Defense lacking in Badgers’ win

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoMINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A week’s worth of preparation and reflection didn’t help the Wisconsin Badgers’ defense Saturday with the win against the Golden Gophers. Just seven days removed from a contest that saw the UW defense give up a record number of total yards, the defense almost set another record: most rushing yards allowed in school history.For the second consecutive week, and third time this year, the Wisconsin defense allowed their opponent to post more than 30 points in a game. But unlike UW’s previous two opponents that posted upwards of 30, Northwestern and Bowling Green, Minnesota is not a team anyone would classify as a high-octane offense.In fact, Minnesota’s crawl ball is the antithesis of the offenses run by the Wildcats and Falcons. But that didn’t stop the Gophers from putting up huge numbers, and for the second consecutive week, it was an opposing team’s tailback that created most of the damage.Minnesota’s star tailback, Laurence Maroney looked nearly unstoppable in the game, running, juking and plowing his way to an impressive 258 yards on the ground. The Gophers’ running game was so dominant that Maroney passed the century mark before halftime, and his backup, Gary Russell, finished the game with 139 yards on 19 carries.”Maroney’s one of the best backs in the country,” defensive tackle Mike Newkirk said. “We knew that coming in and we had to prepare for him. But we were going after him whether he was the best or the worst, it doesn’t really matter. We knew we had to try and contain him.”All told, the Badgers gave up 411 yards on the ground on the day, just 41 yards shy of the most yards allowed by a Wisconsin defense. UW’s run-stuffing ability was a far cry from the defense that was allowing less than a 100 yards per game on the ground prior to their loss to Northwestern.”As a defensive line we preach that everything is on us,” Newkirk said. “There might be issues in the secondary, there might be issues at linebacker but that doesn’t matter to us. As far as the yardage that the other guy is getting we take that all on ourselves.”So what has changed in the last two weeks that have transformed this team from a veritable wall against the run, to the porous product fans saw Saturday? To a man, the Badger defense will tell you the biggest culprit is one thing — tackling.”Our tackling wasn’t good today, that’s definitely our biggest problem right now,” free safety Roderick Rogers admitted.The Badgers missed tackles throughout the day, allowing the Gophers to get second chances on their running plays and rack up the yards after catch in the passing game. Perhaps one of the most telling statistics is the number of yards Gopher rushers lost Saturday.Despite running the ball 63 times in the contest, Wisconsin’s defense was unable to stop the Gophers at the point of attack and Minnesota’s backs only lost a grand total of four yards on the game.Injuries were also a factor for the Badgers, who spent much of the second half with a makeshift defensive line. A unit that could ill-afford to lose more bodies got even thinner throughout the game as defensive end Joe Monty and defensive tackle Jason Chapman both left the game due to injuries forcing defensive coordinator Bret Bielema to rely heavily on Matt Schaunessy, Kurt Ware, who was also nicked up during the game, and Nick Hayden while rotating in various players throughout the game.”We were thin coming in and we lost a couple more, so there were some guys out there that I didn’t know were out there,” Bielema said.The wear and tear of the season, which doesn’t give UW a bye week until the end of the conference season, was also evident in the secondary. While UW did open the game with their usual starters, Allen Langford and Brett Bell, on the field, the two cornerback spots saw unusually high number substitutions against Minnesota.”There are a lot of plays out there and I took special attention to that after last week,” Bielema said. “We had 89 snaps for some of our guys and then there’s special teams players in there as well, we just got to make sure we’re not putting too much on our guys physically.”Redshirt freshman Jack Ikegwuonu saw the most action of his career Saturday, while Levonne Rowan also saw a noticeable increase in his playing time. That playing time came mostly at the cost of Bell, who saw his time diminish increasingly as the game went on.”You’ve got to help as much as you can,” Bell said. “I’m not on the field, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to win the game.”With the injuries mounting and the length of the season taking its toll, UW must spend the week again trying to figure out an approach to stop opponents running attacks.”We’ve just got to go in, watch film and see why we’re giving up so many rushing yards. I really don’t know why it’s happening,” linebacker Mark Zalewski said.last_img read more

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LeBron James rises to occasion to lead his team to NBA All-Star Game victory

