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April 2010 Archives

No excuses

Wisconsin women's soccer head coach Paula Wilkins will keep a consistent blog throughout the  spring season to track the team's progress and other tidbits. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates.

I am really late this week with my blog because my week has been full of meetings and recruiting, but as my mother would say... don't make excuses.  I have a little time in between my seven meetings today to catch everyone up on the happenings of Wisconsin Soccer. I use these meetings to talk about the players' school, summer plans, health, and my expectations for them next year.  After these meetings, I always think I need more and more communication with players because I believe that is the foundation of a successful program. 

Our spring didn't go as well as I would have liked, mostly because of the number of injuries we sustained this spring.  My objective for the spring was to try players in different positions to see if different combinations worked better with one another.  We never had the opportunity to move people around as injuries slowly took our team over.  On the bright side, it did give some players a great opportunity to show me what they can do because we basically had just enough players to field a complete side.  With no substitutions, it was their time to shine.

Looking at this weekend's lineups


With just two weeks remaining before the Big Ten outdoor championships, it's another busy weekend of competition for the Badger women.

The bulk of UW's distance crew is off to the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, while the rest of the Badgers make the shorter trip to Iowa City, Iowa, for the Musco Twilight Invitational.

Here's a look at who is heading where this weekend...

A look at the lineups


While this weekend's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational serves as a highlight of the season for the Badgers' distance crew, the Musco Twilight will be a tryout of sorts for several Badgers.

With the meet in Iowa City taking place just two weeks out from the Big Ten championships, it will serve as a final opportunity for some athletes to earn a spot on the Badgers' limited roster for the conference meet.

With that in mind, here's a look at the lineups for this weekend....

Badgers in the NFL roundup

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Thumbnail image for Graham_Garrett_Miami_09_4.jpgWith the 2010 NFL Draft in the books, this is a good time to take a glance around the league and see what is up with some former Badgers.

Obviously it was a big weekend for Garrett Graham, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Houston Texans. He will be joining former Badger Owen Daniels and it looks like he will get plenty of opportunities to make a name for himself during the offseason. BTW, it sounds like Daniels is ahead of schedule in his rehab.

Houston Chronicle - Extra TEs anything but a luxury (April 24)
Asbury Park Press - Brick Memorial's Graham selected by Texans (April 24)
HoustonTexans.com - Garrett Graham quotes (April 24)

O'Brien Schofield joined Graham in the fourth round, going to the Arizona Cardinals. It sounds as though Schofield expects to compete for playing time despite suffering a knee injury in January.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield gets his chance with Arizona (April 24)
ProFootballTalk.com - Cardinals get value with O'Brien Schofield (April 24)
Arizona Republic - A gamble on a knee (April 24)
AzCardinals.com - Schofield Injury Doesn't Scare Cards (April 24)

Maragos_Chris_OSU_09_3.jpgWhile he went undrafted, Chris Maragos signed a free agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers quickly after the draft ended on Saturday. All he is looking for is a chance.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Off to the streets of San Francisco (April 26)
49ers.com - 49ers Announce Undrafted Free Agents (April 26)
Racine Journal Times - Maragos goes undrafted, but quickly signs with San Francisco (April 24)

Another undrafted Badger with a free agent contract is defensive lineman Jeff Stehle. He signed with the Denver Broncos over an offer from the Minnesota Vikings.

Two Badgers, linebacker Jaevery McFadden and tight end Mickey Turner, will participate in tryouts to try and extend their football careers. McFadden will visit the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings while Turner works out this weekend with the Miami Dolphins.

In other NFL news, Cleveland Brown Joe Thomas has some advice for newly-drafted players.

Evans_Lee_1.jpgThe Buffalo Bills look back on the drafting of Lee Evans.

Mark Tauscher was in Milwaukee on Tuesday to take a little batting practice before the Brewers' game.

It looks like DeAndre Levy will stay at middle linebacker for the Detroit Lions. His development played a role in the Lions' trade of linebacker Ernie Sims.

Unsigned linebacker Nick Greisen, who spent 2009 on injured reserve, recently worked out with the Broncos.

NY Jet Jim Leonhard will be the keynote speaker at the 5th annual Leadership Luncheon Fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday, May 6, in Rice Lake, Wis.

In addition to a new team, New York Giants' backup quarterback Jim Sorgi may have a new job. In addition, the NFL thought Sorgi's return to Indianapolis was such a big deal they scheduled it for prime time in weak two. 

Weekend a big one for Badger alums, too


As usual, the Wisconsin men's track and field team has had the first weekend in May circled on its calendar since the outdoor season began.

That's because the annual trip to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational usually brings out the best in the Badgers.

Last year in Palo Alto, then-juniors Jack Bolas and Craig Miller recorded the third- and fifth-fastest 1,500 meters times in school history. Bolas' 3:37.64 ranked No. 4 in the nation last year, while Miller's 3:37.81 was No. 5 on the NCAA list.

Miller and Bolas seek similar success on Saturday, but this year's running of the Payton Jordan Invitational is a big one for some former Badgers, too.

"The Voice" with Matt Lepay

The Voice and I have been together a long time.  So long, in fact, that sometimes his life can creep into mine when I least expect it.   A few weeks ago I had a dream that is a sportscaster's worst nightmare.

Video: Recapping the Badgers' weekend at Drake

Check out a video interview with the four members of the championship distance medley relay team of Ryan Gasper, James Groce, Zach Beth and Craig Miller after the jump.

Finnerty, Rucks take third-place finishes


Redshirt freshman Rob Finnerty showed he's undoubtedly on the downhill side of the road to recovery with a third-place finish in the 1,500 meters Saturday at the Drake Relays.

Finnerty, who missed his entire first season at UW because of injury, ran a personal-best 3:45.45 but was nipped at the line by Iowa State freshman Rico Loy and Silas Kisorio of Oklahoma Christian in a fantastic finish.

He spent most of the race on Kisorio's shoulder at the front of the pack and was in good position for a kick with 150 meters to go. That's when Loy joined the fray, and he out-kicked both the front-runners to take the win in 3:45.27.

Kisorio was just back in 3:45.37 with Finnerty half a step behind as all three lunged for the finish.

Finnerty's time cut more than three seconds off his previous best, the 3:48.50 he ran two weeks ago at the Mt. SAC Relays.

In the 800 meters, junior Luke Rucks finished a busy day of competition -- he also anchored UW's effort in the sprint medley relay -- by taking a third in the 800 meters.

Despite splitting a 1:50 earlier in the day on the relay, Rucks clocked in at 1:50.38 to claim his third-place finish. The time was just off Rucks' season-best mark of 1:50.20 that he ran at Mt. SAC.

Alabama junior Fred Samoei claimed the win in 1:49.73, with Nebraska freshman Tommy Brinn taking second in 1:49.84.

Niedermeyer posts impressive vault win

Former Badger Darren Niedermeyer added another line to his post-collegiate resume Saturday with an impressive win in the men's special pole vault at the Drake Relays.

Niedermeyer needed to clear just two bars to win, but it was the way he cleared them that led to the victory. He and runner-up Derek Miles -- the two-time defending Drake champion in the men's special vault -- both cleared 17-7 1/4 on their second attempt.

The key came on the next bar, the height that ended up as the winning clearance. Niedermeyer made it over on his first attempt, but it took Miles two tries to gain clearance. When neither could clear the next bar in the progression at 18-5 1/4, the win went to Niedermeyer on the criteria of misses.

It's a big victory for Niedermeyer considering some of Miles' credentials. Beyond being a three-time Drake champion, he was the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials champion and went on to finish fourth at the Olympics in Beijing. Plus, he owns an impressive lifetime-best clearance of 19-2 1/2.

