Afternoon State News Briefs: Rodgers second in NFC fan voting for Pro BowlWisconsin Sports
-- Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers is second in the NFC’s fan voting for the Pro Bowl, behind Philadelphia’s Michael Vick. The league said today that Rodgers had just over 343,000 votes. And he’s the fifth top overall vote-getter in both conferences.
Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers is second in the NFC’s fan voting for the Pro Bowl, behind Philadelphia’s Michael Vick. The league said today that Rodgers had just over 343,000 votes.
And he’s the fifth top overall vote-getter in both conferences. Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning is first, followed by Vick, Minnesota rusher Adrian Peterson, and New England quarterback Tom Brady. Also, Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews and corner Charles Woodson lead the NFC fan voting at their positions. The fan vote counts for one-third of the Pro Bowl votes, with players and coaches also getting a say. The fan balloting ends on December 20th, and the Pro Bowl picks will be announced on December 28th. The Pro Bowl Game returns to Honolulu this year – but it will still be on the Sunday before the Super Bowl, January 30th. It was moved to that spot last year, after being held for years in the week after the Super Bowl.
The Packers have only given up 14 touchdowns this season, the fewest in the NFL. Green Bay's defense has only given up four TD’s in their five road games. And Green Bay has given up 146 points this year – tied with Chicago for the fewest in the league. Safety Nick Collins says the motto of the defense is quote, “If they can’t get in the red zone, they can’t win.” Much of the credit goes to defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who’s had to work around injuries that resulted in the losses of linebackers Nick Barnett and Brad Jones for the season – as well as lineman Justin Harrell. Several other key figures have missed games as well, including Clay Matthews and Atari Bigby. But Capers said his units on the field play well together – and they do an excellent job of communicating with each other, and getting a feel for what the offense is about to do. Capers says players move faster when they know the man next to them is doing their job – and he says his defense clearly has that level of confidence. The Packer players are off today. They’ll start practicing tomorrow for their next game on Sunday at Atlanta.
Marquette will face Gonzaga tonight for third-place at the CBE men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City. The Golden Eagles are 4-1, after falling to top-ranked Duke by five points in last night’s semi-finals. Gonzaga is 2-2, after an 81-64 loss to fourth-ranked Kansas State last evening. The Bulldogs only shot 33-percent from the floor, and 23-percent from three-point range. Steven Gray is the only senior on the Gonzaga roster. He averaged almost 26 points going into the last night’s contest, and K-State held him to 15 points. He made 6-of-15 from the floor. Marquette had three scorers in double figures against top-ranked Duke. Jimmy Butler scored 22. Jae Crowder had 15 off the bench. And Darius Johnson-Odom had 13, despite going 0-for-7 in the first half.
The UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team will host Western Michigan tonight. The Panthers will play on campus at the Klotsche Center instead of downtown at the much larger U.S. Cellular Arena. It’s their first regular season game on the UWM campus since 2004, and the team will wear throw-back jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game. The Panthers are 3-2 after beating Northern Iowa by two points on Saturday night. Tone Boyle hit the game-winning jumper with two-point-four seconds left. Western Michigan comes in at 0-2. The Broncos have lost to Xavier and Loyola. Flenard Whitfield is Western Michigan’s leading scorer, averaging 16 points a game.
Two dozen Wisconsin small college basketball teams are in action tonight. In men’s play, 10th-ranked Saint Norbert hosts Elmhurst. UW-River Falls travels to Saint Paul to play No. 12 Saint Thomas. Beloit College is at Milwaukee Engineering. Lakeland is at Concordia-Chicago. And UW-Stout heads to northwest Minnesota to face Bemidji State. In men’s-and-women’s double-headers, Viterbo of La Crosse goes across town to play the UWL Eagles. And UW-Superior is at Division-Two Minnesota-Duluth. In Division-Three women’s basketball tonight, UW-Whitewater plays at third-ranked Illinois Wesleyan. Number-six Stevens Point hosts Millikin. Ninth-ranked Carthage entertains Benedictine. No. 21 Saint Norbert is at Eau Claire. The Stout women host Northwestern College of Minnesota. UW-Platteville travels to Milwaukee to play Alverno College. Beloit is at Rockford. Ripon plays at Oshkosh. And River Falls hosts Macalester.
UW-Madison's Bret Bielema was named today as one of eight finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach-of-the-Year award. The fifth-year coach has led the Badgers to a 10-1 record, and they would get at least a share of the Big Ten title with a victory over Northwestern at home on Saturday. Bielema is 48-and-15 during his tenure at the UW. The Football Writers Association of America will select the coach-of-the-year. He’ll be named on December sixth. Meanwhile, Bielema says he’s been calling voters for national awards. And he has made pitches for four players up for national honors – quarterback Scott Tolzien, running back John Clay, tight end Lance Kendricks, and offensive tackle Gabe Carimi. All four were named as finalists yesterday. The winners will be named next month.
The University of Wisconsin football team will play for only its 12th Big Ten title in history on Saturday. And yet, the Badgers’ home game against Northwestern was not a sell-out at last word from the UW ticket office. As of yesterday, 1,000 tickets remained for the game which could determine if the Badgers make the Rose Bowl for the first time under coach Bret Bielema. There also may be lots of tickets being sold on the street on gameday giving fans across the state and the Upper Midwest a good chance of purchasing them if they make the drive down to Madison. This is the first year the conference has extended its league season past Thanksgiving, to try and get more exposure as the bowl bids get determined. But school officials say fans are not used to attending Badger games during the holiday weekend – and Bielema himself calls it “unchartered waters.” The student section may not be its rowdy self, as many youngsters at the UW head home for Thanksgiving. The kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m., and Bielema hopes it will help attract more fans as students start returning from the holiday recess. It’s also Senior Day, and 14 players will take part in their home finales.
The Milwaukee Bucks got some good news today about center Andrew Bogut. An MRI did not turn up any significant injury to his sore back. But he’s still listed as doubtful for tomorrow night’s game against the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Bogut hurt his back while he was warming up last Saturday night for the Bucks’ loss to Oklahoma City. It was aggravated in the second half of that game, when he was hit on the side. Bogut says he expects to return to the Bucks’ lineup later in the week. He’s averaging almost 12 points and 11 rebounds so far this season.
Lyndsey Seewald of Carroll University in Waukesha is the Midwest Conference women’s basketball player-of-the-week. Seewald, a senior guard, averaged 28 points in a win over Lakeland and an overtime loss to Millikin. Griffin Lentsch of Grinnell College in Iowa is the league’s top men’s player.
Kaylan Gaines of Wisconsin Lutheran has been named the defensive football player-of-the-year in the Northern Athletics Conference. Gaines was also named to a 30-member all-conference first team. The senior defensive lineman led the league with 10-and-a-half sacks this year. And he had 43 tackles for the Warriors from Milwaukee. Running back Khyree Copeland of Concordia-Chicago is the year’s top player on offense. And defensive back Josiah Brendemuehl of Maranatha Baptist was picked by the league’s coaches as the freshman-of-the-year. He tied for the league lead in tackles with 100, and he had two interceptions and seven pass break-ups. Jon Cooper of NAC champion Benedictine is the coach-of-the-year. The Eagles went 7-0 in league play for its first conference title since 1934.
Edward Newton-Kemp of Concordia-Mequon is the men’s basketball player-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Conference. Newton-Kemp, a senior guard, averaged 26 points, six rebounds, and four steals in a win over Dubuque and a loss to Carroll. Becky Christofferson of Dominican is the league’s top women’s player.