Tuesday State Sports Briefs: Pack hopeful Matthews and Woodson return for Chicago gameWisconsin Sports
-- Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy now says he’s “hopeful” that both Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson can return for Sunday’s game at Chicago.
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy now says he’s “hopeful” that both Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson can return for Sunday’s game at Chicago.
Both have been out for several weeks due to injuries – Woodson with a broken collarbone and Matthews with a bad hamstring. Matthews’ absence was especially felt on Sunday night, when a shortage of defensive linemen caused the Packers to play a pass defense against Detroit for almost the entire game. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers only had four linemen available because of injuries to C.J Wilson and Mike Neal. That allowed Lions’ running backs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell to almost waltz into the Green Bay secondary – especially early, when the Lions took a 14-nothing lead. It also opened up short passes to Calvin Johnson almost the entire night. Capers says the Packers will especially need the All-Pro linebacker Matthews against the Bears, who average 122 rushing yards per game. Capers is also hopeful to have an additional lineman return – but that’s far from certain at the moment. The Packers are 9-4 with a one-game edge over the second-place Bears. Green Bay would clinch the NFC North title with a victory in the Windy City.
When T.J. Lang returns, it’s possible that he might go back to his old spot at left guard on the Packers’ offensive line. Lang has missed the better part of two games with an injured ankle – but he’s expected to return to practice tomorrow. And depending how he does, it’s possible he could play on Sunday at Chicago. Lang was moved to right tackle after Bryan Bulaga suffered a season-ending hip injury. Rookie Don Barclay has performed well at right tackle in Lang’s absence – and it’s possible that Lang could move back to left guard, with Evan Dietrich-Smith returning to the bench. Coach Mike McCarthy says the Packers have some flexibility on the line. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements says the team will make decisions as the week goes on.
Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler expects to start next Sunday, when his team hosts the Green Bay Packers. Cutler said on a radio show this morning that he suffered neck spasms, after being hit by Minnesota defensive lineman Everson Griffen in yesterday’s road loss by the Bears. Cutler said the injury had nothing to do with a concussion, which he suffered earlier in the season. He said it was totally related to his neck. Jason Campbell finished the game, and Cutler said he would not have helped anyone had he stayed in.
Chicago Bears’ kicker Robbie Gould is out for the season, after he strained his left calf while warming up before last Sunday’s loss at Minnesota. The Bears placed Gould on injured reserve today – and they signed veteran Olindo Mare to a one-year deal. Gould is among the most accurate kickers in the NFL. He kicked two extra points against the Vikings – and he tried an onside kick late in the game. Punter Adam Podlesh handled the Bears’ kickoffs against the Vikings. Chicago did not try any field goals in that contest.
The Chicago Bears have lost four-of-their-last-five games. And with the Green Bay Packers coming to town on Sunday, coach Lovie Smith is reminding his players that they still control their own destiny for making the playoffs. The Packers can clinch the NFC North Division title with a win on Sunday – and even if the Packers lose, the Bears would need some help during the final weeks to take the North crown. But Chicago still holds onto the last Wild Card spot in the NFC with Minnesota, Dallas, and Washington all a game behind the Bears. And Smith is telling his players to perform better, and focus on winning. Chicago was 7-1 on November fourth, after scoring 51 points against the Tennessee Titans. But they’ve struggled ever since, and they dropped back-to-back games to Houston and San Francisco.
University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball was named a first-team All-American today by the Associated Press. It was the second year in a row that Ball received the honor. Badgers’ legend Ron Dayne made the AP first team just once – but he won the Heisman Trophy in 1999, while Ball was a finalist for the award a year ago. Ball was the only Badger named to this year’s top grouping. And he thanked fans and friends on Twitter for their congratulations. Ball became the NCAA’s all-time leader this season with 82 total touchdowns. And he’s one of just 17 players ever in the top division to have rushed for five-thousand yards in a college career. Ball is also the first player since at least 1939 to lead the Big Ten in scoring for three straight seasons. He was named the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year in the first two seasons the Big Ten presented the award.
