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October 2013 Archives

Better Know a Badger: Drew Meyer

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Punters rarely get the credit they deserve, but nonetheless play an important role in any team's success. Luckily, the Badgers have a pretty good one on their side. In just two seasons, Wisconsin's Drew Meyer is already among the top statistical punters in school history, joining the likes of former Ray Guy Award winner Kevin Stemke, along with one of the heroes of the last Wisconsin-Iowa matchup, Brad Nortman.

How did you get your start as a punter? Is it something you always wanted to do?
"I played soccer through fourth grade and then football started in fifth grade. Football was always my first love. I was the one kid in fifth grade who was able to kick the ball over the goalpost, so I started kicking then and ran with it. When I got into high school my coaches saw something in me and worked with me on everything from drops to steps and swinging up through the ball. They really helped me to develop into a punter and it ended up working out when I got the opportunity to come to Wisconsin."

Who are some of the punters you try to emulate?

"There are so many good ones that have come through Wisconsin. Guys like Kevin Stemke, Ken DeBauche, Brad Nortman, all of them. Brad was huge for me when I got here and really helped me during my first year. He really helped me with pooch punts. I had never really done that Australian-style, nose-down type of kick and Brad helped to introduce me to that."

As a punter, what defines success for you on the field?

"One of the biggest stats that we look for is net yards. It's not easy to have a big average, but net yards include hang time in the equation. You're helping your coverage team and you are helping your team as a whole with net yardage, which is the yardage from the line of scrimmage to where the ball ends up after the return. Because if you kick it into the end zone, or a guy has a big return, you have a big average, but you're not helping your team. So, net yardage is what you look for because that's how you're helping your team."

You've employed a rugby-style punt at times this season. What are the advantages to that?
"The rugby punt is a great tool to have because if teams try to load you up, you can game plan for that or check to that. So, if a team comes out and looks like they are going to be coming off one way you can roll the other way. It changes the game a little bit, too. You are able to get the ball on the ground and have it bounce around a little bit, which can make it harder for the return man to handle. It's always great when you are punting into the wind. It just opens up the playbook a little more."

What adjustments do you have to make to be able to execute a rugby punt?
"It's a little bit of a different leg swing. I kicked back in high school so it's not as difficult for me because I am used to that type of leg swing. It's kind of like a soccer swing. You have to swing up through the ball, but also have to make sure you're keeping it out there so you get a nice end-over-end rotation."

What do you like about the rugby punt?

"It's just a great strategy because it keeps the defense on their toes. They might be able to game plan on how to stop you in the regular formation, but the rugby punt gives us the ability to check out of that, which throws the defense off."


Brad Nortman had a crucial fake punt conversion in 2010, the last time Wisconsin and Iowa met. Would you welcome the opportunity to run a fake punt?
"It's always fun as a specialist when you have the opportunity to do something like that. It got Brad a lot publicity when he did it, which was funny because he is such a humble guy. But it's always fun. Anytime you see a team across the country run a fake, your eyes get big and it's always something you wish you'll get the chance to do in your career."

- Ryan Evans

The road to the World Series starts here

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In today's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the importance of the off-season. 

We just finished our fall season, winning two games against UW Parkside. It's been a beautiful fall in Madison. Softball is switching gears and starting individual workouts this week. Instead of practicing 20 hours a week, we drop down to six hours of lifting and conditioning and two hours of skill instruction. This is the critical part in the season, when the hardest working kids with the most passion can really improve. 

Below are a few notes from our chalk talk with our team, preparing them for our winter workouts. 

The road to the World Series starts here:

"You may not be able to do great things, but you can do small things with great love"-Mother Teresa

What's you plan for the fall? You have about 15 weeks, or 100 days until opening day at South Florida when we match up with No. 25 South Florida and No. 5 Florida on day one. How are you going to get to where you need to be as an individual? How are you going to get to where you need to be, to help the team? That's the bigger question. This isn't about you, and what you can and can't do, or what you're willing or unwilling to do, it's about your team. It's about the team needing you, and your special skills and talents. You were brought here for a reason. You've been given this amazing opportunity to be a Badger for a purpose. Are you too busy with school, your social life, and personal problems to give the team the focus and attention it deserves? Are you too busy to train?

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe"- Abraham Lincoln

Are you passionately committed to this softball program? Are you the best player you can be right now? Games are not won or lost in February or May, they are won in October, November and December. You can't show up on game day and get a few extra swings off the small ball machine to magically hit better that day. You can't run a few extra sprints before the game and think you'll steal more bases today. You have to put the work in now, six days a week, every morning, from October through May to have the honor of playing in June. Championships are won and lost at 6 a.m., when most people sleep and someone wakes up to train. 

The questions you have to ask yourselves are these; Are you in the best shape of your life? Do you have great speed, agility, and endurance? Are you strong? How's your hitting? Can you handle both sides of the plate? Can you hit change-ups? Do you understand and know the strike zone? Can you sacrifice or squeeze in any count? Do you have a great first step on defense? Do you take great angles? How's your transition? How's your arm strength? Are you confident with your backhand? Do you know your base coverage, bunt, slap and steal responsibilities? Can you run down balls over your head? Do you come through balls consistently and field the short hop? Can you pick balls at bases for forces and tag plays? Will you sacrifice your body to stop a bad throw?  Can you dive and catch line drives and pop ups? How's your jump stealing? Do you accelerate into your slide? Can you slide head first?  Can you hit your spots pitching? Do you have an effective first pitch, change up, and strike out pitch to both righties and lefties?

You need a specific plan to fix your deficiencies. You have to collaborate with your coaches, trainers and strength staff to work smart and work efficiently. Your team needs you. Create a calendar, come up with a plan, use the new indoor facility, and commit yourself to the teams' success.  You have a little more than 100 days to prepare for the best season of your life.

Packer's Perspective: Moving forward

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It was a big weekend for the team as we swept the Lindenwood Lady Lions and continue on to our goal at the end of the season. We had three ladies with their first Badger goals this weekend, and I caught up with them to get their take on what that felt like. 

"Scoring my first badger goal was an amazing feeling," freshman forward Mikayla Johnson said. "Hearing that horn go off and celebrating with my teammates was a memory I'll never forget." 

The celebration following the goal was pretty unique, and sophomore forward Rachel Jones, who made a beautiful backdoor pass on the play to assist MJ's goal, may have been the most excited person in the building. It was cool to watch our team get excited for one another, and shows the unity and support that makes this group such a strong unit.