"He's one of the guys you're always aiming to beat," Niedermeyer said of Miles. "So, it feels good to be able to get a victory today."

Double success in triple jump

Senior LaQuita Brazil posted a personal-best leap and sophomore Jordan Helgren put up her best mark of the season to grab a pair of top-10 finishes in the women's triple jump Saturday afternoon at the Drake Relays.

Brazil had the top mark in her flight with her lifetime-best effort of 40 feet, 7 3/4 inches, but she narrowly missed out on a spot in the finals. The performance moved her up to No. 8 on the Badgers' all-time list in the event.

Helgren did advance to the finals and posted her best attempt of the day on her third and final jump of the trials. She leapt a season-best 41-4 1/2, a mark she did not improve on in the finals, but one that was good enough for seventh place overall.

Freshman Andrea Geubell of Kansas had the winning mark with a leap of 43-11 1/4.

Larkin takes fifth in 110 hurdles


Senior Nate Larkin wrapped up his collegiate Drake Relays career with a second-consecutive top-five finish in the men's 110-meter hurdles Saturday afternoon.

Larkin clocked a time of 14.24 despite running into a stiff headwind that registered at 2 meters per second. He was third at Drake last year, running his career-best time of 13.89 with a wind at his back.

Illinois sophomore Andrew Riley, who finished one spot ahead of Larkin as the runner-up last year, claimed the win in an impressive 13.72 despite the headwind. Kansas State junior Jeffrey Julmis was second in 13.76.

Women's hurdlers pick up pace


Whether individually or as a team, Saturday afternoon went very well for Wisconsin's women's hurdlers.

The 4x100-meter shuttle hurdle relay team took a fourth-place finish in the event, as the quartet of sophomore Jessica Flax, senior Jenny Soceka, freshman Dorcas Akinniyi and junior Egle Staisiunaite ran a school-record time of 56.77 in the afternoon final.

The time was a drop of nearly a second off the previous record set by the foursome -- a 57.53 run at the Florida Relays on April 3.

Saturday's runs -- the prelims and the final -- represented just the third and fourth shuttle hurdle races in school history. Before they ran at the Florida Relays, Wisconsin's only previous run in the event was at the 2008 Sea Ray Relays.

Just 40 minutes anchoring the Badgers' effort in the relay, Staisiunaite returned to the track to run the 400-meter hurdles. She responded with an effort of 59.89 to finish 10th and clock the second sub-1:00 run of her career.

Sophomore teammate Jenna Severson was strong, too, running a personal-best 1:00.65 to finish 16th.

Badgers claim distance medley in school-record time


Four outstanding carries carried the Badgers to a Drake Relays title in the distance medley relay Saturday, with UW clocking a school-record time in the process.

The foursome of senior Ryan Gasper, senior James Groce, junior Zach Beth and senior Craig Miller ran a time of 9:32.84 to claim the win in the Jim Wheelock Distance Medley Relay, with their mark ranking as the second-fastest DMR time in the nation this year.

The victory gave Wisconsin its first Drake title in the event since 1949. Miller and Beth both were part of the Badgers' win in the 4x800-meter relay at last year's Drake Relays.

After getting backed up into the pack more than he'd planned on the opening 1,200-meter leg, Gasper closed well to clock a split of 2:57 that ensured he would hand off to Groce ahead of the traffic jam that trailed.

Groce -- competing in his fourth relay of the weekend -- took the stick cleanly for the 400-meter leg and went on to lay down a blazing split of 45.8 seconds that put the Badgers out front.

Beth did his part to keep them there with his 800-meter leg, as he lapped the blue oval twice in the low-1:49 range to set up Miller's anchor leg.

The two made the final exchange in a dead heat with Baylor, but Miller pulled ahead and led nearly throughout his 1,600-meter carry.

He slipped to second only briefly when Iowa State's Brandon Rooney slipped around the outside as the two took the final curve with 200 meters to go.

The lead was short-lived for Rooney, however, as Miller stormed back to the front with a finishing kick that capped off a split in the 4:00-flat range to take the win.

It was Miller's second anchor carry of 4:01 or better in as many days, as he also brought home the Badgers' third-place finish in the 4x1600-meter relay Friday.

The Badgers' remaining slate on the track is senior Nate Larkin in the finals of the men's 110-meter hurdles at 3:13 p.m. and Rob Finnerty in the men's 1,500 meters at 5:18 p.m.

Taylor clears personal-best bar to take fifth


True freshman Collin Taylor continued his strong rookie season for the Badgers at his first Drake Relays, as he took an impressive fifth-place finish in the men's high jump.

Taylor cleared a personal-best height of 6 feet, 11 3/4 inches to take fifth.

After getting over that career-best bar, Taylor took three shots at joining the 7-foot club and came up just short of clearing 7-1.

Ole Miss freshman Ricky Robertson took the win by clearing 7-3 1/4, with the other three competitors who finished ahead of Taylor all making it over at 7-2 1/4.

Photos: Drake Relays - Day 2

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Check back to the gallery linked below throughout the day for updated photos from day two of the 2010 Drake Relays.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Drake Relays - Day 2

Sprinters shine again in sprint medley relays


After a disappointing start to the day at the Drake Relays, the Wisconsin men's team rebounded with a third-place finish in the sprint medley relay late Saturday morning.

The quartet of freshman Gavin Robertson (200 meters), junior Kyle Jefferson (200 meters), senior James Groce (400 meters) and junior Luke Rucks (800 meters) clocked the sixth-fastest time in school history, and the Badgers' best since 1982.

Eastern Illinois took the win in 3:16.89, with Iowa second in 3:17.74.

It was another strong showing for the Badgers' sprints program, which also claimed a runner-up finish in the 4x200-meter relay on Friday.
On the women's side, the Badgers ran the third-fastest sprint medley in school history at 3:56.16. That clocking, from the foursome of freshman Jameice DeCoster, senior Alexis Beecham, freshman Brittney Harper and senior Amanda Donath, was good for a 10th-place finish.

Tulsa claimed the win in 3:47.44, with Ohio State second in 3:51.80.

The next action on the track for the Badgers is the finals of the women's shuttle hurdle relay, with the Badgers set to run at 12:56 p.m. UW also has LaQuita Brazil and Jordan Helgren competing in the women's triple jump at 12:30 p.m.

Ups and downs to open Saturday at Drake


The Wisconsin men's track team won't have the opportunity to defend its Drake Relays title in the shuttle hurdle relay, but the Badger women are in position to make a run at their first crown.

The women's squad -- running just the third shuttle hurdle race in school history -- clocked a time of 58.85 to take second in their heat and earn the fourth and final qualifying spot for the final.

Sophomore Jessica Flax, senior Jenny Soceka, redshirt freshman Dorcas Akinniyi and junior Egle Staisiunaite will run the final at 12:56 p.m.

Louisiana Tech was fastest at 56.46, with Alabama (56.59) and Ohio State (58.10) also getting through to the final.

After a strong opening leg from sophomore Temi Ogunbodede, the defending champion Badger men seemed poised to cruise into the final. A clean exchange to sophomore Adam Hexum followed, but Hexum stumbled at the second hurdle and failed to clear the barrier.

Sophomores Adum Gross and David Grzesiak were left standing at the blocks without running their legs.

Kansas State ran the fastest prelims time at 58.92, with North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and Indiana State also making the final.

In terms of weather, things look much brighter for Des Moines today after a soggy, breezy Friday. Sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s are expected at least through late afternoon, when strong storms may roll in.

