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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Zach Heilprin

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Badgers basketball: UW unveils full 2015-2016 schedule

Aug 27, 2015 -- 7:41pm
MADISON - The final (maybe?) year of the Bo Ryan era at the University of Wisconsin will get underway on Nov. 13 at home against Western Illinois.
It’s one of 31 games on the Badgers’ 2015-2016 schedule unveiled on Thursday night, highlighted by non-conference matchups with Georgetown (Nov. 20), a potential rematch of their 2015 NCAA title game against Duke (Nov. 22) at Madison Square Garden, at Oklahoma (Nov. 29), and at Syracuse (Dec. 2) as the part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The full schedule was released in conjunction with the Big Ten portion being made public. That 18-game slate will see the Badgers open the conference season at the Kohl Center against Purdue on Dec. 29, one of seven home games in their first 11 contests of Big Ten play.
That also includes a visit from Whitefish Bay Dominican standout Diamond Stone and Maryland on Jan. 9. The Terrapins are being picked by many to win the conference and could potentially start the season ranked No. 1 in the country.
The bevy of home games to start the season means UW will close the conference slate by playing five of their final seven contests away from Madison, starting with a trip to College Park to play Maryland on Feb. 13. That’s followed five days later by going to East Lansing, their first visit there since a 58-43 loss in March of 2013. UW hasn’t won at the Breslin Center since 2004. Then it’s home to face Illinois (Feb. 21), at Iowa (Feb. 28) before coming back home to play Michigan (Feb. 28) in what could be Ryan’s last game at the Kohl Center as UW’s coach. They close out Big Ten play with trips to Minnesota (March 2) and Purdue (March 5 or 6).
Full schedule:

Badgers football: Injury updates on Biegel, McEvoy

Aug 27, 2015 -- 7:03pm
Photo/Associated Press
MADISON - Injuries have slammed the University of Wisconsin offensive line in fall camp but it was another position that apparently took a hit on Thursday.
After speaking with the media, UW coach Paul Chryst headed up the steps at Camp Randall Stadium to address a group of boosters that had watched the two-hour practice from the stands. And in that talk, he revealed that wide receiver Tanner McEvoy “tweaked” something. A UW official later told reporters that it was his left leg. The exact injury and the severity of it is unclear.
McEvoy had spent a majority of fall camp playing wide receiver after playing quarterback in 2014. He's expected to play both ways this year, with his defensive duties coming at safety. While the Badgers have a lot of players anxious for playing time at wide receiver, none possess the physical abilities of McEvoy. At 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, McEvoy is still fast enough to pose a threat down the field while also providing a big target for quarterback Joel Stave.
That was the only bad injury news from Thursday, as Chryst said he anticipates getting several players back in time for the opener against No. 3 Alabama on Sept. 5. That includes offensive linemen Hayden Biegel (head), Walker Williams (head) and Ray Ball (arm), along with defensive end Alec James (ankle). He was less sure about another defensive lineman, senior Jake Keefer, who suffered a leg injury earlier this week.
Biegel, who entered fall camp as the starter at right tackle, missed 11 days with a concussion before returning to practice on Thursday. The redshirt sophomore was wearing a yellow no-contact jersey and will need to return to full-contact soon if he’s going to be an option for the Badgers in the opener.
“He’s been doing some things,” Chryst said. “Right now I wouldn’t say anything prevents him from having a chance to be ready.”
The last time the media saw a UW practice, redshirt freshman Jake Maxwell was running with the starters at right tackle. Though Biegel has very limited game experience – he’s played in six – he’s got the most reps of anyone at right tackle having served as the backup to Rob Havenstein a year ago and taking all the snaps during spring practice.
Chryst admitted there is still some wiggle room when it comes to locking in a starting five across the line but not much. Right now it appears the guarantees are at left tackle with Tyler Marz, left guard with Michael Deiter and at center with Dan Voltz. Redshirt freshman Micah Kapoi was working with the starting unit at right guard on Tuesday and he might get the call there, leaving only the right tackle spot still open.
“It’s certainly narrowed down but not finalized,” Chryst said of the line.
Houston the No. 2
In addition to talking about McEvoy to the boosters, Chryst also revealed that junior Bart Houston would be the next quarterback in if starter Joel Stave got hurt.
Houston beat out redshirt freshman D.J. Gillins and true freshman Alex Hornibrook to claim the job.
Scholarships earned
UW announced on Tuesday that a pair of walk-ons – defensive lineman Zander Neuville and linebacker Ryan Connelly – had been put on scholarship. Chryst said the reaction when they announced it at a team meeting was “awesome.”
“There was great energy in the room. Guys got out of their chairs,” Chryst said. “I think, one, they’re happy for them as guys. Two great teammates. But also they knew that they earned it. That’s why there was such genuine enthusiasm, because it was two guys that actually went out and through their actions earned something that they can be proud of.”
Connelly, a redshirt freshman from Minnesota, was running with the second-defense at inside linebacker on Tuesday and will be on several special teams units.
Neuville, a redshirt freshman who came to UW from Waupaca as an outside linebacker, will be a big part of the Badgers’ pass rush packages from his defensive end spot.

