Thursday State Sports Briefs: Alvarez to coach UW in Rose BowlWisconsin Sports
-- Barry Alvarez said today that he’ll be “pleased” and “honored” to coach the University of Wisconsin football team in the Rose Bowl Game against Stanford on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.
MADISON - Barry Alvarez said today that he’ll be “pleased” and “honored” to coach the University of Wisconsin football team in the Rose Bowl Game against Stanford on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.
The former UW coach and current athletic director told reporters he was only returning for one game – and he’s doing it at the request of the team’s six captains who asked him to coach them. Bret Bielema, the Wisconsin coach for the last seven years, left on Tuesday to take the head job at Arkansas. Alvarez said Bielema offered to coach the Rose Bowl, but the athletic director turned him down. Alvarez said that to his knowledge, all of the Badger assistants will stay at least through the Rose Bowl. And they’ll be able to plan their strategy against Stanford while Alvarez manages the game, and handles all the side details associated with the “Grand-Daddy” of the bowls. Alvarez is 3-0 in Rose Bowls during his 16 years as Wisconsin’s coach, ending in the 2005 season. He said his involvement would give the Badgers their best chance to win – and it will give the seniors a tremendous experience in Pasadena for their final game. Alvarez was inducted in 2009 into the Rose Bowl Hall-of-Fame. He says he loves everything about the game and the events that lead up to it. Alvarez said that for him, it never grows old.
Paul Chryst is not coming back. The former Wisconsin offensive coordinator has been rumored to be the top candidate to replace head coach Bret Bielema. But Athletic Director Barry Alvarez firmly told reporters today quote, “Paul’s going to stay at Pitt.” Alvarez said he was given a favor so Chryst could have a foot in the door – and he would not feel right about luring Chryst away after just one year in his new job. The AD said he has already contacted people on his short list – and he’ll start interviewing candidates for the Wisconsin job next week. Alvarez said there’s been a lot of interest shown by prospective coaches – and it’s because quote, “It’s a great job with a solid footing, new facilities, and a very good nucleus (of players) coming back.” Bielema told his former players and others that part of the reason he left Madison was to try and win a national championship – and some observers thought it was a slap that Wisconsin would never have the chance. But Alvarez said quote, “I thought we were close to a national championship a year ago,” before the Badgers lost to Oregon at the Rose Bowl. But he wouldn’t criticize Bielema, or his sudden decision to leave. Alvarez said he knows the business – and he does not feel betrayed. Bielema also said the Badger assistant coaches don’t get paid enough. But Alvarez said he knows what the major college coaches and assistants get – and he said quote, “I think our pay scale is more than competitive and fair.”
The University of Wisconsin football team will host a large number of recruits this weekend. And athletic director Barry Alvarez says his goal is to keep those incoming freshmen next fall, in the wake of coach Bret Bielema’s resignation. The AD said Bielema used Alvarez’s game plan to make it to three straight Rose Bowls – and he does not expect the new coach to change very much of the Badgers’ system. Alvarez said today that the coach he hires quote, “will have to understand who we, how we go about our business.” He said the new coach would be, quote, “someone who cares about kids, someone that understands Wisconsin, and will be a good fit for us.” But Alvarez said that someone would not be Paul Chryst, who left the UW a year ago to become the head coach at Pittsburgh. Alvarez said he would feel terrible to make Chryst leave his current post after just one year. Alvarez addressed a number of topics when he confirmed that he would coach the Badgers at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day against Stanford.
Bret Bielema apparently won’t be taking much of his coaching staff to Arkansas. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Bielema plans to take just one assistant to Fayetteville with him. Earlier, it was speculated that defensive line coach Charlie Partridge would be the one to go – but that report was negated by early this afternoon. Meanwhile, Arkansas confirmed today that Bielema will get a six-year deal would $3.2 million dollars a season. He was making around two-and-a-half million at the UW – but that included payments from boosters and other outsiders. His official university salary was $400,000 per year.
Ryan Grant got a standing ovation from his teammates today, after he signed a contract to return to the Green Bay Packers. The team cut the 29-year-old veteran at the end of last season – but they brought him back this morning after James Starks injured a knee in last Sunday’s Packer home win over Minnesota. Coach Mike McCarthy said Grant looked good at practice – and he’s expected to play against Detroit on Sunday night, which will be Grant’s 30th birthday. McCarthy said Grant has a great history with the Packers, and he just stepped right in to what the team was doing. Grant has been out of football for about three months, after the Washington Redskins cut him following his first game with that team. Ryan played for five years in Green Bay. McCarthy said Starks’ knee problem did not flare up until Monday. Starks originally said he felt fine – but the coaches ordered more tests, and they didn’t like what they saw. It’s possible that Starks could go on injured reserve, but McCarthy gave no indication of that today. He said Starks would be out for quote, “multiple weeks.” To make room for Grant, the Packers put running back Johnny White on injured reserve. He’s been out with a concussion. Also, defensive end Mike Neal was limited at today’s practice with a shoulder injury. But veteran DB Charles Woodson was back on the field for the first time since he broke a collarbone a few weeks ago. He expects to be ready for the Packers’ December 16th game at Chicago.
