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Wickett's world - Bucky to the top of the Big Ten?

After the Wisconsin Badgers were knocked out of the Final Four by the Kentucky Wildcats, lots of Bucky fans needed a little time before looking at next year. Some were real quick to figure out where UW fit in to next years Big Ten (and beyond) race. Personally, I needed a little time. I had to see what the top underclassmen in the B10 were going to, when it came to their NBA careers, specifically the current powers in the Big Ten. Let's take a look at who left:

Michigan lost Big Ten Player of the year, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. Stauskas grew more from his freshman year to sophomore year than any player at that stage I've ever seen. He's a top 20 pick. GR3 showed flashes of the player many think he can be. I don't think he was very consistent. He probably should've stayed but who am I to judge? He's a late 1st/early 2nd rd guy. Michigan will likely take a step back.

Michigan State's Gary Harris went pro. When you're the leading scorer on the trendy powerhouse team in the Big Ten, why would you stay? I think he'll be a really good pro who will create on his own more than Tom Izzo allowed him to. Couple Harris leaving with Keith Appling & Adreian Payne gone to graduation and MSU will struggle to find points!

Ohio State is losing 2 big contributors from last years team: LaQuinton Ross & Aaron Craft. Ross was the teams' leading scorer & rebounder. Craft was the team leader & the best on-ball defender in the country last year. Sorry, osu…you're not as good either.

Indiana has lost 4 players from last years team either due to transfer or in Noah Vonlehs' case, the NBA.

I'm sure there are others that I'm leaving out but with all that talent LEAVING the Big Ten, and most of Wisconsin's team coming back? (Dekker, Kaminsky, Hayes, Gasser, etc - SG Ben Brust is the only major contributor UW will lose) Look out BigTen…the Badgers are gonna be TOUGH to keep out of the spotlight. Bo Ryan's NEVER finished out of the top 4 in the B10 and I'd be SHOCKED if it started next year.


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Success Versus Cardinals Necessary

~~Success Versus Cardinals Necessary by Andrew Dunn-Bauman

The Brewers are off to an incredible start to the 2014 season. With a nine-game winning streak already in the books, the Crew owns the best record in the MLB at 10-3. Things have been clicking on all cylinders in Milwaukee, but there still remains a thorn in the sides of players and fans alike: The St. Louis Cardinals.

Monday night the Cardinals rolled into town and robbed everyone in the city of Milwaukee of free burgers, snapping the Brewer winning streak just one game shy of double digits. The loss dropped the Brewers' record against the Cardinals to 11-24, dating back to the start of the 2012 season.

Don't get me wrong, it's far from time to hit the panic button. April has been much kinder so far than I had ever anticipated (minus the weather) for Milwaukee, and I'll take the best record in the MLB at any juncture of the season, obviously. For fans freaking out about losing to the Cardinals, let's remember that this squad from St. Louis was slated by almost every pundit to win the NL Central in the preseason. They're good. Really good. The loss was amplified by the fact that it busted a huge winning streak, but no one could have realistically expected the Crew to sweep the Redbirds.

Now, that doesn't excuse the Brewers from ever beating the Cardinals. Quite the opposite. For this team to contend in the Central this year, they need to be competitive with the Cards. At least close to .500 ball against them. Back in 2011, when the Brewers won a franchise record 96 regular season games, they played the Cardinals even at 9-9. But that was against a weaker division than the NL Central this year (the Astros were still in the NL in 2011, that's all you need to know). Wins against division opponents will be at a premium this season (minus the Cubs) so the Brewers cannot afford to be handled by the Cardinals if they want to contend for the postseason.

The Crew has two games left in this set against their rivals from Missouri, and if they fail to win either, the Brewer fan base will go catatonic. The team can absorb this kind of result, but players and fans alike feel it's high time to make a statement. Jonathan Lucroy said on the Bill Michaels show this morning "I feel like we're better than (the Cardinals) are." Let's see the Crew prove it.

For Brewer updates and live tweets from Miller Park, follow Andrew on Twitter @ADBinMKE

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Should Gasser got Into His Grill?

