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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Hoffner hired as head football coach at Minot State

MINOT, N.D. - A former UW-Eau Claire football coach who was later cleared in a child pornography case in Minnesota was named today as the new head coach at Minot State in North Dakota.  

The school confirmed that Todd Hoffner was given the job, ahead of a news conference that was planned for this afternoon.  Hoffner and UW-Stevens Point offensive coordinator Aaron Vlcko were among three finalists to replace Paul Rudolph.  He resigned right after New Year's Day to become the offensive coordinator at North Dakota.  During his public visit to Minot State on Monday, Hoffner said one of his goals is to re-establish himself.  He said quote, "We need to move on and move forward in our lives, and hopefully this is a great opportunity for us to do that."  Hoffner was charged in 2012 with possession of child pornography, after he turned in his school cell-phone for repairs and officials found photos of his naked children on it.  Three months later, a judge cleared him, agreeing that it was not child porn to record photos of one's children goofing off in a bathtub.  Minnesota State still fired him.   Hoffner coached at Eau Claire from 1999-2005, where his Blugold teams went 29-20.  He went to the Mankato campus in 2008, where he led the Mavericks to three Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference titles in his five seasons.  Minot State plays in the NSIC's North Division.


The UW-Milwaukee men's basketball team will try to snap a three-game losing streak tonight, when it hosts Wright State.  It's one of three home contests the Panthers will play at the Klotsche Center on the UWM campus.  Their other home contests are downtown at the much larger U.S. Cellular Arena.  Milwaukee is 3-5 in the Horizon League and 13-9 overall, after a 19-point home loss to Detroit last Friday night.  Wright State comes in at 5-3 in the conference and 13-10 overall.  The Raiders beat Milwaukee in Dayton Ohio, 73-57 on January 21st.  Jerran Young scored 19 points for Wright State in that contest.  Milwaukee continues to be led by junior college transfer Matt Tiby, with just over 14 points per night.  Also this evening, the Marquette men host Providence. The Wisconsin women are at Michigan State. The UW-Green Bay women play at Oakland.  And the UW-Parkside women-and-men are both at Saint Joseph's.


University of Wisconsin senior Mary Massei is one of 50 candidates for USA Softball's Collegiate Player-of-the-Year.  The sport's governing body and the Amateur Softball Association announced a "watch list" today.  Massei batted .421 last year with a .672 slugging percentage, on her way to All-Big Ten first team honors.  Massei also made the coaches' All-Great Lakes regional team a year ago.  The field for the national player-of-the-year award will be reduced to 25 finalists, then to 10, and then to three.  The winner will be announced May 27th.


Bob Uecker turned 80 last Sunday -- and the Milwaukee Brewers' Hall-of-Fame radio announcer says he'll cut back on his workload this season.  Uecker tells WTMJ -- the flagship station in Milwaukee which carries his play-by-play -- that he'll keep doing all home games.  He did not indicate how many road games he would cut out -- and there's no word yet on who will fill in.  Uecker said Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio and others have been encouraging him to take it easier -- but until now, he wouldn't do it.  In 2010, Uecker missed three months of the season with heart surgery -- and he needed more surgery that October.  Uecker is listed as being born in 1935, but he says that's off by a year.  He's been a part of the Brewers' broadcast team since 1971.  His seemingly endless baseball stories and dead-pan humor have long been popular throughout Wisconsin, in both winning-and-losing seasons.  Uecker was inducted into the broadcasters' wing of Baseball's Hall of Fame in 2003.  Earlier this month, the Brewers said they would put up a second statue of him at Miller Park -- this one in the back row of the top deck behind home plate, as a tribute to his famous Miller Lite commercial line "I must be in the front row."


The Marquette University men's basketball team will try to even its Big East Conference record tonight, when it hosts Providence.  The Golden Eagles are 3-4 in the newly-reshaped conference after a nine-point overtime home loss to then-fourth-ranked Villanova last Saturday.  Marquette is 11-9 overall, with overtime verdicts in their last three contests.  They'll face a Providence team that's 5-2 in the conference and 15-5 overall.  The Friars are coming off a nine-point home win over Xavier last Saturday, in which guard Bryce Cotton scored 29 points.  Marquette senior forward Davante Gardner is coming off a monster game against Villanova, with 29 points and 13 rebounds.  He was named to the Big East Honor Roll this week for that performance.  Despite its losing record, Marquette leads the Big East in scoring defense, giving up 65-and-a-half points a game.  


The University of Wisconsin women's basketball team will try to end a three-game losing streak tonight when they play at Michigan State.  The Badgers are 2-5 in the Big Ten, after dropping five-of-their-last-six.  They're 9-10 overall.  Michigan State is second in the conference at 5-2.  The Spartans are 13-7 overall.  Junior Michala Johnson leads Wisconsin in scoring with just over 15-and-a-half points per game.  Senior Taylor Wurtz is the Badgers' top rebounder with almost eight board per night.  Michigan State is coming off a 14-point victory over Ohio State last Sunday.  It was the Spartans' first win over the Buckeyes since February of 2010.  Tori Jankoska led Michigan State with a season-high 25 points in that victory.  Also tonight, the UW-Milwaukee men are at home against Wright State.  The Green Bay women play at Oakland.  And the Parkside women-and-men are on the road at Saint Joseph's.


Only two of Wisconsin's Division III college basketball teams are in action tonight.  Both are men's contests.  Wisconsin Lutheran travels to Dominican for a Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference tilt.  Maranatha Baptist is at home in Watertown against Dayspring Bible.


Higher-seeded teams will get more home games in this fall's state high school football playoffs.  The WIAA's Board of Control voted today to let higher-seeds host games in the first three rounds.  Until now, the higher-seed hosted a Level 1 contest.  But in Level-Two, the higher seed went on the road if the opponent had not hosted a first-round contest the previous week.  Higher-seeds hosted Level 3 games unless neutral sites were considered necessary by the WIAA.  


Clay Matthews has had a surgical pin removed from his broken right thumb.  The Green Bay linebacker tells that he had the pin taken out last Friday, and he needs rehab so it can be 100-percent for next season.  Matthews suffered a Bennett's fracture of the thumb last October, in which broken bones were lined up at the base.  The Packers never confirmed the second break from late December -- but coach Mike McCarthy described it in a manner similar to the initial injury.  Matthews, a four-time Pro Bowler, said he'll start his gym training soon -- and the workouts will contribute to his healing efforts.


Pewaukee native Mark Wilson is the only Wisconsin golfer in the PGA's Waste Management Phoenix Open.  He was at even-par after four holes of his first round this morning.  Nicolas Colsaerts and Kevin Stadler had the early lead, both at four-under.