Another Badger scoring both Friday and Saturday night to record her first and second goal as a Badger was freshman defenseman Mellissa Channell. Channey and I go way back to our days playing in Detroit with Little Caesars and it was nice to see her get a few points this weekend. Both goals were nice shots from the point, and when asked about her goal, she has a funny story that will make this a memory much like MJ's.

 "I remember right before going out that shift I asked Paul (Hickman) if I could use my backup stick, as many people always blame not scoring on the stick, so I just thought a chance would help," Channell said. "That next shift I get a beautiful pass from Bergy (senior defenseman Natalie Berg) and scored. It was an exhilarating experience, and what makes it better is that my mom was there to see it." 

A nice goal, and a good team play that helped make this moment special for Channell, and we look forward to more contributions from her this season.

The third Badger with her first goal this weekend was sophomore forward Katy Harding. Her goal came late in the game Saturday night and was the result of a good forecheck all around, but she declined to comment and was unavailable for a face to face interview as she has been hiding in her apartment as a result of being swarmed by paparazzi since the goal.

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Following the game, the team got together for a little innocent fun. We had a costume party with the team at senior Stefanie McKeough's house. As many know Stef has been sidelined due to injury for a few years now, but she is a great part of our team chemistry and is a mature leader in the locker room as she has been constantly supporting and guiding the team. The top costumes of the night were the Hanson brother's made up of Mikayla Johnson, Katarina Zgraja, and Stef McKeough and also the classy biker chicks, comprised of Alex Rigsby, Natalie Berg and Kelly Jaminski. Blayre Turnbull also had an awesome homemade cotton candy costume that she constructed out of a pillow and some spray paint. The freshmen were each a different color glow stick, which was a cute idea, but the Hanson brothers and biker ladies showed them up with more creativity in the final polls of best costume.

The get together was a relaxing and fun event to top off a successful weekend, as we had to quickly turn around and refocus to prepare for Ohio State. This is a big weekend for our team as Ohio State is ranked No. 10 in the country and will be a good test for us moving forward. This weekend is the last of games before a weekend off and we hope to finish the home stretch off with a couple wins. The ladies are focused in and preparing for this upcoming weekend and we hope to see you all out to cheer us on in this final leg of our long home stand. Tune in later this week for more updates and thoughts going in to this weekend. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison

The Voice: Now here's where it gets interesting...

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Let me start by offering a round of applause to UW and all the fans who were at the Kohl Center for Saturday's Red/White Scrimmage. That was one of the best turnouts I can remember for the men's basketball team's intrasquad game, and as scrimmages go, it was a high-quality show.

From the creative player introductions, where each of the Badgers had the chance to show off a move or two with a member of the UW Dance Team, to Vitto Brown's excellent performance of the national anthem, to the down-to-the-wire game itself, it was a fun way for Wisconsin hoops fans to spend a couple of hours.

As I wrote last week, the scrimmage included one of my favorite words -- free. It was a good weekend for that word. Last Friday, UW Athletics hosted its annual Kids Day at the Kohl Center, where young boys and girls had the chance to meet a number of student-athletes. As usual, the players seemed to enjoy the day as much as the youngsters.

The cost of attending sporting events is well documented, but we also should note that UW offers a number of low-cost or no-cost events. Hopefully you were able to take advantage of at least one of those outings last week. If not, hopefully you will in the future. After all, the price is right, and those who do attend have a great time.

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For this observer, November is when the Badgers' sports world kicks into high gear. Basketball season is here. After Wednesday night's exhibition game with UW-Platteville, Bo Ryan's Badgers set their sights on the regular season opener one week from Friday against St. John's. 

The Badgers and the Red Storm will help break in the new Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.. It is a 3,200-seat facility with a parquet floor that might remind you of the old Boston Garden. A couple of weeks ago, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Minnesota Timberwolves played an exhibition game there.

This game counts, and it will be fun to see coach Steve Lavin again. During his days as an ESPN analyst, Lavin was the keynote speaker on two occasions for Bo's Coaches vs. Cancer gala in Madison. This season will be Lav's fourth as St. John's head coach. 

*  *  *  *

Now to football, where after two bye weeks in October, the stretch drive begins. In an odd schedule, the Badgers will play nearly half of their slate in November, starting this Saturday in Iowa City.

It is good to see Wisconsin crack the BCS rankings at No. 24. I am biased, but I believe they deserve a higher ranking. At least they broke into the Top 25, so I will spare you the complaining -- for now.

The Badgers have five games remaining, and while none features an opponent currently in the BCS rankings, this month will be anything but easy. 

Iowa is coming off an emotionally-charged overtime victory against Northwestern and most expect a very physical battle this weekend. The Hawkeyes-Wildcats game had an old-school feel to it, and I would think it will be more of the same when the Badgers roll into town.

BYU is playing well, and it has a bye this week before visiting Camp Randall a week from Saturday. The Cougars have a very good dual-threat quarterback in Taysom Hill, who leads BYU in rushing and has accounted for 20 touchdowns so far this season.

On and on it goes. Minnesota is looking better and better. Indiana can score in bunches, and while Penn State had a long Saturday night in Columbus, the Nittany Lions can be a dangerous team. Just ask Michigan.

The hectic month of November is about to begin. Yes, it can be crazy, and it also has a chance to be special.

I am looking forward to it. I am guessing you are as well.

Packer's Perspective: Game day vs. Lindenwood

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It's game day here in Madison and the girls are excited for another weekend to get better. We face off against Lindenwood tonight at 7 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. The games are an opportunity for us to play some games out of conference and to see some new competition other than the typical WCHA play that we are accustomed to. 
 
"Lindenwood will be a good test for us to see how far we can push ourselves even though they aren't a typical rival," junior forward Katy Josephs said. "The weekend will be fun to keep building chemistry in our lines and as a team." 

Fellow forward, and freshman Mikayla Johnson had similar comments about the upcoming series. 

"I am excited for our team to get another weekend not only to play at home but to get better and grow as a team," Johnson said. "Every weekend brings something new and I'm looking forward to what this weekend has to bring."

The team as a whole is looking forward to the games this weekend as they will be yet another test of how we have gotten better from last weekend. We use each week as time to learn from previous games and push ourselves to make sure we are always moving forward on the journey to our ultimate goal. The team has done a great job of staying focused this week and we are looking forward to hitting the ice for another series of games at home. We hope to see all of our fans out at LaBahn Arena this weekend. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Better Know a Badger: Corey Clement

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Running back Corey Clement has burst onto the scene as a true freshman for the Badgers. He already has a pair of 100-yard games and five touchdowns on the ground to go along with a Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor. With his string of strong early season performances, the Glassboro, N.J., native appears well-equipped to carry on Wisconsin's proud tradition of elite runners.

