Morning State Sports Briefs: Badger men's hoops team plays N.C. StateWisconsin Sports
-- The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team will host North Carolina State tonight in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Badgers are 4-2 after losing to Notre Dame by seven points last Sunday. N.C. State is 4-1, and is led by freshman guard Lorenzo Brown with almost 13 points a game.
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team will host North Carolina State tonight in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Badgers are 4-2 after losing to Notre Dame by seven points last Sunday. N.C. State is 4-1, and is led by freshman guard Lorenzo Brown with almost 13 points a game.
The Badgers have had trouble closing out games. They blew late leads against both Notre Dame and Nevada-Las Vegas. Associate head coach Greg Gard says it’s still early, and the coaches are trying to identify the “go-to” players and those who respond the best to adverse situations. Coach Bo Ryan says there will always be streaks – and they have to eliminate the bad ones as much as they can. Ryan says sophomore forwards Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans are getting more playing time but they still have a lot to learn. Both averaged less than three points a game last weekend at the Old Spice Classic near Orlando.
The Big Ten leads the Challenge 4-2 after Tuesday's nights games. Michigan topped Clemson 69-61, Illinois beat North Carolina 79-67, Northwestern routed Georgia Tech 91-71 and Ohio State beat Florida State 58-44. The ACC's lone win came when Wake Forest beat Iowa 76-73.
University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema says his team could hold its own against anyone in the country. And he’s confident the 11-and-1 Badgers will get a BCS bowl game after winning a three-way share of the Big Ten with last Saturday’s win over Northwestern. Wisconsin is expected to go to the Rose Bowl – but that won’t be certain until Sunday night, when the final BCS Standings are released. The Badgers are fifth in the current BCS ratings, one place ahead of Ohio State and three spots up on Michigan State – which gave the Badgers their only loss. Bielema said he had empathy for the Spartans, who are on the outside-looking-in despite their 11-and-1 record. This week, Bielema is in Madison doing media interviews and meeting with designers to create Wisconsin’s first Big Ten championship rings since 1999. His assistants are out recruiting.
At least three University of Wisconsin football players might skip their senior years to join the NFL. But with the possibility of a lockout in 2011, the players might not have anywhere to go. Badgers’ coach Bret Bielema says he’ll meet this week with defensive end J.J. Watt, running back John Clay, and receiver Nick Toon to go over their options. He says it’s great that the NFL lets prospective underclassmen know where they might be drafted. But if the league’s owners and players come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, it’s possible that a draft could be held in April while the players could still be locked out of training camp come next July. That puts juniors in a no-man’s-land as they try to decide whether to jump to the pros in 2011. Nobody’s committing to it right now. The closest might be Clay, who turns 23 in January. They’ll have to decide by January 14th whether to pass up their senior years and turn pro. And by then, they’ll have no idea whether the NFL will play next year. Bielema said he feels bad for those players, since their dilemma will really be complicated. Meanwhile, the coach also said other schools are already making inquiries about his two coordinators – Paul Chryst on offense and Dave Doeren on defense.
UW-Stevens Point is still the nation’s number-one small college men’s basketball team. The Pointers top the season’s first weekly Division-Three poll from D3hoops.com. Stevens Point, the defending national champions, is off to a 3-0 start. And they topped the D-Three pre-season poll. Saint Norbert is eighth in the new rankings, moving up from 10th in the pre-season. Carthage of Kenosha is 18th. The Red Men were fifth in the pre-season survey, but they lost two of their first five games. Whitewater, Ripon, and River Falls also received votes.
The UW-Green Bay women’s basketball team will try to go 7-0 tonight when it hosts North Dakota. The Phoenix moved up two spots to 21st this week in the national coaches’ poll – and they’re just one place away from the Top-25 in the AP media poll. Green Bay is coming off victories over Hartford, Penn State, and Utah at the Caribbean Challenge in Mexico over the Thanksgiving weekend. Senior guard Celeste Hoewisch became the 25th Green Bay player to surpass a-thousand career points during that tournament. That was after she scored a career-high 28 against Penn State. Tonight, the Phoenix will play a North Dakota team that’s 1-3. The Fighting Sioux have lost two straight after winning their opener against Vermont.