It appears that Green Bay Packers’ running back James Starks will get a chance to return this season. Coach Mike McCarthy says Starks will be out for an undetermined number of weeks, after he injured a knee in last Sunday’s home win over Minnesota. McCarthy has not disclosed the exact nature of the injury. The Green Bay Press-Gazette says it’s a deep bone bruise inside the knee which did not damage any ligaments. Still, the injury was bad enough to get the Packers to sign Ryan Grant – who has not played any football for three months after he was cut by Washington. Grant played in one game with the Redskins, after the Packers let him go at the end of last season. Grant is expected to back up Alex Green Sunday night, when the Packers host Detroit. Meanwhile, rookie Don Barclay could get his first NFL start at right tackle against the Lions. The normal starter, T.J. Lang, hurt an ankle last Sunday – and he sat out of practice yesterday with no word as to when he might return.
The UW-Green Bay men’s basketball team will play in Cookeville, Tennessee tonight, for its first-ever game against Tennessee Tech. The Phoenix are 3-4, after losing by 16 at Virginia last Saturday. Sophomore point guard Keifer Sykes scored 14 in that game, and leads Green Bay in scoring this season with just under 16 per contest. Sykes has scored in double figures in 21 of his last 24 games dating back to his freshman year. Tennessee Tech comes in at 4-3, after crushing Berea 69-45 on Monday night. The Golden Eagles improved to 3-1 at home. Senior Jud Dilliard leads Tennessee Tech with 20 points per outing.
In Division III state basketball, the Maranatha Baptist men will try to win their first Northern Athletics Conference game tonight at Edgewood. Maranatha is 0-1, and Edgewood is at 0-2 in last place in the NAC’s North Division. Meanwhile, three women’s contests are on tap for tonight in the NAC. Edgewood hosts Alverno. Lakeland entertains Maranatha Baptist. And Concordia-Mequon plays at Milwaukee Engineering. Maranatha leads the North Division at 2-0, followed by Concordia-Mequon at 3-1 and Edgewood at 2-1. Wisconsin Lutheran, which is idle tonight, is in first place in the South Division at 3-0, a game ahead of Benedictine and Concordia-Chicago.
Milwaukee Brewers’ front office executive Craig Counsell said the time was not right for him to return to the field as a hitting coach. Counsell recently interviewed for the Boston Red Sox’ coaching vacancy – but he later withdrew, saying he had reservations that involved his family. Counsell said he wanted to find out what the interviewing process was like – but he knew it would be tough to move to Boston, considering his family situation. Counsell is a native of suburban Milwaukee, and he was a special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin last year after retiring as a player. Greg Colbrunn, a teammate of Counsell’s when they played at Arizona, was eventually chosen as the Red Sox hitting coach.
Milwaukee Brewers’ first baseman Mat Gamel will not play winter baseball. The Brewers were hoping to get some at-bats for Gamel, after he tore an ACL knee ligament in late April while going for a foul pop-up at San Diego. Assistant general manager Gord Ash said the winter leagues are very statistics-driven – and Gamel did not have great numbers last winter, so no team reached out to sign him. Ash said Gamel is not fired up about playing winter ball, either – but he’s still working hard to make sure he earns a spot on the Milwaukee roster in 2013. Gamel lost his first base spot to Corey Hart, so manager Ron Roenicke expects to try out Gamel in the outfield during spring training.
Brewers’ scout Harvey Kuenn Jr. will be inducted on Saturday night into the Midwest Scouts Association Hall-of-Fame. Kuenn has been an area scout for the Brewers since 1990, scouring Wisconsin and four other Midwest states to search for talent. Brewers’ scouting director Bruce Seid said Kuenn works “tirelessly,” and he’s a valuable asset to the Milwaukee organization. Kuenn is the son of former Brewers’ manager Harvey Kuenn, who led the team to its only World Series in 1982.
The Milwaukee Admirals ended a three-game winning streak with an overtime home loss to Texas last night, 2-1. Colton Sceviour scored the game-winner on a rebound shot at the net with 3:04 left in the extra period. The Stars ended a six-game road trip at 5-1. Austin Watson scored the only goal for Milwaukee – his fourth in the last five games.
University of Wisconsin men’s hockey goaltender Landon Peterson has been named the WCHA co-defensive player of the week, along with Brett Stern of Minnesota State-Mankato. Peterson, a sophomore, had 35 saves in a 3-to-1 Badgers’ victory at sixth-ranked Denver. He now leads all conference goal-tenders with a one-point-eight-eight goals-against-average and a .941 save percentage in WCHA contests. In other Badger men’s hockey news, sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe is among 27 players named to a preliminary roster for next year’s U.S. Junior National Team. McCabe will attend a pair of camps in New York and Helsinki, Finland before a final 23-man roster is named. The team will compete in the World Junior Championships from December 26th through January fifth in Ufa, Russia.
In men’s college basketball…
UW-Whitewater 64, UW-La Crosse 52
UW-Stevens Point 74, UW-Oshkosh 53
UW-Platteville 56, UW-Eau Claire 48
UW-Stout 69, UW-Superior 54
Viterbo 74, UW-River Falls 67
Marian 55, Milwaukee School of Engineering 51
Lakeland 86, Concordia-Mequon 81
Rockford 72, Wisconsin Lutheran 67
In women’s college basketball…
UW-Stevens Point 64, UW-Oshkosh 55
UW-Whitewater 77, UW-La Crosse 55
UW-Stout 79, UW-Superior 68
UW-Eau Claire 62, UW-Platteville 57 in overtime
UW-River Falls 58, Viterbo 51
Carthage 84, Trine 34
In Wisconsin boys’ high school basketball…
Lake County Lutheran 41, Burlington Catholic Central 39
Brookfield Academy 76, Milwaukee Messmer 57
In Wisconsin girls’ high school basketball…
Shorewood 65, West Allis Hale 50
Milwaukee Washington 40, Milwaukee Pulaski 39