Being from New Jersey, what made Wisconsin the right fit for you?

"The football tradition here, especially the tradition of running backs at Wisconsin. In high school we were all about downhill (running) and coming out of Power-I and that's what Wisconsin is known for, as well, which is what drew me here. UW has a great business school, as well, which I was attracted to. Both school and football made it a great package for me. It's a great blessing to be part of the Badgers now."

What's your relationship like with fellow New Jersey native Ron Dayne?
"He has been a great connection for me since day one. I met Ron before I came to Wisconsin, actually. He's been showing me the ins and outs of why I should come here, the benefits of here compared to other schools and what to look for, basically."

What have you been able to learn from James White and Melvin Gordon?

"A lot of patience within the hole. They are a great film study. We always study film together. It's all about making defenders miss, and James and Melvin both do a great job of that. I just want to fall in behind them and try to match them, but try to compete as well."

What's the competition like between you three?

"It is very competitive. Within our running back room and every day in practice we have to go out and try to be better than the next back, because if you're not going to push one another, then you'll be stuck in the same place as where you started."

What do you think makes the two-back system successful at Wisconsin?
"It all starts in practice. Coach (Thomas) Hammock always says that what you put out in practice is what you put out on the field. James and Melvin both do a great job of acting like it's a game every day in practice and that's the example that I want to follow."

What has Coach Hammock been working with you on this season?

"Everything, because I am not a perfect back. He is going to try and correct any flaw that he sees within me. It's all about getting vertical and making the right cuts. It's all about getting better each week. Coach Hammock and I actually joke a lot and everyone jokes a lot. It's all about love in the running back room."

Did you expect to play right away as a freshman this season?
"That was my main goal. I want to get in and show what I can do. I don't want to waste any time. My redshirt is burned up, but I want to keep it moving and show that I didn't take a redshirt year for a reason."

What has the transition been like from high school to college football?
"It all started back at home. I started running a lot of miles to get some wind under my belt. Still, though, when I got here I still wasn't really into college football speed because it moves a lot faster and I had to get adjusted. Week one and week two of camp were probably my roughest weeks, but as week three kicked in and towards the end of camp, I got into the groove of things. It's all about a mental process."

- Ryan Evans

The Voice: Badgers' fresh faces expect same old success

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Ready or not -- and I would guess most of you are more than ready -- another season of Wisconsin basketball is about to begin.
This Saturday, while the football team enjoys its second bye of the month, the men's basketball team will have its annual Red/White Scrimmage. Tip time at the Kohl Center is 5 p.m., and admission is one of my favorite words -- free. (Media motto:  "If it's free, it's for me. I'll take three.")

Once again, it figures to be an interesting season for Bo Ryan's group. While an August trip to Canada allowed the team to get a jump start on the season, Saturday's run will mark the first opportunity for most fans to get an up-close look at the Badgers, including the six new faces in the program.

There are minutes to be had in the front court, and everyone is eager to see the next step in Frank Kaminsky's growth, as well as the development of rookies Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown.

How much this first-year class will contribute right away remains to be seen, but based on some very early observations, both mine and others, this will be enjoyable bunch to watch and get to know.

Let me put it another way -- Ryan and his staff did not go out and recruit a class of wallflowers. At last week's Steak Fry, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Patrick Herb was quizzing seniors Ben Brust and Zach Bohannon on the newbies. When they told the crowd that Brown can carry a tune, the entire team urged him to give a little sample. Young Vitto obliged, and yes, he can sing.

Actually, the man stole the show. 

Herb accurately pointed out that "women's hearts are melting."

Yeah, I know that has nothing to do with understanding what Ryan wants done on the floor, but it was a fun moment at a preseason function.

It is hard to believe that this is the 13th year for Bo Ryan as the Badgers' head coach. Time flies when your team is winning most of its games, right? For the good times to continue, it is a good guess that Ryan and his staff will be counting on veterans such as Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson and the return of Josh Gasser to help lead the way. 

There is also no doubt that defenses will be dialed in to sophomore Sam Dekker. As impressive as he was last year, keep in mind he averaged just a bit more than 22 minutes of playing time per game. I would imagine there is a decent chance his workload will increase this season.

Next Wednesday, the Badgers host UW-Platteville and then the regular season begins. In what is an aggressive non-conference schedule, the Badgers will jump right into the deep end of the pool. They open with St. John's in Sioux Falls, S.D. Four days later, Wisconsin has its home opener with Florida.

So much for easing into the season.

Most believe the Big Ten will again be a very strong conference. Perhaps the best in the nation. The good news is the Badgers have been good enough for long enough that they have earned nationwide respect.
 
When in doubt, many just assume they will be very good -- again.

Late Saturday afternoon is your chance to get a sneak peek at what this year's Badgers have to offer.

Packer's Perspective: Another step forward

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This weekend was a success for the Badger squad, and we had a lot of contributions across the board. Freshman goaltender Ann-Renee Debiens got her first start between the pipes, and also earned herself a shutout in her first collegiate game, so congrats to her on a successful start to what we all believe will be a promising career here at UW. 

The weekend was good, and it was nice to get two more wins as a group as we continue on our journey to the finish line this season. This weekend we are gearing up to face Lindenwood, and much like previous weeks, we are back to work. Monday is what Coach Johnson likes to call workday. It is a day that is usually finished with 8-10 minutes of skating, working to keep our conditioning up. It is never too grueling, but enough to get us moving and get the heart rates up a bit. 

This weekend was also the first weekend that we were able to use our heart rate monitoring system. This is an awesome perk that we are able to use and we are grateful to our staff for getting it up and running for the season. We all wear heart rate monitors during lifting sessions, practices and games.  

The monitors send information to a little hub, that kind of looks like a tiny spaceship, which is located behind our bench. The hub then relays this information to a computer where it is stored and we are able to check our results after the game. This system is nice because it enables us to see how much we worked during a game, and also track how many calories we burned so we are able to properly refuel our bodies and be ready to go the next day. This system is awesome, and is definitely a tool that will continue to help us as we improve throughout the season.

The team is looking forward to another series at home this weekend, but first, we have a week of practice and preparing. We had a video session yesterday, and will have another power play video session today, where we learn from what worked for our team, and also look at breakdowns so we can improve moving forward. This group is always working to improve on areas that will make us better, and our willingness to adapt has been an advantage as we face new situations each weekend.

