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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rickie Weeks

Roberto Ruiz-Maki

An injury prone Rickie Weeks was just signed to a four year, 38.5 million dollar deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Yippee. I understand the want to keep the core group of players together, but what happened to a hometown discount? Would any other major league team pay roughly ten million a year for an injury and error prone second baseman who hits less than .270 as a lead-off hitter? While Weeks had a fine season last year, this contract seems to come with a lot of risk.
The Brewers have a competent prospect behind Weeks in Eric Ferris; Ferris has been lighting up the minor leagues and Arizona Fall League. Though Ferris has little pop in his bat, he is a doubles machine (a really, really poor man's Ichiro Suzuki). Ferris is projected to be major league ready as early as this season, and by signing Weeks for so long, the Brewers are handcuffing the ability of Ferris.
There is one sneaky positive in this signing: Weeks has suddenly become a nice trade asset. For any team that needs a second baseman after this year, Weeks will probably be the first place that they look. The entire world and their sister knows that the Brewers' farm system is lacking, so trading Weeks for some quality minor league players would be a huge positive.
After Fielder leaves, there will be a major hole in the middle of the order, a hole that many fans expect Weeks to fill. If this move does occur, Weeks's value will diminish even further because a lead-off hitter is far more valuable than a mediocre third hitter. Weeks has shown a good amount of pop in his bat, but he strikes out far too often to be a above average middle of the order guy.
This deal shows what kind of money the Brewers have to give up to keep a decent talent in the organization. Too many good hitters and pitchers have left Milwaukee for similar money from bigger cities, and the Brewers are forced to overpay for any talent that is even willing to listen.
Celebrate for now, Cerveceros fans, but this deal will not look so sweet in two years.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Marquette Golden Eagles Men's & Women's Basketball News Briefs

Ryan Ellerbusch


NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Marquette (15-10, 6-6 BIG EAST) just wrapped up their longest road-trip of the season going 1-2 with their sole win coming over unranked USF in a 59-58 nail-biter. The Golden Eagles losses were to 12th ranked Villanova and 11th ranked Georgetown. Marquette is currently set to play only one more ranked team in Big East play this season against Connecticut on February 24th, but will have key games this week against St. Johns and Seton Hall and will need to grind out victories if the Golden Eagles expect to prove to the NCAA tournament selection committee that they are worthy of a seed. Looking around the nation, the majority of bracketologists are predicting Marquette as a 9 or 10-seed.

Marquette in the NBA: Wesley Matthews (2005-2009) has been selected to play in the NBA Rookie-Sophomore game on NBA All-Star Weekend. Matthews is one of nine players to be chosen and is averaging 16.1 points per game as a second year player on the Portland Trail Blazers. Steve Novak (2002-2006) who started the year on the Dallas Mavericks prior to being released, was picked up by the San Antonio Spurs on a 10-day contract this week and hopes to make in impact with the Spurs coming off a short stint in the NBA’s Developmental League. Rookie Lazar Hayward (2007-2010) of the Minnesota Timberwolves scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 116-105 loss to the Indiana Pacers this past weekend.

Golden Eagles Media Spotlight: The Marquette Basketball Hour with Buzz Williams and members of the team take place every Monday night from 6-7 p.m. at Centercourt (1118 North 4th Street) right across from The Bradley Center. The 60-minute program that can also be heard on 540 ESPN Radio is hosted by Steve “The Homer” True and features comments from Marquette's head coach and gives students and fans the opportunity to win prizes, while partaking in the fun and food/drink specials too. Inside Marquette Basketball is a 30-minute television program on TWC Sports 32 with Buzz Williams and 2010 Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year, Dennis Krause. The all-access program debuts every Tuesday during the season at 5 p.m. and replays at 10:30 p.m. as well as at various days and times throughout the week. Lastly, you can follow The Warrior’s basketball Twitter account (@MUWarriorBBall) for courtside tweets live from The Bradley Center on gamedays and throughout the season.


