Head coach Bo Ryan and the rest of the UW Athletic Department will be honoring the 2002 Wisconsin Big Ten Championship team at halftime of the Penn State game Feb. 19.[/media-credit]The Badgers (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) have all the motivation they need to win the Big Ten regular season title after a 68-61 overtime road win Thursday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis.Wisconsin was able to open up a considerable lead against its archrival in Thursday’s contest before letting up in the second half and winning 68-61 in overtime.With the Badgers’ inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball, junior forward Ryan Evans ignited the team by posting his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 boards against the Gophers.Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said at his Monday press conference that he has no problem pushing his team to work hard as it pursues the Big Ten title. The Badgers aren’t forgetting that they lay just one game behind Ohio State in the top spot in the conference standings and don’t need any extra motivation.“When you compete in a sport, and you have to talk to guys about winning, that’s a sad state of affairs,” Ryan said. “The only thing that’s important is the next one, and, that we have control over or that we can prepare for.”Wisconsin’s next game is Feb. 16 at Michigan State, the first meeting between the two teams since the Badgers’ heartbreaking overtime loss to the Spartans Jan. 3. Wisconsin shot 33.3 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from 3-point land in the first matchup before losing on a video review that concluded Evans didn’t get his buzzer-beater off in time.Although Ryan didn’t watch Michigan State’s road victory over then-No. 3 Ohio State over the weekend, he knows the Spartans have a nose for rebounding the ball. The Badgers were outrebounded by eight against the Spartans back in January.Wisconsin’s front line will have a difficult time containing Michigan State big man Draymond Green. The senior leads the Big Ten in rebounding with 11.3 per game against Big Ten opponents. He also puts up 14.6 points and is the only player in the Big Ten to average a double-double in conference play.“Our guys are making strides. It’s an area you can always improve on,” Ryan said, when asked about his own team’s rebounding. “Sometimes the ball just bounces three inches farther or three inches shorter.”After the trip to East Lansing, Wisconsin heads home to play Penn State at the Kohl Center. Members of the 2002 Big Ten Championship team will be present as they commemorate the 10th anniversary of the title.The Big Ten Championship in 2002 was Ryan’s first year as UW head coach, and he led his team to a 19-13 overall record, including an 11-5 finish in the Big Ten, to win a share of the regular season title.Plagued by injuries, transfers and only seven scholarship players, Ryan had his hands full in his first season in Madison.“They just worked; we stole a couple of games on the road with a couple of one-point games,” he said.Ryan mentioned that 2002 was the year that Ohio State was scheduled to play four games in a row on the road. Ryan suggested to Big Ten officials that no team should compete in more than two consecutive road games, but the policy passed despite the initial controversy.The Buckeyes remained a contender in the Big Ten in 2002, but that stretch of road games allowed Wisconsin to climb to the top of the standings.“Ohio State took a few bumps in there and made the rest of us look human,” Ryan said. “We caught a few breaks, but you make your breaks. The guys competed hard.”In 2003, Ryan won his second consecutive regular season Big Ten championship, but the second time around he earned sole possession of the title.This was the first time Wisconsin had won the regular season championship outright in 56 years. It was also a year in which the Badgers posted a record number of overall wins (25) while reaching the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.The current Badgers are hoping they can rise to the top of the Big Ten this year. With only six games left in the regular season, Wisconsin would be supporting its own cause by knocking off a tough Michigan State squad on the road Thursday.
In the semi-finals of the Junior B Hurling competition the full-time scorelines were: Upperchurch-Drombane 1-18 Cashel King Cormacs 3-7; Portroe 1-15 Carrick Swans 0-10. Clonoulty/Rosmore and Loughmore-Castleiney are through to the Junior A Football decider.They defeated Ballingarry (by 0-12 to 0-10) and Carrick Davins (by 0-16 to 1-8) respectively in the semi-finals.Today’s Junior B Football last four clash finished Arravale Rovers 1-13 Boherlahan-Dualla 1-4.
