Monday, January 31, 2011

Badgers lose to Penn State

The Penn State men's basketball team moved closer to making its first NCAA tournament since 2001 by beating the Badgers Sunday, something the Nittany Lions haven't accomplished in 8 years.. Led by four starting seniors and with a tenacious defensive effort, the Nittany Lions outlasted Wisconsin 56-52, defeating their fourth-straight Big Ten foe at home.
It was all Badgers in the first half, who were exemplary both offensively and defensively. Penn State struggled to get anything going as Wisconsin shut down passing lanes, forced turnovers and suffocated shooters. Penn State senior guard Talor Battle shot a dismal 1-5 from the field while Wisconsin's interior defense held senior forward Jeff Brooks to just five points. The Nittany Lions shot 33 percent from the field, including a disappointing 2-7 from downtown.
"We couldn't get shots in; we couldn't get any rhythm," Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis said.
Wisconsin matched its stellar defense with a solid performance on the offensive end in the first half. Junior guard Jordan Taylor, a Bob Cousy Award finalist for the best point guard in the country and the nation's leader in assist to turnover ratio, scored 12 points and looked comfortable running Bo Ryan's swing offense.
"I thought we had some really good looks," Wisconsin head coach Ryan said. "It was one of those days."
Not only were they good looks, but they were also falling. The Badgers shot 54 percent in the first half and found the stroke from deep as well, knocking down 42 percent of their three-point attempts. Senior forward Jon Leuer, a Big Ten Player of the Year Candidate, was efficient from the post, shooting 5-7 from the field. Leuer finished with a team-high 18 points, while Taylor chipped in 16.
Wisconsin entered the Bryce Jordan Arena with a 12-1 record when leading at the break, but Saturday's game quickly became a tale of two halves.
"They got off to a hot start. They threw the first punch," said senior forward Andrew Jones, who grabbed 10 rebounds in the second half, . "I think that we reacted pretty well. As the game went on, we settled in."
Penn State did more than settle in; they dominated the second half. A switch flipped in the locker room. The Nittany Lions came out for the final twenty minutes inspired, aggressive and  focused.
Wisconsin couldn't hold Battle's talents in check the second half. When the Nittany Lions needed their senior star most, he delivered. Battle went 6-11 from the field in the second half and nailed three shots from beyond the arc, including a triple that gave Penn State its first lead of the game with 10:51 to go in the second half. Battle finished with 22 points.
An even larger factor in Penn State's comeback was the Nittany Lions' relentless defensive play. Brooks recorded game highs with two blocks and three steals, as Wisconsin shot 32 percent in the second half and a frustrating 3-13 from three-point range.
"We played well in the second half; we held them to 23 points," DeChellis said. "We challenged some shots and played with better energy."
The Badgers will have to forget about Penn State quickly as they prepare to face No. 12 Purdue at the Kohl Center Tuesday.
Let's hope that Bucky can turn it around.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bielema and Chryst get a pay raise

If you have success in the world of college football, more likely than not, you are going to be rewarded for it. For Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema, and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst that was the case, as it was announced yesterday that both had agreed to new compensation packages  for the 2011-'12 season. Both coaches will see their pay increase substantially from last season.
Last year Bielema earned a base salary of $400,000, and was able to earn a total of $1,781,759 under the terms of his previous compensation package. The terms of his new 2011 deal stipulate that Bielema's new package will be worh about $2.5 million.
Bielema has a record of 49-16 in his  five seasons at the helm of the Wisconsin football program and led the team to one of their most successful sesasons ever this past year, finishing with an 11-2 record that included a share of the Big Ten conference title for the first time since 1999, and a trip to the Rose Bowl where they fell to TCU, 21-19.
With Chryst controlling the offense, the Badgers had the most prolific offensive season in school history. They set program records for points scored, points per game and rushing touchdowns. The offense averaged 41.5 points per game, which ranked tops in the Big Ten and fifth in the country, as well as ranking 21st in the nation in yards per game with 445.2.
After the season, Chryst's name came up in the conversation for several job openings around the country, including an intervie with Mack Brown for the offensive coordinator position at the Univeristy of Texas. Though, Chryst said before the Rose Bowl that he is happy at UW.
With a new deal in place, he should be even happier. Chryst will see his base salary jump from $305,000 to $405,000 under the teams of his new contract.
The money for these pay raises will be coming from unrestricted gifts in the UW Founadtion.  
The two new compensation packages still have to be approved by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. The board next meets on Feb. 10 and 11.
I think it is well deserved.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ohio State finishes better than Wisconsin, WHAT???

