Friday State Sports Briefs: Packers' punter Masthay looking forward to playing BearsWisconsin Sports
-- Green Bay Packers’ punter Tim Masthay is especially looking forward to playing the Bears in Chicago on Sunday. That’s because he’ll probably get to play a lot – and he’s done really well against the Bears the last two times he kicked against them.
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers’ punter Tim Masthay is especially looking forward to playing the Bears in Chicago on Sunday. That’s because he’ll probably get to play a lot – and he’s done really well against the Bears the last two times he kicked against them.
Chicago has one of the league’s top return men in Devin Hester, and Masthay’s punts have kept Hester in check. In last year’s regular season finale, Masthay placed four-of-his-eight punts within the Bears’ 20-yard line, and Hester was limited to just two returns. In the NFC Championship Game in January, Masthay punted eight times again. Hester returned three of those, and his longest runback was just 11 yards. And Masthay booted a 65-yard punt with just over three-minutes left in the conference title game. This season, Masthay is off to a slower start than he expected. But it hasn’t hurt the Packers, who one of just three NFC teams at 2-0 going into the weekend.
Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy says he won’t change the way his defenders tackle. The Packers felt they got a raw deal last Sunday when linebacker Desmond Bishop was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty on Carolina’s Cam Newton. Bishop grabbed Newton on the back of his legs, and flipped him backward onto the turf. Bishop said he was shocked when the penalty was called, because that’s how the coaches train the players to tackle. But NFL rules are designed to protect quarterbacks – and it’s possible that the same hit on a running back would never have been flagged. McCarthy said Bishop’s hit on Newton was a “classic example of a perfect tackle.” And he showed a highlight of it to his players this week as part of a tackling drill. Corner Tramon Williams practiced in full pads yesterday, as he returns from a bruised shoulder.
The University of Wisconsin Badgers have played 14 straight games without a fumble by their running backs. And they’ll try to keep that streak going tomorrow, when they host South Dakota. Coach Bret Bielema makes his backs run a lap when they drop a ball at practice – and as a result, it rarely happens. The last time the Badgers fumbled a ball in a game was in Week-Two of last season. James White was a freshman when he lost a fumble while extending the ball on a tackle in Wisconsin’s home victory over San Jose State. In three games this season, the Badger running backs have had 127 perfect touches – and not just on running plays. Montee Ball has four perfect touches on pass receptions. James White has 44 perfect touches, including four receptions and four kickoff returns. The Badgers come into tomorrow’s game at 3-0. South Dakota is 2-1. Kick-off is at 2:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Week-Three of the Midwest Conference football schedule will be played tomorrow. Saint Norbert, Ripon, Monmouth, and Illinois College are all tied for first place at 2-and-0. Ripon travels to Waukesha to face Carroll. Saint Norbert heads to Appleton to play Lawrence. Beloit College plays at Knox. Monmouth is at Illinois College. And Lake Forest travels to Grinnell.
The WIAC will play its league opener tomorrow, when UW-Platteville hosts La Crosse. River Falls is at Eau Claire in what’s officially a non-conference tune-up for both schools. Stevens Point is at Albion of Michigan. And Lakeland hosts Hope College of Michigan. Top-ranked Whitewater has its bye tomorrow, the week before it opens conference play.
If UW-Whitewater makes it back to the NCAA Division-Three championship game, they’ll play it on a Friday night instead of the normal Saturday. According to D3football.com the 39th Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl will take place on Friday December 16th with a 6 p.m. kickoff. The Web site said the change was made to accommodate ESPN’s broadcast schedule. The network normally broadcasts an FCS semi-final on the same day as the Stagg Bowl – and the potential of having an FCS game in the Pacific or Mountain time zones would make scheduling difficult. Whitewater and Mount Union of Ohio have played each other for the D-Three title in each of the last six years. Whitewater has won three of the last four crowns. The Stagg Bowl was last played in prime time in 2001. The game is traditionally played in Salem, Virginia.
The top-ranked University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team will start defending its national championship tonight when it hosts Lindenwood of Saint Charles Missouri. The two teams will also play on Sunday at the Kohl Center. The Lady Lions will play their first game in the NCAA’s Division-One, after moving from the NAIA. Most of Lindenwood’s teams, including football, are making the move to Division-Two – but women’s hockey and volleyball are competing in the top national group. Junior forward Brett Lobreau led the Lions with 29 goals a year ago. Her team has won four American Collegiate Hockey Association titles in the last six years. The Badgers are 9-3 all-time in season openers, winning four-of-their-last-five. Mark Johnson’s Wisconsin team has not been beaten in its last 27 games. Their last loss was to Minnesota-Duluth last November 28th. Senior Hilary Knight is the Badgers’ captain this year. She has 202 points in her first three seasons in Madison – the third-highest in UW history.
Milwaukee Bucks’ center Andrew Bogut says his right arm is feeling a lot better. He had surgery at the end of last season to remove bone chips from his elbow. That’s after he played the entire year with the after-effects of a fall he took on the Bradley Center floor against Phoenix in April of 2010. Bogut says he’ll have limitations for the rest of his career – but he tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel his elbow is quote, “night-and-day better” than a year ago. But Bogut says he still has to be careful, because the pain returns if he takes too many shots in a day. Still, Bogut says he and his Bucks teammates will be ready once the NBA owners’ lockout ends. He says everyone’s been practicing on their own. Bogut believes there will be a season – but he’s not sure when it will start. It doesn’t look like it will be soon. Owners and players met for five-and-a-half hours yesterday with no apparent progress. Reports say Commissioner David Stern will tell owners today that the first two weeks of training camps and exhibition games will be called off. Camps were scheduled to begin October 3rd.
Chellsie Memmel of West Allis has been named to the U.S. gymnastics’ squad for the Pan American Games in late October in Guadalajara Mexico. Memmel and Shawn Johnson were among six gymnasts named to the team. The 23-year-old Memmel was not chosen to compete in the World Championships in Tokyo next month. She injured her right shoulder during the national finals in August. But Memmel was able to take part in a three-day selection camp this week in Huntsville Texas. Memmel’s father and coach Andy said the shoulder was still a little tired this week. He said her goal was to make the world championships – but it didn’t happen, so they’ll move on. Memmel won the world all-around title in 2005. Her ultimate goal is to make the U.S. Olympic team for next year.
The Wisconsin Inter-collegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) plans to celebrate its 100th anniversary starting next fall. An inaugural conference Hall-of-Fame class will be selected, and all-time teams will be named. There will also be a centennial documentary, among other things. Many of the schools that started the league in 1913 are still there today – including Whitewater, Platteville, Oshkosh, La Crosse, Stevens Point, River Falls, and Superior. Eau Claire and Stout joined a few years later. Milwaukee was also a charter member, but it left in 1964. Actually, it was only in recent years when the WIAC got its current name. It used to be known as the Wisconsin State University Conference long after the WSU schools joined the UW System in the early 1970’s.