That's all for now, check back later in the week for a recap of this weeks practices and thoughts from players going into this weekend. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Better Know a Badger: Warren Herring

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Among the players that have benefitted the most from Wisconsin's new 3-4 defensive scheme is junior NG Warren Herring. The Fairview Heights, Ill., native had to transition from defensive tackle in the offseason to fit the new alignment, but the move has paid dividends. It took just six games for Herring to set career highs in tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5) and he already has a two-sack game to his name.

What was the transition from tackle to nose guard like in the offseason?
"I have had to make a couple transitions since coming to Wisconsin. When I came in I was a defensive end and had to gain weight when they moved me to defensive tackle. It was tough trying to gain and maintain weight while playing inside against bigger guys. But my weight came along and my strength came along and I was able to feel more comfortable. Now this year, at nose guard, they wanted me to gain a little more weight and I was all for it. I am all for new challenges. But it has been a process. There are a lot of things that I need to work on, but I have a lot of encouragement from my defensive line teammates."

Which teammates have helped you the most?
"I watch Beau Allen a lot. There aren't many guys that get to play as a true freshman, but he was one of them and he earned it. Being able to watch him and communicate back and forth with him at nose guard has helped me out a lot. Guys like (Ethan) Hemer, (Pat) Muldoon and Tyler Dippel all push me to get better, too. Those upperclassmen have high expectations for all of us. Going into my fourth year now, there is an expectation put on me to play to the best of my ability."

How has the new 3-4 scheme benefitted you?
"The 3-4 defense has benefitted me a lot. I've been able to utilize my quickness. That's a testament to all of our coaches for helping us and running everything with us this offseason. I have been working on my hands, which I think have gotten a lot better. It has been a good transition for me. I've seen nothing but upside. I am constantly trying to get better, but I am still far away from where I want to be."

You made a half court shot at the Shooting Down Cancer event last season. Do you plan to go again this year?
"I will be there again, but I have to make the free throw this time. I missed the free throw -- by a lot -- last year. I've been practicing. Before practice I open up the gate where the balls are and step back a little bit and start shooting footballs into the little (cart) thing."

You are widely regarded as the best dancer on the team. Which of your teammates do you think could give you the best run for your money?
"Walker Williams. He's pretty decent, but he's not better than me yet. There are a lot of guys with good talent. Ethan Hemer is coming along really well. I have been teaching him some things in the dance world. But I still have a lot of moves that no one has seen yet. I can't tell my secrets. People might try to steal them." 

- Ryan Evans

Packer's Perspective: Prepping for the Huskies

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It has been a busy week so far for the Badger girls. Many of us took advantage of the day off on Sunday to hang out and enjoy some down time. I went to Chicago to do a little shopping, while a number of my teammates enjoyed the outdoors, which spanned from exercise to a little apple picking. 

Two other activities that took place these last few weeks were the visit to the senior home and the much-anticipated visit to the Ronald McDonald House for pumpkin carving. Senior goaltender, Ilana Friedman was pretty excited about her experience when I asked her how the pumpkin carving went. 

"I was happy to return to the Ronald McDonald House for my third year of pumpkin carving," Friedman said. "Whether it's carving a motion W, a spider, or a Bucky pumpkin we had a blast and it was great to visit the community that supports us so much!" 

Blayre Turnbull and Brittany Ammerman visited the senior home, where they played bingo for a few hours with the ladies who always keep us laughing from visit to visit. Ammerman said it was nothing short of another entertaining visit. She lost five consecutive games to Ginny, an elderly woman at the home, and it is also rumored that some of the older women caught Turnbull hiding cards, but those rumors are yet to be confirmed.

The day off on Sunday was nice and much needed after the rough series against the Gophers. The team was disappointed with the outcome, but the nice thing about this group is that we are eager to learn and get better every day. Along with returning to the ice to prepare for St. Cloud State this coming weekend, we have been studying film to improve on the areas where we fell short last weekend. 

This upcoming series is a huge stepping stone for the team and will show our character as we hope to bounce back and earn a few points after last weekend's loss on the road. The team has done a great job of recovering, taking care of their bodies, and doing what is necessary to prepare for the upcoming games after last weekend's six high-tempo periods of hockey. The games this weekend will be a grind, much like the last, and we hope to show improvement as we hit the ice Friday night in search of a win. We hope to see all you fans out at LaBahn arena 7 p.m. Friday night as we take on the St. Cloud Huskies and continue on our journey this season. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison

The Voice: Committee a year away, so Badgers must win

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We are one year away from the four-team College Football Playoff, but there is no shortage of talk about it, especially as reports surfaced with the names of those who will make up the selection committee.

One name in particular raised some eyebrows. That name would be Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State.

I will admit to a bit of surprise. Not because of gender, but rather because Rice is not directly involved in the sport. Like many of us, I expected the committee to be made up of former players, coaches, administrators and perhaps a media member or two.

After giving it about five seconds of thought, I believe that Rice's involvement is not just interesting, but also sound. 

This is no attempt at making a political statement. I just tend to believe that Rice can process information and bring solid reasoning to a discussion involving the best teams in college football. I would guess the ability to process information was a rather important skill in her previous jobs.

There will always be questions about any selection committee, but I have to believe it will be a step forward from the current system.

I do believe the BCS era will go down as an improvement from the previous method. While flawed and tweaked along the way, the Bowl Championship Series generated a ton of interest, created some memorable games, and of course gave fans, writers and broadcasters plenty to talk about.

This weekend we will see the first BCS standings of the season. A projected ranking from Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Badgers at No. 29. Currently, Wisconsin is rated 26th in both the USA Today Coaches Poll as well as the Harris Poll.

At the risk of overreacting, I wonder whether the selection committee might have a more favorable opinion of the home team.

The record says the Badgers are 4-2, but nearly every neutral observer is putting an asterisk on the Arizona State game. While calling last Saturday's tilt against Northwestern, ABC/ESPN broadcaster Sean McDonough said he considered Wisconsin a one-loss team.

That one defeat would be the seven-point setback at Ohio State, currently rated fourth in the Harris Poll, third in the coaches poll and fifth in Palm's projected BCS standings.

The Badgers just dismantled a Northwestern team that came to town ranked in the top 20 of both major polls.

Yet, to this point it is not enough to impress the current pollsters into believing Wisconsin is top-25 material.

There is a month and a half remaining in the regular season, so it is a bit early to press the panic button. But keep in mind to be considered for an at-large birth to a BCS bowl, a team must finish in the top 14 of the final BCS standings. 

That is important to note. We keep hearing that the goal of the BCS is to determine the two teams that will play for the national title, but the current system also can help determine the other big-boy bowl matchups.

There are a thousand and one things that can happen between now and the end of the regular season. 

