Monday, April 28, 2008

5 Badgers go to the NFL


Former Badger football players Jack Ikegwuonu, Taylor Mehlhaff, Nick Hayden and Paul Hubbard each heard their name called during the annual NFL draft this weekend in New York City and will continue their football careers next fall. Former Badger punter Ken DeBauche went undrafted but signed with the Green Bay Packers later Sunday night.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu, the first Badger to be picked, with the 131st overall pick. The fourth-round selection was somewhat of a surprise after the former first-team Big Ten defender suffered a serious knee injury in January, leaving his professional future in doubt. That injury, along with off-field legal issues and a recent failed drug test, were most of the teams’ greatest concerns regarding the junior cornerback heading into the draft.
In November 2006, Ikegwuonu and his brother were arrested and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing and felony residential burglary after stealing an Xbox from a DeKalb, Ill., apartment.
According to a report on profootballtalk.com, after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing, Ikegwuonu will go through two years of probation and must perform 50 hours of community service. Residential burglary, the most serious charge, was later dropped.
The former Madison Memorial standout led the Badgers with 16 pass breakups last season and finished the year with 24 tackles.
The sixth round of the draft was the busiest for Wisconsin players. Kicker Taylor Mehlhaff, a first team All-American player, was selected 178th overall by the New Orleans Saints. Mehlhaff was the first place kicker taken in the draft and was the second special teams player selected overall.
Mehlhaff finished his Badger career holding three school records, 145 points after touchdowns, 148 PAT attempts and a .979 extra point percentage. He finished second in school history with 295 points and 50 career field goals.
Three picks after Mehlhaff was selected, the Carolina Panthers selected defensive tackle Nick Hayden with the 15th pick in the sixth round. Last season, Hayden finished the year with All-Big Ten honorable mention status. He completed his senior season by totaling 48 tackles, good for sixth on the team and 4.5 sacks.
The final UW player selected in this year’s draft was wide receiver Paul Hubbard. Hubbard, selected 191st overall by the Cleveland Browns, finished last season with 14 catches for 305 yards. Hubbard missed five games after suffering a knee injury when the Badgers played at UNLV last season. The former track star finished his UW career with 53 receptions and 936 yards. He will join last year’s No. 3 overall pick Joe Thomas as Badger alumni playing for Cleveland.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Badgers In Prime Time



The University of Wisconsin football team will play consecutive home games at night this fall -- against Ohio State and Penn State -- on national television.
The Big Ten Conference made it official Wednesday in announcing the conference's prime-time television lineup for the 2008 football season.
The Badgers will host Ohio State on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 and Penn State on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2.
UW is coming off a fourth straight season with at least nine wins, the longest streak of success in school history. Ohio State is aiming for a fourth straight Big Ten Championship and an unprecedented third consecutive outright crown after reaching the BCS National Championship game the last two seasons.
The Big Ten will be featured in prime time during the opening weekend of conference action on Saturday, Sept. 27, when Penn State hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. CT on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The Fighting Illini defeated the nationally-ranked Nittany Lions last season on the way to their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1984.
After the back-to-back dose of the Badgers, the Big Ten's late-afternoon/early-evening appearances will continue on Oct. 18 when Penn State hosts Michigan for a 3:30 p.m. CT game to appear on ESPN or ESPN2.
The Big Ten's final prime-time outing on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 will feature Penn State at Ohio State on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. CT.
The 113th season of Big Ten football kicks off on Saturday, August 30, with 10 of 11 schools in action -- including the Badgers, who host Akron. The starting time for that game has yet to be announced. I would imagine Badger Tickets for those games are going to Hot.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Badger Football Injuries Could Become A Problem


Last season, injuries plagued the UW football team, injuries that the Badgers were unable to overcome. This spring, the injury plane has once again landed in Madison, except this time, the Badger coaching staff has decided to take a glass-half-full approach to the unfortunate situation.
“The only positive I can see with the injuries right now is we’re developing depth,” linebackers coach Randall McCray said. “Backups are becoming players right now where they’re being counted on at a position that they didn’t think they’d be in four months ago.”
The Badger secondary may currently suffer the most after cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season and both corners Aaron Henry and Allen Langford tore their ACLs at the end of last season.
“We wish (Jack) would have stayed another year,” defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks said. “It probably would have helped him out, but it gives us an opportunity to play some young guys that are going to play for us eventually anyway.”
One of those young guys has been Mario Goins, a redshirt freshman from Copperas Cove, Texas. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out come fall.
Last night I was checking out the 2008 Badger Football Schedule and a game that sparked my immediate interest is the Wisconsin vs Ohio State match up on October 4th at Camp Randall. I sure hope I can be there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Badgers Basketball Season Tainted by Defeat