ATLANTA >> The boos rang loud, clear and angry the first two times Yasiel Puig’s name was uttered at Turner Field Thursday. The Atlanta Braves didn’t know it then, not with Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series still scoreless and not even two innings old, but Puig had them licked at that point.The Dodgers young Cuban sensation was in their head, on their mind and hanging ominously in the air. And that’s how a lazy roller into centerfield became a triple, for all intents, a sacrifice fly turned into two runs and how a single player tilted the field and the NLDS decidedly into the Dodgers direction in one half inning of splendor.On a night in which Clayton Kershaw wasn’t close to being on top of his game and the unassuming Adrian Gonzalez discreetly dropped another hammer on someone, it was Puig who pointed the Dodgers in the right direction in their 6-1 win to take a one game lead in this five-game series.He did it subtly and inconspicuously.He did it by simply by showing up at Turner Field.And then striking fear into the overly anxious Braves every time he turned up somewhere. The more attention they paid him, the more doomed they were.Those boos Puig was serenaded with during pregame introductions and as he strolled to home plate for the first postseason at bat in his career?Ample proof Puig was firmly planted in the domes of the home team.All those throws to first base he elicited from Atlanta starter Kris Medlen after singling in the second inning?Just more evidence he was messing with the Braves head, his speed and boldness on the basepaths an issue they were ill-equipped to deal with.“I noticed all the throws,” Puig said, raising a knowing eyebrow.That’s when he had them “It’s a game changer,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. “He changes how you call a game and the rhythm of the game, as far as the throwing over and the throwing to the plate. It changes everything.”It certainly changed the complexion of Game 1.Puig went first to third on an a Juan Uribe single – after Medlen paid so much attention to him at first he lost track of his primary task of getting Uribe out.But only someone as fast and bold as Puig even attempts to take the extra base on such a lazy hit ball to center.Or succeeds.“Him going first to third right there, it’s huge,” said Dodgers center fielder Skip Schumaker.That’s because Puig then darted home on Schumaker’s fly ball to center, which was just shallow enough for Jason Heyward to foolishly think he had a chance to gun Puig down at home. Heyward’s throw floated harmlessly wide of the mark, allowing Uribe to take second base and move into scoring position.Ellis followed with a double to score Uribe – who would have still been at third had Puig not forced Heyward’s hand with the errant throw home.All of a sudden the Dodgers led 2-0.But everyone in the park knew what the real score was.Puig 2 Braves 0.“That was fun to watch him out there running around,” Ellis said. There were no more boos for Mr. Puig after all that.He didn’t win the game by himself – a gutty performance by Kershaw, who wasn’t sharp, the steady bat of Gonzalez and the unpretentious production Ellis all contributed to the cause.But it was Puig who set it all up – first by getting in the Braves head and then exploiting them once there.Puig is not well liked around here, his instant burst onto the baseball scene last summer nearly costing Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman an All-Star spot.The uncertainty the veteran Freeman might get pushed off the team by some unknown kid barely a month or so into his career didn’t sit well in Atlanta – in the community or the Braves clubhouse.That’s why Puig was treated like a villain before and during Game 1, with Braves fans’ unleashing a loud round of boos at the mere mention of his name.But nothing screams I’ve got your attention quite like loud, irritated boos.Turner Field thought it could get into Puig’s head, but he flipped it on the Braves and was soon dancing around in theirs.They’ll soon learn underneath all that ostentation and grandiosity lays a proud competitor, and their anger doesn’t hurt him as much as it inspired him.And to think, some people worried Puig might doom the Dodgers more than the Braves with his reckless base running and blatant disregard for the finer points of the game.It’s been an issue all year with Puig, whose youth and exuberance sometimes means the Dodgers swallowing one spoonful of sour for every three spoonfuls of sweet Puig comes up with. No sense sugar coating it. He can be maddening sometimes.And dangerous. Why stop at second when third base is just 90 measly feet away, Puig’s legs argue with his head, cost the Dodgers a potential run getting thrown out.Who needs to hit the cut-off man when I can throw a baseball from the right-field warning track to third base on a straight, explosive line, his volatile right arm sometimes convinces his common sense. Only to miss the mark and allow an important run move into scoring position.That was the worry heading into the postseason, right?That the rougher edges of Puig might sabotage an inning or a game for the Dodgers?