Marquette Impressing Big East: Marquette (19-5, 7-4 BIG EAST) is currently the 21st ranked team in the nation and have been an exciting group of ladies to watch this season. Recently on February 5th, senior guard Tatiyiana McMorris drained a game winning 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left on the clock to lead her team to a 55-52 win over St. John’s. McMorris’ clutch basket also helped her earn the recognition by being named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the second consecutive week. Marquette’s success and team chemistry has been credited to head coach Terri Mitchell who has used the same starting line-up (Angel Robinson, Tatiyiana McMorris, Saraina Simmons, Paige Fiedorowicz, and Katherine Plouffe) for all 24 games. Senior guard Angel Robinson also was one of seven student-athletes added to the 2010-11 State Farm Wade Watch list by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, which honors one NCAA Division I women’s basketball player who not only excels athletically, but also serves as a positive role model both on and off the court.

Upcoming PINK OUT game: The Marquette women's basketball team will host its sixth annual PINK OUT game in support of breast cancer awareness with a 2 p.m. start time on Saturday, February 19, as the Golden Eagles will take on Rutgers at the Al McGuire Center. The Golden Eagles will be sporting pink uniforms and many more promotion highlights have been announced for this game in order to help raise breast cancer awareness. Over 1,000 schools nationwide will host a similar game with a pink breast cancer theme throughout the week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Marquette Golden Eagles Mid-Season Report Card : PART 4

Ryan Ellerbusch

CENTERS : Grade C+
(Chris Otule and Davante Gardner)

Playing in the Big East, Marquette has struggled at times to matchup with the size of their opponents down in the post. Chris Otule (6’11” 260 lbs) and Davante Gardner (6’8” 290 lbs) are two very young and different centers that have a unique repertoire of skills. Otule has started every game but two at center and leads the Golden Eagles in blocks with 29 and a shooting percentage of 70%, making 42 of 70 shots from the field. Gardner on the other hand, hasn’t seen as many minutes as Otule lately, but had shown potential earlier in the season that he is just as an offensive threat as Otule is, scoring in double-digits in each of his first three collegiate games. Defense is a key aspect of Gardner’s game that needs improvement before he will overtake Otule. Nevertheless, each player will be crucial and will see extended playing time against the taller Big East opponents as the season progresses. Otule and Gardner are average post players for Marquette, but they earn the plus because they are still young, can develop/enhance their game, and are currently doing a serviceable job complementing Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler in the post too.

Thanks for reading and be sure to pick up The Warrior newspaper on campus. Follow to find out when issues will be released and for in-game courtside tweets from Marquette Basketball home games at The Bradley Center.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Looking ahead to the 2011 Packers season

Roberto Ruiz-Maki

Next season, the Green Bay Packers will be looking to continue the tradition of repeating as NFC champions the year after they win the Super Bowl. With perhaps the best tight end in football in Jermichael Finley, underrated running back Ryan Grant, sparkplug safety Morgan Burnett, and a slew of players on both sides of the ball returning next season, the Packers will look to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Fans who watched the Super Bowl know that everybody knew what the Packers were going to do. The Steelers, commentators, and fans all knew that the game plan was to pass first, second, and third. The game was placed squarely on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers, and he delivered. With no running game and only three healthy receivers (not counting Brett Swain), Rodgers picked apart the number one defense in the NFL. What will this offense be able to accomplish with Finley (an athletic specimen with no equal in the NFL) and Grant returning from injury? The sky is the limit for this Packers team and Packers fans fully expect another productive season.
Rodgers is now firmly cemented as one of the NFL’s elite, doing everything that was expected of him and even more. He joins Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees as the quarterbacks that can win you a game on any given Sunday.
While Brady was voted the MVP (unanimously), Rodgers will be looking to win next year. The team will be in prime position, with (what is expected to be) several primetime games with an explosive offense. Perfect regular seasons have only been accomplished twice in the history of the NFL; but looking ahead at the firepower that this team possesses on both sides of the ball, next season’s Packers team could very well give it a run for its money. It is unrealistic to expect a team to be perfect, but it is not crazy to say that a team has the necessary components to make a run. With four games against the AFC west (Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders) division next year, they will be facing a team that did not have a winning record the season before six times (at minimum).
Enjoy the offseason Packers fans, just know that next season looks even brighter.