For the second straight season the UW men’s basketball team exited the NCAA Tournament prematurely after losing to a lower-seeded team. But all that this team accomplished this season was not lost in the disappointed and depressed UW locker room at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich.
From game-winning shots, to bank shots, to Big Ten titles, here’s a look back on the winningest season in Wisconsin basketball history:
Questions from the start
The obvious question before the season was how the Badgers were going to replace departed seniors Alando Tucker, Kammron Taylor and Jason Chappell, who accounted for 52 percent of the team’s scoring the year before. The question no one was expecting to answer early in the year was: Will senior Michael Flowers play?
Flowers, UW’s top returning defender, took a mysterious leave of absence at the beginning of the season and there was no indication whether or not he would return to the team. But he returned just as mysteriously as he left, appearing at practice before the team’s season opener against IPFW. He came off the bench in UW’s first seven games before returning to the starting lineup permanently against Marquette on Dec. 8.
Hughes hot early
No one really knew who the team’s leading scorer would be entering this season, but sophomore Trevon Hughes tried to be the answer to that question in the season opener against IPFW Nov. 11, scoring 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
He followed that up with 21 points against Savannah State, 15 against Florida A&M and 18 against Colorado, and was named tournament MVP in the America’s Youth Classic hosted by UW in November.
Duked by the Blue Devils
Badger fans saw the first indication that Hughes was not going to be an instant star when Wisconsin traveled to Duke and suffered a 82-58 loss. The sophomore still managed 12 points but made only 4-of-13 shots and turned the ball over three times in 26 minutes of play.
It was a wake-up call for a team that cruised to a 5-0 start before the trip to Durham.
Shot of the year
After a setback at home to Marquette Dec. 8 and three more wins, UW traveled to Texas to finish off the non-conference schedule. The unranked Badgers were going up against the No. 9 Longhorns and, to make matters worse, they lost Hughes to an ankle injury the night before the game.
Little did they know that this Saturday matinée was going to be the defining game in a season no one was expecting. Trailing by three in the final minute, Marcus Landry hit a turnaround jumper on the baseline to cut the deficit to one. After A.J. Abrams made 1-of-2 free throws, Flowers came off a Brian Butch screen and hit a 3-pointer that jumpstarted an unlikely, record-breaking season.
Did he call it?
If Flowers jumpstarted the season, then Butch probably saved it—at least from a Big Ten title standpoint. Just days after falling to Purdue for the second time on the year, UW traveled to Indiana Feb. 13 needing a win badly to salvage its chances at a conference title.
Down 66-65 with 12 seconds left, Butch found himself with the ball after UW inbounded it. He briefly looked to pass and then threw up a deep three from the left wing that kissed off the glass and fell in. When Jamarcus Ellis’ three at the buzzer fell short, the Badgers found themselves right back in the middle of the Big Ten race and Indiana found itself in the middle of a recruiting scandal that cost head coach Kelvin Sampson his job, and the Hoosiers its season. Butch might not have called “glass” but his shot sent two teams in two different directions.
Senior night and so much more
The Indiana win turned out to be the first of five in a row as Wisconsin played its last game of the season in the Kohl Center against Penn State on Senior Night Feb. 5. With Ohio State’s upset over Purdue the night before, the Badgers knew that a win over the Nittany Lions meant at least a share of the Big Ten title.
They showed absolutely no signs of jitters and crushed Penn State 77-41 as the students rushed the court to celebrate UW’s first conference title since 2003. All four seniors were hoisted on the shoulders of the mob and the Badgers made it an outright title just three days later, beating Northwestern 65-52 in Evanston, Ill.
An up-and-down finish
Wisconsin took its seven-game win streak to Indianapolis and made it a 10-game streak as it won the Big Ten Tournament. The weekend included a 12-point comeback against Michigan State in the semi-finals before topping Illinois in the championship.
Expecting to be rewarded with a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin was stuck with a No. 3 seed and knew that it would face either USC’s O.J. Mayo or Kansas State’s Michael Beasley in the second round. It turned out to be Beasley, but in one of the team’s best performances of the year, the Badgers dispatched the Wildcats easily with a 72-55 win.
With Davidson upsetting Georgetown a day later, it looked like UW’s road to the Final Four got a little bit easier, but in the most surprising loss of the season Davidson outscored Wisconsin 37-20 in the second half en-route to a 73-56 win. It was the first time the Badgers were outplayed that badly since the Duke loss in the November. The loss was disappointing but the reality is that the 2007-’08 Badgers won 31-games, a school record, a Big Ten title and a Big Ten Tournament title.