“A lot’s been said about the craziness. And I get it. But I’ll take that because of all the great stuff that outweighs the craziness,” Schumaker said. “He covers a lot of ground in the outfield. He runs the bases extremely well. Does he make a few mistakes? Sure. But if you’re that aggressive why would you take it away from him?”And who knows, maybe the longer the Dodgers stick around the more inevitable that moment becomes.But one game into his first career postseason, he’s already shown the kind of positive impact he can make.And with the Dodgers down two starting outfielders in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, they desperately need him to keep it up.Maybe the irresponsible Puig shows up in Game 2.Maybe not.This much we do know: The lethal Puig was dancing in the heads of the Braves Thursday.And that was a great place to be if you’re a Dodgers fan. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
His tone made it obvious that “the plan” was not his plan.“I don’t feel like I missed much time,” he said of the need to build back up slowly. “I kept throwing all the way through. I guess it’s a luxury we have as a team.”Indeed it is. That’s why Kershaw’s simulated game was followed by a 32-pitch bullpen session by Yu Darvish. The right-hander is taking a 10-day break on the DL because of back spasms that hampered him in his most recent start — and because his starts in August are meaningless for a team with a 20-game lead and big plans for October.Darvish worked with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on some mechanical adjustments in his delivery during Monday’s throwing session and reported no further issues with his back. He will throw another bullpen session on Thursday and is then penciled in to rejoin the Dodgers’ rotation on Sunday at home against the Milwaukee Brewers.Kershaw will take his restraints partially off on Saturday when he is scheduled to make a rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City. But even the prospect of that final step before returning to the majors — most likely during the Dodgers’ series in San Diego Sept. 1-3 — didn’t seem to excite him. “You can’t simulate a big-league game. You’ve just got to go do it,” he said about testing his readiness to return. “Even a rehab game. You’ve just got to go pitch in the big leagues.”Kershaw threw 55 pitches Monday to hitters Chase Utley and Kiké Hernandez and hitting coach Turner Ward. He satisfied everyone but himself, calling his pitches and execution “all pretty average.”“Sim games are really hard,” he said. “You try to create intensity but you can’t. It’s really not a good recipe, but I guess that’s what you have to do.”Honeycutt acknowledged that Kershaw was “not perfectly happy with every pitch — at the same time, I’m not sure that’s ever the case” and said the left-hander’s recovery has gone more quickly than anticipated.“If anything, we could have bumped this (four-inning sim game) up even sooner because he hasn’t lost much arm strength or endurance,” Honeycutt said.Austin Barnes caught Kershaw during the sim game and said any dissatisfaction on the left-hander’s part was “just Kershaw being the perfectionist he always is.”“He looked really good,” Barnes said. “Catching his bullpen (session Friday in Detroit), he looked like the same Kersh as always.“He threw all his pitches (Monday) and looked good. There was no tail-off in his pitches. That’s a good sign.”Kershaw is scheduled to throw four innings or approximately 60 pitches for the OKC Dodgers on Saturday.Bellinger breakRookie Cody Bellinger was not in the starting lineup for the second consecutive day since suffering a mild ankle sprain Saturday in Detroit. Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said Bellinger still has slight swelling in his right ankle and will be held out of the lineup again today.“With the torque he creates with his swing and the instability created with a sprain, it just doesn’t make sense right now,” Roberts said. “It’s sort of day by day. I don’t see him in the lineup tomorrow (today), and that’s as far as I want to go now.”AlsoThe Dodgers will recall right-hander Brock Stewart from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start today in Pittsburgh. Darvish was originally scheduled to start the game before going on the DL. PITTSBURGH >> Clayton Kershaw should be happy.His back injury was less serious than might have been feared when he left his July 23 start. He has returned to health relatively quickly. And his team is so far out front that it can afford to take it slowly with him, giving him a long runway to return to the rotation with bullets saved for October.Oh, yeah — that last part doesn’t seem to sit well with the Dodgers ace.“Health-wise, I could have pitched in the big leagues 10 days ago. But that’s not the plan obviously,” Kershaw said Monday after throwing a four-inning simulated game at PNC Park. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error