Morning State Sports Briefs: Packers to have room under salary capIf the NFL salary cap doesn’t change, the Green Bay Packers appear to have at least a little breathing room. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel estimates that the Packers have committed $121-million to the 2012 cap.
GREEN BAY - If the NFL salary cap doesn’t change, the Green Bay Packers appear to have at least a little breathing room. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel estimates that the Packers have committed $121-million to the 2012 cap.
That includes Jermichael Finley’s new contract, plus salary escalators and minimum base increases for several players. The Packers are expected to carry over six-million dollars from last year’s salary cap. And if the new cap remains at the previous level of 120-million dollars, the Packers would appear to be five-million dollars under it. That’s not much, considering that the team will need to sign draft choices, plus either center Scott Wells or an experienced free agent at that spot. Packers’ guard T.J. Lang has made a public appeal to the front office to re-sign Wells. Meanwhile, the Journal-Sentinel says the Packers could drop to as much as nine-million below the cap if they rework Donald Driver’s contract. And there’s still talk that the Packers will put a franchise tag on free agent backup quarterback Matt Flynn, to try and get something for him in a trade with another team that needs a starter. The franchise tag carries a salary of 14-million-dollars-plus for a one-year deal – and the team may or may not be able to afford to pull of that maneuver.
The Milwaukee Bucks hope to get closer to playoff contention tonight, when they take on the Celtics in Boston. The Celtics and New York are tied for the last two Eastern Conference playoff spots – and the Bucks and Cleveland are both two-and-a-half games back. Both Milwaukee and Boston scored victories in their first games after the All-Star break – and they blew huge leads in the process. The Bucks were up by 22 before they nipped Washington by one point, ending a six-game home losing streak. Boston wasted a 16-point advantage in beating Cleveland by three. That game wasn’t decided until the final minute, when former Buck Ray Allen made a dunk to put the Celtics in front for good. Boston committed 18 turnovers against the Cavs, but it still managed to break a five-game overall losing streak. The Celtics are 16-17. The Bucks are 14-20. They’ve lost 11 of their last 14 to the Celts. And they’ve only had one victory in their last seven visits to the Garden.
Chris Davis of UW-Whitewater has been named the WIAC men’s basketball player-of-the-year. And the Warhawks’ Pat Miller was named the coach-of-the-year by his colleagues throughout the league. Davis, a senior forward, was also named to the 10-member All-Conference first team for the second year in a row. He leads the WIAC with around 22 points and eight-and-a-half rebounds per game. Davis has also made 88-percent of his free throws, the second-highest percentage in the league. And he ranks in the Top-10 in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and blocked shots. Miller led Whitewater to the WIAC’s regular season title and a berth in the NCAA Division-Three tournament. River Falls senior forward Shane Manor also made the all-league first team for the second straight year. Also making the squad were Tyler-and-Dan Tillema of Stevens Point, Luke Knoble of Whitewater, Al Chery of La Crosse, Jordan Petersen of Eau Claire, John Flanigan of Oshkosh, Brett Stangel of Platteville, and Ben Aalfs of Superior. Greg Schrimpf of Oshkosh was named the sport’s top scholar-athlete.
University of Wisconsin sophomore Japheth Cato has been named the Big Ten Conference indoor field athlete-of-the-year. Cato defended his title in the heptathlon at last weekend’s conference meet, which earned him the field athlete-of-the-meet honors. Cato also placed third in the long-jump with a career-best leap of 25-feet and three-quarter inches. And he took fourth in the 60-meter hurdles, after running a personal-best time of seven-point-eight-eight seconds in the preliminary round. Cato was also named yesterday to the All-Big Ten first team for the second year in a row. He had been named the conference freshman-of-the-year last season.
Saint Norbert College of De Pere has named Derek Rhodes as its new men’s soccer coach. He was the head boys’ coach at Ashwaubenon High School for the last four years. Before that, Rhodes was an assistant at Saint Norbert for four years under his father Dale. The Green Knights won three Midwest Conference titles during those seasons – and they made the NCAA Division III tournament in each of those years. Derek Rhodes is a De Pere native. He played his college soccer at Massachusetts, where he was an all-conference and All-New England selection during his senior year.
Saint Scholastica College freshman Joe Dubay has been disqualified as the winner of last Saturday’s American Birkebeiner cross country ski race in the Hayward area. The 21-year-old Dubay finished first in the 54-kilometer classic. But as it turned out, he was not registered for the event – and he was wearing a bib registered to his college skiing teammate Chris Parr. Parr gave up his spot in the marathon so Dubay could use the Birkie to train for the upcoming junior championships. Dubay said he understood why he was disqualified. The Birkie title went instead to four-time U.S. champion David Chamberlain.
University of Wisconsin men’s hockey sophomore Frankie Simonelli is the WCHA’s co-defensive player of the week. Simonelli had one goal and two assists as the Badgers won a pair of games at Bemidji State last weekend for their first road sweep of the season. Simonelli shared the weekly honors with Minnesota defenseman Nate Schmidt.
Taylor Pierce of UW-Eau Claire and Lauren Beres of La Crosse have been named the WIAC’s first softball players-of-the-week for the spring season. Pierce, a freshman infielder, had a pair of game-winning hits – a three-run triple and a solo home run – against Gustavus Adolphus last weekend. Beres, a junior right-hander, went 3-1 to start the season. She pitched 14 innings, giving up three earned runs on 12 hits with 13 strikeouts and four walks.
Also, Siri Wischmann of UW-Whitewater and Danielle Schulzetenberg of Eau Claire have been named the WIAC’s gymnasts-of-the-week. Wischmann, a junior, had personal high scores in the balance beam and the vault in a dual meet against Gustavus Adolphus. She won the balance beam in spite of a wrist injury that has limited her training. Schulzetenberg, also a junior, won the all-around competition against Oshkosh with season-bests in the floor exercise, uneven bars, balance beam, and total scoring. The WIAC gymnastics meet will be held on Saturday at Eau Claire. It also doubles as the West Region qualifier for the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association meet in March.