Yes, one more loss would likely knock out the Badgers from any BCS bowl consideration. However, I would like to believe that should this team go on a run the rest of the way, the coaches and Harris poll voters will do something the computers are unable to do -- take another long, hard look at what happened in Tempe.

Hopefully that will occur. Yet to be honest, I will be more confident next year, when a committee made up of very smart individuals will process information, discuss it and make reasonable decisions based on sound evidence.

Packer's Perspective: Back from the Border Battle

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This past weekend was a learning experience for the Badger squad. It would have been nice to walk away with a few points, but the team battled it out and we did a lot of good things during the series against Minnesota that will continue to help us grow and compete as a unit. Both games against the Golden Gophers were close and came down to the final horn, and we had a number of chances where we just came up a little short. 

It is always a long bus ride home after a loss, but the group is using the weekend of losses as an opportunity to learn and to continue to get better. We will put the losses behind us, enjoy a much needed day off today to rest and recover, and then go back to work Monday in preparation for St. Cloud State.

We are looking forward to the upcoming series at home. It will be nice to return home to Madison and play in front of our home crowd. I have a feeling that we will play with an extra spark after the losses to the Gophers.

The mentality of our group is great. Players are positive, recognize what we did well this past weekend, and are eager to hit the ice Monday to improve where we had breakdowns in order to make our team stronger as our journey together continues. We have a great group of girls, a ton of positivity, and I am excited to get back to work with the ladies on Monday.

Thank you to all fans who tuned in, and those who came out to support us. We hit the ice again this upcoming weekend to take on St. Cloud State at LaBahn Arena. We hope to build off this past weekend and make some good strides forward, in search of our final goal. Until next time, thanks for reading! 

On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Infographic: Badgers cage 'Cats in 35-6 win

A graphical look at Wisconsin's 35-6 Homecoming win over No. 19 Northwestern at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday:

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Better Know a Badger: Kyle Zuleger

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After spending the first three seasons of his Badgers career as a running back, senior Kyle Zuleger was approached by coach Gary Andersen this spring and asked if he'd consider a move to safety to help build depth in the secondary. Zuleger has embraced his new position and has become a jack-of-all-trades for Wisconsin as a leader on special teams, including returning kickoffs.

What was your first reaction when Coach Andersen asked if you'd move from running back to safety this spring?
"It made sense to me. I actually came to Wisconsin as a safety, so I didn't object to it too much. The switch gave me a shot to come in and make some plays, so I just went along with it."

Did the coaching staff do anything to sell you on the move?
"They talked up the new 3-4 defense and everything that goes with it. In the new system, we play a lot of defensive backs on the field at one time. That was a really good selling point."

What was the most difficult aspect of learning your new position?
"Just learning everything that goes into a new defense and switching your mindset from offense to defense is something that takes a little bit of a transition. But, like anything, if you're doing it everyday it naturally comes quicker and quicker."

What aspects of the new 3-4 scheme were the hardest to pick up on?
"There wasn't one specific thing, it was more all-encompassing. It was a lot of understanding where you need to line up, where your assignment is and where your eyes need to be."

You've been returning kickoffs recently. Is that a role that you enjoy?
"It's a lot of fun. Returning kicks in front of 90,000 people is always going to be fun."

You lead all players in special teams tackles this season. What's the key to being an effective special teams player?
"You have to play fast. You can't really think too much on special teams, otherwise you're beat. So you have to play fast."

A lot was made about the youth in the secondary this season. How have you seen that group develop and grow so far this season?
"I think a lot of guys are starting to understand the new defense more and things are starting to become second nature. There is less thinking and more reacting now. There's always cohesion that can be worked on, though. You can never be satisfied with where you are at. You have to come in everyday and work as a defense and as a unit." 

What's been the highlight of your Badger career so far?
"There are a lot of little things, like stuff in the locker room and the friendships and bonds that you make. But, the three Big Ten championships have been a great highlight."

What's your favorite part of game day?
"Winning." 

- Ryan Evans

Packer's Perspective: Gearing up for the Gophers

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The time is here. One of the most anticipated road trips of the year, and for us it is the first of many to come. We loaded the bus yesterday, and headed up to Minneapolis, participating in a post bus ride practice and then heading to check in at the hotel. Dinner was late, but we kept ourselves busy by playing an elementary game of "heads up seven up". It was a good team activity and kept our empty stomachs distracted as we waited for what turned out to be an awesome meal. Everyone turned in early last night, catching up on some sleep and getting mentally prepared for the games this weekend.

This morning we had a pregame skate, after which I caught up with a couple teammates and got their take on the weekend.

Sophomore forward, and a linemate of mine, Erika Sowchuk is excited for the high tempo game that is sure to come this evening. 

"I am looking forward to an exciting game tonight," Sowchuk said. "It's always an intense battle when we play the Gophers and I wouldn't expect anything less tonight. These kind of games are always the most fun."

Fellow sophomore forward, Rachel Jones, has similar thoughts regarding the border battle tonight. 

"Being able to play the in their first home game, and being able to give them a fight is something I am looking forward to," Jones said. "They are going to come out hard and want to win in front of their home crowd. It's going to be exciting because our team has been working extremely hard and it is going to be a great battle with our rival, and hopefully we can come out on top."

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The team mentality is summed up by the remarks of my fellow teammates. We're looking forward to a great atmosphere, ready for a grind, and hoping to come out on top. This weekend is sure to be action packed and full of excitement and our squad is ready to accept the challenge that we have been preparing for all off season. This weekend is a huge stepping stone for our team, and I look forward to making forward progress on our journey.

The puck drops at 6:07 tonight at Ridder Arena, and 4:07 p.m. tomorrow. We hope fans can follow the game from our live blog and cheer us on as we go to work against the Gophers. Tune in after the weekend for reactions.

Thanks for reading. On Wisconsin!

- Madison 

Leuer scores team-high 17 points for Grizzlies

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Thumbnail image for 72505121.jpgJon Leuer is playing on his fourth team in three NBA seasons, but if this year's preseason is any indication, he might have finally found a home with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Leuer - who was drafted by the Bucks in 2011, traded to Cleveland, then Houston and ultimately Memphis in Jan. of 2013 - played sparingly last season for the Grizzlies. After a vote of confidence re-signing in the summer, Leuer has made an impact in Memphis' first two preseason games.

Following a nine-point, five-rebound, four-assist effort against the Bulls, Leuer scored a team-high 17 points with 10 rebounds and five assists against the Mavericks Wednesday night. What might be an even better sign is that he played a team-high 34 minutes off the Memphis bench.