Marquette Golden Eagles Mid-Season Report Card : PART 3

Ryan Ellerbusch

(Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, Joe Fulce, Erik Williams, and Jamail Jones)

What more can be said about the senior leader on this year’s team, Jimmy Butler. Butler has been Mr. Consistent for the Golden Eagles this year and is averaging 15.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Butler is a prime example of head coach Buzz Williams’ motto “Character Revealed” and has put the team on his back, performing well for the most part in pressure situations. Butler leads the team with his 80% free-throw shooting and it will be only a matter of time before he hits a clutch game-winning shot like he did twice last season. Jimmy Butler is a prime example of what every Marquette men’s basketball player should look up to and is one of the main reasons why the Golden Eagles are an NCAA tournament bound team. Alongside Butler, last year’s junior college player of the year Jae Crowder, in my opinion, has been the biggest surprise and versatile player on the current roster. Crowder is 6’6” and leads Marquette in rebounds with 6.9 per game and has tallied a team-high 31 steals. Possessing a deadly three-point shot from the top of the key and a great inside game, the sky is the limit for Crowder who played the game of his life on New Year’s Day against West Virginia totaling 39 minutes with a career-high 29 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals in the victory. Butler and Crowder together are two of the three most vital players alongside Johnson-Odom that Marquette needs playing well if they expect to win games on a nightly basis. Senior Joe Fulce, battled by a knee injury that forced him to miss three games during the season, has recovered nicely and continues to provide stability at the forward position contributing anyway he can when given the opportunity to play. Sophomore Erik Williams hasn’t seen much action in Big East play, but his baseline jumper and rebounding will be crucial to the Golden Eagles success in the near future in addition to freshman Jamail Jones, a three-point specialist anxiously awaiting the chance to show Buzz Williams what he’s capable of.

Part 4 of 4 COMING SOON: Mid-Season Report Card - Marquette Centers

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl recap

Roberto Ruiz-Maki

So this is what it feels like.
The Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in an injury filled, scintillating football game. The Packers outplayed the Steelers for three of the four quarters, and that turned out to be just enough. Making star defensive players Troy Polamulu and James Harrison nearly invisible for the entire game, Green Bay sliced through the Steelers' vaunted defense for three offensive touchdowns; all three touchdowns were thrown by Aaron Rodgers.
The game started out well for the Packers, with Rodgers throwing a beautiful touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson, and Nick Collins returning an interception for a touchdown and a quick 14-0 lead. As they have so often this season, though, the Steelers roared back to within four points in the third, even getting as close as three in the fourth. In a game that the more experienced Steelers never led, they did show resolve by keeping it close even while committing three turnovers that resulted in 21 points for the Packers.
There are so many options for the play of the game: you have Jordy Nelson's touchdown, either of Greg Jennings' touchdowns, Collins' pick-six, and Clay Matthews' forced fumble at a key point in the game. The reason I am choosing Matthews' forced fumble is not only because it came at a time when Pittsburgh was driving to take the lead late in the game, but because of what transpired before that. Kevin Greene, linebackers coach for the Packers, was seen talking to Matthews before that Pittsburgh drive. Greene was telling him that now was the time to make a play, and Matthews nodded with approval and agreed. After that little pep talk from Greene, Matthews went out and swung the momentum back into Green Bay's favor after Packers fans' stomachs were beginning to turn.
The player of the game was Rodgers, mostly because he threw for over 300 yards and had three touchdowns. He is also the MVP of the game, in my opinion, because he could be seen changing plays and adjusting at the line of scrimmage; often calling plays that resulted in big gains (such as Jennings' key third down catch on their final drive). Though Rodgers did not have a perfect game like many (foolishly) expected, he did show that Packers fans should hold out hope for the seasons to come; we have an elite quarterback who can win the big games.
One tidbit that I found interesting was that the Packers had to overcome so many key injuries during the season, and this game was a mirror of that. Charles Woodson, Donald Driver, and Sam Shields all left the game in second quarter, with only Shields returning to the field in the second half. Funny how things tend to repeat themselves.
I must say, watching your favorite team win a Super Bowl is quite an experience. Though Packers fans should not get used to this experience, it is not unfair to dream.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl - Go Pack Go!

