Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Northwoods League begins another season tonightWisconsin Sports
-- The Northwoods League will begin its 18th season tonight. Wisconsin will again have six of the league’s 16 teams, which feature some of the nation’s top college players.
The Northwoods League will begin its 18th season tonight. Wisconsin will again have six of the league’s 16 teams, which feature some of the nation’s top college players.
They’ll get a taste of what the minor leagues are like, with a two-month regular season complete with an All-Star Game in July and playoffs in mid-August. They don’t get paid, and they must have college eligibility left next year. The Eau Claire Express are the defending champions, after defeating five-time titlist Rochester in the finals a year ago. Eau Claire will open its season in Wausau tonight against the Wisconsin Woodchucks. La Crosse plays at Green Bay. Wisconsin Rapids hosts Madison. Willmar Minnesota hosts Thunder Bay. Duluth is at home against Saint Cloud. Waterloo plays at Battle Creek. Rochester is at Mankato. And Alexandria plays at Brainerd. Wisconsin Rapids and Willmar will open their second seasons, after they joined the Northwoods as expansion clubs a year ago.
Wisconsin swept the top honors in the American Baseball Coaches’ Midwest Region. Cody Koback, a junior pitcher and utility player at UW-Stevens Point, has been named the region’s position-player-of-the-year. Oshkosh junior Luke Westphal is the Midwest pitcher-of-the-year. And John Vodenlich of UW-Whitewater is the coach-of-the-year, after leading the Warhawks to the national Division-Three finals.
At least some of the Green Bay Packers have started to work out together. Some fans have been critical of the Super Bowl champions for not trying to hold unofficial practices during the NFL owners’ lockout. But now, center Scott Wells told the AP that most of the offensive line flew to Nashville on Sunday night for a few days of work this week. Wells says the workouts are being run by his trainer – and the group chose Nashville because Wells and fellow Packers’ lineman Chad Clifton live there during the off-season. Players cannot use team facilities or have contact with coaches during the lockout. Still, some teams have been working on various facets of the game – including the timing patterns between quarterbacks and receivers.
The Milwaukee Bucks are holding their first auditions today for players they might want to consider drafting later this month. The Bucks have the Number-10 pick in the first round. Today, they’re looking at six possible candidates – including Kansas forward Marcus Morris and Marquette guard Dwight Buycks. They’re also giving workouts to Georgia forward Trey Thompkins, Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney, guard Anatoly Bose of Nicholls State in Louisiana, and guard Andrew Goudelock of the College of Charleston. A couple of those players are solid shooters – something the Bucks lacked at times last season. Delaney hit 41-percent of his three-pointers for Virginia Tech. Goudelick also hit almost 41-percent from beyond-the-arc, while averaging almost 24 points overall last season.
One of Wisconsin’s top high school centers has her changed her mind about playing her college basketball at Illinois-Chicago. Oak Creek standout Ashley Luke has signed a national letter-of-intent to play at UW-Green Bay this fall. The six-foot Luke was given her release from UIC, after its coach Lisa Ryckbosch was fired after last season. In a statement from the school, Luke said that when the old coach left, Illinois-Chicago did not seem like a good fit anymore. She said she was impressed with Green Bay after seeing the Phoenix play Baylor in the NCAA’s Sweet-16 round in March. Luke was a coaches’ All-State first team selection last season, averaging 14-and-a-half points and almost nine rebounds for Oak Creek. She’s the third member of UWGB’s fall recruiting class. The others are Taylor Thomas of Wausau Newman and Ellen Edison of Maple Grove, Minnesota.
University of Wisconsin Badger celebrities are starting a three-city tour of the state today. The annual “Badger Days” gives fans a chance to rub elbows with athletic director Barry Alvarez, football coach Bret Bielema, and other coaches and athletic officials. The first stop is today in Milwaukee at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Other stops are set for Friday in Wisconsin Dells, and next Tuesday in Green Bay. Fans can take pictures, talk with the coaches, and see various Badger awards and championship items.
Michael Burcin will become the new men’s golf coach for the University of Wisconsin. He was named yesterday as the replacement for Jim Schuman, who left after eight seasons to open a golf academy in Verona. Burcin has spent the last seven years as an assistant at South Carolina. The coaches’ association named Burcin its Assistant-of-the-Year in 2010. He’s currently an assistant for the Palmer Cup – a college competition between U.S. and European players that takes place next week in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Bill Curtis has been named the new softball coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee. Curtis has spent the last four years as the girls’ varsity softball coach at nearby Wisconsin Lutheran High School. This is his first college position. Curtis replaces Rachel Kuehl, who stepped down last month after coaching Wisconsin Lutheran for 10 seasons.
Marietta of Ohio won the NCAA Division-Three baseball tournament near Appleton yesterday. Marietta crushed Chapman of California 18-5 in the deciding game. That was after Chapman handed Marietta its first loss earlier in the day with a 15-4 drubbing. Marietta was the nation’s top-ranked team at the end of the regular season. They cranked out 17 hits in the final game. Aaron Hopper led the way with four hits and four RBI’s. Marietta ended its season at 47-4. Ninth-ranked Chapman closed out at 37-13.
Former Marquette University guard Dwayne Wade scored 22 points last night to help the Miami Heat take a one-game-to-none lead over Dallas in the NBA Finals. The Heat pulled away in the second half for a 92-84 victory in Miami. Wade had 10 rebounds. Former Milwaukee Bucks’ draft choice Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points for the Mavericks, despite tearing a tendon in his left middle finger. Nowitzki scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to try and keep the Mavericks in contention. But it wasn’t to be, as Dallas shot just 37-percent on the night. Game-Two is tomorrow night in Miami.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will try to even their Midwest League series at Bowling Green this afternoon. The Rattlers are coming off a 4-3 loss in their first game in Kentucky this season. The Beloit Snappers are at Dayton again tonight, after losing an 11-10 slugfest on Tuesday night. The only other matinee in the Midwest League today has Kane County playing at Lake County. All the other action is under-the-lights. Western Division-leader Burlington is at Great Lakes. East leader Lansing is home against Peoria. South Bend hosts Cedar Rapids. West Michigan entertains Quad Cities. And Clinton is at Fort Wayne.