Morning State Sports Briefs: Phillips to start for UW against IndianaWisconsin Sports
-- Fifth-year senior Curt Phillips will reportedly make his first start at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin football team on Saturday at Indiana.
MADISON - Fifth-year senior Curt Phillips will reportedly make his first start at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin football team on Saturday at Indiana.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Phillips has had most of the snaps with the Number-One offense at practice this week – and junior transfer Danny O’Brien is the Number-Two choice. O’Brien appeared to give it away when he tweeted, “There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to look in the mirror, strap up, and grind his way back.” Badgers’ coach Bret Bielema still would not confirm his choice on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio yesterday. He said the Badgers are starting their third quarterback change this year but quickly added, quote, “Whether it is Danny or Curt, it’s still going to be a new face in the huddle.” Freshman Joel Stave took the job away from an ineffective O’Brien early in the season – but Stave broke a collarbone two weeks ago, and is out for the season. Phillips has missed each of the last two years with major knee injuries. The Badgers can pull away for the Leaders’ Division playoff spot with a victory on Saturday. Wisconsin is 3-2 in the Big Ten, while the Hoosiers are at 2-3.
University of Wisconsin men’s hockey assistant coach Bill Butters resigned today, effective immediately. Head coach Mike Eaves said Butters wanted to spend more time with his family in Minnesota. He was in his third season with the Badgers. Butters has also coached-and-played at the University of Minnesota, and he spent two years in the NHL with the former Minnesota North Stars. In a statement from the UW, Butters said it’s time for him to move on from coaching. The resignation came during a bye week for the Badgers. Eaves is currently looking for a replacement, and Wisconsin doesn’t play again until November 16th at Minnesota.
The Green Bay Packers activated tight end Andrew Quarless yesterday. He was placed on the 53-man roster, after spending the first part of the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Quarless has spent most of the last year recovering from a pair of torn ligaments in his right knee. To make room on the roster, the Packers placed rookie linebacker Nick Perry on injured reserve. He was expected to be out for the season, after reports surfaced that he had surgery on a left wrist that he first injured in mid-September against Chicago. Quarless will give the Packers some fresh legs for their stretch run – and so will linebacker Frank Zombo, who was activated off the PUP list last week. Tackle Derek Sherrod remains on the PUP list with a broken leg from last December. But he was declared eligible to practice this week, and the Packers will have three weeks to decide if they want to activate him for the rest of the year. Green Bay is on its bye week, and will play at Detroit on November 18th. They don’t start practicing again until next Monday.
Green Bay Packers’ inside linebacker A.J. Hawk is playing less, and producing more. The Packers decided to use only one inside linebacker instead of two on passing downs this year, to speed up the secondary and improve what was the NFL’s worst defense in 2011. Hawk is the odd-man out – and he’s playing only about 70-percent of Green Bay’s total snaps on defense, or an average of 15 fewer plays than a season ago. But Hawk leads the team with 75 tackles after nine games – and he’s said to be missing fewer tackles as well. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers says it’s no surprise that Hawk is playing better. He said role players with limited snaps tend to be fresher as the season goes on – and they get bigger burst off the ball. Capers also says the Packers are showing more varied defensive packages than a year ago, when they had a nickel package with five defensive backs most of the time. The 6-3 Packers are off this weekend, and will play at Detroit on November 18th.
The Green Bay Packers are standing by kicker Mason Crosby – and there does not appear to be any plans to consider replacing the sixth-year pro. Crosby has only made 10-of-15 field goal attempts this season. That’s a percentage of .667, the lowest in the NFL among kickers who are currently active. Crosby made a career-high 86-percent of his three-point attempts last season. But right now, he’s trying to get over a slump in which he has missed at least one field goal chance in each of his last four outings. Crosby is taking some time off during the bye week – and special teams coach Shawn Slocum says it will help him get some of the cob-webs out, and trust himself as a top-flight kicker. Slocum says Crosby realizes there’s a sense of urgency to get better.
Milwaukee Brewers’ left-fielder Ryan Braun will get a chance to win back-to-back MVP awards in the National League. Braun was named last night as one of five finalists for the award. The Baseball Writers Association also named San Francisco catcher Buster Posey as a finalist, along with Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutcheon, Saint Louis catcher Yadier Molina, and San Diego third baseman Chase Headley. The finalists were announced on the MLB Network, where analyst Harold Reynolds stated firmly that Braun won’t win. He agreed that Braun had better numbers than a year ago – but he won’t win because of what happened last winter. Braun tested positive last October for elevated synthetic testosterone, and was suspended for 50 games. But he overturned the suspension by calling the testing procedure into question. It resulted in Major League Baseball firing arbitrator Shyam Das, and addressing the problems with the testing system that Braun pointed out. He was tops in the National League in several offensive categories this year, including homers with 41, runs-scored with 108, and on-base-plus-slugging-percentage at .987. Reynolds, a former big league infielder, predicted that Posey would win the MVP honors in a landslide.
The Milwaukee Admirals are in fourth place in the American Hockey League’s Midwest Division, after losing at Grand Rapids yesterday 4-2. In a daytime contest for school kids, Joakim Andersson broke a 2-2 tie by scoring the game-winner midway through the third period. Rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek had 24 saves for the Griffins. The loss dropped Milwaukee’s record to 4-6. The Admirals have eight points in 10 games, and Chicago leads the division with 15 points in 11 contests.
Former University of Wisconsin star Hilary Knight scored the Americans’ only goal yesterday, as the U-S lost to Canada 3-1 at the Four Nations’ Cup in Finland. Knight scored off a rebound to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead early in the second period. But the Canadians had back-to-back tallies late in the period, and scored its final goal late in the final stanza. Team USA chose Knight as its “player of the game.” The Americans are 1-1 at the Cup, and will play the host team Finland tomorrow.
The University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team ended its season last night with a 1-0 loss to Michigan in the quarter-finals of the Big Ten Tournament in Evanston, Illinois. James Murphy scored the game’s only goal in the 68th minute. It ended 363 straight minutes in which Wisconsin failed to surrender a goal. Badgers’ goaltender Chase Rau had four saves, as the Wolverines attempted a dozen shots over a 45-minute span. Michigan improved to 9-8-1. The Badgers close out at 6-8-5.
Marquette University men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams says his team faces a host of challenges when it plays fourth-ranked Ohio State on an aircraft carrier Friday night. He says he’s a lot more concerned about the Buckeyes than he is about the setting for the game – the deck of the USS Yorktown, which is now a museum anchored at Patriot’s Point near Charleston, South Carolina. One of the baskets is underneath the carrier’s command center, while the other hoop is on the harbor side. There are about four-thousand seats, and most are expected to be filled by military personnel. It’s the second annual “Carrier Classic.” President Obama attended the first game a year ago, and he’s invited for Friday night. Williams says it’s an honor to play such a game – especially in front of those who’ve fought for our freedoms. But Williams’ biggest concern is developing a unit that replaces departed backcourt stars Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. Ohio State has one of the best players in the country in small forward Deshaun Thomas.