The Grizzles were playing without a few of their regulars, but Leuer seized the opportunity. The only negative on the 2011 UW alum's performance?

"He needs to be more selfish," Memphis head coach Dave Joerger said after the game. "I thought he passed up a bunch of shots tonight."

Gives him something to work on I guess.

Packer's Perspective: Preparing for the Border Battle

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It was an exciting weekend for the team as we started the year off strong with a sweep of Minnesota State. There were a wide variety of contributions across the board, among the most exciting were goals scored by freshmen Sydney McKibbon and Sarah Nurse. These were the first goals of their NCAA careers, and I want to congratulate them on their success and contributions last weekend! The team as a whole performed very well. The group was excited, worked well together, and played with intensity both nights for the full sixty minutes.

The games were a good way to kick off the year, and the points earned from the first weekend sweep put us in the number one spot in the WCHA standings, and caused a bump in the USCHO poll to a tie for fourth with Cornell. Although these rankings don't mean much at the start of the year, it is always nice to see get an extra boost of confidence from the positive standings. As a group, we were pleased with our performance, but know the games over the weekend were just a start, and there is much work to be done.

The success from the weekend is something we will build on as we prepare to head to Minnesota this weekend to take on the Golden Gophers in Ridder Arena. The games are Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and the squad is certainly fired up for the road trip. Minneapolis is close enough that we will bus this weekend, leaving Thursday morning and returning Saturday night after the game. This is always a much anticipated road trip for many reasons, the most obvious being it is always exciting to face-off against the Gophs and play some solid hockey. This game comes earlier in the season than it typically has in the past, and we are anxious to head into the game Friday. We are prepared to leave it all on the ice. This weekend is a huge measuring point for us as a team, and will also be a great weekend to bring us closer together as a group. The weekend will take all individuals working together as a group to achieve our goal, and the team is looking forward to hitting the ice Friday night.

The first couple practices this week have been good. We have reviewed some film, worked on specifics, and dialed in to fine tune the various areas of our game that will enable us to find success this weekend. The series against the Gophers is just the next step along the journey for this Badger squad, and we hope to bring a few wins back to Madison. The Badgers are looking forward to the games this weekend, and hope to have the support of fans and followers as we head up to take on Minnesota in the Border Battle. Stay tuned for a post covering the first road trip of the season, and various Badgers expectations and emotions heading into the game Friday night.

Thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!

- Madison

The Voice: After bye, time to say hello again to football

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I have to admit that I enjoy bye weeks. Part of it could be my naturally lazy nature, but it was fun to sit back and watch nearly 12 straight hours of college football. I took a peek at the Illinois-Nebraska game, and watched with even more interest as Indiana scored an impressive victory against Penn State.

I found myself glued to the TV during the Georgia-Tennessee game, and later took in part of the Florida-Arkansas tilt, which featured former UW assistant coaches Tim Davis and Brian White for the Gators, plus -- well, you know -- the first-year head coach of the Razorbacks and the staffers who followed Bret Bielema to Fayetteville. Since I happen to like everyone involved, I had no real rooting interest. Sorry to play the role of Switzerland here, but I am telling the truth.

Moving right along, the Northwestern-Ohio State game was as good as advertised, maybe even a bit better than the hype.

While the Buckeyes pulled out the win, the Wildcats continued to make a statement that they are no longer a cute little story. This is more than a team full of bookworms who will play a little football in their spare time.

For those who have yet to notice, it is time to state what should be obvious -- Northwestern is good. Very good. It is hard to believe that Pat Fitzgerald is in his eighth season as the head coach. The College Football Hall of Famer is just 38 years old, but if ever there is a perfect fit for a program, it is Fitzgerald and Northwestern football.

When the national pundits talk about good rivalries and crazy games, it is unlikely many will mention the Badgers and the Cats, but in the last couple of decades, there have been some wild ones between these two teams.

The gut-wrenching loss in 1996, followed by a dramatic 27-26 UW victory a year later on a Matt Davenport field goal in the closing seconds.

A Northwestern double-overtime win in 2000. A shootout in 2005, when the Wildcats outscored the Badgers 51-48. On that October afternoon, the teams combined for 1,189 yards of offense.

In 2009, a late fumble allowed Northwestern to hold off the Badgers, 33-31.

In 2010, Wisconsin erupted for 70 points in route to clinching the Big Ten championship. No close-game drama, but it was a terrific day for the Badgers as they collected the first of three straight conference titles.

Given the fact that the campuses are less than three hours apart, it is good to see these teams meet again. This often-interrupted series should be stable for the time being. Starting next season, the Badgers and Northwestern will be in the same division, so fans from both sides can hope for -- if not expect -- more wild games in the coming years.

Simply put, this is a huge game. The Wildcats still control their own destiny in the Legends Division. The Badgers need help in the Leaders, but regardless of what happens with Ohio State, the home team knows full well there is plenty of season remaining, and plenty to gain by getting back on track this weekend.

Yes, bye weeks are good. Then again, it seems like it has been a month since the Badgers last played.

During a beautiful autumn week in Madison, it is time to get back to football.

Bring on the Wildcats, and let the season resume.

Performance under pressure


Thumbnail image for Rins.JPGIn today's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the beautiful fall weather, championship rings and the new schedule. 

It's a beautiful fall in Madison. The leaves are changing colors, and the weather is gorgeous, with temperatures in the 70's. We got in four great games in last weekend against Illinois State and Northern Illinois. Our stands were packed with family and friends as we handed out our Big Ten championship rings to the 2013 team. 

Coming off of such a memorable season, it was fun to take the time to appreciate what a great run we had. Our sport is so challenging, that you're always on to the next thing. You continue to raise your expectations, raise your goals and increase the challenges you take on. After playing this fall, it's apparent that we've lost a lot of great players through graduation. We had some tremendous pitching and offense in that senior class. It's important as a team that we really study the past to understand how we achieved, and why. 

Wisconsin softball is still a growing, up-and-coming program. It was fun to break into the top 25 last year, but we still have a long way to go to become a top-10 team. We've been blessed with a great group of student-athletes that are emotionally invested, who love this sport and their teammates, and work extremely hard. I'd take passion and work-ethic any day over complacent talent. This year will certainly be the same. As we look ahead to our spring schedule, we have more games against top 10 and top 25 teams than ever before. It's going to take a lot of selfless leadership to prepare for this kind of challenge. 

Our focus this season is on selfless mental toughness. We're excited to see our team match up against the top talent in the country early on, so we can learn, grow, face adversity and get better. Our staff is committed to creativity. We're studying ourselves, the game and our opponents, to pick up 100 ways that we can get better, through strategy, drills and execution. 