Barry Alvarez will get $118,500-dollars for coaching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl. That may sound like a lot – but it’s only half of what was speculated in some recent media accounts. The UW Board of Regents’ executive committee approved the special Rose Bowl salary for Alvarez today – and they agreed to give him $50,000 more if his team can beat Stanford on New Year’s Day. Alvarez won three Rose Bowls with the Badgers in the 1990’s and 2000 – but he has not coached since 2005, after moving upstairs full-time to the athletic director’s office. Alvarez pressed himself into service after Bret Bielema suddenly left for Arkansas a week ago. Arkansas paid a million-dollars to buy out Bielema’s contract – and Alvarez will be paid from that buyout.
Three small college football players from Wisconsin were named today as coaches’ All-Americans in the NCAA’s Division III. They are quarterback Nate Wara of UW-Oshkosh, defensive back Ryan McWethy of Platteville, and punter Christian Hallingstad of La Crosse. Wara, a senior, led Oshkosh to the national semi-finals. McWethy, a senior, is Platteville’s first coaches’ All-American pick since 1986. Hallingstad, a senior, is the 17th All-American in La Crosse history.
Tyler Tillema of UW-Stevens Point and Cortney Kumerow of Whitewater are the WIAC’s men’s-and-women’s basketball players-of-the-week. Tillema, a senior guard, averaged 17-and-a-half points and six assists in a pair of Pointer victories over Augustana and Oshkosh. He made all eight of his free throws in those two contests. Kumerow, a senior center, had 23 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Eau Claire. The WIAC also recognized Alex Card of Eau Claire and Stacey Kincade of Whitewater in swimming – Nick Badilla of Eau Claire and Sierra Becker of Whitewater in diving – Andrew Kolb of Stevens Point in men’s hockey – and Jordan Koranda of Stevens Point in wrestling.
Jake Schwarz of Lakeland College in Sheboygan has been named the men’s basketball player-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Conference. The senior forward broke the NAC’s career scoring record last weekend in a win over Marian. Schwarz scored 24 points in the game to give him 17-hundred-22 for his career – three ahead of Ben Wisniewski of Madison Edgewood. He also scored 17 points against Concordia-Mequon, and he averaged 12 rebounds and two-and-a-half assists in those two contests.
Also, Leah Eisner of Lakeland is the NAC women’s player-of-the-week. She had 22 points and 21 boards against Maranatha Baptist – and her rebounds fell one short of her school’s single-game record.
Beloit College forward James Lazarcik is the Midwest Conference men’s basketball performer-of-the-week. The junior had 30 points and 14 rebounds for Beloit in a win over Knox College. Lazarcik averaged 17-and-a-half points and 14-and-a-half boards in a pair of conference victories, while shooting 63-percent from the floor and going 11-of-14 from the free throw line. Cornell center Taylor Dicus was recognized as the women’s player-of-the-week.
In Midwest Conference basketball this evening, Beloit College will host a men’s and women’s double-header against Lake Forest tonight. And the Carroll women will have a conference matchup at Cornell. In non-conference men’s basketball, UW-Platteville plays at fourth-ranked North Central of Illinois. And Edgewood hosts Viterbo of La Crosse. In non-conference women’s games, Lawrence travels to Finlandia. Edgewood plays at Elmhurst near Chicago. And Alverno is at Indiana-Northwest.
The Marquette men are six places away from the AP Top-25. The Golden Eagles gained some media votes this week, after beating in-state rival Wisconsin by 10 points on Saturday night. Marquette did not get a mention in the USA Today coaches’ poll, and the Badgers did not get any votes in either poll. Marquette is 6-2, while Wisconsin is 6-4. The Eagles host Savannah State on Saturday. Wisconsin entertains UW-Green Bay on Wednesday night. Indiana, led by former Marquette coach Tom Crean, is number-one in both polls.
There’s a report that Marquette and six other Big East schools that don’t play football have met with conference commissioner Mike Aresco to express concerns on the league’s future. ESPN said the meeting took place on Sunday – and the network said it’s too early to tell whether such a change could take place anytime soon. Besides the Marquette, the other Big East schools in the discussion were DePaul, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence, and Saint John’s. There’s been recent talk that Marquette would eventually want to join other non-football schools in their own league. Louisville, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Syracuse, and Notre Dame have left the Big East – and they’ve been replaced by Houston, Southern Methodist, Memphis, Temple, Central Florida, Navy and Tulane.