Badgers basketball: Alvarez says he'll give Ryan space in making a decision

Aug 27, 2015 -- 4:08pm
MADISON - Barry Alvarez won’t be pushing Bo Ryan out the door.
The University of Wisconsin athletic director was asked Thursday about Ryan’s recent comments that said he’s leaving the door open to coaching UW’s basketball team more than just this upcoming season after announcing in late June that this would be his final year.
“I think at this time in your career, and I’m going through the same thing, you think about when you’re going to retire. It changes,” Alvarez said on a taping of WISC-TV’s “Sidelines” program. “The thing I will do is I have to give him space. If he decided to come back, we have a Hall of Fame coach coaching our team again. If he decides it’s too much, and he wants to step aside, then we have to respect that and we’ll go out and find the best coach we possibly can to replace him.”
Ryan made his announcement in late June that the 2015-16 season would be his last on UW’s sideline, and that he’d like his longtime assistant, and current associate head coach, Greg Gard replace him. But earlier this month at an appearance in Kaukauna at the U.S. Venture Open golf charity event, Ryan told the Appleton Post-Crescent that it might not be his last year after all.
“I just wanted to get it out there that I’m not going to be able to do this forever,” Ryan told the paper. “But who can say one year? Who can say that? I simply cut to the chase by saying I’ll do another year and we’ll see what happens in the next number of months.”
Ryan was then asked if that meant he was open to the possibility of returning for more than just the one season. He answered, “I am.”
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that before Ryan released his statement about this being his final year he told Alvarez that he wanted to step down prior to this season and requested that the position be filled by Gard. When Alvarez told him he wouldn’t just hand the job to Gard, Ryan made the decision to stay on for one more season.
Alvarez was asked whether he would put a deadline on Ryan making a decision on coming back for more than one year and the possibility that decision could push deep into the 2016 offseason. Would he have an issue with it getting put off that far?
“I’m not going to force him,” Alvarez said. “When he’s ready to step aside – I [wouldn’t] particularly like that – but I’m going to let him make the decision when he feels comfortable with it, and then we’ll move forward.”
“Sidelines” airs on Saturday night at 10:35 p.m. on WISC-TV in Madison, and you can watch this week’s episode on

Badgers football: Walk-ons earn scholarships

Aug 25, 2015 -- 11:13pm
MADISON - The long and storied tradition of the walk-on program at the University of Wisconsin added two more names on Tuesday night.
UW announced via Twitter that redshirt freshmen Zander Neuville and Ryan Connelly will each be on scholarship starting this season.
Neuville is from Waupaca and has gone from a 220-pound outside linebacker to a 265-pound defensive end since arriving on campus last fall. He’s risen from the scout team to what the Badgers hope is a major part of their pass rush this year, including running with the No. 1 unit in the “Peso” package (two down linemen).
Connelly, meanwhile, grew up in Minnesota but both of his parents are from Wisconsin so he rooted for the Badgers. UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda gave him the ultimate compliment earlier in fall camp.
“Connelly is a guy that I trust,” Aranda said. “He’s a guy that’s earned the respect of the team.”
Connelly has played all four linebacker positions in the past year before settling in at one of the inside spots in fall camp. He’s currently with the second-team defense and has a role on several special teams’ units.
According to UW, 89 walk-ons have earned a scholarship since 1990, with 16 of them going on to play in the NFL.
Several of Connelly and Neuville's teammates and coaches took to Twitter to congratulate the pair:

