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Posts from February 2014

Marquette's chances rest on ability to guard beyond the arc

Marquette has four games left to determine whether or not they get into the NCAA tournament. A big key for them in these next four games will be the 3 point shot. In the past three games Marquette has been outscored from three point land 31 to 15 and in the last two games. They have given up 26 and only have made 6. Granted in the past two games they played Creighton, who is the number 1 three point scoring team in the Big East averaging over 10 per game.  The biggest stat that is alarming to me is their overall 3 point defense.    Marquette’s offensive three point percentage is dead last in the conference, but their 3 point defense is ranked 2nd to last.

With defense being Marquette’s strengths this year, it is really strange to see them that low in three point defense.  Teams have put up more three point attempts against Marquette than any other team in the Big East (559) and they have given up the most three pointers (203). It is hard to say if these numbers are from missed defensive assignments or teams just hitting shots, but in both cases these numbers are a little bit alarming.

For a team that only makes about four three-pointers a game, they are giving up around eight. If this team has any chance of making the tournament they will need to improve their three point defense in these last four games. Things don't get easier as they will face two teams in the top five in three pointers made per game with Villanova (2) and Providence (4). There are a lot more factors that will be key for this final push, but 3 point defense will be key if Marquette will be dancing come March.
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Getting Fitter

It usually takes me a strong six week committment to getting in better shape. Started last Monday on a run that has me eating better and working out more.. The goal is to lose 20  pounds.. Ive done this before but for one reason or another,the weight usually returns. It sucks.. Trying to eat healthy is the toughest part. Taco Bell is my biggest weakness.. But then again, i cant start eating rice cakes to drop the pounds.. There is only so much salad I can eat.. Im a horrible cook.I dont want to drop beer but iam trying to scale back on my biggest weakness,soda.. ill let you know how it works out but dropping LB's in your 40s is challenging. Its an on going battle.. But taking it day by day and fighting thru the urges is the toughest part.
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Five Certainties for the Brew Crew

Its Tuesday so I'll step aside for Tuesday's Brewer Blog with Andrew Dunn-Bauman

Five Certainties for the Brew Crew

 
The 2014 Brewers are a difficult team to gauge in terms of potential...with so many questions marks surrounding this team from fans and pundits alike, here are my 5 things “guaranteed” to happen for the Crew in 2014:
 
#1: Aramis Ramirez hits .250 or lower through the month of April
 
Ramirez has been a traditionally slow starter throughout his career. Last year he shocked the world hitting .385 headed into May...but that was after appearing in just four games in April due to a knee injury. I fully expect another slow start from Ramirez this season, which translates into added pressure on Ryan Braun. Braun needs protection in the lineup, and a lack of early production from Ramirez could turn ugly if Braun starts pressing and expanding his zone. Combine this with circus that will undoubtedly surround Braun all season long and...
 
#2: Ryan Braun doesn’t hit .300
 
Braun averages 36 home runs per 162 games with a .312 lifetime batting average, but this is the year his production dips. Despite the calm, cool, collected vibe he effortlessly and constantly emits, there’s just too much pressure on him this year. Baseball is a game best played in a clear frame of mind, and that’s going to be next to impossible for Braun this season. He obviously has a lot to prove; to the MLB, to his teammates, and most importantly to the fans of Milwaukee. It’ll be tough to keep that weight off his mind when digging into the box.
 
 I think he will still hit 30 homers this season, taking some healthy cuts to prove the banned substances he took weren’t boosting his power numbers, but the homers will come at the expense of his batting average. Between the pressure this season will bring and the necessity for some new (legal) medication for all of his nagging injuries, I can’t envision a season where Braun goes for .300/30 again.
 
#3: Ron Roenicke will underutilize the expansion of Instant Replay
 
For those of you concerned about games slowing down too much with the addition of manager challenges, making nearly all plays reviewable, fear not about the Brewers manager doing his part to slow down the proceedings. “I don’t need anything to make my job more difficult. And this is going to be more difficult,” Roenicke said of the replay expansion. “I don’t know if you need to replay something when you need five angles and super-slow-motion to see it. I don’t care about those plays. I care about the obvious ones that can change a game.”
 
That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the new replay system, and seeing as Roenicke is not one to hop out and argue with umpires too often, I don’t see him challenging plays as often as most managers will this season.
 