Roberto Ruiz-Maki

On February 6th the Green Bay Packers will be facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl. Green Bay is favored to win, but a lot of fans are swayed by the number of rings the Steelers have won in the last five years. Past occurrences have no effect on the events of the future. Green Bay has the better offense, the better defense, and the better special teams; don't be swayed by rings.
Pittsburgh's offense is led by one big (in every sense of the word) name, Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger (Big Ben) has had a good season, after his tumultuous offseason when a college student accused him of rape. Big Ben's nickname fits perfectly, since he is a quarterback in a linebacker's body. Too often, blitzers will bounce off of him and watch him throw to a wide open receiver instead of bringing him down. Rashard Mendenhall is a running back with the ability to bust the game open with long runs. Mendenhall has never had the breakout season that many analysts have predicted over the past few seasons, but he still has the skills to take over any game, as he showed in the championship round against the New York Jets. Mike Wallace is one of the better receivers in the league, mostly because he has a knack for making the big play. Wallace averages 21 yards per catch, second in the league behind Desean Jackson. The big weakness of the Steelers offense is the offensive line. The line has been decimated by injuries, leaving only six healthy linemen for the playoff games. With star center Maurkice Pouncey unlikely to play (broken ankle), they may go in with only five healthy offensive linemen.
The “Steel Curtain”, the nickname given to the Steelers' defense in the 1970's, is looking a bit rusty these days. While Pittsburgh still boasts star power with safety Troy Polamalu (the guy with the hair), and linebacker James Harrison, their secondary has several holes that Aaron Rodgers can exploit. Though Pittsburgh has not given up many points lately, Packers fans should rest well knowing that their offense will not be held to 21 or less again this season.
I am relieved that I can finally discuss the Packers, since I was getting tired of writing about a team as boring as the Steelers. The Packers are the best team in the league. Many analysts picked them to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year, but after the team suffered several season ending injuries to key players, their stock plummeted. Thanks to a great coaching staff, though, the backup players have stepped up and played incredibly in place of the stars. Players like Howard Green, Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson, Erik Walden, Charlie Peprah, and James Starks have stepped up in ways that nobody could have foreseen. This cast of no-names has been getting it done all season, and facing the beat up Pittsburgh offensive line should be a walk in the park for B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams, and company.
Aaron Rodgers leads a high-powered offense that has the ability to go on 12+ play drives, as well as score in an instant. The offensive line has been a surprise this year, protecting Rodgers better then ever. Since the loss of Ryan Grant in the first week of the season, Green Bay has been searching for a running game. Well, they were searching, until James Starks burst onto the scene in the playoffs with a 23 carry, 123 yard performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. James Starks provides stability for the offense now that teams are no longer able to drop everyone into coverage against Rodgers. Greg Jennings highlights the group of receivers that are superb at getting yards after the catch. James Jones is the other deep threat, often playing on the outside. Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson play in the slot, and are possession receivers who are capable of making your average five yard gain into a fifteen yard gain.
The Packers defense, ranked second in the league behind Pittsburgh's in points allowed, has been stingy all year. The Packers were first in the league with 24 interceptions, first in sacks with 47, second in passes defensed with 110, and eighth with 15 forced fumbles. Coaches Dom Capers (defensive coordinator), Kevin Greene (outside linebackers coach), and Joe Whitt Jr. (cornerbacks coach), have all been instrumental in the development of the younger players. Along with the big names of Charles Woodson, Raji, and Matthews, rookie Sam Shields, Desmond Bishop, and Peprah have also made big plays all season.
Green Bay's special teams has been more reliable of late than the Steelers' special teams. Tim Masthay has been crucial to the playoff success for the Packers thus far; punting it not only for distance, but to keep the ball away from returners Jackson and Devin Hester was instrumental in both games. Jeremy Kapinos is Masthay's counterpart, and some fans may remember Kapinos as the Packers punter from the end of 2008 through 2009. Kapinos has been decent as an emergency replacement for Dan Sepulveda. Crosby has been suspect all season, but he has been better than Shaun Suisham, especially if you take kickoffs into consideration.
To be completely honest, this game could go either way. Green Bay has the better team, but Pittsburgh has better coaching. The one major factor that not many people are talking about is that though Pittsburgh has experienced less major injuries, the majority of their injuries have occurred recently. That makes a big difference because the players who had to fill in for Green Bay have already had close to a full season of experience under their belt, while Pittsburgh's players have had a short amount of time to learn the style of the NFL.
The previous time these two teams met was last season, and Pittsburgh won in a shootout after a last second long touchdown pass. Though Green Bay outplayed Pittsburgh that day, the Steelers still won thanks to their superior coaching. That game will look nothing like this upcoming one, though, since both teams have changed dramatically since that meeting. Green Bay's defense got carved up at the end of that season because while they were good statistically, they had many holes since the team was still learning Dom Capers' defensive scheme.
Green Bay has the better team at this time. If Pittsburgh's team was fully healthy then perhaps things would be different, but they aren't. Dom Capers' scheme will take advantage of the inexperienced linemen, and green and gold confetti will be streaming onto the field in celebration of the most decorated franchise in the NFL hanging another championship banner. Green Bay is going to win the Super Bowl, with Pittsburgh a mere bump at the end of a long, arduous road. It excites me to think that a whole new generation of Packer fans will be watching their team vie for the title of “best in the NFL.” Either way, this season was a huge success for the Packers, and we should all be grateful that such an exciting, loveable team was in our state, and we could call them our own.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Marquette Golden Eagles Mid-Season Report Card : PART 2

