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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Brewers deny agreement has been reached with Garza

The Milwaukee Brewers denied last night that they reached a contract agreement with free-agent starter Matt Garza. Major League teams do not officially announce a contract signing until the player passes his physical. But rarely will teams deny agreeing to deals like the Brewers did, when they said talks with Garza are quote, "ongoing but there is no deal yet." Various media reports yesterday said the two sides agreed to a four-year, 52-million dollar contract with Garza -- which would be the largest deal for an incoming free agent in Brewers' history. Garza, a 30-year-old right-hander, went 10-and-6 last year with the Chicago Cubs and Texas, with an E-R-A of three-point-eight-two in 24 starts. He's had injury problems in recent years. He missed the first seven weeks of last season with a strained muscle behind his left shoulder. Garza was also on the disabled list three other times since 2009 due to elbow problems. Even so, he's considered one of the top pitchers on the free-agent market this winter.


Milwaukee Bucks' general manager John Hammond says he's been out scouting a lot more than in recent years, knowing the Bucks will get a top draft pick in June. Milwaukee's 8-and-33 record virtually assures them a place in the Draft Lottery and a Top-four pick. Hammond tells the Journal Sentinel it's an important time to watch how the top-tier first-round players progress in their final years of college -- and they'll continue doing that. The Bucks are certainly out of playoff contention, so they've been developing their younger players. Hammond said it wasn't supposed to be like this. He said he tried building a playoff team -- but injuries to key veterans got in the way. Hammond said the Bucks lead the N-B-A with 10 players who've missed at lesat some time to injuries. Hammond said he did not expect Carlos Delfino to be out for the season with a lingering foot injury. Nor did the G-M expect what he calls "The Larry Sanders Issue" -- the center's night-club brawl in which he broke a hand that kept him out for six weeks. Hammond said he understands why veterans like Caron Butler complain about a lack of playing time -- but he believes they support the team's youth movement. The G-M also said coach Larry Drew is doing the best he can in a difficult situation. The Bucks' next game is tonight at Cleveland.


The Wisconsin women's basketball team led for the first 27 minutes at Minnesota last night, before losing to the Gophers 64-to-53. The Badgers were up by six at the break, and Minnesota took its first lead with just over 13 minutes left. The lead grew to double-digits with 52 seconds to play. Badgers' coach Bobbie Kelsey said her defense allowed Minnesota to get too many layups -- and it's something they'll have to work on. The Gophers out-shot Wisconsin 48-to-37 percent. Minnesota had a slight rebounding edge, at 35-33. Rachel Banham scored 19 points for the Gophers, who improved to 2-and-4 in the Big Ten and 13-and-7 overall. Morgan Paige led the Badgers with 13. Wisconsin dropped to 2-and-4 in the conference and 9-and-9 overall. They'll host Michigan on Sunday.


The U-W Milwaukee women lost to Wright State at home last night, 69-to-64. The Panthers led by two at the break, but Wright State had a 14-to-4 run to go up by six early in the second half. Milwaukee was down by 11 with three minutes to play when the Panthers rattled off seven straight points. They trailed by four with a minute left, but could not get over the hump. Milwaukee struggled at the free-throw line, making just 8-of-21. The Panthers committed 18 turnovers to Wright State's 10. Kim Demmings scored 21 for the Raiders, who improved to 15-and-5 overall and 4-and-1 in the Horizon League. Angela Rodriguez had 13 points and nine assists for U-W Milwaukee, which fell to 1-and-3 in the league and 5-and-12 overall. The Panthers will host Detroit tomorrow. Tonight, the Milwaukee men are at home against Detroit.


The Wisconsin men's hockey team will wrap up a 12-game home-stand this weekend, when it plays Ohio State tonight and tomorrow night in Madison. The ninth-ranked Badgers are 4-and-2 in their inaugural Big Ten campaign, and they're 13-6-and-1 overall. Ohio State comes in at 1-4-and-1 in the conference, and 11-8-and-1 overall. Junior goaltender Joel Rumpel is a big reason for the Badgers' success. He leads the N-C-A-A's Division-One with a .909 winning percentage. He's 10-and-1, after sitting out four games in the early part of the season with an ankle injury suffered at practice. Rumpel is also in the national Top-10 with a .932 save percentage, and a one-point-eight-five goals-against-average. Freshman goal-tender Landon Peterson has also received some major playing time for the Badgers. He has a .928 save percentage.

On the women's side, Wisconsin will host Minnesota-Duluth tomorrow and Sunday afternoons. The second-ranked Badgers have won three straight, after a sweep at Saint Cloud State last weekend. Mark Johnson's team has also won eight-of-its-last-nine. The Badgers are 11-and-1 at home, 15-3-and-2 in the W-C-H-A, and 19-3-and-2 overall.


Former Wisconsin assistant Chris Ash has left Bret Bielema's staff at Arkansas. The 40-year-old Ash was named yesterday as a co-defensive coordinator and safeties' coach at Ohio State under Urban Meyer. Ash held a similar post for the Razorbacks this past season, after doing the same for two years under Bielema at the U-W. Ash and holdover Luke Fickell will run the Buckeyes' defense together. Ash replaces Everett Withers, who left Ohio State to become the new head coach at James Madison.