Wednesday State Sports Briefs: Lambeau Stadium to be closed off to Green Bay marathonWisconsin Sports
- Next year’s Green Bay Marathon will not include its normal lap on the Lambeau Field turf. That’s because the stadium will be under construction as more seating and new replay boards get installed.
GREEN BAY -- Next year’s Green Bay Marathon will not include its normal lap on the Lambeau Field turf. That’s because the stadium will be under construction as more seating and new replay boards get installed.
Over 9,700 people took part in this year’s full marathon, half-marathon, and five-kilometer runs. The Packers said they enjoy being part of the event – and they looked for a way to get the runners around the construction, but they couldn’t find something feasible. The Packers expect to re-open Lambeau to the marathon in 2013. Registration begins November first for next year’s events. Organizers said a new layout will accommodate more people. The marathon events are set for May 19th-and-20th.
At 7-0, nobody can say the Green Bay Packers are having a letdown after winning the Super Bowl in February. And a big reason for that could be a take-no-prisoners grading system adopted by Mike McCarthy’s coaching staff. It’s nothing new, but fullback John Kuhn says the bar has been raised this year to keep the Packers playing at a championship caliber. It all begins in the hours after every game, when the position coaches grade each of their players on each one of their plays. If the player did everything right on a particular play, he gets a positive mark. If the player uses the wrong technique, route, or follow-through, he gets a minus for that play. The goal is to have plus-marks at least 80-percent of the time. Defensive end Jarius Wynn says anything below 90-percent is bad. Sometimes, a player can do something good and still get a minus-mark. Defensive end Ryan Pickett says he’s tackled a running back for a loss – and he still got a minus because he was out of his gap. And then there was the touchdown at Chicago by Jermichael Finley in which he ran the wrong route. He couldn’t remember that grade, but teammates say he could have gotten both a plus-and-a-minus for that. Receivers are under double scrutiny, because they graded both on their routes and their finishes. In general, McCarthy says the Packers have scored above average, but they have still not played their best football. They’re next chance to improve their grades is on Nov. 6, when the Packers play at San Diego after their bye week.
Green Bay Packers’ quarterback coach Tom Clements says back-up Matt Flynn continues to improve during his fourth season behind Aaron Rodgers. Flynn threw an interception during mop-up duty in his only regular season appearance this year. But Clements says Flynn is one of the more diligent players in preparing each week. And he gets ready the same way Rodgers does. He makes specific throws at practice that the quarterback will need to make against a particular opponent. Clements says Flynn realizes he’s always one play away from getting into a game – and he knows and studies the game plan as well as Rodgers does. The preparation could help Flynn after the season, when he becomes a free agent and considers possible offers from other teams. Flynn would love to start somewhere – but for now, he remains patient as Rodgers’ backup. Flynn threw for 894 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions in his last two pre-seasons – and in his only regular season, he threw for 251 yards, three scores, and an INT against New England last year.
Most of the University of Wisconsin's production at the wide receiver spot has come from two players – Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis. Together, they’ve caught 88-percent of all passes to Wisconsin wide-outs. And at some point, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst says other receivers will need to step up. At the same time, Chryst says he doesn’t want to throw a player under the bus just because he’s not getting a lot of opportunities to catch the ball. That’s what’s happening for redshirt sophomore Jeff Duckworth. He’s the Badgers’ third-leading receiver with five catches for 48 yards. Freshman Kenzel Doe is next on the list with two receptions for four yards. And sophomore Manasseh Garner – who moved from the halfback spot this spring – has one catch for 27 yards. Chryst says the reserves have had their moments at practice, but it has not translated to opportunities during the games. As a result, it’s been seven weeks and the Badgers are still looking for a third receiver to step forward. Abbrederis, a sophomore, leads Wisconsin with 30 catches for 482 yards. Toon, a senior, has 27 catches and he’s first in receiving yards with 505. The Badgers are regrouping this week after their loss at Michigan State. They’re 6-1 overall, as they head into Saturday night’s contest at Ohio State.
Wisconsin will look for improvement in its special teams on Saturday night at Ohio State. The Badgers do have the second-best punt return unit in the nation, averaging 20-yards for each runback. But Michigan State blocked a punt and a field goal attempt last Saturday night – and it cost the Badgers 10 points in a 37-31 game that was decided by a Hail Mary pass at the end. Bielema says there’s no way a Top-15 team can be spotted 10 points on the road. But that’s what Wisconsin did when holder Brad Nortman bobbled a snap on – and Philip Welch’s field goal attempt was blocked by Darqueze Dennard. Two series later, a missed blocking assignment resulted in Kyler Elsworth blocking Nortman’s punt. Guard Robert Burge took the blame, but special teams’ coach DeMontie Cross said there were other breakdowns on that play as well. He said the Badgers have to be fundamentally sound and execute better.
