Morning State Sports Briefs: Packers won't use franchise tag to keep JenningsWisconsin Sports
-- The Green Bay Packers have decided not to use their franchise tag to keep receiver Greg Jennings around for at least one more year.
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers have decided not to use their franchise tag to keep receiver Greg Jennings around for at least one more year.
Yesterday was the deadline for NFL teams to use their franchise and transition tags – and the Packers were among 24 teams which did not use either one. It was speculated that Jennings might be tagged, to prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next Tuesday. But the Packers would have had to pay him $10.5 million dollars for a one-year contract. Media reports say the 29-year-old Jennings is looking for a longer-range deal of $12-to-14 million a year – but it’s not clear whether he could actually get that. Even if he leaves, the Packers have a solid receiving corps with Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and tight end Jermichael Finley – with newcomers Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin coming up the pipeline. The Packers are a reported $22-million under their salary cap – money they’ll need to reach new deals with their stars like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.
Quarterback Jon Budmayr will not play again for the Wisconsin Badgers. Coach Gary Andersen said yesterday that he’ll become a student coach, after sitting out the last two years with nerve problems in his right arm and shoulder. Andersen will have plenty of other quarterbacks to choose from. Joel Stave and seniors Danny O’Brien and Curt Phillips all started games for the Badgers in 2012. All three are back, along with redshirt freshman Bart Houston. And junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy will join them. Spring practices begin on Saturday. Andersen says he wants confidence, consistency, and communication from his quarterback – and all the candidates will get tested during the 15 spring workouts. Andersen says he does not expect to name a starter until the Badgers’ preseason camp in August.
Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen calls it “disappointing” and “upsetting” that an assistant he hired in January bolted last week for Oklahoma. Andersen told reporters today he’s none-too-pleased that Jay Boulware left for his home-state Sooners, just days before the Badgers begin their spring practices this Saturday. Andersen was hired in December to replace the departed Bret Bielema – and he thought he completed his first coaching staff last month. But with Boulware gone, Andersen will need to find a new coach for special teams and tight ends – and he hopes to have a new person hired this week before the spring practices begin.
UW-Green Bay jumped one place to No. 20 today in today’s AP women’s Division-One college basketball poll. The Phoenix are 24-2, after clinching the Horizon League title outright last week. Baylor is still the women’s Division I No. 1 team in the polls.
Marquette University moved up in both national men’s basketball polls this morning. The Golden Eagles jumped seven places to No. 15 in the AP media poll – and they rose five spots to 17th in the USA Today coaches’ survey. Marquette scored a couple of key victories over nationally-ranked Big East opponents Syracuse and Notre Dame last week. Buzz Williams’ Eagles are 21-7 overall, and their next game is at Rutgers tomorrow night. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin men dropped in the polls after falling at home to Purdue by 13 points yesterday. The Badgers fell five spots to 22nd in the AP survey, and they dropped five places to 21st in the coaches’ poll. Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin team is now 20-9 overall, and they’ll play at Michigan State on Thursday night. Gonzaga is the new No. 1 in both major polls, as Indiana fell from the top spot.
University of Wisconsin women’s basketball junior Morgan Paige was named today as an All-Big Ten third team selection in separate polling by the league’s coaches and media. Also, Badgers’ sophomore Jacki Gulczynski was named a consensus honorable mention. Maggie Lewis of Penn State is the consensus player-of-the-year. Also, former Racine J.I. Case star Samantha Logic was named an all-conference third teamer by the media, and an honorable mention by the coaches. Connie Yori of Nebraska was named the coach-of-the-year by her colleagues, while Coquese Washington of Penn State was the media’s pick. The Badgers obtained the second-to-last seed for the Big Ten women’s tournament this week near Chicago. Wisconsin will play Illinois on Thursday.
The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team jumped two places to 14th in the new national poll released today by U.S. College Hockey Online. The Badgers are 16-11-7 overall, after sweeping a pair at then-13th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha during the weekend. Omaha dropped to Number-16 today. Wisconsin will end its regular season on Friday and Saturday nights against Saint Cloud State at Madison’s Alliant Energy Center.
In the Division I women’s poll, Wisconsin remains at No. 6 with an overall mark of 23-9-2. The Badgers swept their first round WCHA playoff series against Saint Cloud State this past weekend. They’ll play North Dakota on Friday at the league’s Final Face-off in the Twin Cities.
UW-Madison's Sam Dekker was named today as the Big Ten Conference co-men’s basketball freshman of the week. He shares the honor with Indiana freshman Yogi Ferrell. Dekker averaged 14.5 points against Nebraska and Purdue this past week, while shooting 64-percent from the floor and 60-percent from three-point range. Also, former Marquette forward Trevor Mbakwe of Minnesota has been named the Big Ten’s player-of-the-week. The senior from Saint Paul had 21 points and 12 rebounds when Minnesota upset then-top-ranked Indiana. And Mbakwe had 13 points and 13 boards in his final college home game against Penn State.