Next up for UW is freshman Collin Taylor in the men's high jump at 10 a.m. On the track, the men's and women's sprint medley relay teams will run beginning at 10:15 a.m.

Men grab second in 4x200 to wrap day at Drake


The Badger men's team put a cap on Wisconsin's day of competition at the Drake Relays with a runner-up finish in the 4x200-meter relay as part of the "Relays Under the Lights" session this evening.

Three-fourths of the squad that set a school record in the event three weeks ago at the Florida Relays hit the track again at Drake, with sophomore Grant Bughman joining record-holders Gavin Robertson, Kyle Jefferson and James Groce.

This quartet fell short of the record but posted the third-fastest time in school history at 1:24.48 on their way to runner-up honors. There was no catching Baylor -- always a force in the sprints at Drake -- as the Bears claimed the title in 1:21.64.

Big Ten rivals Illinois (1:25.21) and Ohio State (1:25.54) claimed the third and fourth spots.

The Badgers return to action for the final day of the Drake Relays beginning early Saturday, with the women's 4x100-meter shuttle hurdle relay on tap at 8:20 a.m. The men's shuttle hurdle relay -- in which the Badgers are defending champs -- follows at 8:43 a.m.

Women run fastest 4x400 since 1992


The Badgers clocked the fastest 4x400-meter relay time by a UW quartet since 1992 on Saturday afternoon, with the foursome of Jameice DeCoster, Jenna Severson, Brittney Harper and Egle Staisiuniate clocking a time of 3:44.53 in the prelims at the Drake Relays.

The mark was good for 14th-fastest overall in the prelims, but it ranks as the sixth-fastest mark all-time at UW.

That means four of the 10 best marks in Badgers history have come in the past two years -- including three in the last 30 days.

The foursome of Harper, Severson, Staisiunaite and Amanda Donath went 3:45.11 at the Florida State Relays in March. Also, Harper, Donath, DeCoster and Staisiunaite clocked a 3:45.33 at the Florida Relays on April 3.

It was not fast enough to get the Badgers into the finals, however, with Ole Miss' 3:36.57 the top mark in the prelims session.

The Badgers' remaining event on the track is the men's 4x200-meter relay at 6:40 p.m.

Badgers take third in 4x1600 relay


Despite a 4:01 anchor carry by senior Craig Miller, the Badgers settled for a third-place finish in the men's 4x1600-meter relay Friday afternoon.

Miller's anchor helped the Badgers clock in at 16:29.57, the sixth-fastest time in school history and the best mark by a Badgers team since 1982.

Still, it was only good enough for third as Ohio State's Jeff See won a drag race to the finish with Notre Dame's Jeremy Rae. The Buckeyes took the win in 16:25.42 with Notre Dame second in 16:25.57.

The Badgers led a good portion of the race after lead leg Ryan Gasper put them out front midway with his opening carry of 4:10. Gasper closed the final 800 meters in an impressive 1:56 before passing to redshirt freshman Rob Finnerty with the Badgers in the lead.

Finnerty kept them there, running a split of 4:06 for his 1,600 meters before handing the baton to freshman Drew Shields.

Shields and Notre Dame's Daniel Clark continued the two-team breakaway at the front, but the chase pack soon chewed into their 30-meter gap on the field. By the time Shields passed to Miller after a 4:10 split, the Badgers were in a battle for fourth.

Miller picked off a couple of spots and blazed to a 4:01 split, but Rae broke away for a sizeable lead that See only could erase with a dead sprint over the final 100 meters.

The Badgers have Monika Jakutyte and Kate Flood competing in the women's high jump and Rayme Mackinson taking part in the men's long jump. The remaining action on the track for UW is the prelims of the women's 4x400-meter relay at 3:30 p.m. and the men's 4x200-meter relay at 6:40 p.m.

Judging by the weather at 1:30 p.m. -- an overcast 60 degrees with 20 mph winds -- tonight's "Relays Under the Lights" session could be a chilly one for the Badgers' sprinters.

Larkin advances in 110 hurdles


Senior Nate Larkin advanced out of the prelims of the men's 110-meter hurdles at the Drake Relays on Friday morning, running a time of 14.54 seconds.

Larkin, who was third in the event at last year's Drake Relays, won his preliminary heat going away and ended up fourth-fastest overall. He will race in the final at 3:13 p.m. Saturday.

Larkin also led off the Badgers' 4x100-meter relay entry Friday morning and will run the 4x110-meter shuttle hurdle relay on Saturday as the Badgers look to defend their title in that event.

Next up on the track for Wisconsin is the men's 4x1600-meter relay, with Craig Miller, Ryan Gasper, Drew Shields and Rob Finnerty running.

The duo of Monika Jakutyte and Kate Flood will compete in the women's high jump at 1 p.m. Teammate Megan Seidl, who is nursing some leg soreness, was a late scratch from that event and did not make the trip from Madison.

Drake Relays in pictures


Photos from the Badgers' day at the 2010 Drake Relays will be updated throughout the day, so be sure to check the gallery below for additional photos.

Photo Gallery: Drake Relays Day 1

Drenched at Drake


As you can see in the photo above -- of Kyle Jefferson anchoring UW's effort in the men's 4x100-meter relay -- the second day of the 101st Drake Relays is underway in Des Moines, Iowa, and it's off to a wet start.

It's been raining pretty much all morning, and the forecast doesn't look much brighter as the day goes on. Thunderstorms aren't out of the question, either.

Either way, the Badgers are off and running, as the women's 4x100-meter relay team of Jordan Helgren, Jameice DeCoster, Brittney Harper and Alexis Beecham ran their preliminary heat in 47.77. They did not advance to the event final.

On the men's side, the quartet of Nate Larkin, Gavin Robertson, James Groce and Jefferson ran a time of 41.42 that placed the Badgers 10th-fastest and just out of the final.

Next up for UW is Larkin running the prelims of the men's 110-meter hurdles, at 11:35 a.m.  The Badgers' entry in the 4x1600-meter relay -- Craig Miller, Ryan Gasper, Drew Shields and Rob Finnerty -- runs at 12:15 p.m.

Keep in mind that, because of the weather, the meet is on a rolling schedule and will stay ahead of schedule if possible.

I'll provide updates here on the blog throughout the day when I'm not out on the track taking photos ... and getting soaked.

Change is good

Wisconsin women's soccer head coach Paula Wilkins will keep a consistent blog throughout the  spring season to track the team's progress and other tidbits. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates.

I have a little time between meetings and phone calls to give everyone an update on the workings of Wisconsin women's soccer. We returned from Dekalb, Ill., very late last night after playing NIU. First of all, thanks to all the parents and fans that made it out to the game despite the wind, drop in temperature, and little bit of rain. It seems like the weather is fantastic every day other than the day we are playing.

I was more pleased with our performance last night than I was with our performance in Milwaukee. After the weekend in Milwaukee, I felt the players needed to make a change with how we were playing and do a better job of controlling the things we can control in a soccer match. I have always felt 'earning the right to play' is the foundation of any good program, and I think we have been lacking some of that in our spring training and games.

And the winner is ...

Buckingham-4537.jpgI had heard the buzz for almost a year.

"Did you go to the Buckinghams?"

Last year, the UW athletic department, led by the Office of Academic Services, hosted the first Buckinghams, officially the Student-Athlete Annual Showcase of Excellence. Modeled after the many awards shows out there (Academy Awards, ESPYs, etc.), it was a formal event complete with a red carpet, performances by student-athletes and awards based on off-the-field achievements.

