BRYAN FAUST/Herald PhotoNumerically, the numbers representing the slump are dauntingly similar.One year ago, the Badgers started the season 20-6-1 before winning just once in their final nine games heading into the playoffs.Fast-forward to today, where, after being swept by Minnesota State this weekend, the Badgers are now 3-7-1 in their last 11 games after starting the season losing only twice in their first 22 contests.After Saturday’s 7-3 upset drubbing, UW head coach Mike Eaves acknowledged that his team is floundering a bit, but also made it clear that despite this being the third-straight year involving a second-half slump, this year’s situation is different.”It’s a different scenario. We lost our starting goaltender; we get him back. Have we done some things different this year? Absolutely,” Eaves said. “We’ve backed off on Mondays, we’ve created rec days. When people say, ‘Same old, same old,’ I don’t think they’re on the inside knowing what’s going on.”At his Monday news conference, the fourth-year head coach further addressed what needs to be done to pull his team out of a slump, including a small change in the practice schedule this week.”Today is a day that we would normally leave to the men to have a recreational day, but based on where we’re at right now, we need to get back to some fundamentals and some basics, so we’ll get back to that type of practice today,” Eaves said.At the same time, Eaves is not planning on pushing the players too much harder during those practices. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be pushing themselves.Following a 20-minute players-only meeting subsequent to Saturday’s defeat, the Badgers acknowledged they have to get back to practicing harder. While they may have led some to believe that the coaching staff wasn’t pushing them enough, they were more adamant about how it was their responsibility to work harder, especially at drills that they began to take for granted.”I think guys are trying to find answers too. So they’re looking at each other,” Eaves said. “Good for them that they had a team meeting … but at the same time … we just need to go back to some square-one things. We’ll go back and primarily do the same things we’ve done.”Getting Elliott back: There’s no question that the loss of Elliott to injury six weeks ago hurt the Badgers. But getting him back in the lineup may have been just as altering to the Badgers.”When we became the 18-2-2 team that we were … we had a young goaltender who developed himself into one of the top players in the country. And our team fed off that. … He gave us confidence to play in front of him,” Eaves said. “With Brian getting hurt, that was a change for us. And now, with Brian coming back and maybe not being where he [was], I see guys getting caught in between.”While getting him back has prompted yet another change, Eaves also said his team isn’t hitting the panic button.”I don’t think [panic] has set in,” he said. “There [were] times when we had systems breakdowns before, and who was there for them? Brian. And that allowed them to make mistakes … and now they’re in between.”Eaves also confirmed that Elliott is, if not at 100 percent healthy, he is very close, and that Eaves suspects the junior will start Friday when Wisconsin opens its regular season finale against St. Cloud State.”I think it’s just mentally believing and knowing he can stop the puck,” Eaves said. “When you stop the puck it builds your confidence level up. That’s what he’s got to do this week in practice and then carry that into this week in practice.”UW’s ranking drops: The weekend sweep dropped Wisconsin, which was No. 2 in USCHO.com’s national rankings last week, into a tie for the No. 5 spot in the most recent poll.In the PairWise rankings, the Badgers clung to the No. 2 spot.”I’m not a numbers guy, either,” Eaves said. “I’m trying to work on daily practices and figuring out where guys are at emotionally, mentally and physically. Those are things that we can control.”Minnesota carried the No. 1 ranking again this week, earning all but two of the No. 1 votes.The Gophers are followed by Miami (Ohio), Boston University and Michigan State, while Colorado College will share the fifth spot with UW this week.Eaves feels that, whether Elliott can return to his prior form or not, the Badgers can find their way back and achieve their ultimate goal of a national championship as the season winds down.”I think that if everybody chips in, if everybody gets better in all areas of their game, then that would perhaps [pull us through],” Eaves said. “If [Elliott] gets back to a certain level and our defense and forwards play a little higher level, knowing where Brian’s at, then that will all help.”