After a day off yesterday, the Milwaukee Brewers return to Spring Training today. They’ll play the team from Canada which will compete in the World Baseball Classic. And that means the Crew could hit against their teammates John Axford and Jim Henderson, both of whom are relievers for their native Canada. We still don’t know whether Brewers’ starter Yovani Gallardo will test the groin he strained last week. He’s scheduled to pitch an inning against the Canadians – and after that, he’s expected to join his native Mexico in the world tournament. If he pitches today, Gallardo could start a decisive group contest on Saturday for Mexico. If he rests today, it’s possible that Gallardo could pitch on Friday against the U.S. – and his Brewer teammates Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy. The World Baseball Classic begins on Thursday.
Amanda Braun will become the new athletic director at UW-Milwaukee on May first. She replaces Andy Geiger, who’s completing a 13-month transitional term after Rick Costello resigned. The 39-year-old Braun is a native of Brodhead in southern Wisconsin. She held several administrative posts at UW-Green Bay before becoming the senior associate athletic director at Northeastern University in Boston. She’s been at Northeastern since 2006.
Green Bay native Jay DeMerit, who’s now the captain for Vancouver in Major League Soccer, is out indefinitely with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. He played the first seven minutes of Saturday’s season opener against Toronto FC, before leaving with his injury. DeMerit tweeted a photo of himself in the hospital. He said he was quote, “super bummed out” about the injury, but he’s staying positive. The 33-year-old DeMerit is in his third season with the Whitecaps, and he was a league All-Star a year ago. He started all but one of Vancouver’s 32 games in 2012 – and he helped lead the team to its first appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Marquette will play Pittsburgh on Friday evening in the first round of the Big East women’s basketball tournament. Pitt has the No. 15 seed. The Golden Eagles earned the 10th seed, after closing out their regular season with a 72-58 home victory last night over Cincinnati. Junior Katherine Plouffe scored all 20 of her points in the second half, and she became the 23rd player in Marquette women’s history to score a-thousand points for her career. Dayeesha Hollins scored 29 for Cincinnati, which finished its regular season at 4-12 in conference play and 12-17 overall. Marquette went 7-9 in the Big East, and is 15-14 overall.
The Marquette men’s basketball team will try to keep building momentum for its upcoming tournaments, when it plays at Rutgers tonight. The 15th-ranked Golden Eagles have two regular season contests left. They’ve won six of their last eight, and two straight over nationally-ranked opponents with victories last week over Syracuse and Notre Dame. Marquette is 12-4 in the Big East Conference and 21-7 overall. They’ll face a Rutgers team that’s 4-12 in league play, and 13-14 overall. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 13-point loss at Georgetown on Saturday night. Wally Judge led Rutgers in that game with 11 points. Marquette big men Chris Otule and Davante Gardner have made a combined 17-of-18 shots from the floor in their previous two outings – and 13-of-15 from the free throw line. Marquette has earned a double-bye in the Big East Tournament, with a stroll to the quarter-finals for the second year in a row.
Three Wisconsin college basketball players are finalists for the Jostens Trophies in the NCAA’s Division III. Taylor Koth of Ripon College was named yesterday as one of 10 men’s finalists. Sarah Bingea of UW-Eau Claire and Connie Urmanski of UW-Superior are among the 11 women’s candidates. The awards go to the men’s-and-women’s Division-Three players who best excel on the court, in the classroom, and in their communities. A selection committee will announce the two winners on March 21st. Aris Wurtz of Ripon won the men’s Jostens Trophy a year ago.
Kristin Kurer of UW-Milwaukee is the women’s tennis player-of-the-week in the Horizon League. Kurer, a junior, went undefeated in singles’ play against both Western Illinois and UW-Green Bay. Silviu Misteau of Youngstown State is the honored men’s player.
Two Wisconsin teams were named this morning to a national Field-of-Eight for the NCAA Division III women’s hockey tournament. Saint Norbert will play at Plattsburgh State of New York on Saturday. And UW-River Falls will travel to Gustavus Adolphus in Saint Peter, Minnesota for a quarter-final game either Friday or Saturday. Saint Norbert won the automatic berth from the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, with a 3-2 overtime win over River Falls during the weekend. The national quarterfinal winners will converge on Superior in northwest Wisconsin on March 15th-and-16th for the division’s Frozen Four.
The top-rated teams are all still alive, going into Week-Two of the girls’ state high school basketball tournament. The AP Number-Ones in all five divisions made it through the regionals unscathed – De Pere, New London, Neillsville, Cuba City, and Heritage Christian. All but nine of the 47 Number-One seeds survived the tournament’s opening weekend. The only ones that didn’t survive were Verona in Division 1 – Onalaska and Whitewater in Division-Two – Adams-Friendship in Division-3 – Onalaska Luther and Abbotsford in D-4 – and Royall, Eleva-Strum, and Marion in Division 5. Sectional play begins on Thursday night. Those still alive after Saturday will advance to the state tournament next week in its new location at Green Bay’s Resch Center.