Complete video from the 2010 Buckinghams Awards

The second installment was held last Monday at the Overture Center on State Street. I had to go to see for myself what all the talk was about. The doors opened at 7 p.m. and the foyer of the Overture Center was like a who's who of Badger athletics. There's Barry Alvarez. Bo Ryan and Lisa Stone are over there. Mike Eaves and Mark Johnson are talking in that corner. Bret Bielema is surrounded by Chris Maragos, Nick Toon and John Clay. Obviously, a number of student-athletes were on hand as well, along with some parents.

2010 Buckinghams Photo Gallery

Everyone made their way up the red carpet and the program started at 7:30 p.m. Women's hockey player Alannah McCready opened the show with a stirring rendition of "American Honey" by Lady Antebellum. If you don't have time to watch the entire Buckinghams video, definitely check out the first four minutes for McCready's performance.

The emcee for the event, "The Voice of the Badgers" Matt Lepay, then recognized the 3.5 awards, all the student-athletes who achieved a 3.5 term or cume GPA for Fall 2009 or Spring 2009. The list included 216 names. Again, for emphasis, 216 names.

All the other awards were presented by student-athletes, MTV Video Awards-style. The first pair of presenters were Ryan Gaspar and Jack Bolas of the men's cross country team. Each pair did a little skit, Bolas' involving having run to the awards show as part of training, before presenting their awards. The first award on the docket was the Performance Awards, given to student-athletes nominated by their advisors for their academic work and constant improvement. In the interest of space, the complete list of winners, as well as the complete list of all awards is at the end of this blog.

One of the big hits of the show was the best of the "Ask the Badgers" series. If you've been to the Kohl Center or Camp Randall for a game, you are familiar with these videos. The first showing included John Moffitt's famous "I don't trust children" response to "Do you have any superstitions?"

"The Voice" with Matt Lepay

The spring sports season rolls on, but for yours truly this week marks the end of the 2009-10 seasons for the two programs I cover on a daily basis.  Of course, football wrapped up its spring drills on Saturday, while this evening the men's basketball team gathers one final time for the annual spring reception.  This is the time of year when it can be interesting to look back at what has happened not just this season, but in recent years.  It also can serve as a reminder that if you are Badger fan, life continues to be pretty good, and a postseason function such as the one tonight truly serves as a celebration.   Sometimes that isn't the case.

Follow the Badgers live at Mt. SAC

Fans can follow the Wisconsin men's and women's track and field teams in action this weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays, thanks to live results and live video coverage from Flotrack.

- Live Webcast (begins 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday)
- Live Results

Also, be sure to check back to UWBadgers.com late Friday evening for coverage of the Badgers at the Mt. SAC Relays and the Bryan Clay Invitational.

Local competition

Wisconsin women's soccer head coach Paula Wilkins will keep a consistent blog throughout the  spring season to track the team's progress and other tidbits. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates.

This will be a short blog today as I am really busy getting ready for the games this weekend and preparing for the recruits visiting on Sunday. This weekend we are headed to Marquette to play UWM and Marquette. As a coach I love these games in the spring. The games against the in-state rivals are always intense and fast paced, and it's great to see our players compete in that arena. I am just hoping the games are great and the weather is warm. This could be a good weekend.

Spring practice report No. 13

Thursday afternoon marked the final full practice session before Saturday's spring game. There is still one more practice tomorrow, scheduled to go 18 periods in helmets only. The Badgers spent 24 periods in full pads outside in Camp Randall Stadium amidst blustery conditions.

Practice No. 13 Photo Gallery

"It was a good day today," head coach Bret Bielema said. "Tomorrow we'll back off actually and go helmets only."

Watch highlights and Coach Bielema's post-practice interview

Getting defensive
After spending the first several periods working at their respective positions, the Badgers broke into a 1st and 10 drill. A few standout defensive plays highlighted the drill.

FS Aaron Henry got it started as he came all the way to the opposite side of the field to snuff out an end-around to WR David Gilreath, while DL Ethan Hemer broke through on a pitch right to disrupt the backfield.

Later in practice, the No. 1 defense went up against the No. 2 offense. On a fake handoff, end-around, DE Louis Nzegwu was able to get deep penetration and bring down Gilreath for a big loss.

In a situational drill, a sideline pass featured a showdown between TE Lance Kendricks and CB Niles Brinkley. As Kendricks went up to haul in the pass, Brinkley was able to punch it out, much to the delight of his teammates and coaches.

SS Jay Valai had the big hit of the day as he walloped RB Montee Ball as Ball tried to run off the left tackle. Since it was practice, it wasn't a full-on hit from Valai, but it did create a loud pop and knocked Ball off balance.

Practice13_12.jpgOffensive showcase
The defense had some nice plays on Thursday, but the offense certainly had its share as well.

In the red zone skeleton drill, the first play featured QB Scott Tolzien using play action to find an open WR Kyle Jefferson in the corner of the end zone for a score.

Later, as the No. 1 offense faced off against the No. 1 defense, another play action resulted in another score. This time, Tolzien used the deception to fit a deep pass into WR Isaac Anderson who snuck past the secondary.

In the same sequence that saw the aforementioned play by Nzegwu, redshirt freshman QB Jon Budmayr put some nice touch on a deep pass to TE Zach Davison.

Red Zone
The Badgers spent a little time towards the end of practice on Red Zone. SS Jay Valai started the drill with a big pop on RB Montee Ball. The No. 1 offense did find the end zone once, on about a 15-yard crossing route from QB Scott Tolzien to WR David Gilreath after a nice play fake by Tolzien. The defense held its own for the rest of the drill, including three plays inside the 10-yard line.

The No. 2 offense also managed one score with QB Jon Budmayr finding WR Kyle Jefferson for a bout a 10-yard scoring strike. LB A.J. Fenton started the drill with a nice hit on RB Kyle Zuleger but then Zuleger came through on a big third down run.

2-minute drill
The No. 1 offense started on their own 30-yard line and drove to the defense's 41. Facing a 4th-and-2, Tolzien scrambled for about 10-yards and got out of bounds. A 20-yard pass to TE Lance Kendricks got the offense inside the 15-yard line. With four seconds left, the offense had the ball on the 10-yard line for one last shot. Tolzien lofted a pass for Jefferson in the corner of the end zone but CB Devin Smith was able to jump with Jefferson and break it up.

When the No. 2 offense and defense squared off, Budmayr quickly led the offense to the 38-yard line with a pair of completions to Duckworth and WR Jared Abbrederis. Facing a 4th-and-10, head coach Bret Bielema awarded the offense a first down at about the 25-yard line. DE David Gilbert ended the day with an interception on the next play, however.

Injury updates
Senior OL John Moffitt was back at practice and participating in drills on Thursday after recovering from hernia surgery. Bielema expects Moffitt to be in the lineup Saturday.

The same cannot be said for WR Nick Toon. He likely will not play after being banged up in last Saturday's practice.

Junior RB John Clay was seen off his crutches for the first time on Thursday since undergoing surgery on his right ankle.

This and that
Former UW defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu was in attendance at practice on Thursday, he spent time talking with Toon, Bielema and his fellow defensive backs, amongst others.

He may be sitting out this spring, but linebacker Chris Borland still showed his athleticism. As the team was taking a water break, Borland was seen catching one-handed passes of the jugs machine. 

Coach Bielema talks Spring FB with Big Ten Network

The Big Ten Network's "Big Ten Tonight: Spring Football Report" debuted Wednesday night and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema joined host Dave Revsine for an interview.

Bielema talked about his overall impressions of spring practice, the development of QBs Scott Tolzien and Jon Budmayr, the attitude of the team and the upcoming Spring Game.

Can't be at Camp Randall on Saturday?