Conference play begins tonight for both men’s-and-women’s basketball teams in the WIAC. Top-ranked UW-Stevens Point opens at Stout. La Crosse travels to Whitewater. River Falls plays at Superior. And Eau Claire hosts Oshkosh. The women’s teams have the same opponents on the other school’s floors. The UW-Platteville men have a non-conference game at Luther College. The Northland College men play at North Central of Minnesota. Also, several women’s teams in the Northern Athletics Conference have their league openers. Milwaukee Engineering is at home against Benedictine. Concordia-Mequon hosts Marian. And Wisconsin Lutheran of Milwaukee travels across town to play Alverno College.
The Milwaukee Bucks will play at Denver tonight. The Bucks have so many injuries, they were only able to have a four-on-four half-court scrimmage at practice yesterday. Coach Scott Skiles has not had a full squad since the start of training camp – and the entire front-court that played in the Bucks’ regular season opener is out now. Center Andrew Bogut and forward Carlos Delfino did not make the trip out West. Forward Drew Gooden is with the team, but he’s been out with a knee injury. Forward Corey Maggette is expected to play tonight, after missing two games with a sore left ankle. Guard Chris Douglas-Roberts is back after missing 15 games with an eye injury. He says the Bucks are in good spirits – but it means nothing until they start winning. The Bucks are 6-11, and Skiles refuses to use injuries as an excuse. He says it’s tougher to win when they’re short-handed – but he focuses on doing his best with the players he has. Denver is 10-6. The Nuggets are coming off their highest-scoring game of the season – a 138-133 home victory over Phoenix on Sunday.
The NBA has suspended Charlotte Bobcats’ guard Stephen Jackson for one game due to his actions on Saturday night in Milwaukee. He was ejected after getting two quick technical fouls in the first quarter, for complaining to referee Eli Roe that a foul had not been called on Bucks’ forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The league said Jackson verbally abused an official, and failed to leave the court in a timely manner after he was ejected. He’ll serve his suspension tonight, when Charlotte plays at New Orleans.
Former Milwaukee Bucks’ coach Don Nelson is among 27 finalists for next year’s class in the Basketball Hall-of-Fame. The 70-year-old Nelson became the NBA’s all-time winningest coach last season at Golden State before he retired. He had 13-hundred-35 regular season victories in 24 years on the bench, and a winning percentage of .557. Nelson played with the Boston Celtics before making his NBA coaching debut in 1976 with the Bucks. He led Milwaukee to nine playoff appearances in his 11 seasons with the team.
Nelson was among 21 Hall-of-Fame nominees chosen by its North American Committee. Panels representing veterans, international players, and women made the other six selections. Those elected will be enshrined next August in Springfield Massachusetts.
University of Wisconsin men’s hockey defenseman Jake Gardiner has been named the WCHA’s offensive player-of-the-week. And Badgers’ defenseman Justin Schultz was honored as the top defensive player. Gardiner, a junior, scored six points in two games during the weekend at the College Hockey Showcase in Madison. He had two power-play goals in a tie with Michigan. And he had three assists the next night when the Badgers beat Michigan State. Schultz, a sophomore, became the first UW defenseman in 18 years to score a hat trick. He scored three times last Saturday night against Michigan State. The Badgers are at Alaska-Anchorage for a weekend WCHA series.
The Milwaukee Admirals will host Manitoba tonight. Former Admirals’ coach Claude Noel is in his first season coaching the Moose. And he’ll return to the place where he won an American Hockey League championship in 2004. Current Admirals’ coach Lane Lambert was an assistant to Noel for one season, and Lambert calls him a mentor who helped him in many aspects of the game. Milwaukee is 11-6-1-4. The Admirals are home for the first time after a 10-game road trip in which they won five games. Manitoba is 11-6-0-3. The Moose lost a 2-to-1 shoot-out at Chicago last night.
Men's College Basketball
Concordia-Mequon 89, Wisconsin Lutheran 62
Madison Edgewood 65, Marian 46
Lakeland 84, Maranatha Baptist 55
Milwaukee Engineering 76, Benedictine 71 in overtime
North Park 73, Carroll 63
In women’s college basketball…
Lakeland 73, Maranatha Baptist 53
U-W Platteville 70, Millikin 64 in overtime
Beloit 96, Mount St. Mary's 41