Afternoon State Sports Briefs: State teams ready for NCAA TournamentWisconsin Sports
-- Both Wisconsin and Marquette are happy to get conference play behind them so they can get ready for the upcoming NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this week.
Both Wisconsin and Marquette are happy to get conference play behind them so they can get ready for the upcoming NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this week.
University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan says he’s happy to get a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers will take on SEC champion Mississippi on Friday in a West Regional game in Kansas City.
Some fans were looking for a fourth-seed after the Badgers upset Michigan and Indiana on back-to-back days in the Big Ten Tournament. Some of that luster was removed yesterday, when Wisconsin fell to Ohio State in the Big Ten final. On the other hand, there were pundits picking the Badgers as low as eighth in the conference last fall – and that could have put the UW in danger of not getting a 15th straight NCAA berth. Ryan says he takes nothing for granted, and he’s proud his players achieved what they did – especially during the conference tourney, which he called “three grueling days.” On Friday, the Badgers will play a team that’s getting hot at the right time. Yesterday, Ole Miss won its first Southeastern Conference tournament crown since 1981 with a win over Florida. Ryan said every team’s tough in the NCAA – and they’ve all shown they can “get things done.”
Marquette University men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams says he’s relieved not to have any more Big East Conference opponents – at least for a while. The third-seeded Golden Eagles will play No. 14 Davidson on Thursday in an NCAA East Regional game in Lexington Kentucky. Williams says it’s a “grind” to play in the nation’s top basketball circuit, which has eight of the 68 entrants at the Big Dance. The way the brackets are set up, the Golden Eagles won’t play any Big East teams until they make the Elite Eight – and only then would a match-up with Syracuse be possible. But for now, Marquette is only looking ahead to Thursday’s date with Davidson. Eagles’ guard Junior Cadougan said his team learned its lesson last week, when it fell to Notre Dame in the Big East quarter-finals. Cadougan said quote, “We thought we could play for a championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t. We just have to come out and play hard every possession.” If Marquette wins on Thursday, they could face Butler in the next round with a chance at redemption. Butler edged the Eagles on a last-second shot at the Maui tournament last November.
Both games will be on Turner’s Tru-TV – Marquette at 2:10 on Thursday afternoon, and the Badgers at 11:40 Friday morning.
Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy says he some new plans for tight end Jermichael Finley – even though it’s not certain yet that he’ll be around this fall. Finley is scheduled to get a three-million-dollar roster bonus nine days from now. And if the Packers pay it, then his presence will be considered a lock for 2013. McCarthy talked about the 25-year-old Finley yesterday, at the first day of the NFL owners’ meetings in Phoenix. The coach said he wants to simplify Finley’s role – and focus on what he does best, instead of playing all over the field. Finley is entering the final season of a two-year, $14-million contract. McCarthy said the contract might have put too much pressure on Finley at the start of last year – but he loosened up about halfway through the season, and his numbers improved. Finley caught 37-of-49 passes after last year’s bye week for 441 yards and a touchdown. McCarthy says Finley has grown up a lot – but he still needs to mature some more. Over the weekend, the Packers lost their second-best tight end, Tom Crabtree, to Tampa Bay.
The Milwaukee Brewers finally have two of their best position players back from the World Baseball Classic. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy returned over the weekend, after their U.S. team lost to Puerto Rico. Braun says he’s taking a couple days off, and will get back into a regular routine before he plays in Spring Training games again. Braun says he doesn’t need many more at-bats to get ready for the regular season which begins in two weeks. He said he’s had plenty already. On the other hand, Lucroy did not play for Team USA in the second round of the world tournament – and he’s looking forward to getting back in the swing. He went 1-for-3 yesterday in Milwaukee’s 11-1 exhibition loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers can use some bigger bats, after giving up 43 runs in their last five games. Manager Ron Roenicke says it’s unacceptable – exhibitions or not. This afternoon, the Brewers play Cleveland. Right-hander Marco Estrada will face Indians’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
Greg Sanders of Concordia-Mequon was named the “Outstanding Wrestler” at the NCAA Division III tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sanders won the 149-pound title during the weekend, with a 6-5 decision over Kodie Silvestri of Wartburg. Two other Wisconsinites also won national titles – Adam Sheley of UW-La Crosse at 141 pounds, and Nazar Kulchytskyy of Oshkosh at 165. Both won by decisions. Wartburg won its third straight team title, and its fifth in six years. Also, De Soto's Chad Johnson won his second straight title at heavyweight wrestling for Augsburg. UW-Whitewater placed third, La Crosse fourth, Concordia 11th, and Oshkosh 17th.
The Green Bay Packers say they’re open to giving Johnny Jolly a second chance. At the NFL owners’ meetings in Phoenix, coach Mike McCarthy said the 30-year-old Jolly needs to go through a medical process in Green Bay and meet with Packer officials and coaches. McCarthy said it’s an important procedure to go through, before it can be determined if Jolly has any fuel left in his tank. He hasn’t played in over three years, after being arrested for codeine possession in his home town of Houston. Jolly spent six months in prison, and league commissioner Roger Goodell re-instated him a few weeks ago. Jolly remains on the Packers’ 80-man roster, and he accepted a pay cut from two-and-a-half million dollars a year to just over 700-thousand. General manager Ted Thompson says nobody has any answers on whether Jolly can still play. His final season with the Pack was in 2009. Jolly had one interception that year, along with a sack and 10 pass break-ups.
A former volleyball star for the Wisconsin Badgers has been named the new volleyball coach at Concordia University in Mequon. Janelle Gabrielsen was a graduate assistant for the Falcons last season. She’ll replace Joe Cawley, the program’s winningest coach over 13 seasons. Gabrielsen is the not the first in her family to coach at Concordia. Her father Jeff was the Falcons’ football coach for 18 seasons.