Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Former Packer GM praises ThompsonWisconsin Sports
-- The architect of the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl teams of the 1990’s has high praise for this year’s team and the job Ted Thompson has done.
GREEN BAY - The architect of the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl teams of the 1990’s has high praise for this year’s team and the job Ted Thompson has done.
Ron Wolf was the general manager who brought in Brett Favre, Reggie White, and other stars who won the ’96 season title and was the runner-up in ’97. Wolf said he felt that he needed 18-to-20 top-quality players to win a Super Bowl. And though he no longer studies personnel throughout the league, Wolf said Thompson – one of his former assistants – has done a great job building the current Packer team. Wolf said the keys were drafting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and adding defensive players Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett in free agency. The former GM said Pickett and Woodson have improved the Green Bay defense “three-fold.” And although some people believe Woodson has lost a step, Wolf says there are still 31 other teams who would like to sign him. The Packers are starting to practice today for their Super Bowl match-up a week from Sunday against Pittsburgh.
Green Bay linebacker Frank Zombo returned to the practice field today, after being out since mid-December with a sprained PCL knee ligament. Linebacker Erik Walden did not take part in the portion of the workout that was open to the media – and he was the only player who was a total non-participant. Walden sprained an ankle last Sunday, when the Packers won the NFC title at Chicago. The Packers held their first practice today to get ready for Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers a week from Sunday near Dallas.
The Toronto Raptors have a nine-game losing streak. And the Milwaukee Bucks hope to make it 10 tonight, when the two teams play at the Air Canada Centre. The Bucks lost their last two games in Toronto. But they’re coming off an eight-point home win over Atlanta on Wednesday night in which the Bucks rallied back from 11 points down in the fourth quarter. Toronto has lost four straight at home, after losing by 13 to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. A loss tonight would give the Raptors their first 10-game overall losing streak since April of 2006. One bright spot for the Raptors is second-year guard DeMar DeRozan. He has averaged just over 25 points in his last six games. For the Bucks, guard John Salmons and forward Drew Gooden are both questionable for tonight. Salmons has a strained right hip, and Gooden has a foot injury.
The UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team opens a three-game home-stand tonight against Detroit. The Panthers are 5-5 in the Horizon League after their six-point overtime victory at Butler last Sunday. And they’ll try to get their overall record back to .500 at 11-and-11. Detroit comes in at 5-4 in the conference and 11-10 overall. The Titans are 3-1 on the road in Horizon League contests. Freshman Ray McCallum Jr. is Detroit’s top scorer with almost 14-and-a-half points per game. Point guard Kaylon Williams has come on strong for Milwaukee lately. He’s averaging almost five assists a game. Against Butler, the junior Williams had 16 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists.
The UW-Green Bay men’s basketball team is at home tonight against Wright State. Senior guard Bryquis Perine is expected to play, after he sprained an ankle in Green Bay’s two-point win at Valparaiso last Sunday. Perine missed practice on Wednesday. The Phoenix are 5-4 in Horizon League play, and 11-10 overall. They’ll play a Wright State team that’s 6-3 in the conference and 13-8 overall. Senior guard Vaughn Diggins leads the Raiders in scoring with almost 16 points a game.
The University of Wisconsin women didn’t have to lift a finger to move into a tie for first-place in the Big Ten. The Badgers were off last night while Michigan State lost at 18th-ranked Iowa 66-64. Lykendra Johnson missed a close shot at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime. As a result, Michigan State is now tied with Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan for the conference lead. All four teams are at 6-2 in league play. Iowa, Purdue, and Ohio State are next at 4-4. The Badgers’ next game is on Sunday at Northwestern. The Wildcats are 3-5.
UW-Superior men’s basketball forward Jake Smith needs only 14 points to set a new team scoring record. Smith, a 5-5 senior from Barron, will break the career mark of 17-hundred-94 points set by Jim Sevals 44 years ago. Consistency is Smith’s trademark. He has averaged between 17-and-18 points a game in his freshman, sophomore, and senior years – and just over 20-a-game as a junior. And he’s hitting 46-percent of his three-pointers this season. Senior guard Dan Culy said Smith could score 30-a-night if he wanted to – but instead, he does what it takes to win. Last season, Smith had a career-high 35 points in a playoff game. And he remembers being held under 10 points just once in his four years at Superior. Smith can break the record tomorrow when the Yellow-jackets play at UW-Stevens Point.
Concordia schools from throughout the Midwest will have men’s-and-women’s basketball tournaments this weekend in Ann Arbor Michigan. Both Concordia-Mequon teams will play Ann Arbor tonight. And they both have tournament games scheduled for tomorrow. Elsewhere this evening, Northland College has a men’s-and-women’s double-header at Minnesota-Morris. And the Mount Mary women play in Dunbar against Northland Baptist.
The Milwaukee Admirals will try to gain ground in the American Hockey League’s West Division tonight, when they host first-place Peoria. Only three points separate the top five teams in the division – and Milwaukee is in fifth place with 56, three points behind the Rivermen. The Admirals were tied for first not too long ago – but they’ve lost three straight to drop four spots in a very tight division race. Two of Milwaukee’s three losses were shootouts. The Admirals are 24-13-2-6. They’ll face a Peoria team that’s 28-15-2-1. Nathan Oystrick of the Rivermen has scored seven points in three games against Milwaukee this season. The Admirals will play at Rockford tomorrow night.
The Milwaukee Wave will play at Missouri tonight in the Major Indoor Soccer League. The Wave is still in first place at 8-3. They’re coming off an eight-point home win over Chicago last Saturday, and they’re looking for their first back-to-back victories since they began the season at 5-and-0. Missouri comes in at 4-8. They’re in fourth place, four-and-a-half games behind Milwaukee. Missouri forward Byron Alvarez leads the lead in goals with 16, and he’s second in total scoring with 38 points. Milwaukee will host Omaha tomorrow night.
A former UW-Green Bay volleyball player has been named the head coach at North Dakota State University. Kari Thompson became the interim volleyball coach last fall, after Erich Hinterstocker resigned in October. The 29-year-old Thompson won the job permanently after leading North Dakota State to a 9-2 record and a tournament title in the Summit League. She played at Green Bay before becoming a graduate assistant at Alabama. She was hired as an assistant at North Dakota State in 2006. Hinterstocker said he quit because the job consumed him. The Fargo Forum newspaper found that he was warned during his time there about inappropriate behavior and language.