Practice12_13.jpgWell then first, shame on you. But I guess it's understandable if you live out of state, or are getting married, or having a baby. But barring any of those conditions, you should really come out and watch the spring game (did you hear about the weather forecast?).

But if you REALLY can't make it, there are a couple of ways to see the game. The game will be live-streamed for $2.99 on BigTenNetwork.com. It will also be shown on the Big Ten Network via tape delay on the following days (all times CT):

Saturday, April 17 at 10 p.m.
Sunday, April 18 at 6 p.m.
Monday, April 19 at 11 p.m.
Tuesday, April 20 at 1 p.m.
Thursday, April 22 at 9 a.m.

Hosted by Dave Revsine alongside analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, the Big Ten Network will also produce five episodes of "Big Ten Tonight: Spring Football Report" on Wednesday and Saturday nights from April 14 through April 28. Here's how they break down:

Wednesday, April 14

DiNardo and Griffith visited Big Ten campuses throughout the spring and will review practices during the first episode of "Big Ten Tonight: Spring Football Report." (Spoiler alert: This episode features an interview with UW head coach Bret Bielema that he taped earlier this afternoon)

Saturday, April 17
There are five Big Ten spring games on this day: Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, and Purdue. Post-game interviews and highlights from the intra-squad scrimmages air at 10 p.m. ET on "Big Ten Tonight: Spring Football Report."

Wednesday, April 21
Preview the upcoming NFL Draft, and will include interviews with many of the Big Ten's projected draft picks.

Saturday, April 24
There are six Big Ten spring games on this day: Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and Michigan State. Post-game interviews and highlights air on "Big Ten Tonight: Spring Football Report" at 10 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, April 28
Wrap up the spring sessions on every campus and looks ahead to the 2010 season.

Spring practice report No. 12

With just three practices left until Saturday's spring game, each rep counts even more as players try to better themselves in lead up to Saturday's showcase. Tuesday's 24-period practice was held outside under sunny skies as the players went in full pads.

Watch highlights and post-practice interviews with RBs John Clay and Montee Ball

As is the norm with practices, the first few periods were spent on position-specific drills. The wide receivers practiced leaping over defenders to make the catch, while on the other side of the field, the defensive backs worked on coming around the edge, knocking the ball out of the quarterback's hands and then recovering the loose ball. Managers even threw balls directly into the ground so the secondary could better work at making the play off the bounce.

Practice No. 12 Photo Gallery

Later in practice, as the defense worked against a scout offense that featured an option quarterback, aptly played by wide receiver Jared Abberderis, the wide receivers were hard at work going against zone coverage elsewhere. With bodies needed elsewhere, it was up to the coaching staff as well as a student manager to mimic what the linebackers would do in coverage. It was then up to the wide receiver to find the soft spot in the zone and make the catch.

Practice12_11.jpgBig hits
During the 1st and 10 drill, on a sweep right, tight end Lance Kendricks pancaked defensive back Dezmen Southward.

In a different drill, safety Jay Valai laid a loud pop on a wide receiver catching a ball in the flats.

Defensive end J.J. Watt also got into the act, breaking through the line of scrimmage to lay a lick on a running back four yards into the backfield.

Good vs. good
Practice ended with the No. 1 offense squaring off with the No. 1 defense for two drives and the No. 2 squads squaring off for one. On the first drive for the No. 1 offense, the Badgers drove inside the 40-yard line but were stopped there. The same thing happened when the No. 2 offense took the ball, gaining a couple first downs but eventually stalling short of the goal line.

On the No. 1 offense's last drive, they were able to punch it into the end zone. The main catalyst on the drive was Kendricks, who made a great catch on about a 25-yard crossing route, leaping over linebacker Kevin Rouse to make the grab. Kendricks also moved the Badgers inside the 5-yard line after RB Zach Brown gave QB Scott Tolzien some extra time with an excellent blitz pick up. RB Montee Ball capped the drive with a short TD plunge.

The Badgers will take Wednesday off before closing out the week with practices on Thursday on 3:45 p.m. and on Friday at 4:45 p.m. This all leads up to Saturday's Spring Game at 2 p.m.

Weather looking perfect for Saturday

Practice7.jpgUW's annual Cardinal and White Spring Football will be held on Saturday and as of right now, it looks like the weather will cooperate. The latest weather.com long-range forecast puts the high at 64 degrees, almost 10 degrees above normal for mid-April. It also calls for sun (not to be confused with my favorite: "plentiful sunshine") and a zero percent chance of precipitation.

The game will kick off at 2 p.m. and admission is free to the public. Approximately 23,500 fans turned out last year as the Cardinal team, comprised of the No. 1 offense and defense, defeated the White team 56-20. The day was similar to this year's forecast, 61 degrees but cloudy at kickoff.

Fans are also invited to the Badger Kids Fair prior to the Spring Game. The Kids Fair will run from noon-2 p.m. in the McClain Center, adjacent to Camp Randall Stadium. Kids will enjoy interactive displays while meeting UW student-athletes and coaches from many of UW's varsity sports teams. That event is also free to the public.

Members of the football team will be on hand for the first hour of the event before leaving to begin their preparations for the Spring Game). Plus, from 1-2 p.m., former Badger football players will be on hand to sign autographs for fans.

Did I mention everything was free?

"The Voice" with Matt Lepay

As you read this blog, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay continues the process of finding its next men's basketball coach.  Among the candidates is Badgers associate head coach Greg Gard.  The list of finalists includes former Marquette players Jon Harris, currently an assistant at Missouri State, and Brian Wardle, who is on the Green Bay staff.


Butch_Brian_ILL_0506_2.jpgThe Denver Nuggets have signed former Badger Brian Butch, team Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien announced over the weekend.

Butch (6-11, 240) averaged 17.7 ppg and 11.9 rpg in 39 games for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League this season. The Wisconsin product also was named MVP of the 2010 NBDL All-Star game after scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

A native of Appleton, Wis., Butch earned consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 2008. For his career, he is one of just eight players in UW history with at least 1,000 points and 600 rebounds. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, he earned his undergraduate degree from UW in May of 2007.

Read Brian's final blog entry from his stint in the D-League

Wisconsin now has three players in the NBA, including Michael Finley (Celtics) and Devin Harris (Nets). Marcus Landry was waived by the Boston Celtics, just four days after being re-signed on April 5th.

Spring practice report No. 11

The Badgers held their 11th practice of the spring on Saturday and while the official spring dress rehearsal is one week away, most of Saturday's scrimmage was made up of a scrimmage that included the No. 1 offense going against the No. 1 defense.

Practice No. 11 Photo Gallery

Quick start for the offense
The scrimmage started with the offense running first- and second-down plays. Every series started first-and-10 and the offense would play second down from where the ball was spotted after the first down play. The goal of the drill was to emphasize the importance of execution on first down. The offense wants to gain four or more yards while the defense wants to give up three or less.

The No. 1 units went head-to-head for eight series and the offense got a first down on all eight. UW's multiple offensive weapons were on display. RB Montee Ball did the bulk of the damage on the ground. WR Nick Toon came up with another highlight-reel catch, leaping over CB Devin Smith to haul in about a 30-yard grab down the sideline. WR David Gilreath ran for about 35 yards on a reverse. Finally, TE Lance Kendricks ended the drill with consecutive catches, including one on the final play for more than 40 yards.

Watch highlights from practice and head coach Bret Bielema's post-practice interview

The No. 2 defense had better luck, holding the No. 2 defense to three first downs on seven tries. QB Jon Budmayr and TE Jacob Pederson hooked up for about a 20-yard gain and WR Kyle Jefferson came up with a circus grab on a slant pass that DE David Gilbert tipped. On defense, LB Ethan Armstrong came up with a big hit to drop RB Zach Brown in the backfield.