(Dallas ) Whether or not Josh Gasser should have hedged up further into Kentucky's Aaron Harrison's face on
Saturday Night will be long debated. On one hand.Harrison has hit from there before with the game on the line, but then if Gasser gets up further, he risks Harrison's blowing by with his quicks and finding a way to tie a game. No blame, sometimes you just have to tip your cap and say Harrison made a big time play.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will know that I consdered the Badger loss on Saturday night to be one of the toughest in state sports history. Final Four appearences are one of the toughest accomplishment in sports, especially for a program like Wisconsin, as we all know. The opportunity was there for a national title,espcially with Flordia losing. I feel Wisconsin is better than U Conn. This is what makes the Final Four loss a difficultone to swallow.
More on Chuck and Wickett when I join Mike from Dallas from 8-10 AM on Monday morning.
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Wickett's World - Larry Sanders...Man. Face of the franchise.

Larry Sanders...Man. Face of the franchise.

Milwaukee Bucks C, Larry Sanders just doesn't get it. This is not a "slam Larry" blog. I'm just so frustrated (like many Bucks fans) with this guy. He was building block. A focal point. A defensive force. A "Milwaukee" guy with a midwest workman like attitude that fans could get behind. Well...that's out the window. Who is Larry Sanders? None of the above (except the defensive force part). Let's review, shall we??

August 21, 2013: Larry Sanders signs a 4-year $44 million dollar extension with the Bucks. A questionable contract for a offensively challenged Center who no doubt is one of the best defensive players in the NBA. By the way, he signed his contract at a Boys & Girls Club in downtown Milwaukee. LOVED THIS. Thought it was great to do it in front of the kids in the city & provide some inspiration. Sanders said this was going to help him become the MAN that he wants to be and the face of the franchise.

November 5, 2013: Larry Sanders was involved in a bar fight at Apt 720 in downtown Milwaukee. Video shows Sanders throwing Champagne bottles into the crowd, in the VIP area. Why was the fight started? I've heard lots of stories and versions of the incident. Regardless, Sanders SHOULD NOT be getting into fights at bars. Can he go to bars? YES. I have no problem with that. But there is no reason he should get involved with fights. We all know Larry has a problem with his temper ON the court (which he's admitted to). And now we know it's not just a "basketball thing". By the way, Sanders hurt his thumb during the fight, causing him to miss significant playing time. Man. Face of the franchise.

November 13, 2013: Reports surface that Larry Sanders was cited twice in January 2013 for cruelty to animals. According to court records, a neighbor called police to say Sanders kept his two German shepherd puppies outside in the cold for hours without proper shelter, food and water. Sanders paid a total of $330 for the two municipal citations. (via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Man. Face of the franchise.

December 5, 2013: Larry Sanders responds on instagram to the heat he's taking for the 720 bar fight. I can't even describe this...just read it. As you would imagine, this didn't stay online very long. Man. Face of the franchise.

April 4, 2014: Larry Sanders was suspended 5 games for violating the NBA's drug policy. Sanders got busted for smoking marijuana...FOR THE 3rd TIME. Sanders apologized but has vigorously defended his stance on the legalization of the drug. I agree with Larry. Weed SHOULD be legal, in my opinion. But here's the problem, Larry: ITS NOT. Just because you're a millionaire and a celebrity, doesn't mean the laws don't apply to you. When they say "don't smoke weed"...well...DON'T SMOKE WEED. Man. Face of the franchise.

What should the Bucks do? Not my call but thats FOUR strikes in just over a year. As far as i can remember, you only get 3 strikes before you're out.

Larry is no longer the fan favorite he was just one year ago. As for trading him? Ask any GM in the league & they'll tell you that Sanders trade value is ZERO. Due to injuries, Sanders has played in 23 games this season. He's started 20 of them. He averaged 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.74 blocks per game. Oh, and by the way, his $44 million dollar extension? It BEGINS NEXT SEASON.

Man. Face of the franchise.

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Wojciechowski's Loyalty Key for Marquette

Loyalty for coaches to college basketball program seems to be a lost art in today's game. Coaches year in and year out are rumored for job openings and only a handful seem to be content with staying in one spot. After Buzz Williams abruptly left for Virginia Tech, two weeks ago. His loyalty to Marquette gone faster than it took for him to show off his new Virginia Tech pin on national television. Marquette now needed to find someone that strongly embodied the word loyalty.