Badgers football: Practice report 8/25

Aug 25, 2015 -- 6:33pm
Photo/ESPN Wisconsin
MADISON - In the final practice open to the media this fall, the University of Wisconsin football team spent a majority of the two-hour session going 11-on-11.
Practice observations
** In the first series of the day, and led by quarterback Joel Stave, the first-team offense went 16 plays and 80 yards against the No. 1 defense, finishing it off with a 1-yard touchdown run by Taiwan Deal. It was the best looking drive of fall camp for the offense.
Coming off the field, UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda greeted his defenders by yelling, “You sleepwalked that entire drive.” They played better the rest of the way.
** Redshirt sophomore Jazz Peavy got some time with the first-team group when they went to their three wide receiver package. He’s had a somewhat quiet camp but made several nice catches on Tuesday.
** Tanner McEvoy is expected to spend a large majority of his time at wide receiver to start the season. He’s looked good, though he’s certainly still learning the position. On Tuesday, Stave thought he had a touchdown on a fade route to McEvoy but cornerback Darius Hillary was able to strip the ball out of the wide receivers’ hands in the endzone. Ted Gilmore, UW’s wide receivers coach, could be seen after the play telling the 6-foot-5 McEvoy to go up high to make the catch and keep the ball up there so shorter players can’t make a play on it.
** Rob Wheelwright had perhaps the catch of fall camp on Tuesday. Cornerback Natrell Jamerson had perfect coverage on Wheelwright but quarterback Bart Houston threw the ball to the left side of the endzone anyway. With Jamerson not looking back for the ball, Wheelwright managed to pin it against his back and then reach around and pull it in for a 25-yard touchdown. Half the offensive players at practice went sprinting to the endzone to celebrate the catch.
** We nearly had our first big scrum of fall camp – at least in practices open the media. Running back Dare Ogunbowale and outside linebacker Vince Biegel were jawing at each other, when Ogunbowale slapped Biegel’s facemask. He responded in kind, and when left tackle Tyler Marz came over to break things up, Biegel shoved him. Marz grabbed onto Biegel and took him to the ground, which is when everyone stepped in and it got separated.
** To end practice, they pitted the first-team offense against the second-team defense, and then reversed it with the second-team offense trying to move the ball against the first-team defense.
Starting at the 25-yard line, UW’s No. 1 offense was able to score a touchdown on their first possession – a 3-yard run by Deal – and then had to settle for a 28-yard field goal on their second drive.
The No. 1 defense got stops on both of its opportunities, the first ending on a Michael Caputo pass breakup at the goal line, and the second finishing with a Leo Musso interception, the fifth of fall camp for him.
** Rafael Gaglianone was 2 of 3 on the day, hitting from 28 and 35 yards but missing short from 52.
Injury update:
** For the first time since suffering a concussion on Aug. 14, Hayden Biegel attended practice. The redshirt sophomore had been running as the starting right tackle prior to the injury and hadn’t been seen by reporters since. The other challenger at the spot, redshirt freshman Beau Benzschawel (knee), isn’t expected back before the opener against Alabama. And the guy that replaced those two, junior Walker Williams, suffered a head injury on Monday and didn’t take part in practice on Tuesday. Getting the first-team reps was redshirt freshman Jake Maxwell.
** Redshirt sophomore Alec James, who had missed nearly a week with an ankle injury, returned on a limited basis. He went through some rehab drills but did not take part in any of the 11-on-11 work.
Still out:
TE David Edwards (ankle)
OL Hayden Biegel (head)
OL Beau Benzschawel (knee)
S Arrington Farrar (mono)
OLB Jake Whalen (knee)
TE Troy Fumagalli (ankle)
WR Reggie Love (head)
LG Ray Ball (right arm)
RT Walker Williams (head)
DE Jake Keefer (leg)
DE Alec James (ankle)
No-contact jersey
OLB Zack Baun (head)
ILB Keelon Brookins (right leg)
WR Andrew James (right leg)
What’s next?
Wisconsin will not practice on Wednesday, their first day off since Aug. 8.