Addressing the team after practice, head coach Bret Bielema applauded the offense for the excellent start but stressed to the defense that they need to be ready to play right from the beginning.

The defense strikes back
The defense got the momentum back right at the start of the third down drills. The offense faced various third-down situations, starting with third-and-1 and ending with third-and-10.

On the first play, a third-and-one, LB Culmer St. Jean attacked the hole and flattened Ball, causing a fumble. The defense also held on the next four third-down plays, as DE J.J. Watt stopped Brown, DL Patrick Butrym knocked down a pass, the offense threw an incompletion and Watt recorded a sack. The offense's lone conversion was on a third-and-10 play when QB Scott Tolzien hooked up with Toon, just floating a pass over Smith's outstretched arms on the sideline.

LB A.J. Fenton came up with an interception during the twos vs. twos.

When the No. 1s squared off again, the offense had a little better luck. On the first play, SS Jay Valai and Ball had a big collision in the hole that would have been close to a first down. Ball picked up a first down on a third-and-two but was then stopped by LB Blake Sorensen on a sweep play. Watt batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage before the offense picked up two first downs on completions from Tolzien to Toon and WR Jared Abbrederis.

The scrimmage then shifted to the goal line as the offense started from its own 2-yard line. The No. 1 offense got one first down before CB Antonio Fenelus came up with an interception on a pass that Tolzien looked to be throwing away. The No. 2 defense also got into the act as CB Marcus Cromartie picked off Budmayr.

Bielema made a point to the offense that they had the momentum after the first part of the scrimmage but gave it away with turnovers. He also gave kudos to the defense for turning around their fortunes.

Practice11_10.jpgBack on track
The No. 1 offense started to get it going again with a touchdown reception by Gilreath on a crossing route during red zone drills. The next portion of practice was "move-the-ball" and the offense started on the 20-yard line. Thanks to two big plays by Ball (30-yard run) and Kendricks (20-yard reception), Ball was able to score on a 1-yard run, getting in on his second effort.

The No. 2 defense was able to hold the No. 2 offense twice, first on Cromartie's second INT of the day then on a third-down sack by DB Shelton Johnson.

The No. 1 defense exacted some revenge as they held on their next drive. The offense started at their own 45-yard line and got a 25-yard run from Tolzien on a designed rollout pass on the first play. Tolzien later picked up a third-and-10 by rolling right to avoid the blitz and hitting Toon on the sideline.  The defense stiffened after that, ending the drive with a sack on third down by Watt. That forced a 50-yard FG attempt by Phillip Welch into the wind that came up short. Welch did make a 47-yarder in the same direction after the No. 2 offense drive stalled as well.

The Badgers will being the final week of spring practice on Tuesday, the first of three practices before Saturday's spring game.

Where does the time go?

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Wisconsin women's soccer head coach Paula Wilkins will keep a consistent blog throughout the  spring season to track the team's progress and other tidbits. Check back to UWBadgers.com for regular updates.

It has been a crazy/ busy week upon returning from spring break. It was a great time in our training for the break to come because I believe it gave time for the players to take a physical and mental break. It's hard to believe we only have 16 days of training this spring. The time has flown by so fast, and as a coach, I keep thinking of the things I want to work on this semester to prepare us for next fall. It never seems like enough time to accomplish everything I want to do on and off the field with the team.

Spring practice report No. 10

The Badger football team was inside once again in the McClain Center for their 10th practice of the spring on Tuesday afternoon. UW practiced for a little less than two hours, wrapping up right around the second intermission of the Badgers' hockey game vs. RIT.

"I thought our guys came back a lot better today," head coach Bret Bielema said after practice. "Tuesday I thought was a little disappointing, just a little sloppy after being on that break. But they came back today and made a lot of improvement. I thought in the back end especially, we didn't give up very many big plays, up front held their blocks a lot better."

Watch video highlights from practice and Coach Bielema's post-practice interview

UW will be back on the field (most likely outside in Camp Randall Stadium as the forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s) on Saturday morning for its final scrimmage before the Spring Game on April 17. It will be a big work day for the Badgers.

"It will be the last time that we go good vs. good, live," Bielema said. "We'll make sure that we get all four phases of the game, regular normal down and distance, third down, short yardage/goal line and red zone. We'll have the officials out there. It will be as live as live gets because when we go to the spring game we'll go ones against the world."

From the infirmary
The Badgers continued to return bodies to practice, following the layoff for spring break.

"Gabe (Carimi) is obviously a little bit rusty, to get him back out there was huge," Bielema said. "I think we'll get (John) Moffit back in drills on Saturday. He should be able to go back the entire week next week. We got Tyler Dippel back, Brendan Kelly, as well as Eriks Briedis, so there's a couple guys that are really going to get some good work the last two weeks."

Even the players not expected to participate at all during the spring, including RB John Clay, C Peter Konz, LB Chris Borland and LB Mike Taylor, seem to be progressing well.

"All of our (injured) guys, to this point, everybody should be 100 percent for summer, which is June 7 I believe," Bielema said. "That's kind of the strategy with a couple of our guys, including John Clay, hold them out of spring ball because we really want that eight-week program to be there for them going into the fall."

Taking the reigns
With the departure of O'Brien Schofield, Chris Maragos and Jaevery McFadden from the defense, UW needs players to assume their roles, not only as playmakers on defense, but leaders. One of the players stepping up so far in practice (on both fronts) is defensive end J.J. Watt.

"Because we don't have a senior defensive lineman, he's really taken on a role since O.B. left," Bielema said. "He's just one of those natural kids. I would say over the last two years, nobody in our entire program has logged more community service hours than J.J. Every week he's doing something community service wise. Those are the guys that lead the way for us."

Practice10_4.jpgSplitting up the duties
Much like he did during his first season as head coach, Bielema has divided up the special teams coaching duties among his staff this season.

"We have guys in charge of every phase. Charlie (Partridge) runs all of punt, Greg's (Jackson) going to run all of kickoff coverage, Joe Rudolph will run kickoff return and then Chris Ash will run punt return," he said. "On my staff I now actually have five guys that have been special teams coordinators so we are trying to split it up between us.

Bielema believes this not only benefits the team but also the coaches involved.

"When you have a coach who isn't in a coordinator role ... those are guys you foresee potentially as candidates to be coordinators. The first unit that I ever ran was a special teams unit, a punt return unit. It taught me how to game plan, how to think, how to strategize. I can sit there and I can watch them and see how they install, how they game plan, how the kids relate to them. The bigger picture would show you how they potentially could be as an offensive or defensive coordinator."

Bielema, who served as the special teams coordinator in the last three seasons, will still have a role on each unit but it will be more of a support role.

Practice No. 10 Photo Gallery

Special guest
Jaxson Hinkens, a young boy battling cancer who befriended QB Scott Tolzien last season, wsa at practice with his parents. Following practice, a number of players, including Tolzien, Jon Budmayr, Nate Tice, Chris Borland, J.J. Watt, Aaron Henry and numerous others, went over to take pictures and play catch with Jaxson. About a half hour after practice had ended, Tolzien and Budmayr were out on the practice field running routes with Jaxson delivering the passes. Tolzien stayed and chatted with Jaxson and his parents and was still talking as I left the building, about an hour after practice had ended.

Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a wonderful story on the relationship between Jaxson and Tolzien last October.

Thomas tops one man's list

Thumbnail image for Thomas_Joe_Minn_06.jpgFormer Badger Joe Thomas has made two Pro Bowl appearances in his first two seasons in the NFL. Obviously the current Cleveland Brown left tackle is one of the best offensive linemen in the league. According to Andy Benoit of the New York Times, he is the top left tackle in the NFL.

