Evening State Sports Briefs: McCarthy to coach NFC team at Pro BowlWisconsin Sports
-- Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy and his staff will lead the NFC team at the Pro Bowl for the second straight year.
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy and his staff will lead the NFC team at the Pro Bowl for the second straight year.
The job goes to the highest-seeded team that’s eliminated in the divisional round. McCarthy’s staff also coached the NFC squad after the 2007 campaign – when the Pro Bowl was played after the Super Bowl and the losing staffs of the conference championship games were on the sidelines in Honolulu. This year’s Pro Bowl takes place January 27th in Hawaii, the Sunday before the Super Bowl. So far, three Packers are expected to play. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was elected as the NFC’s starter, and linebacker Clay Matthews and center Jeff Saturday were named as back-ups.
The Wilson family saga will continue at Wisconsin – but not for another three-and-a-half years. Former Badgers’ quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted last night that his sister Anna was offered a scholarship by the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team. Anna Wilson is a freshman guard at the Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia. It’s the same school where her brother honed his quarterbacking skills before he became a college star at North Carolina State and Wisconsin, and an NFL rookie-of-the-year candidate at Seattle. The 5-foot-7 Anna played on the varsity team as an eighth-grader and averaged 14 points a game. In reacting to Russell’s tweet, Anna Wilson tweeted that her brother is quote, “always shouting me out, love him!”
Alec Molter of Carroll University in Waukesha is the men’s basketball performer-of-the-week in the Midwest Conference. Molter, a junior center, had 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and one steal in Carroll’s win over Beloit last week. And he had 19 points and 10 boards with four blocked shots in a victory over Knox College. Illinois College center Tiffany King is the honored women’s player. She had 29 points and 14 rebounds in a loss to Knox College.
The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team rose one place to seventh in this week’s Division-One poll from U.S. College Hockey Online. The Badgers are 14-6-2 overall, after sweeping a pair from Ohio State last weekend. Mark Johnson’s team is on a five-game winning streak, with a WCHA mark of 10-6-2. Despite the Buckeyes’ losses, they still rose one spot to ninth in the new poll. Minnesota is first at 22-0.
Meanwhile, Saint Norbert has rose to the top of the Division III men’s hockey poll. The Green Knights are 14-2-1 – and they traded places with Norwich. The Connecticut school dropped to second place at 13-2. UW-Eau Claire remains at No. 6. UW-Superior fell two spots to 13th, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering dropped out of the Top-15 but still received votes along with Stevens Point and River Falls. In the Division III women’s poll, UW-River Falls fell one place to sixth, and Superior dropped two spots to 10th. Plattsburgh remains the women’s No. 1.
Believe it or not, the college softball season begins in just over three weeks. Wisconsin will open its season on February 8th at the UNC Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Badgers are already starting to get ready for that event. Wisconsin had one of its best seasons in school history a year ago, tying a Badger record with 34 victories against a record-low 19 losses. The Badgers return 10 starters and 15 letter-winners from a year ago. Their 53-game schedule includes five nationally-ranked opponents from last season – Notre Dame, Stanford, California, Louisville, and North Carolina.
The Milwaukee Bucks probably won’t have to worry about Pau Gasol tonight when they face the Lakers in Los Angeles. The four-time All-Star forward is expected to miss his fifth straight game for the Lakers, as he gets over a concussion. Gasol was hurt on January sixth against Denver, when JaVale McGehee elbowed him in the nose by accident. Gasol has struggled with new coach Mike D’Antoni’s system – and he’s averaging a career-low 12 points and eight-and-a-half rebounds per game. Dwight Howard is expected to play for LA tonight. The Lakers’ star center returned from a shoulder injury on Sunday night – and he had 22 points and 14 rebounds in LA’s win over Cleveland. The Lakers had dropped six in a row before that. LA is 16-21. The Bucks are 19-17 – and they’re 3-1 under new coach Jim Boylan.
The Marquette University women’s basketball team will try again to win its first Big East Conference game tonight, when it plays at Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles are 0-2 in league play, after falling to Syracuse and second-ranked Connecticut. But they’re still above .500 overall, at 8-7. Seton Hall is 2-1 in the league and 7-9 overall. They were crushed by Saint John’s on Saturday, 72-46. Brittany Morris leads the Pirates with almost 13 points a game. Marquette senior Sarina Simmons leads her team in conference games with an average of 21-and-a-half points. The Eagles are 5-2 against Seton Hall since joining the Big East in 2005.
Men’s-and-women’s basketball double-headers are on tap for tonight in the Midwest Conference. Carroll will host Lake Forest. Ripon plays at Lawrence. And Beloit College hosts Saint Norbert. Carroll, Saint Norbert, and Grinnell lead the men’s standings, all at 7-and-2 in league play. Beloit is in fourth at 6-3. 19th-ranked Cornell leads the Midwest women at 14-0 overall, and 9-0 in the conference. Cornell of Iowa hosts Monmouth of Illinois tonight. Saint Norbert and Monmouth are tied for second at 7-2. Carroll is fourth at 6-3. In the Northern Athletics Conference, Lakeland hopes to expand its North Division lead tonight when it plays at Edgewood. The Muskies from Sheboygan are 7-0 in league play. Concordia-Mequon is a game-and-a-half back at 5-2, and will host Marian this evening. Wisconsin Lutheran, which is second in the South Division, plays at first-place Aurora. Wisconsin Lutheran is at 4-4, three games behind 6-0 Aurora. In NAC women’s play tonight, Lakeland is at Alverno. And Northland College of Ashland hosts Finlandia in a men’s-women’s twin bill.
Jake Schwarz of Lakeland College has been named the men’s basketball player-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Conference. Schwarz, a senior forward, had three doubles last week as his Muskies went 3-0. He had 30 points and 11 rebounds against Northland International – 23 points and 10 boards against Maranatha Baptist – and 27 points and 12 rebounds against Concordia-Chicago. Schwarz shot 57-percent from the floor in the three games, and hit 44-percent from three-point range and 91-percent from the free throw line. Also, Jessica Genke of Concordia-Chicago is the NAC women’s player-of-the-week. She had a career-high 31 points against Lakeland.
The Green Bay Packers will have the 26th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft in April. The four losing teams in the divisional playoff round have the 25th-through-28th selections. Denver had the best regular season record of the group at 13-and-3, so the Broncos will pick 28th. Houston is 27th at 12-4. The Packers and Seattle both went 11-and-5, but the Seahawks will draft ahead of Green Bay due to its strength of schedule. The Packers did pretty well the last time they drafted in the 26th spot. They made a Draft Day trade with New England, and took linebacker Clay Matthews. This year’s Draft is April 25th-through-27th.
At least seven Milwaukee Brewers will play for four countries at the World Baseball Classic in March. MLB.com says right-handed starter Yovani Gallardo has been named to Mexico’s team – and catcher Martin Maldonado will help represent his native Puerto Rico. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy have been named to the American squad. And John Axford, Jim Henderson, and Taylor Green will represent their home nation of Canada. The World Baseball Classic will announce the final rosters on Thursday. The first games in the international competition will be played in early March. Gallardo was on Mexico’s roster for the last World tournament in 2009 – but he couldn’t play due to a knee injury the previous season. Gallardo has said he wanted to pitch for his country this time around.