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!
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.
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!
A graphical look at Wisconsin's 35-6 Homecoming win over No. 19 Northwestern at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday:
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
"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?
- Ryan Evans
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."
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!
Jon 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.
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!
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.
In 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.