WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Thompson admits blame on the backup quarterback situation
Green Bay Packers' general manager Ted Thompson says he could have handled the backup quarterback situation better. But despite an 8-7-and-1 season and a first-round exit in the playoffs, Thompson says the state of the three-time defending N-F-C North champions is quote, "pretty good." Thompson is scouting potential draft choices this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile Alabama, where he gave a general assessment of his team yesterday. Thompson tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he won't change his approach of building through the draft, and being extremely selective in signing free agents. Media critics have said the Packers should bring in veterans on defense, especially at the safety spot which had no interceptions this past season. Thompson said he'll sign free agents if the price is right, but doing it for the sake of doing it is quote, "a waste of time and energy." The G-M admitted quote, "bad fortune and possibly bad planning" in going through quarterbacks Vince Young, Seneca Wallace, and Scott Tolzien before Matt Flynn won a couple games in Aaron Rodgers' absence in December. Still, Thompson said he'd never use injuries as an excuse, even though the Pack went 0-4-and-1 in November with Rodgers out due to a broken collarbone. Thompson also denied that the big money contracts given to Rodgers and Clay Matthews hampers the Packers' ability to sign other good players. He said the team is working on a plan for its own free agents -- including corner Sam Shields and defensive lineman B-J Raji.
A grandson of Packers' legendary coach Vince Lombardi will reportedly become the new offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. E-S-P-N says new Lions' coach Jim Caldwell has hired Joe Lombardi to run his offense. The 42-year-old Lombardi was born a year after his grandfather Vince died in 1970. He's been with the New Orleans Saints since 2007, and was the quarterbacks' coach since '09. He also spent a year with Atlanta, and had coached in college for nine years before that.
The U-W Milwaukee men's basketball team struggled in the first half last night and lost at Wright State, 73-to-57. The Panthers only shot 25-percent from the floor in the first half and missed half its free throws. That helped give Wright State a 39-to-21 halftime lead -- and while Milwaukee shot 58-percent in the second half, its deficit never got closer than nine. Kyle Kelm scored 16 points for U-W-M, which has still not won at Wright State since 2005. Jerran Young led the Raiders with 19 points, including five in a 7-0 run in the second half that put the game out of reach. Wright State improved to 5-and-2 in Horizon League play, and 13-and-9 overall. U-W Milwaukee dropped to 3-and-4 in the conference, and 13-and-8 overall. The Panthers will host Detroit on Friday night. Tonight, the eighth-ranked Wisconsin men play at Minnesota. And the U-W Green Bay men host Oakland.
The Marquette women shot 53-percent last night while defeating Providence 87-to-79 in Milwaukee. The Friars were held to 36-percent, as Marquette jumped out to a 17-point lead in the first half and never looked back. Five Golden Eagles scored in double figures, led by Katherine Plouffe with 23. Marquette also had a 43-to-29 rebounding edge. Katie Young pulled down 10 boards for the Eagles, who improved to 4-and-2 in the Big East and 13-and-4 overall. Sarah Beal scored 27 for Providence, which dropped to 1-and-6 in the conference and 6-and-12 overall. Marquette's next game is on Saturday at Creighton.
A losing record is not the only problem facing the Milwaukee Bucks. Attendance is down as well, as more than a-thousand fewer people are buying tickets for the average Bucks' home game than a year ago. After 18 dates, the team is averaging 13-thousand-954 fans at the B-M-O Harris Bradley Center. And that's the tickets sold. Perhaps about five-thousand people were actually in the seats at the start of last Wednesday's Bucks' loss to Memphis. Bucks' vice president John Steinmiller says there's still a lot to see, despite the team's 7-and-33 record. He points to solid performances by Milwaukee's younger players -- including 19-year-old Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and 22-year-old point guard Brandon Knight. Snowy weather and a lack of top-quality opponents are also being blamed for the attendance drop -- along with talks about the need for a new arena. Yesterday, the Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce said it hired the Hammes Company of Brookfield for advice on whether a new arena is needed, or if the Bradley Center should be renovated instead. Steinmiller says the weather shouldn't keep Bucks' fans away, especially since 80-thousand people make it to Lambeau Field to see the Packers in the cold-and-snow. The schedule is a problem, though. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat won't play in Milwaukee until March 29th. Tonight, the Bucks will host Detroit.
The Milwaukee Admirals scored three power-play goals last night to beat Toronto 3-to-2 at the B-M-O Harris Bradley Center. Miikka Salomaki scored twice for the Admirals, who handed Toronto its second loss in its last eight road games. The Marlies committed 11 penalties, which helped Milwaukee take a season-high 46 shots on goal. Colton Sissons also scored on a power play, as Milwaukee ended a season-long three-game winless streak.