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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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Badgers basketball: Dekker reportedly injured at practice

Oct 24, 2014 -- 3:40pm
Photo/Getty Images
MADISON - Many have said the only thing that can derail the University of Wisconsin this year is injuries. On Friday, the Badgers reportedly suffered their first of the year and it came to one of their most important players.
Multiple reports following UW’s practice said that junior forward Sam Dekker injured his left ankle during the session and didn’t return. According to Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal, a spokesperson for the team called it a lower leg injury and that Dekker would be listed as day-to-day.
Later, ESPN's Jeff Goodman tweeted that Dekker's injury was a sprained ankle.
Dekker was UW’s third-leading scorer last season at 12.4 points per game and second in rebounds at 6.1, while being named a second-team All-Big Ten pick.
The 6-foot-9 Dekker was also one of two Badgers, along with Frank Kaminsky, to appear on the preseason All-Big Ten team when it was revealed at last week’s media day in Chicago, the same day UW was chosen unanimously by the writers to win the Big Ten.
Wisconsin plays their Red/White Scrimmage on Sunday at the Kohl Center starting at 1 p.m. The fourth-ranked Badgers open the season on Nov. 14 with a visit from Northern Kentucky.

Badgers football: Herring and Watt will play

Oct 23, 2014 -- 6:49pm
Photo via
Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt will return after missing the last five games.
MADISON - The injury news for the University of Wisconsin was very good on Thursday.
UW coach Gary Andersen told reporters that not only will they get nose guard Warren Herring back, but they will also have fullback Derek Watt when they take on Maryland (5-2, 2-1) this Saturday.
Neither has played since the season opener against LSU. Despite that, Andersen said fans should expect to see plenty of both on the field for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1).
“For both of those kids,” the second-year coach said, “there is no limitations on the amount of snaps that they can take.
“They’re not in perfect football shape, but they should be good enough to get a pretty good amount of reps, I’d say.”
Herring’s return is not a surprise. The senior suffered a knee injury against the Tigers on the final play of the third quarter. He had surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament in his right knee the following week. The initial recovery time was four to six weeks but it ended up being a little less than eight.
The return of Watt is a little more surprising. He suffered a broken foot in the opener and underwent surgery the following week. UW officials originally said he wouldn’t be back until some point in November but somewhere along the line, that changed.
“This is the timeframe I expected for about the last couple weeks at least, I would say,” Andersen said. “As I said at the beginning of the week, I was very optimistic that he would play and he will.”
Watt was replaced by redshirt freshman Austin Ramesh, who struggled in his first start against Western Illinois, but has since been a big part of UW’s rushing success that has them ranked No. 2 in the nation at 343 yards per game. Still, Watt is one of the best fullbacks in the country and should be a boost for the offense.
“Experience,” Andersen said of what Watt brings to the table. “He’s been in this moment. He’s proven to be a very good fullback. He’s a weapon. The blocking is a weapon and obviously catching the ball, and he’s shown that.”
Andersen said the return of Watt is good not only for the football team but for the player himself. It’s unclear if he’ll only play fullback against Maryland or whether he’ll have some H-Back reps as well.
Wisconsin will also have inside linebacker Marcus Trotter back after he missed the Illinois game and much of the Northwestern game with a groin injury. And safety Lubern Figaro should also return from an ankle injury that kept him out of the Illinois game.
McEvoy a quarterback only
Quarterback Joel Stave will likely get the start on Saturday for Wisconsin but Tanner McEvoy will play. And he’ll play more than he did against Illinois.
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said the junior will see more than the one series he played in the last game, though he didn’t have a specific target in mind. On Thursday, Andersen also didn’t have a take on how much or when McEvoy might get in.
“I would think a lot of that has to do with the flow of the game but I would expect him to play definitely more than one series,” Andersen said.
Much of the talk outside the program has been the possibility of moving McEvoy to wide receiver, even if only for specific plays or packages. That won’t be happening against the Terrapins.
“Not this week,” Andersen said. “He’ll be a quarterback and a quarterback only.”