Apparently, lots of Milwaukee Brewer fans want to see how the Saint Louis Cardinals do in the World Series. The Fox TV station in Milwaukee, WITI, says its ratings for the first five games of the Fall Classic are up 53-percent from a year ago. The Brewers-and-Cardinals have had a spirited rivalry which continued in the National League Championship Series, when the Cards whipped the Brew Crew in six games. And it’s obvious that Brewer fans are at least interested in seeing how the Cards fare against the Rangers. Game-Six is tonight, and the Rangers can win the title with a victory at Busch Stadium. The middle-America series is not playing so well nationally. The first four contests averaged 13-and-a-half million viewers, over four-percent less than a year ago. And Monday night’s game had the lowest rating for a Game-Five ever. More people in both Milwaukee and the nation watched “Dancing With the Stars” on Monday night. Still, about 95-thousand households in Metro Milwaukee have seen each game of the World Series. That’s just over 10-percent of the total TV households in the market.
Catherine Guido of Saint Norbert College has been named the defensive volleyball player-of-the-week in the Midwest Conference. Guido, a junior, had 181 digs as the Green Knights went 3-and-2 last week. She averaged just over nine digs per set. And Guido had 53 digs in a five-set loss to UW-Stevens Point. That was the eighth-highest number of digs in NCAA Division-Three history. Cori Cooper of Lake Forest was the top player on offense.
Only half of University of Wisconsin men’s basketball players graduate within six years after they start school. That’s according to the N-C-A-A’s Graduation Success Rate figures released yesterday. The report included players who arrived at their schools from 2001-through-’04, and were given six years to graduate. Wisconsin’s rate was tied with Purdue for the fourth-lowest in the Big Ten. Minnesota had the lowest rate at 43-percent. In football, 66-percent of Wisconsin players graduated in the six-year window. That was tied with Indiana for the third-lowest in the conference. Wisconsin’s Justin Doherty said the UW takes the academic careers of its athletes seriously. He also said the figures do not reflect athletes who leave for pro careers, and then return later to get their diplomas. Doherty also said Wisconsin continues to meet the requirements of another NCAA standard, the Academic Progress Rate. The Badger women’s basketball team had a much better Graduation Success Rate at 86-percent. At Marquette Univesity, the men’s basketball program was at 91 and the women at 100. The UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team had a graduation rate of 67 and the women were at 87. At UW-Green Bay, the men’s hoop team had a 100-percent rate, and the women were at 92.
The UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team has added a game to its schedule. The Panthers will host Nebraska-Omaha on December 17th. The game will be played at the Klotsche Center on campus instead of the U.S. Cellular Arena downtown. That’s because the arena is already booked for a graduation ceremony that day. Nebraska-Omaha is returning to the NCAA’s Division-One this season, and will join the Summit League in a year from now. They went 19-9 a year ago.
Univrsity of Wisconsin women’s hockey goal-tender Alex Rigsby has been named the WCHA’s defensive player-of-the-week for the second straight time. Rigsby, a sophomore, had 80 saves in a two-game sweep at Minnesota-Duluth. She had a career-high 46 stops in the second game of the series last Saturday.
Also, Badger men’s hockey goal-tender Joel Rumpel was named the WCHA’sRookie-of-the-Week. Rumpel, a freshman, had 38 saves last Saturday in a 5-4 win over defending league champion North Dakota.
University of Wisconsin senior Dani Fischer is the Big Ten’s female cross country runner-of-the-week. Fischer won the UW-Oshkosh Open last weekend with a time of 21 minutes and 58 seconds for six-kilometers. And she helped the Badgers win the team title at that event.
Two of every three Milwaukeeans call themselves Brewer fans. But only 30-percent of those people are avid fans of Major League Baseball. And just one of five Milwaukee adults are avid followers of the sport. That’s according to a survey by Scarborough Sports Marketing. The larger group of Brewer fans is at least a little bit interested in the team – and the support goes up from there. The Scarborough survey shows that Brewers are 53-percent more likely than others to watch the World Series, and they’re 29-percent more likely to buy sports-logo apparel. But the sport does not attract them to Twitter or Facebook. Only 11-percent of Brewer fans are more likely to use social media than Milwaukee adults in general. And the Scarborouogh survey says Brewer fans are also followers of high school sports. The study showed that four-of-every-10 Brewer fans are very interested in prep sports.