Hughes continues NBA audition tour

Hughes_Trevon_12_2_09d.JPGFresh off an impressive showing (12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 0 turnovers) in the College All-Star Game at the Final Four, Wisconsin senior Trevon Hughes is on to the next round of NBA auditions.

Hughes left Madison on Tuesday to compete in front of NBA scouts at the 2010 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (P.I.T.). Each year for 57 years the P.I.T has invited 64 of the best college basketball seniors from across the nation to participate in a four-day, twelve-game tournament in front of representatives from every NBA team.

Hughes and Team K&D Rounds Landscaping will begin their tournament schedule Wednesday at 8 p.m. (CT).  Hughes is teamed with, among others: Ryan Wittman (Cornell), Deon Thompson (North Carolina), Jason Love (Xavier) and Donald Sloan (Texas A&M). Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has familiarity with Thompson, having coached him last summer in the World University Games.

Hughes is one of just four Big Ten players invited to the P.I.T., including Raymar Morgan (Michigan State), DeShawn Sims (Michigan) and Lawrence Westbrook (Minnesota). Hughes also joins fellow Wisconsin alums who have recently competed in the P.I.T. like Marcus Landry (2009), Brian Butch (2008), Kammron Taylor (2007) and Kirk Penney (2003).

Notre Dame? Nebraska?

Head coach Bret Bielema caused a bit of a stir with the following tweet before yesterday's practice: "Also trying to lock up a home and home contest with Notre Dame or Nebraska for the future. (Home 2012 away 2015). Would be fun for WI fans."

This morning he was on The Big 1070 in Madison with Mike Lucas and Matt Lepay and talked a little about scheduling.

UW's 2010 and 2011 schedules (PDF)

"One of the biggest surprises that came to me as a head coach was how often I would get questions about scheduling. It really jumped out to me. As an assistant you just go about your business and grind out. I knew there were going to be certain things ... but I would say that the task of scheduling and the amount of questions I get outside of the world of football was just amazing about scheduling.

"So I kind of just threw it out there because it's something that we've been working on for a while. When I took over, I quickly saw that we had home-and-homes with Arizona (State), Oregon State and Washington State that took us all the way out to 2015. And when you're trying to schedule a premier game, those things are scheduled so far out in advance that it just gets so difficult to get people to commit and lock in.

"We scheduled Washington last year. We've got those guys out in '17 and '18 for a home and home, which should be great. We've got Virginia Tech, which will be '16 and '17.

"So what I was trying to first fill was 2012. The first time we can travel as a unit is 2015. So we've got to find someone in that slot and there's a web page that you can go to that's open for us as administrators and coaches and you can kind of find out who fits that mode. Now you never know how accurate that information is but Notre Dame and Nebraska were two teams that jumped out to me. I knew Coach Alvarez had connections at both so he made some calls, I made some calls, we've had some discussions.

"When Kerry Cooks, my DB coach, left to go to Notre Dame, we talk all the time and I just said, 'Hey, throw it out to (head coach) Brian (Kelly),' and Brian expressed an interest back so Coach (Alvarez) I know reached back out to their A.D. and I sent Coach Kelly a message as well so we started there.

"And actually for (Nebraska head) coach (Bo) Pelini, Jeff Jamrog, ... a guy that I've known for a long time helps with scheduling out at Nebraska, that one might be later than sooner because I believe in 2012 they already have a road game so they couldn't come out again. That's the dynamics that just gets overwhelming."

Listen to the complete interview on theBig1070.com

Spring practice report No. 9

After a week off from practice for spring break, the Wisconsin football team was back in action inside the McClain Center on Tuesday afternoon. Wearing full pads, the Badgers wasted no time getting right back into the spirits of things as the Badger drill kicked off a spirited practice.

Video highlights from practice plus post-practice interviews with QB Scott Tolzien, WR David Gilreath and OL Gabe Carimi

Spring break must have made some of the players antsy because the intensity was there from the get-go. Most notably, the showdown between wide receiver Nick Toon and defensive back Aaron Henry during the Badger Drill at the beginning of practice resulted in a bit of a skirmish. As you can see from the photo though, both players were all smiles later in practice.

Practice9_10.jpgInjury update
The time off enabled some players to get healthy and resume practice. Starting MLB Culmer St. Jean was back at his linebacker spot, while RB Montee Ball was no longer wearing the green, no-contact jersey that he had donned in the team's previous week of practice.

Fellow running back John Clay was in attendance at practice but was using crutches following surgery on his right ankle on the Thursday before spring break. Clay had a protective boot on the foot as well.

Practice No. 9 Photo Gallery

Highlights galore
Tuesday's practice featured several notable plays, so let's break them down:

In 11-on-11 action, QB Scott Tolzien used a play-action fake to find TE Lance Kendricks wide open as he crossed over the top of the secondary for a would-be score.

As the rest of the team was engaged in run drills, the wide receivers went 1-on-1 with the defensive backs. CB Antonio Fenelus, who you'll discover made several nice plays on Tuesday, had the play of the drill. WR Isaac Anderson ran a fade route down the sidelines and had a step on Fenelus, but at the last moment Fenelus lunged forward and was able to break the pass up.

During the skeleton drill, redshirt freshman CB Dezmen Southward made a nice break on a comeback route and was able to disrupt the pass.

In the 3rd down drill, WR David Gilreath was open on the sidelines, the pass was hung up in the air and Fenelus was able to recover and knock it away.

Later in the same drill, CB Niles Brinkley had an interception that would've gone for a touchdown. RB Bradie Ewing was running a crossing route underneath and QB Jon Budmayr looked for him, but what Budmayr didn't see was Brinkley camping out in the zone. The pass was right to Brinkley who picked it off and ran away with it.

Move the Ball
As practice approached the 24th and final period, the team finished things up with the "move the ball" drill. The No. 1s got it for two possessions, while the No. 2s had three cracks at it.

With the No. 1 units on the field for a 2nd-and-4 situation, WR Nick Toon looked to have hauled in a 25-yard pass down the near sidelines, but CB Devin Smith stayed on him and was able to punch the ball free as Toon fell to the ground, resulting in an incomplete pass.

Toon redeemed himself later on the drive though. He caught a 15-yard slant, but it was no easy grab. The pass from Scott Tolzien was behind him, so as Toon cut to his right, he had to reach back with his right hand and haul in the pass to his shoulder pads.

The No. 1 offense came up empty on their opening drive though as Fenelus stepped in front of a pass intended for Toon in the back of the end zone and intercepted it to end the drive.
The No. 2 defense was stingy on its first go-around. Facing a 3rd-and-6, RB Kyle Zuleger caught a pass underneath, but Southward was there right to lay a hit on him and bring up a fourth down.

The second possession for the No. 2 offense was more successful thanks in part to a scrambling effort  by Budmayr. After the pocket broke down, he rolled out to his left and, on the run, found TE Jacob Pedersen open in the secondary for a 25-yard pickup. The drive stalled in the red zone though.

The No. 1 offense found redemption on its second drive, culminating in a pretty connection between Tolzien and Toon. It looked like the defense was in a zone, and as soon as Toon was released by Smith, Tolzien fit in a pass before the safety could get over the top.

Former safety Chris Maragos was at practice. He had worked out earlier in the day as he gears up for the NFL Draft on April 22-24. Maragos mentioned that he had heard he could go as high as the fourth round, but a good bet would be on him being taken somewhere in the fifth-seventh rounds. He said hearing that buzz excited him because he feels like it mean it's become more and more likely that someone will take a chance on him.