Badgers basketball: 'Make Bo Pay' raises more than $53,000

Oct 22, 2014 -- 11:04pm
Photo via @uwbadgers
MADISON - More than 2,200 University of Wisconsin students showed up to ‘Make Bo Pay’ on Wednesday at the Kohl Center, and he did so to the tune of $53,355.
It happened as part of the third annual Bo and Kelly Ryan’s Shooting Down Cancer event. When matching donations from a group of supporters was factored in, the event had raised $276,775 for the American Cancer Society, which brought the overall total to $384,184 in three years.
“It’s exciting to think about what this event has turned into in three years and I’m truly proud of our student body, the volunteers and everybody who helps make this successful,” Bo Ryan said in a release put out by the school. “With the money the students raised and the matching donations it shows how special this campus and community are.”
The Ryan’s contributed $1 for every person that entered the Kohl Center, $10 for every student that hit a free throw and $1,000 for anybody that was able to hit a shot from half-court.
Officials say the students hit 46 half-court shots, including Zach Bohannon, who just finished his playing career with the Badgers in April.
“I love how this event brings the campus and our basketball team together for a great cause,” Ryan said in the release. “The team loves interacting with their fellow students and it’s fun to be able to bring students onto the Kohl Center floor and get to know them.
“I still strongly believe that the cure to cancer will be discovered right here at UW-Madison and hopefully raising over a quarter million dollars today will help.”

Badgers football: Herring expected to play

Oct 22, 2014 -- 8:42pm
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin will have one of its most important pieces – nose guard Warren Herring -- back in the lineup this week.
While Herring said he was taking it day-by-day, and his position coach, Chad Kauha’aha’a, called him questionable for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1) game with Maryland (5-2, 2-1), it was defensive coordinator Dave Aranda who took any of the suspense away.
“We’re all expecting him to play,” Aranda told reporters after practice on Wednesday.
Herring hasn’t played since the opener against LSU when he suffered a knee injury on the final play of the third quarter. He had surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and targeted a return date of Oct. 4 against Northwestern. That date came and went without the senior back on the field, but he returned to practice late last week and was not limited at all this week.
“Every first team rep,” Herring said of his workload. “Obviously with the rotation and things like that, but all the reps I usually get, I’ve been taking.”
One of the leaders on the Badgers defense, Herring tried to maintain a positive attitude even when his original goal date didn’t end up happening. He now feels like he’s ready.
“Talking to the training staff and talking to the coaches they all told me just to make sure I was ready,” he said. “So that’s what I said, just a day at a time. That’s basically what it was. It wasn’t a set goal because I learned from that the first time but just taking it a day at a time.”
Before Herring got hurt in the opener, LSU had little success running the ball. They had just 45 yards on the ground through the first three quarters. But without Herring or defensive end Konrad Zagzebski, who got hurt earlier in the game, the Tigers gashed UW for 81 yards in the fourth quarter.
“He brings a big body. He can move when we’re slanting, so our base attack doesn’t change,” Aranda said. “I think we’re just that much better when someone wants to run in between the tackles. It’s a huge improvement for us. I think Warren brings some intensity and leadership as well.”
Herring’s return also allows Aranda to be more versatile in the defenses he calls. At 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, Herring is athletic enough to be able to do all the movement that UW has done with its defensive line this season, and he’s strong enough to play the straight up style they implemented for much of last year.
“Incredibly different teams in terms of style of play,” Aranda said. “Last year, all we did is play two defenses. This year, it’s lets try not to play those two defenses. So completely different. He’ll kind of allow us to play both styles.”
How much he’ll play against the Terrapins remains to be seen. On Monday, UW coach Gary Andersen said if Herring was cleared to play, he’d end up playing quite a few snaps. Aranda feels he’ll be able to use Herring in a variety of situations.
“I think there’s things in mix downs, first and second down where he can get some work and be able to play the run,” Aranda said. “And then I think some of the reps he is needed come in some of the sub downs, third downs.”
Herring will have to wear a brace on the knee to keep it stabilized and he said he’s comfortable with it.
“He looked really good [Wednesday],” Aranda said. “What we said [to him] was put it on tape going into today and he did. So I’m looking forward to [him returning].”