The University of Wisconsin football team is still looking up at Ohio State.
The Badgers beat the Buckeyes, earned a share of their first Big Ten Conference title in 11 years and advanced to the Rose Bowl this past season.
Still, Ohio State was the top-ranked Big Ten team when the final polls were released on Tuesday.
The Badgers (11-2) finished seventh in the Associated Press media poll and tied for eighth with LSU in the USA Today coaches' poll. The Buckeyes (12-1) — whose only loss was to UW 31-18 on Oct. 16 — were fifth in both polls.
UW has finished behind Ohio State in the final polls in each of the last six seasons. The last time the Badgers were ranked ahead of the Buckeyes was after the 2004 season.
It was the highest finish for UW in the polls since the Badgers were No. 5 in the coaches' poll and No. 7 in the media poll after Bret Bielema's first season as coach in 2006.
Since 1993, UW has had five Top 10 finishes. In addition to 2006 and '10, the Badgers were fifth in the coaches and sixth in the AP after the 1993 season; sixth in both polls in '98; and fourth in both polls in '99.
I still can't believe that the Badgers lost to TCU.  I was depressed for days.  Let's hope we can return to Pasadena next year and beat Ohio State again.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Badgers Lose a Heartbreaker in Pasadena

After seven straight wins to close out the Big Ten season brought the red-hot Badgers to Pasadena, a talented TCU team got in the way of one final victory, handing Wisconsin a 21-19 defeat in a hard-fought battle in the Rose Bowl.
Despite junior running back John Clay's performance in a dramatic 77-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, an unsuccessful two-point conversion proved to be the Badgers' undoing as they fell one play shy of Rose Bowl victory. All night long, UW avoided the big mistake as they have all year but didn't execute the little things, with that poor execution accounting for the close defeat.
Although they would falter later, on their first play from scrimmage the Badgers did not appear to show any rust from their five-week layoff between Saturday's game and their regular season finale. Sophomore running back Montee Ball bounced outside, bursting down the field for a 40-yard gain. But after a penalty on the next snap and a third-down drop by junior wide receiver Nick Toon, the Badgers stalled and were forced to settle for a 30-yard Philip Welch field goal.
The 3-0 lead didn't last long as the teams traded blows through the first quarter, which was the highest-scoring opening frame in Rose Bowl history. The Horned Frogs responded with their first touchdown drive, taking the 7-3 lead on a 23-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Andy Dalton to senior wide receiver Bart Johnson.
On the Badgers' next possession, Clay capped off the Wisconsin drive with a one-yard TD rush. Dalton countered with a rushing touchdown of his own, a four-yard conversion on third and goal, giving TCU a 14-10 lead after the first 15 minutes of the game.
"Third down stops were critical in the first half, and I don't think our defense got off the field on third down," head coach Bret Bielema said. "That was a big part of the game. Bottom line, two big pass, play action plays in the first half were critical.
"They were able to execute and we weren't."
The second quarter was perhaps the best execution of game plan by the Badgers all afternoon. After a long drive to start the quarter faded after Philip Welch missed a 39-yard field goal—his first miss under 40 this season—the defense responded by forcing TCU into a three-and-out.
The Wisconsin offense then rammed the ball down TCU's throat (with the help of a successful Brad Nortman fake punt conversion) running out the final 7:04 and finishing off the half with a 37-yard Welch field goal.
Despite controlling the ball for 13:30 in the second quarter alone, however, the Badgers trailed 14-13 at the half.
TCU went on perhaps its signature drive of the game to start the third quarter, completing a 71-yard drive that bumped the Horned Frogs' lead up to 8.
"We knew we had to take advantage of our opportunities because Wisconsin's got such a great run," Dalton said. "That's kind of the attitude we took in the second half. We have to take advantage, keep moving the ball."
For the next quarter of play, both teams put their "bend and don't break" philosophy on display, trading key third-down stops as each defense battled to keep the score where it was.
So the stage was set as the Badger offense took the field with 7:32 remaining in the game and the score still 21-13 in favor of TCU. A touchdown and 2-point conversion would tie the game, anything else and it would become desperation time.
After being quiet for much of the game, this final drive was a wakeup of sorts for Clay. Having gained just 12 yards on five carries coming through thre quarters, Clay led the Badgers on the final touchdown drive with six carries rushed for 59 yards, pushing him over 1000 yards for the season and setting the stage for sophomore running back Montee Ball's 4-yard TD run to put UW within two.
Despite having been successful at pounding the ball up the middle for much of the drive, Wisconsin chose to go out of the shotgun and attempt the two-point conversion through the air. Though Jacob Pederson was open in the end zone, TCU linebacker Tank Carder capped off his memorable Rose Bowl performance by batting down senior quarterback Scott Tolzien's pass attempt and putting TCU an onside kick away from victory.
"I felt real confident with the play call," Tolzien said. "It looked like man coverage with zero pressure. I thought we had a guy open. You give credit to them. They batted the ball down, and that's what good football teams do: They find a way to make plays when the game is on the line and they were able to do that."
In a game that saw Wisconsin out-gain TCU 385-301, the crucial details of execution proved the difference as drops, penalties and missed tackles surfaced more than they seemed to in the regular season.
"What got us here was clean execution and clean disciplined football, and we didn't do that today all around, myself included," Tolzien said. "That's why it's the greatest game, because you don't execute and you're on edges."
After a year that the Badger faithful will not soon forget, Saturday's defeat is tough to stomach for players, coaches, and fans alike. Still, the sting of defeat is accompanied by a burning desire to work even harder to get back on top.
"The Wisconsin Badgers will be back to the Rose Bowl," junior defensive end J.J. Watt said. "I don't know if it will be next year, but coach Bielema is an outstanding football coach. The Wisconsin football program does things the right way and Coach Alvarez leads the athletic department the right way. No doubt about it, the Badgers will be back.
"They'll be back better than ever. When they come back, they'll win."
Let's hope the Badgers can build on this season and return to Pasadena next year.  GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!