UW has room for progress

first_imgFour years ago, I began writing rather meaningless stories for The Badger Herald at an R.L. Stine level. A lot has changed since then. It’s been a truly enjoyable ride covering the view of press row from the Field House, Camp Randall, the Kohl Center and almost every imaginable destination on the road, from Philadelphia to South Padre Island, Texas. Still, there’s always room for improvement, and such is the case with Wisconsin athletics. UW sports had a great year — four sports (football, women’s hockey and both basketball teams) set school records for most wins, and the Badgers brought home two national titles (men’s indoor track and women’s hockey — for the second consecutive season nonetheless). Yet, there are plenty of aspects UW could work on in the near future… UW football: Hire a special teams coach In winning a school record of 12 games last season, Wisconsin had a complete football team — the Badgers’ rock-solid defense was complimented by a steady offense. But there was one area in which UW dropped the ball, literally: special teams. Save for kicker Taylor Mehlhaff, Wisconsin’s special teams could’ve used much improvement. After being a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2005, punter Ken DeBauche’s productivity dropped off a bit in ’06. DeBauche wasn’t bad by any means, but he certainly didn’t live up to his preseason billing as one of the best punters in the nation. Yet, DeBauche had little to do with Wisconsin’s special teams woes. The Badgers’ kickoff and punt coverage was less than stellar, and their return game was just downright atrocious. After Jarvis Minton returned Wisconsin’s first kickoff for 23 yards, the Badgers didn’t have another 20-yard return until five games later against Indiana. That kickoff was returned 20 yards by Josh Nettles, who then fumbled, allowing Hoosiers special teams player Troy Grosfield to recover the ball for a touchdown. While Minton came around by midseason and turned into a reliable return man, the punt return game was the real problem. Fumble after fumble, Zach Hampton proved he didn’t belong as a punt returner. Yet, he was never yanked from his position. The reason? Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema does not have a special teams coach on staff. Instead, the Badgers’ staff coaches the special teams by committee each week. It’s just so painfully obvious Wisconsin needs someone to head the special teams department and tweak the minor problems that snowballed last season. Hey, maybe Joe Stellmacher would be up for the job after deciding against pursuing a pro-football career. Hold Lisa Stone accountable Stone, Wisconsin’s women’s basketball head coach, recently received a contract renewal and one-year extension, meaning her contract will run through 2011. Now I’m not condemning the job Stone did this past season because the UW women’s basketball team had a pretty solid year. The Badgers finished with a 23-13 overall record (7-9 Big Ten) after making a run to the WNIT championship game. But that’s just saying Wisconsin’s expectations aren’t all that high. In men’s basketball, an NIT-berth is absolutely nothing to brag about, and it shouldn’t be in women’s basketball either. Sure, the women’s team hasn’t experienced much postseason success in recent years while the men’s team has made nine straight NCAA tournament appearances. Nevertheless, Wisconsin’s goal for its women’s basketball team should be the NCAA tournament or bust — there are no moral victories whatsoever in making it to the WNIT. Last year, the UW Athletic Board was right on in handling Stone’s contract. After finishing the 2005-06 season with an 11-18 record, the board renewed Stone’s contract, but didn’t extend it. The message was clear: Wisconsin wanted to see vast improvements sooner rather than later. And for the most part, it did. But the fact of the matter is Stone just does enough each season to get by. Having covered the team during the 2005-06 season, I know Stone isn’t satisfied with her sub-.500 record in four seasons at UW; she has high expectations of herself and her team. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not calling for Stone’s job or anything. Stone’s a solid recruiter, and, if anything, the recent contract extension will only help her in that aspect. However, two of the best players in school history — Jolene Anderson and Janese Banks — will be seniors next season and, so far, don’t have anything to show for everything they’ve given to the program. Give UW soccer some love While the UW men and women’s soccer teams haven’t been anything to brag about in recent years, both squads have been solid as of late. Plus, the UW women’s team will get a major boost this upcoming season with Paula Wilkins, who holds the second-highest winning percentage in the nation among active coaches, taking over. But regardless of how good or bad either team is in years to come, both are still stuck in the McClimon Track/Soccer Complex. While McClimon may be one of the best outdoor track facilities in the nation, it’s no better than a high school soccer field. For starters, it sits on a pretty steep slope. The seating is also very unfavorable for spectators with the bleachers sitting on a hill far behind the field. Furthermore, it doesn’t even have an up-to-date scoreboard. Time in soccer is supposed to count up to 45 minutes for each half, but McClimon’s age-old scoreboard is only able to count down — or at least that’s how the operators choose to work it. Wisconsin’s soccer programs deserve better — whether that means creating a new field or somehow renovating McClimon to upgrade its soccer field, I don’t know. Either way, UW should start to appreciate both men and women’s soccer teams a little bit more. Michael is a senior double majoring in journalism and communication arts. Any questions or comments can be sent to [email protected]last_img read more

