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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Middleton to start for Bucks in opener

NEW YORK CITY - Second-year forward Khris Middleton will start tonight for the Milwaukee Bucks in their regular season opener at New York. 

Middleton – who was traded from Detroit in the deal that sent Brandon Jennings to the Pistons – will fill in for the injured Ersan Ilyasova.  Bucks’ coach Larry Drew said today it’s possible that Ilyasova will play off the bench.  The Bucks are still being careful with Ilyasova, after he sprained his right ankle October 8th during an exhibition at Cleveland.  Middleton will start at small forward.  Caron Butler will move to the power forward spot, and go up against Carmelo Anthony.  Drew said the 22-year-old Middleton had a “phenomenal” training camp.  Middleton said that until now, starting has been just a dream.  


Basketball is a universal language – and that’s fortunate for the Bucks, who have five foreign players on their Opening Day roster.  That’s the fourth-highest number in the NBA, and the league has a record 92 international players from 39 nations and territories.  Forward Ersan Ilyasova is one of just four players who were on the Bucks a year ago.  He hails from Turkey.  Former Buck Carlos Delfino from Argentina is back, along with ex-Buck Zaza Pachulia from Georgia.  Milwaukee’s international newcomers are 18-year-old first-round forward Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece, and Miroslav Raduljica from Serbia.  Milwaukee lost two international players during the off-season – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute from Cameroon, and Gustavo Avon of Mexico.  


The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is projected to finish fourth in the Big Ten Conference this season.  That’s according to the media who cover the league.  Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio compiled the writers’ votes.  They gave Michigan State the nod as the conference champion, with 24 first-place votes.  Michigan is picked to finish second, followed by Ohio State.  The league will hold its annual men’s basketball Media Day tomorrow.


Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews confirmed a national media report today that pins in his broken thumb would be removed on Monday.  However, it does not appear that he’ll be able to return six days later for the November 10th home game against Philadelphia.  Matthews says it might be more like two-to-three weeks before he can play again.  He injured the thumb on October sixth against Detroit.  Since then, the Packer defense has shown that it’s doing just fine, with 16 sacks in its last four games – all Green Bay victories.  Matthews says he wants to contribute to that kind of success once again – but both he and the coaches agree they have to be smart, and not let him return too soon.  The All-Pro outside linebacker says it’s frustrating to be sidelined, but he’ll try to get back to playing as soon as he can.  The Packers are 5-2.  They moved into first-place in the NFC North during Matthews’ injury.  The Pack will host Chicago on Monday night.


Aaron Rodgers raised some eyebrows when he said after the Packers' win at Minnesota quote, "I wasn't going to let this team beat us."  On his weekly ESPN-Milwaukee radio show yesterday, the Packers' quarterback said there was no ulterior motive or hidden agenda behind that remark.  He said he just wanted to regain first place in the NFC North, which Detroit had grabbed back with a last-second win over Dallas earlier on Sunday.  Rodgers said it's important to win division games on the road and quote, "I had the feeling that if I could just do my job, get us in good plays, get us in good checks, that we were going to win that game."  Rodgers said he knew he'd have a big role and he did, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and completing 10-of-10 passes on third down to keep drives alive.  Rodgers also denied that his urgency to beat the Vikings was related to the negative comments his former teammate Greg Jennings said after he signed with Minnesota.  He again refused to say what he told Jennings after the game, saying there are things between players which should be kept private.  And Rodgers repeated quote, "There's too much access to the field."  The Packers are now 5-and-2 with a half-game lead over Detroit in the North Division.  The Pack will host third-place Chicago on Monday night.


The Milwaukee Admirals will try to sweep their elongated two-game home series against the Texas Stars tonight.  The Admirals are coming off a 4-2 overtime victory on Saturday night.  The Stars traveled to Rockford the next day, where they lost to the Ice Hogs by a 4-2 score.  Texas still leads the American Hockey League’s West Division with a record of 5-3-1-0.  Milwaukee is 3-0-2-0.  They’ll be without defenseman Bryan Rodney tonight.  He was suspended for an illegal check to the head in Saturday’s contest with Texas.  


Major League Baseball is reportedly trying to obtain documents showing that a public relations firm leaked information which tied Ryan Braun to BioGenesis and its alleged performance-enhancing drug program.  According to media reports, the documents indicated that Yankees' star Alex Rodriguez obtained records from BioGenesis so Major League Baseball could not get its hands on them.  Now, the New York Daily News says baseball has filed a petition ordering the PR firm of Sitrick-and-Company to comply with a subpoena as part of an arbitration hearing in which A-Rod seeks to overturn his 211-game suspension for his ties to BioGenesis.  Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers' slugger, took a season-ending suspension in July for being part of the BioGenesis scandal.  Baseball officials reportedly contend that either Rodriguez or the PR firm leaked the Bio-Genesis information to Yahoo Sports, which first reported Braun's link to the now-defunct Miami clinic.  The Daily News report said the players' union promised to have A-Rod share any documents related to BioGenesis -- but it could not produce the records that were given to Rodriguez' PR firm.


Appleton native Matt Erickson will return for a fourth season as the manager of his home-town Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.  Wisconsin is the lower Class-"A" affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers -- and both teams announced Erickson's return.   He has the second-highest number of career wins as Wisconsin's skipper, with a mark of 204-and-209.  Erickson was also on the bench when the Timber Rattlers won their first Midwest League championship in 2012. 


Evan Flack and Hayley Cardinal, both of Lawrence University in Appleton, have been named the season's first Midwest Conference swimmers-of-the-week. Flack, a senior, won the men's 100-and-200-yard freestyle races in a dual meet against Beloit.  He also swam on the winning 200-freestyle relay team.  Cardinal, a sophomore, won the 100-breast-stroke and 200-individual medley against Beloit.  She was also part of the winning 200-medley relay foursome.


Three Wisconsin teams made the Division III men's basketball pre-season Top-25 from  UW-Stevens Point enters the new campaign at No. 4.  UW-Whitewater is 13th, and Saint Norbert of De Pere is 24th.  The Pointers went 22-6 last season, and were 15th in the final D3 poll of the spring.  Whitewater was 24-5 a year ago, closing out the season ranked 10th.  Saint Norbert was unranked at the end of its season in March, after going 20-6 overall.  National champion Amherst of Massachusetts is the men's preseason No. 1, followed by Illinois Wesleyan and Williams College.  


Kate Engler of UW-Eau Claire has been named the WIAC women's golfer of the year.  The junior was also named to a five-player all-conference first team, based on the Division III Golf-Stat rankings immediately following the recent league tournament.  Engler had an average score of 77-and-a-half in 11 rounds this fall.  She also won the individual crown at the conference tourney.  Brittany McNett-Emmerich of UW-Stout was a repeat selection to the all-league first-team.  Others who made the squad were McKenzie Paul of Oshkosh, McKenna Prestigiacomo of Stevens Point, and Engler's Eau Claire teammate Emily Stone.  Howie Samb of Stout is the women's golf coach-of-the-year.  Alex Westman of Stout is the sport's top scholar-athlete.