The Badgers are back in action on Thursday afternoon with practice at 3:45.

Record relay run revisited

Telling the difference between the indoor and outdoor seasons in college track and field isn't all that hard.

Roof over my head? Must be indoors.

Breaking out the sunglasses? Guess it's outdoors.

Within those "macro-seasons," however, exist a number of "micro-seasons." They have no hard and fast start date, and there is no uniform ending, either.

Still, there are signs that help distinguish from these short sub-seasons. When you see events like "sprint medley relay" turn up in results, it's a good bet you're in the middle of one of the most exciting portions of the outdoor slate: relay season.

Back in the swing of spring (practice)

Spring Break 2010 is over and the Badger football team will head back to work today. UW will practice starting at 3:45 p.m., its ninth of 15 spring practices. The rain looks like it will hold off so we will be outside in Camp Randall Stadium.

The Badgers will practice two more times this week (Thursday and Saturday), before three practices next week and the Spring Game on April 17.

There's been a lot of down time so to make sure no one has missed any coverage, here are some links from around the web:

Old Jefferson, the new Jefferson
Stars beginning to align for LB Rouse
Badgers' O'Neill tackling tough transition
Brown continues to be Mr. Reliable for Badgers
Abbrederis lets it rip in spring practice

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin's Conor O'Neill has different kind of weight issue
Abbrederis grabbing golden opportunity at Wisconsin
Chris Maragos Blog: Getting ready to visit teams
Jaevery McFadden Blog: Swimming with the Dolphins

Big things ahead for Wisconsin's Kendricks
Video interview with RB John Clay

Drop the Puck!!

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The team is four years in the making. You could argue six years in the making with the initial recruitment of Wisconsin's fifth-year senior Ben Street back before the 2005-06 season. Either way, it has been a long road for Wisconsin's trip to the 2010 NCAA Men's Frozen Four.

It is officially the school's 11th trip to the Frozen Four and the Badgers historically are one of the best teams once they get there. Wisconsin is 15-5-0 all-time at the Frozen Four, trailing only Lake Superior State, as college hockey's most successful championship-week participant. That translates to six out of the 10 previous Frozen Four trips during which Wisconsin was the team hoisting the NCAA championship trophy upon the conclusion.

Seven seniors and nine juniors make up the team's core. Tri-captains Blake Geoffrion, Ben Street and Ryan McDonagh, its heart. But it is a team that is at its best when its depth carries the day.

You invariably hear the players talking about how it all started last summer. After Wisconsin missed the 2008-09 tournament by 0.002 points in the Ratings Percentage Index, there were t-shirts made up as a reminder to work that much harder. The margin of error in a six-month season is just that small. One extra squat, a little extra effort running up Bascom Hill could make that difference.

Now Wisconsin (27-10-4) takes on RIT (28-11-1), a school with its own rallying cry. Each team has one, or so it seems. They're representing the "small" schools that are hoping for a little more recognition and are on a magical run. Miami was up two goals with a minute to play in the 2009 NCAA title game, only to see it slip away in overtime. Boston College has been a Frozen Four staple over the last decade.

It's funny, but during the 2006 season, Wisconsin adopted the phrase "relentless" as one of its key principles. They were relentless at all times, never taking an easy shift or easy practice. That year, the team wore red "Livestrong"-like bands with the word "RELENTLESS" carved onto the side. I'm naturally fidgety with my hands and I've been finding myself flipping around one of those bands in the office while I've worked over the past two weeks. I don't even remember where I grabbed it from the first time, but it has been in my hands an awful lot recently.

These Badgers are ready for the opportunity. Will they seize it?

As you can expect, Blake Geoffrion has been a popular media request leading up to this week's games. He has made it well known that he is ready to be done practicing and he is itching to just play the games. Monday's practice seemed particularly physical as the team looked ready to play that very day. Will they keep that edge?

The media requirements for the coaches and student-athletes are vast and more for some than others. Wednesday at Ford Field will involve a four-hour stay at the rink for some of the Badgers to take care of ESPN, Westwood One Radio, Scoreboard and the rest of the Frozen Four media. The coverage is great for a sport that always thirsts for more, but the extraordinary interview schedule will test all four teams.

The Voice with Matt Lepay

With speculation growing that the NCAA tournament will expand to 96 teams next year, allow me to submit that the world as we know it will not end, you will find a way to put together a manageable bracket, and winning a conference championship can still be pretty cool.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for the_voice.jpgHistory shows that when the tournament expands, something special often happens. In 1979, the field grew from 32 to 40 teams. That season produced an NCAA title game that proved to be the springboard for the tournament's popularity. That was the year Michigan State, led by Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser, beat Indiana State and a star player named Larry Bird. It remains the highest rated college basketball game in television history.

By 1983, the powers that be decided the field needed to expand from 48 to 52, with the additional four teams making the field via opening round or "play-in" games. That year, North Carolina State pulled off a shocking upset of Houston, when the Wolfpack's Lorenzo Charles dunked at the buzzer to stun the Cougars of "Phi Slamma Jamma" fame.

Penney dominating D-League, including a 40-point night

Penney_Kirk_2008.jpgIn just four games with the NBA Development League's Sioux Falls Sky Force, Kirk Penney is feeling right at home. The former Badger star and New Zealand standout is averaging 23.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists thus far. Penney is also shooting .583 from the field and a scorching .529 (9-of-17) from 3-point range.

Penney scored 31 points in his second game with the Sky Force, a 113-104 win over Springfield on March 27. The 6-5 guard then topped that effort with a 40-point performance in a 123-110 win over Bakersfield on April 2. Penney played 44 minutes in that game, connecting on 16 of 23 shots, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also added eight rebounds and two assists in the win.

The Sky Force (32-18) are 4-0 since Penney joined former Badgers Greg Stiemsma and Joe Krabbenhoft on the roster.

Kirk Penney NBDL highlights

Hughes scores 12 and helps team to All-Star Game win

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Wisconsin senior Trevon Hughes scored 12 points and was one of six players in double figures as the Reese's College All-Stars topped the Hershey's College All-Stars, 106-101, in the Reese's College Senior All-Star Game Friday night before a crowd of 10,103 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Complete Box Score

Coach Gene Keady's Reese's All-Stars trailed by one at the half, 58-57, but had balanced scoring in the contest. Hughes started and played 21 minutes making 5-of-13 shots while pulling down six rebounds, dishing out four assists with a block and a steal.

The game, conducted by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), is played annually during the NCAA Final Four.  Cal's Jerome Randle, who scored 12 points with seven assists, was selected as the most outstanding player for Reese's.

Fellow Badger senior Jason Bohannon competed in the 22nd-annual State Farm College 3-Point Championship on Thursday. Bohannon would knock down 19 triples in round one to advance to the semifinals, but his second-round total of 15 was not enough to reach the final pairing.

Marcus Landry recalled by Boston Celtics

Former Wisconsin standout Marcus Landry was recalled by the Boston Celtics on Sunday. Landry, who was traded from the Knicks to the Celtics on Feb. 18, had most recently spent a month with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.

NYK_092809_108P.jpgIn 13 games with the Red Claws, Landry averaged 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, highlighted by a 34-point night that included eight 3-pointers on March 21.

In 18 NBA games with the Knicks and Celtics, Landry has averaged 2.4 points and 1.1 rebounds. He posted a career-high 8 points vs. Indiana (1/3/10) and career-high 4 rebounds vs. Dallas (1/24/10).

Landry now joins fellow former Badger Michael Finley on the Celtics roster. Finley, a 14-year NBA veteran who signed with Boston in March, has appeared in 15 games with Boston 4.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.