Browns speak out about social justice at stadium practice

first_img FOLLOW US Written By SUBSCRIBE TO US WATCH US LIVE Kevin Stefanski waited years to conduct his first full practice as a head coach in an NFL stadium.Some things, however, are more important to him than football.Stefanski gathered his players, staff and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam near the west end zone at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday before beginning the session. He felt compelled to speak about the importance of social justice in his new community.“It’s very appropriate that we have our families here with us because this is our Browns family,” Stefanski said, addressing the small number of family and friends in the stands.“This family has some things that are weighing very heavily on their hearts and I want our players, who are so mindful and so intentional about their thoughts, to share those with this city, this community, Northeast Ohio and the football world.”Quarterback Baker Mayfield, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and wide receiver Jarvis Landry followed the first-year coach to the microphone, reading statements on behalf of their teammates.“You will see a specific focus in the form of concrete action by our organization, players, staff and ownership in these areas within Cleveland and Northeast Ohio to spur positive change, necessary change,” Landry said.When they finished, the assembled group broke into applause and Stefanski blew his whistle to start the 90-minute practice, which was spirited, much like the messages that preceded it.“We don’t want to make a statement just to make a statement — it’s not a PR stunt — we want to make a difference,” Mayfield said. “We want to take a unique approach and we have a bunch of people who are passionate about it.”Across the NFL, several other teams have had similar conversations in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin last weekend.Mayfield’s words carry significant weight because he’s the face of the franchise. And as a white man, he understands how important those words are to people who don’t have personal experience with racial injustice.The 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick noted that the Browns’ social justice committee has identified four areas to focus on : education, police reform and accountability, economic advancement and nonpartisan voter registration, education and turnout.The focus on education was about closing the “digital divide” and addressing resource equity, and improving economic advancement by supporting Black-owned businesses.“(Me) being involved shows it’s not a one-sided movement,” said Mayfield, who is entering his third NFL season. “I can’t put myself in some of my teammates’ shoes, but I can hear their stories and try and understand, so I can push forward with them.”Haslam was one of the first pro sports owners to begin a dialog with players on community issues, dating back to a 2016 controversy when then-Cleveland running back Isaiah Crowell posted a graphic image of a police officer getting his throat cut.Former Vikings offensive coordinator Stefanski, who was hired by the Browns on Jan. 13, said he recognized the depth of his new team’s commitment upon moving to Cleveland. He held a series of team meetings Thursday at the suburban training facility but wanted to take the message to a broader audience when the team practiced downtown for the initial time.“Here at the Cleveland Browns, that’s what we do, being active in the social justice arena,” Stefanski said.“It was great to be out on the field here and to have some people in the stands, but we really want to shine a spotlight on our players and how they started practice with this statement. I’m very proud of them.”NOTES: Standout DE Myles Garrett (wrist) was on the field and fiddled with a football in the end zone, but he was not in uniform for the last official practice of training camp. “It was acting out of an abundance of caution,” Stefanski said. … CB Greedy Williams (shoulder) has not practiced since leaving the field early Monday. … Center JC Tretter (knee), LB Mack Wilson (knee), LB B.J. Goodson (personal), T Chris Hubbard (ankle), CB Kevin Johnson (liver) and CB M.J. Stewart (hamstring) also did not participate. … The Browns’ game operations staff treated the event as a dress rehearsal, producing an in-house broadcast on the large video boards while airing advertisements and graphics on smaller screens throughout the stadium. COMMENTcenter_img First Published: 31st August, 2020 11:11 IST Associated Press Television News LIVE TV Last Updated: 31st August, 2020 11:11 IST Browns Speak Out About Social Justice At Stadium Practice Kevin Stefanski waited years to conduct his first full practice as a head coach in an NFL stadium.last_img read more

Podcast: Would Markelle Fultz be a better fit for Lakers?

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Nearly every mock draft has Boston taking Washington freshman guard Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, but the Lakers are doing their due diligence on Fultz on the off chance he’s available to them at No. 2.Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group welcomes Seattle Times columnist Matt Calkins to discuss what happens if Fultz falls past Boston, with audio from Fultz following his workout for the Lakers. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packerslast_img read more

Fans were not impressed by Mike Milbury’s question for Jenna Fischer during the Stanley Cup Final

first_imgFans were not impressed by his question. The Bruins beat the Blues 5-1 on Sunday to force a Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday. It is safe to assume the Fischer/Krasinski rivalry will only intensify over the next few days. Jenna Fischer, best known for her portrayal of Pam Beesly on NBC’s “The Office,” was in attendance at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Sunday to watch her beloved Blues play the Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Prior to the game, Fischer and her TV-show husband John Krasinski, a Boston fan, exchanged jabs as they have the entire series.NBC’s studio show hosted Fischer in between the first and second periods, and she was asked about St. Louis and “The Office.” Fischer discussed what the Blues’ run has meant to the fans and her son and husband’s love of hockey. MORE STANLEY CUP:Jim and Pam: a house divided over Bruins-BluesShe also used this opportunity to share that the St. Louis/Boston rivalry between her and Krasinski goes back to their days on set. Mike Milbury, a former Bruins player and coach, used her appearance to ask what the strangest Dwight moment was, asking if it was the episode in which Dwight kills Angela’s cat.last_img read more