first_img NBA All-Star LeBron James tells commentator ‘I will not shut up and dribble’ James scored 29 points on 12-for-17 shooting and added 10 rebounds and eight assists and was named the MVP for the third time in his career. Kevin Durant scored 19 points and Paul George added 16 for Team LeBron, which trailed 133-120 after Damian Lillard of Team Steph buried a jump shot with 6:57 left.At 33, James was the oldest player in the game.“I respect the younger guys,” he said when asked about representing an older generation of players. “They’ve got to keep this thing going, for sure. What I take pride in is taking care of my body. I make sure I’m available every night and continue to get better and better.“I don’t really take it, as, ‘This is a young guy, OK, I need to show him I can do this.’ I need to continue to show myself. Every night I step on the floor, I have to lead my guys and prove to myself I can still play at a high level. I feel great.”Lillard and DeMar DeRozan each scored 21 points for Team Steph, which led by as many as 15 points in the first half. Joel Embiid added 19 points and eight rebounds. Curry scored 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists.The NBA went away from its traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western format for this All-Star Game, with team captains James and Curry picking sides. It was a new wrinkle, one that produced an entertaining, competitive game with a late defensive stand determining the final outcome.“The mix of the players was cool, it was different,” Durant said. “To play with Kemba, LeBron, Bradley and guys from the Eastern Conference, you mix it up and get to know them on a different level, so when you play with them your respect level just rises up.”The All-Stars’ shooting percentages and final scores were way down from recent seasons, reflecting the effort on the floor. The relaxed All-Star vibe was still at Staples, however: Curry chowed down on a box of popcorn on the bench during the third quarter, and the stars made time and room for plenty of good-looking dunks and alley-oops.The intriguing ending overshadowed a clunky start.Kevin Hart acted as the pregame emcee, rattling off a string of unfunny one-liners as he introduced the members of Team LeBron and Team Steph. Fans expecting to see basketball a few minutes past 5 p.m. gave Hart the sort of tepid responses you’d expect from your local Chuckle Hut.Barenaked Ladies performed “O Canada.” Fergie then sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” in such a slow, breathless tempo that Draymond Green was caught on camera with his mouth wide open, clearly trying to figure out whether she was channeling Marilyn Monroe.Either way, it was a swing-and-a-miss start to a game devoid of local heroes for the Staples Center fans to cheer. After all, this was the first time since the 1996 game in San Antonio’s Alamodome that there were no Lakers or Clippers in the contest.Related Articles Lou Williams and Tobias Harris of the Clippers competed in All-Star Saturday Night events and Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers participated in the Rising Stars Game on Friday. The main event was all about Warriors, Cavaliers, Thunder, Rockets, Celtics and so many others.That wasn’t to say Southern California wasn’t represented, because it was.Six players with local connections were here: DeRozan (Compton), George (Palmdale), Westbrook (Lawndale), James Harden (Artesia), Kevin Love (UCLA) and Klay Thompson (Rancho Santa Margarita). Love couldn’t play because of an injury, but sat on the Team LeBron bench.What’s more, the teams were playing for the L.A.-area charity of their choice, with the winning team donating $350,000 and the losers giving $150,000. Team LeBron played for After-School All-Stars Los Angeles. Team Steph played for Brotherhood Crusade.Each member of the winning team made a cool $100,000, a distinct raise from previous seasons in another attempt to make things more interesting.“It was a great weekend and we capped it off the right way,” James said.TIP-INSTEAM STEPHEN: Jimmy Butler didn’t play after being selected for the fourth time. … First-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns was outstanding. The Minnesota forward with 17 points and 10 reobunds.TEAM LEBRON: Three first-time All-Stars suited up. Washington’s Bradley Beal scored 14 points, Miami’s Goran Dragic had two and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo got seven.THE ABSENTLeBron lost four of his original selections to injuries, including Cleveland teammate Kevin Love, Kristaps Porzingis and John Wall. Anthony Davis represented his fellow New Orleans All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins, by wearing Cousins’ No. 0 jersey to start the game.HOLLYWOOD HOME GAMEThe All-Star weekend was held in Hollywood for a record sixth time. A partial list of celebrities attending the game: Jack Nicholson, Beyonce, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Chadwick Boseman, Chance the Rapper, Jimmy Kimmel, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Rock, Ludacris, Common, Spike Lee, Andy Garcia, Dave Chappelle, DJ Khaled, Tracy Morgan, Sean Combs, Odell Beckham Jr. and pregame host Kevin Hart, who lobbed roast-style jokes at the All-Stars with mostly blah results. After a much-criticized pregame national anthem from Fergie, N.E.R.D and Migos performed an energizing halftime show.MANY MISSESThe All-Stars’ 3-point accuracy was hardly world-class, with Harden going 2 for 13 and Westbrook going 1 for 6. Team Steph was a combined 17 for 65 beyond the arc, including 3-for-11 for Curry.UP NEXTThe 68th NBA All-Star Game will be in Charlotte on Feb. 17, 2019. North Carolina was scheduled to host the 2017 All-Star Game, but lost it in July 2016 because of the state legislature’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which is considered by many to be discriminatory. Hornets owner Michael Jordan got a standing ovation when he appeared at center court alongside Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer to reveal the logo for next year’s game.The Associated Press contributed to this story. “We got stops when we needed to,” Westbrook said. Adam Silver encouraged by NBA players meeting with referees in effort to ease tension Paul George just the latest homegrown star to feel Lakers’ love in free agency AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers LOS ANGELES — In the end, it was every bit of what it has become over the years. Nothing more, nothing less.The NBA’s 67th annual midseason celebration was part-basketball game, part-showbiz extravaganza, part-house party, and, by night’s end, everybody seemed to have had a good time at the All-Star Game on Sunday at Staples Center.Under the watchful gaze of legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Jerry West, who were seated together at courtside, Team LeBron James rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 148-145 victory from Team Stephen Curry.James scored the go-ahead basket on a left-handed finger-roll layup with 34.5 seconds remaining and then assisted on Russell Westbrook’s layup with 10.7 seconds to play after a turnover. Team LeBron denied Curry a tying 3-point attempt in the final, frantic seconds to hold on to win. VIDEO: NBA All-Stars talk about their music preference during media day in Los Angeles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend courtside: Celebrity All-Star Game and Rising Stars Challenge updates last_img read more

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