Marquette found their guy in Duke's Associate Head Coach Steve Wojciechowski. "If you talk to people about me, I'm a very loyal guy, I have amazing loyalty to the university and Coach K and I can't wait to have that loyalty to Marquette and this program." Wojciechowski was a player for 4 years and an assistant at Duke University for 15 years under Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Marquette needed to find stability at their coaching position after their past two coaches left for other jobs. They needed someone they would be able to count on to continue to build up this program and would be here for a long time.

They believe they found that guy in Wojciechowski. "If My Track record is of any indication, I stayed at Duke for 15 years, I could of left a lot over the last ten, but when place feels like home for me and a place is good for my family then that's a place I'm going to stick with and stick to." This will be Wojciechowski's first head coaching job, but he comes from one of the most successful programs in the country in Duke. He's been on two National Championship teams and has worked with Coach K on Team USA's staff from 2002 to 2012.

Marquette took a chance on the only assistant they interviewed, but with all his experience their gamble could pay off in big ways. At his introductory press conference, Wojciechowski was asked if he considered this a stepping stone job, his response seemed to erase any ideas that it was, " My sole focus is on Marquette, I didn't leave the job I was at, working for the guy I did, my alma mater, to go to a place I see my family at for a long time." In today's college basketball it's hard to trust what comes out of a coach's mouth, but Steve Wojciechowski said all the right things on Tuesday and if he is a loyal as he says he is Marquette should benefit for a long time.

I was really impressed with the way Wojciechowski handled himself during his press conference, and I think he has a chance to be here for a very long time. Like he said his track record shows he's been loyal. He's had many opportunities to leave for head coaching jobs, but he said they weren't the right fit until Marquette. If he is so committed on making sure where he ended up was the right fit, I would think he wants to be here for the long haul. He already has a young talented team in place and if he is able to keep some of Buzz's recruits they can immediately get back to the NCAA tournament. He has a lot of upside and could push this program to the next level. Only time will tell, but from the fire he's shown throughout his career as a coach and a player it would be hard to bet against him.

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Wickett's World - Welcome to Milwaukee, Wojo!

Welcome to Milwaukee, Wojo!

After a long search, Marquette University has named Steve Wojciechowski as it's 17th basketball coach in school history.

Not Shaka. Not Ben "i've been to 3 final fours" Howland. Not Cuonzo Martin. Wojo. This is one that's gonna very interesting to watch. Why did Wojo finally leave Mike Krzyzewski's bench after a decade & a half at Duke? I've got 3 theories on this...

1 - He got sick of waiting. Seriously, was Coach K EVER going to leave Duke? He's been there forever. He's still got great teams every year...although it looks like it's getting tougher for him to go deep in the tournament lately (see Mercer, Lehigh). Recently Coach K said publicly that he'd like to be at Duke for AT LEAST 5 MORE YEARS. At age 37, you figure Wojo wasn't gonna wait til his early 40's to get his 1st gig. So he took it.

2 - He's using MU as a stepping stone to GET BACK to Duke. He may have been told, "go get some experience, then come home". It's a possibilty. Duke doesn't strike me as a "first gig" type of place. Marquette does (see: the last two guys...and now this one) Time will tell if this is a long term buy, or a short term lease at MU for Wojo.

3 - He's been told he's not in line to get the Duke job. This would be a bit surprising, considering how committed to Duke Wojo has become. Player/coach - LIFER. But maybe someone else is in the eye of Coach K. My best guess? Shaka Smart. Why not? He won't go out west. He won't come up north. Maybe he REALLY wants that Duke job, and he's willing to wait around for it. Call it a long shot...

I'm excited to see what Wojo will bring to this team. Will we see the "3-pointer friendly" offense that the Blue Devils run? I hope not. Will Wojo be like Tom Crean & Buzz Williams & bolt for another job? I hope not. But this is what Marquette does. They don't hire the "big" name. They took a chance on an assistant coach on Tom Izzos' bench and that got them elevated to Big East status + a final four (along with other post season tournament births). Buzz? He was on Creans' staff & took the Golden Eagles to 3 straight sweet 16's.

A LOT of programs in this country would kill for that. So let's sit back and watch Wojo work...