This is Part 2 in our 4 part series as Ryan Ellerbusch takes a look back at the Marquette Golden Eagles players thus far and gives each postition a grade:

GUARDS : Grade B+
(Dwight Buycks, Junior Cadougan, Darius Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue, and Rob Frozena)

The importance of having a good backcourt has been a staple throughout the history of the Marquette basketball program and this year’s group of players are contributing by doing the things they know how to do best. Heading into the season, Dwight Buycks did not expect to be the starting point guard for the Golden Eagles, but has stepped into the role nicely and has kept up his scoring too, averaging 10.4 points per game in addition to leading the team in assists with 90. However, Buycks also leads the team in turnovers and that is where sophomore point guard Junior Cadougan has stepped up and excelled in that category this year. Cadougan is slated to be the point guard of the future for the Golden Eagles and has received a great deal of experience and playing time since the departure of freshman Reggie Smith who transferred during the early stages of the season. Cadougan’s progress over the next two years of his college career will definitely be exciting to watch him grow and lead Marquette. Starting the season off very slow shooting the ball, sophomore Darius Johnson-Odom has come on as of late and leads the Golden Eagles in scoring with 16.5 points per game. Johnson-Odom’s athleticism on his slam dunks and drives to the lane has been a big asset to not only the team, but to the Marquette Spirit Shop’s jersey sales too. Johnson-Odom is definitely showing scouts that he could potentially be an NBA caliber player one day and is a talented lefty who has a knack at finishing in the paint through traffic, which complements his great shooting stroke from the outside. Highly touted freshman Vander Blue has quietly made an impact this year not on the offensive end, but rather defensively. Blue has guarded some of the best talent in the Big East and isn’t getting quite the recognition he deserves because his performance game in and game out playing defense doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet. Blue is continually improving on his defense and shot, which down the road, could make him an elite player and all-around threat which is his goal. Lastly, fan-favorite Rob Frozena has tallied 20 minutes and 5 points in his senior campaign and continues to be the energetic cheerleader on the bench that we all have come to love and appreciate over the years