#4: Team ERA drops from 3.84 last season
 
For the Brewers to be successful this year, team pitching needs to be a strength. The Crew posted a 3.84 team ERA last season, middle of the pack in the MLB at 16th. However, the staff seemed to figure things out a bit after the All-Star break, posting a 3.42 ERA in the second half of the season. The team returns most of its bullpen this year, and bolstered its starting rotation with the addition of Matt Garza. Yovanni Gallardo and Kyle Lohse both figure to be solid mainstays in the rotation, and having Marco Estrada as the number five starter (who posted a 3.87 ERA last season) is a situation almost any team would be happy with.
 
Wily Peralta is the “X” factor on this club. He had a very rocky start to 2013, but managed to turn things around, posting a 3.15 from July 1st onward. He showed the capability to go deep into ballgames, something the bullpen will desperately need as the season wears on,  and has the potential to be a standout performer in his second season in the bigs. I see him shining this year in the middle of a very stable rotation, and therefore....
 
#5 The Brewers make the playoffs
 
Don’t get me wrong. The Crew has no shot at winning the NL Central. Barring something catastrophic, the Cardinals will take the division crown once again. And even if they falter, most people have the Brewers pegged as the third most likely candidate to challenge them in the division. There’s just too much competition. The NL Central could quite possibly be the best division in baseball this season, and with two Wildcard spots in each league, I see three NL Central teams making the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
 
The Brewers will have to duel it out with the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates for a wildcard spot, but with an improved pitching staff and an unsuspended Ryan Braun, I see them sneaking into the playoffs with 90 wins.
 
It’s sure to be a highly entertaining season in Milwaukee and in the NL Central, and I’m more than ready for the season to get underway. With another “polar vortex” settling in this week, I know you are too.

Follow Andrew Dunn-Bauman on Twitter @ADBinMKE
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Wickett's World - This Final Four stuff is TOUGH

This Final Four stuff is TOUGH…

OK…Here we are just a few weeks out from the NCAA Tournament and the one thing I can tell you is this: I have no idea who’s going to make it to the Final Four. The field is so evenly matched this year that I can make an argument for about 12 teams. Each week I’ll give you my Final Four picks, but they will likely change often…

Creighton – one of the deadliest offenses I’ve ever seen. A hot shooting team like that can go deep especially with Craig McBuckets leading the way

Florida – Big. Physical. Can beat you inside AND out. So much talent on that team. How does Billy Donovan not get talked about in the “Mt. Rushmore” discussions? 

Louisville – Maybe the best team CURRENTLY in college basketball. Just knocked off Cincinnati…oh, and they KNOW how to win- see: last year. 

North Carolina – is anybody hotter than this team? 10 wins in a row & they’re the only team in the AP era to beat the top 4 preseason teams in the same year (Lou, KY, msu, Duke)
 
I could be 0-4 here…but who knows. What’s your Final Four as we sit 3 weeks from the Big Dance? 

Cheers…
~mw
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Locations : CincinnatiFloridaLouisvilleNorth Carolina
People : Billy DonovanCraig McBuckets




 

Badgers a Two or Three Seed

The Badgers are back. What a week!! Capped off with a win at Iowa on Saturday,the Badgers are gearing themselves up for a high seed for the NCAA Tournament. They were never as good as a one seed but were not as bad as the stretch that had them losing five of six. No one in the country has beaten more top 25's than the Badgers.

One thing with Wisconsin is that they have a very short bench and no one in the Big Ten logs more minutes for its starters than the Badgers. Health is the utmost importance for a team so dependent on its starters. All the pieces are there,including potential "home games" in the NCAA Tourney in Milwaukee.

There is much to be excited about for a deep run, I have been down this road so many times with Bo Ryan's teams that iam going to maintain my stance and temper my enthusiam until they get at least to the Sweet 16.
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Gyros..Best Fast Food

What is the best fast food? Tacos? Burritos?Chicago Style Dogs? For my money, a Gyros rings the bell everytime.  Take a trip around the neighboorhood of any college campus in America and you will find a spot that has the best gyros in town. Middle of the day,dinner.bar time, even breakfast, a gyro is a excellent option.  The key to a good gyros place is the sauce. Dont be giving me a small dixie cup... Give me the bottle to spray. Women generally do not like gyros,most likely because of the after taste, which sticks for quite a few others even after a gulp of mouthwash and brushing of teeth.I think Sometime this weekend, I'll be sure to be hitting a gyros shop and I always go with the platter,with the greek salad and fries..
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I Guess....That's That....