We're fascinated right now with the social side of athletics. How do we get our kids peaking at the right time? How can we put them in the best position to succeed, statistically? How do we create momentum on our side, and stress for our opponents? Our team activities, drill work and chalk talks are focusing on physical performance under pressure, mental toughness in the face of adversity and skills and drills that prepare our team to play with the best competition in the country.

Landry producing for Lakers as NBA training camps begin

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- Badgers in the NBA Page

MADISON, Wis. -- It seems like just a few days ago that LeBron James and the Heat were cutting down the nets after dispatching the Spurs in the NBA Finals. But here we are in October and NBA training camps have ramped up again, including five former Badgers spread around the league.

Marcus Landry (L.A. Lakers) is averaging 8.0 points per game in 13.5 minutes, including a 13 points off the bench against Denver Sunday night. Landry is 4-for-11 from 3-point range in the early going.

Greg Stiemsma (Pelicans) signed a free agent contract with New Orleans in the offseason and got the starting nod in the team's 116-115 win in the preseason opened over Houston. Stiemsma played 10 minutes and did not score.

Kammron Taylor (Celtics), Devin Harris (Mavericks) and Jon Leuer (Grizzlies) all begin their preseason schedules Monday night.



Badgers 'Shave to Save' with help of children's hospital patients

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- Photo Gallery: Shave to Save

Several Badgers lost their hair on Thursday in the hope of helping gain awareness for the patients battling childhood cancer at the American Family Children's Hospital.

Eight members of the UW football team put their hair in the hands of patients from the children's hospital, losing their locks in the name of advancing a cure for cancer.

In just over an hour's time, LB Ethan Armstrong, WR Lance Baretz, OL Kyle Costigan, WR Connor Cummins, OL Ryan Groy, WR Chase Hammond, LB Conor O'Neill and TE Jacob Pedersen all walked out of the locker room with new close-cropped cuts.

Here's a look at how the event -- and the hair -- went down:

Packer's Perspective: Gearing up for the opening weekend

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The week is wrapping up and the Wisconsin women's hockey team is getting prepared to open the season off against Minnesota State. This week has been pretty uneventful, and the team is focused. 

The big hype for the team this week is the premier of Scandal on ABC that the team plans to watch together Thursday night. Other than that, practice has been our main concern and preparing ourselves for what is to come and the start of our journey. 

For this week, I talked to a few teammates and got their take on the upcoming weekend. This might be a shorter blog post than normal, but shows the emotions of my teammates who are excited and prepared to start climbing the mountain to the top come drop of the puck Friday. 

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Junior forward Blayre Turnbull has high expectations for her team this weekend, but also for the fans watching and cheering us on.

"The thing I'm most looking forward to this weekend is seeing all of our fans pack the arena," Turnbull said. "It is such a great feeling to be able to come onto the ice and see over 2000 fans in the stands. Hopefully we are able to feed off of their energy and give them a reason to keep on cheering throughout all six periods this weekend." 

Junior forward Karley Sylvester was another teammate I spoke with about the game, and she looks forward to starting the season Friday night. 

"I am really looking forward to starting the year off strong," Sylvester said. "I know the team has worked extremely hard in the off-season to be as prepared as we can. It is going be a fun to watch our team grow together as a family and accomplish great things along the way." 

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Another Badger excited to kick off the year is Brittany Ammerman. Fans are familiar with her absence in the lineup last year and she is looking forward to Friday night to resume her career. She enjoyed playing against Team Japan, but is anxious to start the season in hopes of a promising finish for the group. 

"It feels great to be back and be contributing to the team on the ice," Ammerman said while discussing the emotions of being back with the team. "Our game against Team Japan allowed our freshman to get their nerves out and feet wet and served the same purpose for me. After not playing for a year, I needed an exhibition game like that to get back into the flow of the game completely. I think this weekend will be a great stepping stone for our team and allow us to learn about ourselves and officially begin our journey together. We have a great group of team players and I am looking forward to seeing how much we have progressed since the Japan game and how much we will progress from this weekend forward."

Brit is excited to be back and we are certainly looking forward to having her contribute to the team's success this season.

One final teammate I caught up with is sophomore forward, Molly Doner. She spent much of the summer working hard alongside her teammates, improving skills and working to build off the previous season. 

"I am looking forward to starting this season's journey with my teammates." Doner said. "I spent time this summer working on my speed, quickness and confidence. By deciding to stay in Madison during the summer, I not only had the opportunity to take classes, but also to workout with my teammates whenever I wanted. When I came in last year, I was nervous and played in fear of making a mistake. Now, after a year of competitive play and another summer of hard work, my confidence has increased and I feel like I'm using my speed and playing the way I can to create opportunities." 

Doner summed up the attitude of the entire squad heading into this weekend: excited, prepared, and confident. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at LaBahn Arena. We hope to see a packed building, as this weekend is the beginning of our journey to great things this season.

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Ask the Badgers: How will you spend the bye week?

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PedersenWith the Wisconsin football team in the midst of the first of its two bye weeks this season, head coach Gary Andersen instructed the Badgers to step away from football for a bit this weekend. We asked a number of Badgers how they will spend their downtime for this week's issue of Varsity Magazine:

WR Jordan Fredrick:
"I'm going to relax and try to get my legs back. I don't have anything planned. It's nice being a Madison boy because I don't have to go too far to see my family. I'm going to try to relax and maybe play a quick round of golf, something relaxing that's not going to wear me out. We all have to get our bodies back, which is the biggest thing."

LB Chris Borland:
"I'm going to lay low. We've had a pretty stressful schedule for the last few weeks since camp, so it will be nice to just watch some football on Saturday and sleep in. I have to watch the Northwestern-Ohio State game, I'll watch games around the Big Ten and I have some friends that play at other schools, so hopefully their games will be on TV."

TE Jacob Pedersen:
"My brother is coming down from back home. I'm going to try to take him out and get a nice deer. He really likes to hunt, so we're going to go out, spend some time outdoors, have a good time and just relax."

WR Jared Abbrederis:
"I'm going to go home and probably go fishing and just relax in the country. It's really good to go back there and have nobody to bother you and just hang out with my family."

LB Ethan Armstrong:
"I'm going to head back home to Illinois, get my mom to cook a few meals for me and watch some TV."

QB Joel Stave:
"I don't really have any big plans. I'll probably just go home and hang out with my mom and dad for the weekend and just relax."