The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team might be without senior forward Mike Bruesewitz tomorrow night, when the Badgers host UW-Green Bay. Bruesewitz missed practice yesterday, after sitting out Saturday’s loss to Marquette with the concussion he suffered at practice last Thursday. Coach Bo Ryan said yesterday he’s not sure when Bruesewitz will be able to return. He started the season late, after injuring his right leg during a workout in October. Bruesewitz is averaging around six points and four rebounds per game. At a news conference yesterday, Ryan denied that his practices are too demanding. As he put it, “You can never go too hard … We just play.”
UW-Whitewater remains at No. 2 in this week’s Division III men’s basketball poll from D3hoops.com. The Warhawks are 7-0 on the young season. UW-Stevens Point moved up one place to sixth, also at 7-0. They’re the only Wisconsin teams in the Top-25. Carroll also received votes, as did Stout and La Crosse. Virginia Wesleyan is still the men’s No. 1. In the Division III women’s poll, Stevens Point remains in 12th place at 5-and-2. Whitewater moved up three spots to 16th. Carthage and Saint Norbert also received votes. DePauw is still the women’s Number-One.
The Milwaukee Admirals will wrap up their two-game series at Charlotte tonight. The Checkers still lead the American Hockey League’s South Division, despite losing to Milwaukee 5-2 on Sunday. Charlotte has dropped six-of-its-last-seven, but it still has a one-point lead over Houston and Texas with a record of 13-9-0-2 and 28 points. Milwaukee is tied for third in the Midwest Division with 23 points and a mark of 10-9-2-1. Gabriel Bourque scored twice for the Admirals in their win over the Checkers on Sunday, and Michael Latta had three assists.
Beloit native Jim Caldwell will run the Baltimore Ravens’ offense, at least for the rest of the season. Caldwell replaces Cam Cameron as the offensive coordinator. Cameron was fired yesterday following Baltimore’s second straight loss – a 31-28 overtime defeat at Washington. The Ravens have been about average in total offense during much of Cameron’s five-year tenure. Caldwell was hired as Baltimore’s quarterbacks coach in January, after he was fired at Indianapolis after three years as the Colts’ head coach.
The Los Angeles Dodgers completed their signing of former Brewers’ starter Zack Greinke yesterday. He received a six-year, $147-million contract – the largest deal ever for a right-hander. The 29-year-old Greinke is among baseball’s most consistent pitchers since 2008. He’s gone 70-43 during that stretch, while throwing over 200 innings in four-of-the-last-five seasons. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says Greinke’s signing raises concerns that the Brewers are merely a stepping-stone for the talent that general manager Doug Melvin is able to attract – only to lose after they really get good. Melvin has seen Carlos Lee, Prince Fielder, and C.C. Sabathia come-and-go. Each received contracts of well over $100-million with other clubs that get bigger TV revenues due to their larger market sizes. The Brewers received a Major League-low $12-million dollars in TV money this year. Melvin has said it would rise to $21-million next season – but it’s still a pittance compared to Yankees, and now the Dodgers. Baseball’s limited revenue sharing has helped make small-market teams stay viable – but it has not helped teams like the Brewers keep their free agents. Ryan Braun has been the only MVP-caliber player to commit to Milwaukee with a long-term contract.
The UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team is still at No. 3 in the new Division III poll from U.S. College Hockey Online. The Blugolds are off to an 11-2-1 start. Norwich is still first in the men’s poll, followed by Oswego. Saint Norbert of De Pere remains sixth. UW-Superior is still at No. 10. The Milwaukee School of Engineering rose one place to 13th. River Falls and Stevens Point also received votes. In the Division III women’s hockey poll, River Falls is still sixth. Stevens Point dropped one place to eighth. Eau Claire also received votes. Plattsburg is still the women’s No. 1.
The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team moved up one place to eighth in the weekly poll released this afternoon by U.S. College Hockey Online. The Badgers are 12-6-2 overall, after sweeping a pair at North Dakota during the weekend. The Fighting Sioux is one spot away from the Top-10. Minnesota remains at No. 1.