted .358 over the final two months, with a .324 season average, six homers, and 21 R-B-I's. Weeks has hit .221 over the past two seasons. For now, he says he'll focus on what he can control. Roenicke says he'll let things play out at camp before making a final decision.

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NASCAR driver Paul Menard of Eau Claire crashed his car yesterday during a practice for Sunday's Daytona-500. Six vehicles wiped out, along with a part of the fencing on the front-stretch. Menard's car got turned into an outside wall, and Parker Kligerman's vehicle climbed on it before he overturned. Menard was in the middle of a group of three drivers when Joey Lagano rear-ended him. Menard and four other drivers resorted to back-up cars. He and Matt Kenseth of Cambridge will compete for starting positions tonight in a pair of 150-lap qualifying races -- along with Beloit-born Danica Patrick. Meanwhile, Travis Kvapil of Janesville has signed with MAKE Motorsports to drive in first Camping World Truck Series' races of the year. He also says he's working on a deal to get him to return to the Sprint Cup on a nearly full-time basis. Kvapil was charged last October with domestic assault against his wife. He was recently placed on two years of probation, with an order to perform community service.

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