WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Packers lose Jones but keep Starks and sign Guion
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers lost free-agent receiver James Jones to the Oakland Raiders yesterday. But the Packers kept running back James Starks for another two years. And they brought in nose tackle Letroy Guion, who was cut by Minnesota 12 days ago.
Jones was expected to leave, after his agent said a few weeks ago that Packers' GM Ted Thompson didn't appear to want him back. Jones played seven years with Green Bay, with the team's 12th-highest career total for catches with 310. However, the Packers are well-stocked at the receiver spot with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jarrett Boykin -- plus back-ups Myles White, Chris Harper, and Kevin Dorsey. The draft pool is also expected to be well-stocked with wide-outs. At Oakland, ESPN says Jones will get a three-year deal worth just over eleven million dollars. Guion is reportedly getting just over the $730,000 minimum for a six-year veteran. CBS Sports first reported that Starks decided to stay with the Packers after he was scheduled to meet with Pittsburgh yesterday. The four-year veteran is expected to continuing sharing time on the field with running back Eddie Lacy.
The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team is ranked 12th in the final Associated Press media poll. It's the same ranking as a week ago, despite a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday. The Badgers dropped two spots in the USA Today coaches' poll to 15th, but they still received one of the NCAA's top-eight seeds as a Number-two. The Badgers start the Big Dance with an hour-and-a-half bus ride to Milwaukee, and will play 15th-seeded American University in the West Region late Thursday morning. Meanwhile, UW-Milwaukee's NCAA opponent went down in the polls this week. Villanova dropped from third-to-sixth in the AP media poll, and from third-to-seventh in the coaches' survey. 'Nova is 28-4, with the second seed in the East Region. They'll face unranked Milwaukee on Thursday night in Buffalo, New York.
UW-Green Bay received a bid last night to the Women's NIT Tournament. The Phoenix will open at Minnesota tomorrow night. Green Bay did not make the NCAA field after stumbling through its non-conference schedule. The Phoenix are 22-9 overall, after recovering enough to win its 16th Horizon League regular season crown. That title gave the Phoenix an automatic WNIT bid. UWGB would have punched a ticket to the Big Dance had it not lost to Wright State in Sunday's Horizon League tournament final. Still, Phoenix coach Kevin Borseth says the team is excited to keep its season going. They'll face a Minnesota team that's 20-12, with the Big Ten's automatic bid. The winner of tomorrow night's game will play SMU or Texas Southern in the second round.
The Milwaukee Bucks are now in a battle with Philadelphia for the worst record in the NBA and the best chance to win the top pick in the Draft Lottery. Milwaukee is 13-54 with 15 contests left as they open a four-game Western road trip tonight at Portland. The Bucks are only two games behind the 76'ers for the league's worst mark. Philly is 15-52 with a 21-game losing streak. Of course, no team will admit it's losing on purpose. Bucks' coach Larry Drew says his team will quote, "keep grinding" and deal with trouble spots. And there are plenty for a group that's headed toward a Bucks' record for season losses. They'd have to go 7-8 the rest of the way to tie Milwaukee's all-time worst of mark of 20-62 set two decades ago under coach Mike Dunleavy Sr.
The Milwaukee Brewers got crushed by the Chicago White Sox 9-0 yesterday in an exhibition game in Phoenix. The Sox scored four runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by a two-run double from Matt Davidson. They scored four more in the seventh, when Josh Richmond homered. Brewers' starter Kyle Lohse gave up five runs on seven hits in three-and-two-thirds innings, and the Milwaukee offense mustered just four hits including a triple from Jean Segura. The Brewers are now 8-12 in Cactus League play. They'll play the Texas Rangers this afternoon.
Wisconsin has three of the six players on the inaugural All-Big Ten Conference first team in men's hockey. Senior forwards Mark Zengerle and Michael Mersch, and junior defenseman Jake McCabe were selected by a panel of conference coaches and media. Junior goal-tender Joel Rumpel made the all-league second team along with two other Badgers -- senior defenseman Frankie Simonelli and sophomore forward Nic Kerdiles. Adam Wilcox of Minnesota is the Big Ten player-of-the-year and goaltender-of-the-year. Don Lucia of the Gophers is the coach-of-the-year, after he led Minnesota to the inaugural conference regular season crown. The Badgers finished second. They'll play either Michigan or Penn State on Friday in the semi-finals of the conference tournament in Saint Paul.
The Milwaukee Wave says it will re-structure and explore all of its options. Yesterday, the Major Indoor Soccer League said it would re-structure as well, and it might not play next season. The Wave said four of the league's seven franchises were leaving the MISL to join the 20-team Premier Indoor Soccer League. The Syracuse Post-Standard identified those teams as Syracuse, Rochester, Baltimore, and Missouri. Reports have been circulating for days about the Wave's financial issues, after owner Sue Black was sued for allegedly not paying interest on what she borrowed last year to buy the team. Other legal action accuses the Wave of not repaying a 10-thousand dollar loan it received to meet the team's payroll in December, and not paying 42-thousand dollars for promotional merchandise. There have also been rumors about the future of long-time Wave coach Keith Tozer, who led the team to six league titles since 1998. Black texted yesterday to a reporter that Tozer had not been fired.