Tuesday State Sports Briefs: Ball named Big Ten Player of the WeekWisconsin Sports
-- University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball got most of his 247 yards last Saturday after Purdue defenders tried-and-failed to tackle him.
MADISON - University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball got most of his 247 yards last Saturday after Purdue defenders tried-and-failed to tackle him.
The senior Ball said he knew that not all of Purdue’s defensive players would be blocked – so he made it a mission to improve what’s called “yards after contact.” Yesterday, Ball was named the Big Ten’s offensive player-of-the-week, after he broke the conference records for career touchdowns and total points. The Badger coaches said Ball had 194 yards after he was hit for a first time. Ball made the most of his 29 carries, as he averaged eight-and-a-half yards per rush. And with things like a well-placed shoulder block, Ball was able to wear down Purdue’s defense in the second half, as the Badgers romped to a 38-14 victory. Offensive line coach Bart Miller said Ball had a “great vision” to see things develop and run through Purdue’s tackles. Miller said quote, “We wore them down and it showed,” as Ball broke tackles and built up break-away speed at the ends of his rushes. The Badgers drove their way to a 2-1 record in the Big Ten. They’re 5-2 overall, going into this Saturday’s home match-up against Minnesota.
It appears that the Wisconsin football coaches are counting on two injured starters to not miss a beat, and return on Saturday when the Badgers host Minnesota. Left-tackle Ricky Wagner and linebacker Ethan Armstrong remain at the top of the depth chart for the game against the Gophers, in which Paul Bunyan’s Axe goes to the winners. Wagner and Armstrong both left last Saturday’s win at Purdue with knee injuries. Coach Bret Bielema said last night there’s a chance Armstrong could play against Minnesota – while offensive line coach Bart Miller said Wagner would only miss one week at the most.
The Milwaukee Bucks will try to go 3-0 in the pre-season tonight, when they play the Bulls in Chicago. Milwaukee is coming off a 108-91 home victory over Detroit last Saturday night. Forward Ersan Ilyasova led Milwaukee with 22 points in that game – and 18 of those points came in the third quarter when he went on a 7-for-7 shooting spree. Coach Scott Skiles said Ilyasova did not press for shots in the first half – and he remained patient until he got some good looks at the basket. Skiles said points can come in bunches in the NBA, and younger players often try to force things when good shots don’t come to them. The coach said Ilyasova has done that in the past – but he has calmed himself down, and he had a good game in quote, “not a ton of minutes.” Ilyasova credited the Bucks’ team chemistry to his scoring spree on Saturday. He said the players read each other on the floor, so the player with the hot hand gets the ball. The 25-year-old Ilyasova is entering his fifth NBA season, after he signed a four-year, $32-million dollar this summer to stay with the Bucks.
Ryan Braun was named yesterday as the Milwaukee Brewers’ Most Valuable Player for the 2012 season. And Yovani Gallardo was named the team’s Most Valuable Pitcher by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association. Both players were unanimous picks, as they received all 40 possible points from the writers. Also, third baseman Aramis Ramirez was named the Brewers’ top newcomer. Starter Marco Estrada was named the team’s “unsung hero.” And closer John Axford received the “Good Guy Award” for his dealings with the media. In some ways, Braun exceeded his numbers from a year ago, when he won the National League MVP honor. He batted .319 with 41 homers, 112 RBI’s, 108 runs scored, and a .986 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Gallardo led the Milwaukee starters in a September Wild Card bid that fell short. He won 8-of-11 starts in that stretch, and finished 16-9 with a 3.66 ERA. And Gallardo extended a team record with his fourth consecutive season with 200-or-more strikeouts. Ramirez batted .300 this year, his first with Milwaukee after more than a decade with Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs. Ramirez had 50 doubles, 27 homers, and 105 RBI’s. Estrada filled in twice for injured starters during the season, and then heated up in September. Axford showed so much respect for the media and his fans, that he left a note at his locker with quotes on the night his streak of 49 straight conversions ended in May – right before going to a hospital where his wife was having premature labor pains.
Marquette University senior Ally Miller was named yesterday to the weekly Honor Roll in the Big East Conference as the women’s soccer defensive player-of-the-week. Miller anchored a Marquette defense that recorded two shutouts last week, while allowing just two shots on goal. It helped the Golden Eagles clinch the Big East American Division title for the fourth year in a row.
UW-Milwaukee goal-tender Connor Revsbeck was named the men’s soccer defensive player-of-the-week in the Horizon League. Revsbeck had five saves in his first collegiate start, as the Panthers topped Wisconsin 1-0. He was the first Milwaukee goal-keeper since 2003 to record a shut-out in his first start. And Revsbeck helped the Panthers win their first game over the Badgers since 2005.
Jake Reilly of UW-Milwaukee is the Horizon League men’s cross country runner-of-the-week. The senior won the award for the third time this season. Reilly had a personal-best time of 24:57 on an eight-kilometer course, as he finished 17th at the Bradley Classic in Peoria, Illinois last weekend. Reilly was the top Horizon League runner in the meet, and UW-Milwaukee finished 11th overall.
The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team was given its lowest national ranking today in a long time. The Badgers dropped from fourth-place to ninth in the new Division I poll from U.S. College Hockey Online. That’s after the Badgers lost a pair at Minnesota-Duluth last weekend. Mark Johnson’s team was shut out in both games – the first time that’s happened to the Badger women’s squad since 2001. Minnesota remains first in the women’s poll, followed by Cornell and Boston University. Boston College moved up to fourth after the Badgers fell from that spot.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin dropped out of the Top-20 in the College Online men’s poll. They’re tied for the first spot away from the ranked teams, after getting swept for a pair by Northern Michigan in Green Bay during the weekend. It was the Badgers’ opening series of the year. Minnesota moved up two places to Number-One in the men’s poll. North Dakota is second, and Boston College fell from first-to-third.
A Top-30 finish in a PGA tournament was not good enough to keep Jerry Kelly from falling down the new World Golf Rankings. Jerry Kelly fell 11 spots to 211th in the new rankings released today. That was after he tied for 29th at the Frys.com Open, the second tournament in the PGA’s Fall Series. The Top-12 in the new World Rankings were unchanged from a week ago, including Steve Stricker of Madison at Number-11. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson dropped four places to 69th. Rory McIlroy is still Number-One in the world, followed by Tiger Woods and Luke Donald.
The University of Wisconsin women’s soccer team is one victory away from .500 in the Big Ten Conference, after a 2-1 double overtime win over Illinois at home Sunday. Cara Walls scored her second game-winning goal in as many matches, as the Badgers improved to 3-4-1 in league play and 10-5-1 overall. Both teams had 15 shots, but Illinois had more shots-on-goal with a 10-to-7 margin.