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Brewer Fans Quick to Forgive

Its Tuesday and Andrew Dunn-Bauman has his Brewers Blog

Brewer Fans Quick to Forgive By Andrew Dunn-Bauman

Brewers fans all know the saga of Ryan Braun. They know about the cheating, they know about the lying, they know about the 65-game suspension. But on Monday afternoon, it seemed the Brewer fan base chose to forgive and forget all of that, and instead greeted Braun with a roaring standing ovation as he approached the plate for the first time since July 2013.

For a group of fans that sounded decidedly furious with Braun when news first broke of his suspension, it was certainly more than a bit surprising to witness the reception Braun received from his home crowd on Opening Day.

I fully understand that the Brewers have a loyal and diehard fan base. I understand that they want their team to succeed on every level, as they understand that Braun is an integral part of this team's success. The outpouring of support from the 45,691 fans in attendance was merely a reflection of how badly this city wants the Crew to succeed this year, how badly they have missed warm weather and the boys of summer, and how badly the fan base wants to put the past to rest.

But I do not agree with the standing ovation.

For one at-bat, just one at-bat, the Brewer fan base should have sent Ryan Braun a message. Boos would have been appropriate, and they would have sent that message that the fans and city as a whole is disappointed in Braun's actions - both the fact that he cheated the game of baseball, and that he lied about it, trying to drag others down in the process. Silence, on the other hand, would have been eery and infinitely more effective. Imagine Braun being announced only for the stadium to fall dead quiet. That would have been memorable and effective.

Instead the crowd roared for Braun every plate appearance, sending the message that regardless of all the wrong he has done to the team and its fans, they are willing to accept him with open arms regardless. Brewer fans have taken loads of criticism for this, both from fans of other clubs and national pundits. Some of it is warranted. Some of it is excessive and uncalled for.

But the important thing is that the warm reception is in the past now. The Opening Day fanfare has passed as a blip on the screen, and it is time to get down to the grind of the season. Braun deserves the support of Brewer fans moving forward, because he needs to succeed for this team to succeed. And they are completely in the right to support him as a member of this organization. The fans missed their opportunity to send a message, plain and simple. Now let's leave the controversy in the past; it's time for baseball.

For Brewer updates follow @ADBinMKE

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Marquette's Coaching Search

It’s been a roller coaster week for Marquette basketball fans. Monday rumors of Marquette landing VCU head coach Shaka Smart and then Thursday night turning down Marquette’s offer.  Now with the elimination of Smart as a candidate, this put Marquette in a bit of a crossroads. They can either look to find another big name to fill the position or possibly go with someone smaller, but has potential to be a long-term answer.  Personally, I think Marquette needs to hire a coach that has the ability to keep the incoming recruits and be able to recruit top level athletes.  Those need to be the criteria when hiring the new coach. 

With that being said I believe they need to hire a big name guy in order to continue the success this program has had.  Buzz made this program better off when Crean left it, and now Marquette needs to continue to build on to what Buzz did without taking a step back.  Interim Athletic Director Bill Cords talked about how the program is better now than when he was running it before and they will have to ability to pick a high quality coach.  And I think he is right. 

This is the best open coaching job in the country right now and spends more money than any team in basketball besides Duke.  While missing on Smart is tough right now, it shows how loyal Smart is to his team and in my opinion Marquette needs to find a guy as loyal as Shaka Smart to ensure stability for at least 7 to 10 years.  I think there are many candidates out there that fit the mold and I firmly believe Marquette will find the right coach and continue to improve their program into the future.
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Now is the Time, Badgers

I have said the entire season, that I can't make a judgment on this Badger Basketball team until March., I wanted to see March production. A Sweet 16 appearence for this team isn't good enough. A win tonight over Baylor in the Sweet 16 ,will give Bucky its biggest win since beating top seeded Arizona in 2000.

When is the last time Wisconsin has had a win in the NCAA's that you could say, "Wow" ..impressive job?" It hasnt happened under Bo Ryan. Most of the time its losing to inferior teams and they dont get to the big boys.