Part 3 of 4 COMING SOON: Mid-Season Report Card - Marquette Forwards

The Milwaukee Bucks

Roberto Ruiz-Maki

Once again, there will be no players representing the Milwaukee Bucks during the NBA all star game. I cannot say that I am surprised, the Bucks are an underachieving team with no stars (unless you count Brandon Jennings, who has been injured for the majority of the season).
Andrew Bogut, the Bucks' only player with a decent shot at being chosen, was left out, again. Bogut has been one of the most consistent centers in the eastern conference, leading the league in blocks per game while averaging a double-double (double digit numbers in two statistical categories). Bogut might as well be invisible though. He does not average enough points (just under 14) to impress anyone, not even remotely; nor does he make flashy plays that would net him spots on ESPN's Sportscenter. While fans in Milwaukee know Bogut as the driving force behind this Bucks team, other fans barely notice him.
Other than Bogut, there were really no other players with realistic shots at being all stars. Jennings might be in the conversation next year (mainly because of his flashy, “me first” game), but as long as he is averaging less than 40% on field goals, he will not be strongly considered for any all star team.
On another note, the Bucks team has had a very sorry season up to this date. Did anyone honestly think differently though? We fans may have convinced ourselves that after our showing against Atlanta in the playoffs we had a decent shot at being good this year. We knew all along, though, that this team did not have what it takes to win 50 games. Maggette has never been anything more than a cancer, Salmons had a good run, but he will always be a role-player, Chris Douglas-Roberts still thinks he is playing at Memphis, and the Brockness monster really is just Jon Brockman.
The Milwaukee Bucks will not be contending team for a long time. Dewayne Wade and Lebron James will be ruling the east for years to come, and the Bucks will be overpaying free agents and playing in the worst arena in the NBA just like they always have been. Do yourselves a favor Bucks fans, don't get your hopes up, the second half of the season will not bring us any more joy than the first half.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Marquette Golden Eagles Mid-Season Report Card : PART 1

This is Part 1 in our 4 part series as Ryan Ellerbusch takes a look back at the Marquette Golden Eagles season thus far:

The Marquette University men’s basketball team (14-8, 5-4 Big East) has had an up-and-down season much like the rest of the Big East Conference throughout the 2010-11 season. Currently, eight teams in the Big East are ranked in the latest AP Top 25 poll, with Marquette narrowly missing the cut. The Big East is highly regarded as the best conference in college basketball and the Golden Eagles have had their share of close wins and losses in conference play thus far. Come NCAA tournament time in March, the Golden Eagles will have to prove to the NCAA tournament selection committee that their quality wins have outnumbered their close losses to a number of ranked opponents. Marquette’s victories over Notre Dame and Syracuse, both ranked 9th nationally at the time, have provided fans a reason to get excited about the possibility of making an NCAA tournament run. With approximately half of the Big East conference schedule left to play, the Golden Eagles will definitely have numerous opportunities to upset their opponents as they will played ranked foes Villanova, Georgetown, and Connecticut on the road and return home to The Bradley Center to face Cincinnati on Senior Night. Staying competitive and possibly pulling out a win or two out of those four games will put Marquette in great shape as long as they can continue to keep playing at a high level against the lower tier teams in the Big East, which will positively reflect on their resume. Overall, wins don’t come easy in the Big East and the Marquette Golden Eagles tournament chances are definitely within reach as seniors Jimmy Butler, Dwight Buycks, Joe Fulce, and Rob Frozena want nothing more than to end their careers at Marquette University on a high note.

Part 2 of 4 COMING SOON: Mid-Season Report Card - Marquette Guards