Badgers football: Practice report 8/24 PM

Aug 24, 2015 -- 6:57pm
MADISON - The University of Wisconsin offensive line has been tormented by injuries in fall camp, and they sustained another during practice Monday afternoon.
Junior Walker Williams left the session with what was being called a head injury. He had been taking all the reps with the first-team offense at right tackle after injuries sidelined redshirt sophomore Hayden Biegel (concussion) and redshirt freshman Beau Benzschawel (knee) at the end of the first week of camp. It’s unclear how long Williams will be out.
He was replaced by redshirt freshman Jake Maxwell, who didn’t start taking reps at right tackle until the injuries to Biegel and Benzschawel popped up, having spent most of his practice time backing up Tyler Marz at left tackle. Maxwell did play right tackle as a junior in high school before moving to the left side as a senior.
Offensive line coach Joe Rudolph has a ‘next man up’ philosophy and thinks Maxwell is making progress.
“Jacob, to me, is becoming more comfortable with Jacob,” Rudolph said after practice. “He’s getting more and more confident in who he is. The talent level isn’t a question with him. When he gives himself the ability to be the best him, he’s going to be just fine. I think he’s getting there quick.”
In addition to the injuries at tackle, the offensive line has also been hit at guard. True freshman Jon Dietzen missed much of last week with an ankle injury, and senior Ray Ball didn’t take part in either of Monday’s practices due to an arm injury.
Rudolph wasn’t about to make excuses for his group and expects them to continue to fight.
“It’s neat seeing guys jump into different spots and make it work,” he said. “No one’s alarmed when their name gets called. That’s for sure. That’s good.”
Practice observations:
** The Badgers flipped guards Michael Deiter and Micah Kapoi during the morning session, and it stayed the same in the afternoon practice. Deiter was at left guard and Kapoi at right guard. Rudolph said he felt the switch would be good for both guys, especially Deiter, who played left tackle in high school and appeared more comfortable on that side in terms of his mechanics.
“I thought maybe he’d be a little cleaner getting back to that,” Rudolph said of the left side for Deiter. “Because that’s the one thing he was struggling with just a hair. And [he] really made a pretty seamless transition there. I like how him and Tyler [Marz] communicate.”
Kapoi played left guard and right tackle as a senior in high school, and Rudolph said he was more than comfortable flipping around.
** Leon Jacobs made his return to the first-team defense in 11-on-11 drills. He looked to be moving around pretty well, though he still seemed to be a little hesitant in his cuts. With him and T.J. Edwards back on the field together, the first-team defense had their full compliment of starters for the first time since the third day of fall camp.
** Freshman Alex Hornibrook got nearly all the second-team quarterback reps on Monday. It was the first time in camp that he was the first one to follow Joel Stave and he looked pretty good. His ability to throw with anticipation is remarkable for such a young player. The trust in his wide receivers to make the right adjustment is something that veterans struggle with. It wasn’t perfect, of course, as he airmailed one pass over his intended receiver and it was intercepted by safety Lubern Figaro.
** The Badgers are extremely thin at tight end. On Monday, they had just four healthy bodies at the position, with two of them being true freshmen. It’s been like that most of camp with Eric Steffes in and out of the lineup but it became worrisome when Troy Fumagalli went down in Saturday’s scrimmage with an ankle injury. The redshirt sophomore was seen at the afternoon practice and didn’t appear to be limping too badly, which should allow for his return pretty quick. However, if need be, Derek Watt or another one of the fullbacks can be used as the move tight end as the positions are largely interchangeable.
** The Badgers defense won both 2-minute drill periods. The first-team offense stalled out around the 40-yard line, while Hornibrook led the second-team down the field before the defense stiffened inside the 10-yard line.
Injury report
Still out:
DE Alec James (ankle)
TE David Edwards (ankle)
OL Hayden Biegel (head)
OL Beau Benzschawel (knee)
S Arrington Farrar (mono)
OLB Jake Whalen (knee)
TE Troy Fumagalli (ankle)
WR Reggie Love (head)
LG Ray Ball (right arm)
Back practicing:
ILB Leon Jacobs (toe full-go)
TE Eric Steffes (back)
RB Serge Trezy (hamstring)
OL Ryan Ramczyk (ankle)
No-contact jersey
OLB Zack Baun (head)
RT Walker Williams (head)
DE Jake Keefer (leg)
What's next?
Wisconsin will hold one practice on Tuesday afternoon and it will be the final one open to the media.
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