Badgers football: McEvoy to see more time

Oct 21, 2014 -- 7:25pm
Wisconsin plans to get Tanner McEvoy on the field more against Maryland.
MADISON - Expect to see more of Tanner McEvoy this week against Maryland, but don’t expect for that action to come at any position other than quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said Tuesday that the University of Wisconsin junior will see more than the one series he did in the Badgers 38-28 win over Illinois on Oct. 11.
“We need to play him more,” Ludwig said. “He needs to play more.”
When pressed if the 6-foot-6 McEvoy could see time at wide receiver, the spot he moved to after losing out on the quarterback battle in 2013, the second-year coach said that he had not practiced at the position at any point over the past few weeks.
Against the Illini, McEvoy replaced starter Joel Stave in the second quarter on the fifth drive of the game. He proceeded to go 50 yards in 10 plays before the drive stalled at the Illinois 29-yard line and kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed a 47-yard field goal. It would be the last time the crowd would see McEvoy on the field.
“In the second half I was looking for that opportunity, but Joel was doing a lot of good things,” Ludwig said. “Then early in the fourth quarter, the tide of the game, I just didn’t feel it would be a good situation for the football team or for Tanner to put him in that position. Things were a little bit [muddled] at that juncture of the game. It just wasn’t the right time to put in a new QB.”
Stave was just 2 of 6 in the second half but did lead touchdown drives on two of the first three possessions of the third quarter. Though his stats don’t show it, Ludwig believes Stave is getting closer to being the quarterback that he was before the mental block that hit him just before the season started.
“He’s getting close each day.” Ludwig said. “Football’s very important to him. Being a good teammate is very important to him. He’s been working real hard. He’s shown improvement each day. There’s flashes of a very good player.”
With McEvoy starting the first five games and Stave their most recent contest, UW has largely struggled in the passing game this season. They rank 119th in the country in yards per game at 141.0 and they’ve thrown more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (7).
With an extra week to prepare for Maryland, UW believes they have a better plan in place to play both McEvoy and Stave.
“We’ve had a week to work on a system,” Ludwig said. “Have a little bit more of a package for each quarterback so to speak, although they all can run the entire offense. But there are some things we’ll focus on with Joel and other things with Tanner.”
No one knows what the new breakdown will look like, but Stave is feeling more comfortable heading into the Maryland game, having gone through the uncertainty before.
“They don’t necessarily specify you’re going to get this many reps (and) (he’s) going to get this many reps,” Stave said. “It’s just broken down in that we both have opportunities to play. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried about how they plan to split it up. I’m just going to be ready.”

Badgers football: Gordon: 'I should get something, but it just doesn’t work out like that right now."

Oct 21, 2014 -- 1:51am
Photo/Getty Images
Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon's signature is a popular one these days and plenty of peope are making money off it.
MADISON - If you type the name Melvin Gordon into an eBay search, more than 620 matches pop up for the University of Wisconsin running back. Of those, 41 claim to have Gordon’s authentic signature on them. The asking price varies – with the low end at $12.95 for an 8x10 picture, and the high end being a full-size goal line pylon for $209.
How much money does Gordon make on those? Absolutely nothing due to NCAA rules on autographs and memorabilia.
“It’s crazy that they’re making money,” said Gordon, who went to a similar auction website just to see what was out there with his name on it. “It’s crazy. You think, like, man what if I got some money off that. I should get something, but it just doesn’t work out like that right now.”
It doesn’t and some of Gordon’s brethren are finding that out. Georgia’s Todd Gurley, who Gordon will likely battle to be the first running back off the board in the 2015 NFL Draft, has missed the last two games as the NCAA investigates whether the junior took $400 from a memorabilia dealer in exchange for signing 80 items. Up on eBay, there are 178 items with his autograph.
Down at Florida State, compliance officials have started an investigation into whether Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston received money for his signature. That came after ESPN reported that an authentication company was able to confirm that hundreds of items signed by Winston had been done so in sequential order, which raised some eyebrows.
However, to this point no one has stepped forward to say that they paid Winston to sign items, and his coach, Jimbo Fisher, stressed how accommodating his quarterback has been to fans and cited that as the reason for there being so many items.
Gordon can relate to Winston in that respect. The UW running back has become the face of the program and is among the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy right now. He leads the country in rushing at 174.3 yards per game and is on pace to break Ron Dayne’s school record for yards (2,109) in a season. The line to get Gordon’s autograph at UW’s annual Family Fun Day in August stretched longer than anyone else’s. But that’s only one of the places Gordon is approached to sign something.
“You’re just walking and you have people come up and ask you to sign things,” Gordon said. “You never want to jump to conclusions, especially with the Jameis Winston thing. They say he had so many. Well he won the Heisman. So if it’s crazy for us, you can only imagine how crazy it is for him with signing things.”
The idea of others making money off an athlete without that athlete getting a dime has been front and center in recent years, most famously with the Ed O’Bannon case. The former UCLA basketball player sued the NCAA, arguing that the organization violated anti-trust laws by not allowing athletes to be compensated for the use of their likeness, names or images. The judge ruled in favor of O’Bannon in August saying players should be able to benefit, on a limited scale, from their school’s commercial efforts that use them.
Though the ruling is currently being appealed, it is just one aspect of a seismic shift when it comes to the NCAA and the way they do business.
Whether that will ever impact the player’s ability to make money off things they sign is unclear. NCAA president Mark Emmert told business leaders in Chicago on Monday that there has been no discussion of allowing it. But Gordon would certainly be on board if it did.
“I wouldn’t mind it all. It would be nice,” Gordon said. “I wouldn’t mind getting money for what we do.”
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