- Ryan Evans

The Voice: Bye brings chance for Badgers to hit reset button

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To the credit of coach Gary Andersen, he refuses to harp on the number of injuries the Badgers are dealing with right now. In last week's game at Ohio State, tight end Jacob Pedersen was hoping to play but simply was not ready. In the fourth quarter, the Badgers were without Melvin Gordon, who was on pace for a 100-yard night against a Buckeyes defense determined to stop the run.

While the coach believes the overall health of the team is pretty good, this seems to be a very good time for a bye. With some luck, most of the banged-up Badgers will be up and running in time for the Northwestern game a week from Saturday.

That would be a good thing, because in my humble opinion, the league race is far from decided.

Yes, Ohio State has the inside track for the Leaders Division crown. For Wisconsin to advance to the conference title game for the third-straight year, it would need to run the table in Big Ten play and OSU would need to lose twice.

That might be asking a lot, but it is not asking for the impossible.

Don't get me wrong. Ohio State is very good. On Saturday in Columbus, it was the better team, and the Buckeyes won fair and square. However, I am not ready to say the Buckeyes are national title good, at least not yet.

As for the Badgers, I still believe they are very good as well. Not great, but very good.

Last week's game provided the latest example of how just a handful of plays can make the difference between winning and losing. A missed opportunity in the red zone. A chance to force a turnover but not quite finishing the play. A split-second breakdown that results in a big play, or as Andersen might say, a layup. Too many penalties.

Otherwise, one can make a good argument that the game was evenly matched.

Another popular saying in sports comes to mind -- minimizing mistakes is more important than making the spectacular play.

To repeat, I want to be careful not to take anything away from coach Urban Meyer's team. It is very gifted. Braxton Miller is a much improved passer, and there is no shortage of speed on either side of the ball.

That said, the best wide receiver on the field was Jared Abbrederis, and one could make a strong case that the best linebacker was Chris Borland.

Those are just two positions, but my point is the overall gap might not be as wide as some would lead us to believe.

Logic should tell us as much. Wisconsin was error-prone, yet still had a chance to force overtime. The mistakes are obvious. What also should be obvious is the Badgers' ability to keep fighting and stay in games that otherwise could get out of hand.

If Ohio State wins out, so be it. But to this observer, the Buckeyes will have their hands full this week in Evanston (as will the Badgers when they host the Wildcats). There is another tricky game or two in OSU's future, including a late November road trip to Ann Arbor.

The Badgers missed an opportunity last weekend. The good news is there is a long way to go. While helping themselves is priority number one, it is a bit early to dismiss the possibility that the Badgers could get a little outside help along the way.

Packer's Perspective: An action-packed weekend

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It seems like every post I write about how exciting a time the team has had; only to trump the last post with the new one...well this time is no different. The UW women's hockey team had nothing short of a fun packed time this past weekend during our team bonding event a few miles out of town. 

After the premier of Grey's Anatomy watched by a majority of the team on the big screen in our locker room Thursday night, we had a nice spa recovery day on Friday to prepare us for the harsh battle to come Saturday morning. At 9 a.m. Saturday, the players piled in to cars and headed out to a paintball facility, where we played six games of paintball. Coach Johnson, Paul Hickman, seniors and freshmen were on one team, and the rest of the staff, juniors, and sophomores were on the other. The tournament of six games had a rocky start for the senior and freshman team, as we quickly fell to the other squad in the first speed ball game, and the second that took place in a trenched fort. The third game showed patience from my senior squad however, and we made it a 2-1 game as we captured the castle and held our ground for the three minutes required. 

After the third game, Coach Johnson had enough, and headed to the sidelines. He was an asset for our team, but after his departure our team rallied to sweep the final three games. We took the castle again, and defeated the juniors and sophomores in the painful game of double shot elimination. We had a few players with happy triggers, so we went through about ten boxes of paint. Luckily for the senior led team, Paul Hickman carried some extra hoppers so we were never low on ammo. 

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The MVP of the paintball tournament would have to be sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke. Although junior forward, Blayre Turnbull, pictured above covered in pink paint, took a fair beating and put up a good fight, Courtney got pelted with about 15 paintballs simultaneously from a good 15 feet away. She wobbled a bit and may have fallen to the ground, but she rallied and played on. There was some question of sportsmanship and the twenty-foot surrender rule, but the senior/freshman squad was simply trying to defend the castle, and made a good judgment call in my opinion to win the game. (Sorry Court!)

After a solid two and a half hours of paintball, we headed out to Coach Johnson's for the annual team BBQ. It was a blast as always, and the food was spectacular as Coach is a master-griller, Coach Jackie Friesen is also a great cook, as we all think was Martha Stewart (with organic recipes of course) in her previous life, so there were a wide variety of goodies to choose from. Coach Jackie showed up with a dessert that looked like it hopped off the page of a cooking magazine. It was a combination of homemade gingerbread, homemade whipped cream, and homemade pumpkin pudding, and it was delicious! 

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The BBQ also is the location of the competitive team volleyball tournament. There are no real rules other than having seniors win, so naturally the seniors (shown above) took the title after defeating the freshmen by a ten point spread in the first game and handily defeating the juniors in the championship, 25-0. The MVP of the volleyball tournament is tough to decide on, but I think it would have to be a tie between senior goaltender Ilana Friedman and myself. Senior Natalie Berg had a mighty serve, and Kelly Jaminski's height was a major asset as well. Alex Rigsby was fantastic all over the grass court, but there is no denying that Ilana and I really stepped up big and helped our team secure the victory.

 In a post game interview with Alex Rigsby, she stated she was a bit upset with freshmen officials Sarah Nurse and Sydney McKibbon, as well as head official Courtney Burke, but when asked to comment on their apparent bias during the match, the officials declined to give a quote. Non the less, the seniors stepped up and won the championship, making the Saturday bonding all the more memorable for our class. 

Sunday was a relaxing off day for the group, as we took our team picture and many participated in a walk that junior Brittany Ammerman was active and passionate about promoting. It was a walk around the capital that promoted the end of GYN cancers, and was a success! 

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Also, junior forward Katy Josephs and myself volunteered to help out with the Timberwolves hockey team practice at Madison Ice Arena. It was a collection of players from around the Madison area, and it was a great experience. Both these events were awesome for all involved, and I speak for the group when I say we are always humbled and appreciative when we are able to give back to a community that has always been supportive of our endeavors. 

Overall, it was a great weekend, and a great way to head into the week in preparation for Minnesota State. The group is enthusiastic, positive, and excited for what the future holds as we prepare to embark on our journey through the season. The preseason has been great, but now the work begins, and we are ready to go! 

Until next time, thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!

-Madison
ON WISCONSIN