I was fired up going into last night's Marquette game agianst Creighton. They had been playing well as of late and were looking for a benchmark win. By 9:15pm last night, reality set in. Creighton was pumping in three pointers and clearly showing why they are a NCAA Tourney team, and why Marquette is not there this year. Reality is,MU's talent level is  that of a NIT team. I was hoping they could overachieve but if there were any hopes they could get to the tourney,they fizzled out last night. Marquette just doesnt do anything special to make the dance. They can play a little defense and play as hard as anyone in the country but the reality is this will be Buzz' first time in the NIT.
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Marquette..Strong to the Finish

Marquette may not make the NCAA tournament even with a strong finish but I have to give Coach Buzz Williams all the credit in the world for the "second wind" that the team has. After a Saturday drubbing at St Johns a couple of weeks ago, they have reasserted themselves and are at least going down with a fury. Practices have stepped up in intensity,a few players have stepped things up, and they are seeing results.. If Buzz gets this team to the tourney,it will be his best coaching job. They have a huge game with Creighton tonight. A win would be a landmark win on their resume.
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Weeks needs to be a distant second option at 2B

Its Tuesday, and that's when I step aside for Andrew Dunn-Bauman's weekly Brewers blog..

 
Rickie Weeks is due $11 million in 2014, the final season of his contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Big money doesn’t automatically equate to success, as the Brewers know all too well. The Crew paid Jeff Suppan $42 million to compile a 29-36 record with a 5.09 ERA before they mercifully cut him part-way into the 2010 season.

There was the sentiment among many in Milwaukee that continually trotting Suppan out to pitch every 5th day was merely a feeble attempt by the Brewers to get their money’s worth from Suppan. At the time, the $42 million was the richest contract in team history, and the organization seemed attached to the belief that they could still extract some positive production from “Soup”.

Here’s hoping the Brewers can remove any and all emotional attachment from that $11 million they owe Rickie Weeks. I’m talking North Pole, Neverland distance from it. It seems to be a generally accepted truth in the Brewer organization that Scooter Gennett, after hitting .324 last season in 230 plate appearances, is the better second baseman, and the starting job is his to lose. But it needs to be set in stone. Ron Roenicke needs to come out this Spring Training and announce “Scooter Gennett is my second baseman, no doubt in my mind.”

If Gennett comes out of the blocks like Aramis Ramirez and hits .180 in April, there can’t be rumblings that it’s time to cut the cord and plug Weeks back into the lineup. Gennett has endless potential at the young age of 23. Weeks on the other hand, at 31, has been battling injuries and seen his numbers at the plate steadily decline over the past four seasons. He is an average defender, and doesn’t offer more than Gennett in any faucet of the game.

That being said, Weeks can still contribute for the Brewers coming off the bench. He still offers some speed, and a bat with a charge in it, and can potentially be used as a utility infielder. But he is not starting second baseman quality, as the Brewers have been hoping for the past nine seasons.

The best sign that Gennett is solidified as part of the everyday Brewer lineup so far is the announcement of his bobblehead day in June. I’ll take it for now, knowing that Roenicke doesn’t like to ruffle any feathers in the offseason or early in Spring. But come the end of March, Rickie Weeks better be a distant second in the race for a starting spot at second base.
 
Follow Andrew Dunn-Bauman on Twitter @ADBinMKE
 
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Badgers Bouncing Back

A few weeks ago, it was easy to be down on the Badgers basketball team. After a 16-0 ,they were flying high,reaching third in the AP rankings. Then came a funk where they couldnt beat anyone-having lost 5 of 6. But now,a four game winning streak, including their biggest victory of the season,at Michigan yesterday. Yes this team could make a deep run but then again if the shots arent dropping, it could be a early bust out. The Badgers are at least a four seed which i would be plenty happy with. They are playing better defense. Im going to continue to hold my reservations about their March success but there is plenty to like about this season so far. Its been one of my favorite Badger teams.
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