Wisconsin is still better than Baylor. The Bears are playing great but the Badgers are better. But if Wisconsin isn't hitting those 3's against that Baylor zone defense,it could be another March disappointment. This Badger team has beaten better teams than Baylor this season and they need to win this one otherwise it puts a damper on what was another great regular season.
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NL Central Preview

Andrew Dunn-Bauman is back from Spring Training in Arizona and here is his weekly Brewers Blog

NL Central Preview by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
We’re less than a week from Opening Day at Miller Park, so it’s only right that it’s still below freezing. Nevertheless the countdown is getting serious, so with one final preview before the first pitch of 2014, here’s how I see the NL Central shaking out this season:
St Louis Cardinals (2014 prediction: 100-62)
The Cardinals are once again the team to beat in the NL Central, and with good reason. Adam Wainwright heads what is arguably the best rotation in the MLB. The Redbirds have six viable starters, (five to start the year with Jaime Garcia likely on the DL) and all of them posted ERA’s under four last season. The homegrown pitching depth on this club is uncanny, and extends to the bullpen as well. The Cards have a bunch of young, flame-throwing relievers headlined by closer Trevor Rosenthal, which means facing any portion of this Cardinal staff is a daunting task. Throw in the fact that Yadier Molina is calling the signals behind the dish, and facing this staff quickly becomes an absolute nightmare.
Offensively, the Cards have a solid lineup as well; one that Brewer pitching has struggled with in recent years. While they lost Carlos Beltran this offseason, the signing of Jhonny Peralta in the will provide a boost in production from the shortstop position, which has been inconsistent for the Cardinals recently. And of course, no one wants to face Matt Holliday. Barring an injury-plagued season, the NL Central is there for the Cardinals’ taking.
Cincinnati Reds (89-73)
The Reds won 90 games last season, and I expect them to come close to that total this year. The big loss for Cincinnati this offseason was their leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo to the Texas Rangers.  Choo had a .423 on-base percentage for the Reds last year, and his production will be tough to replace at the top of the lineup. But center fielder Billy Hamilton could make waves as the Reds’ new leadoff man, bringing electric speed to the top of the lineup.
Johnny Cueto is the household name on the starting staff, but Mat Latos and youngster Tony Cingrani are above-average pitchers as well, and the lineup is still formidable, with the likes of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Closer Aroldis Chapman took a scary line-drive just above his eye in Spring Training, but reports are saying he could return as soon as late April, and his 100-plus MPH fastball effectively shortens the game to eight innings for the Reds. All in all this club should be competing for a Wild Card spot come September.
 Milwaukee Brewers (87-75)
The Brewers are undoubtedly an improved squad this season. Having Ryan Braun for the full season can only benefit the club, and the hope is that a healthy Aramis Ramirez behind him will lead to a potent 3-4 combo for the duration of 2014. Khris Davis in left field is not quite proven yet at the MLB level, but brings another powerful bat to the lineup. The Crew returns a gold-glover in Carlos Gomez, and Jean Segura figures to be a real bright spot again at short, both offensively and defensively.
With the addition of Matt Garza, the starting staff looks truly solid from spots one to five to start the season, which is different from years past in Milwaukee. The bullpen looks to be solid as well, with the most notable addition being rookie Wei-Chung Wang, who made the jump from rookie ball in the Pirates organization last year, to the MLB in 2014. I have the Brewers as the most-improved team in the NL Central this year, earning 13 more victories than the 2013 campaign. Health is always a concern over the course of such a long season, but if this club can stay relatively healthy, I see them in the heat of a Wildcard race.
Pittsburgh Pirates (84-78)
This Pirates roster is largely the same as the one that won an impressive 94 games last season, but with one major piece missing; AJ Burnett. Burnett was a fixture in the Bucs’ 2013 campaign that saw the team snap its 20-year-long playoff drought. As a replacement for him, Pittsburgh signed free agent Edison Volquez, who posted a 5.71 ERA in 2013.
Burnett’s absence will be cost this Pirates teams some wins this season. On top of that, it’s questionable to assume that this club can repeat their magical season of 2013. There are three young arms in the Pirates starting rotation that are the key to the Bucs’ chances.  They don’t quite rival the talent of the Cardinals’ young arms, but if they all pitch effectively, they can carry this team towards another successful season. Andrew McCutchen will shine in all facets once again, but I see a season just shy of miraculous this season in Pittsburgh.
Chicago Cubs (67-95)
There’s always next year, Cubbies.
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