UW point guard Alyssa Karel scored a game-high 24 points Sunday, but several missed free throws ultimately doomed the Badgers.[/media-credit]Wisconsin’s 62-59 loss to Illinois State Sunday mirrored many of the Badgers’ games this season – a hard-fought battle with several missed opportunities for UW to take control.As senior guard Alyssa Karel’s three-point attempt came up short with three seconds remaining, the Wisconsin women’s basketball season (16-15) came to a close with yet another heartbreaking loss in the second round of the WNIT Tournament. In a game with nine lead changes, the Badgers were simply unable to finish strong.Missed free throws, often just as Wisconsin was building momentum, seemed to hurt the Badgers more than anything else. UW was just 11-of-19 from the foul line, and Morgan Paige’s missed free throw to tie the game with seven seconds left showed the importance of free throw shooting in this matchup.“We put them at the line too early in the second half, and when we went there we didn’t capitalize,” head coach Lisa Stone said. “And it was all of us, it wasn’t anybody in particular. I told Morgan Paige, because she was really upset, the game doesn’t come down to her free throw.”With a one-point advantage at halftime in a back-and-forth first half, Illinois State was able to quickly answer any consistent scoring from the Badgers. UW never led by more than six and found itself chasing a Redbirds (22-10) lead for much of the contest.Despite playing from behind for much of the game, Wisconsin showed resiliency, down by seven with just more than two minutes left. With two steals in the final two minutes, it appeared that the Badgers might be able to pull off an impressive comeback. But Wisconsin came up just short.“I think Alyssa put it best … that we just haven’t caught a break,” Stone said. “We’re a shot away against Michigan State, we’re a shot away against Michigan from a conference championship and a No. 2 seed [in the Big Ten Tournament] and then we’re a No. 6 seed.”A senior may have missed a potential buzzer-beater, but without the play of Karel and senior forward Lin Zastrow, Wisconsin likely would not have made the late surge. Leading all scorers with 24 points, Karel had 10 in the final three minutes that kept the Redbirds from pulling away late.Zastrow finished with 18 points and six rebounds and allowed UW to jump out to a lead early in the second half by scoring the Badgers’ first six points after the break.“In the first half, they were doubling me a little bit, so that threw me off, I think,” Zastrow said. “In the second half … I knew I had to take it at them and just come out a little bit more aggressive.”Wisconsin jumped out to an 8-2 lead early, but the Badgers could not stop Illinois State from coming back. Receiving several crucial second-chance opportunities off offensive rebounds, the Badgers simply gave Illinois State too many chances to take back the lead. An undersized team, the Redbirds were still able to collect three more rebounds than Wisconsin, a key to their victory.With both teams shooting near 40 percent from the field and close to 30 percent from three-point range, the game ultimately came down to free-throws and timely scoring.“I’m glad there was no more time left; I’m glad the clock ran out when it did because we were definitely starting to get a little tight,” Illinois State head coach Stephanie Glance said. “We are kind of inexperienced in that situation, so for us to actually be able to hang on and to pull out the win, that’s big for us.”This game marked the end of Wisconsin’s run in the WNIT Tournament and marked the end of the careers of Wisconsin’s four seniors in Karel, Zastrow, Tara Steinbauer and Emily Neal. Seniors were the foundation of this Badgers’ squad throughout the season, and this game brought an emotional end to their careers.“It’s been such a great experience here, and I’ve been so thankful for the experience that Coach and this university [have] given me,” Karel said. “I think once the tears stop, I’ll just kind of look back and all I can do is really smile.”As Wisconsin starts to look forward to next season, both coaches and teammates realize that the seniors will be nearly impossible to replace. “These are two of the finest players that will ever wear a Wisconsin uniform, there’s no doubt about it,” Stone said of Karel and Zastrow. “Impact, unbelievable impact, leadership, character people, going to go on to be very, very successful.”
– ‘Cautious return’ –Some of the clubs with title aspirations from the less affected areas of the country have been talking about going back to training for weeks.Following decisions from local governments, teams such as Napoli and Parma have followed the lead of Lazio — who trailed leaders Juventus by just a point when play was suspended — and set dates this week for players to train.Sassuolo became the first team to resume individual training on Monday, with Bologna set to follow on Tuesday, followed by Lazio and Roma after their players and staff undergo coronavirus tests.Inter Milan said “first-team players will, on a voluntary basis, be able to make use of the pitches at the Suning Training Centre in Appiano Gentile over the coming days for individual activities.”Champions Juventus have recalled their overseas players, including Ronaldo, who once back from the Portuguese island of Madeira will have to spend two weeks in quarantine.City rivals Torino are also cautiously preparing to return to training.“The contagion is still important and we are not yet out of the problem,” Cairo said on the 71th anniversary of the Superga tragedy, a plane crash which killed all the members of the legendary ‘Il Grande Torino’ team.“We must be on high alert. The restart on a day like this is something symbolic.“Today Phase 2 begins. We hope it will be a day of restart and rebirth.“We have approved an accelerated programme to do tests and fitness visits this week, in the next three to four days we will be ready for individual trainings.”The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) will hold a meeting on May 8 which could be decisive, although president Gabriele Gravina warned he would “never sign for the end of the championships”, which he said would be “the death of Italian football”.Share on: WhatsApp Milan, Italy | AFP | Cristiano Ronaldo has been recalled from Portugal as Serie A clubs get back to individual training on Monday after a two-month coronavirus lockdown, but doubts remain over whether the championship can return.The interior ministry’s go-ahead for players to return to club training facilities two weeks ahead of schedule has offered fans hope that the 2019-20 season might yet be saved.The government was responding after regions that had avoided the worst of the pandemic took matters into their own hands and gave permission to clubs to open their facilities for players to train on their own.But sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora has warned that although individual training can resume, training in groups must wait until May 18. And with Italy still in the grip of the pandemic which has killed nearly 29,000, it is uncertain whether matches will be able to restart.“Nothing has changed compared to what I have always said about football,” said Spadafora.“Team training will not resume before May 18 and the resumption of the championship, for now, is not really discussed.”Spadafora added, as if to confirm his difficult relationship with professional football: “Now excuse me, but I’m returning to take care of all the other sports and sports centres (gymnasiums, dance centres, swimming pools) which must reopen as soon as possible.”The Corriere dello Sport daily on Monday created a front-page photo of the minister with a dagger in his hand about to burst a ball, with the headline “Attack on Calcio”.Officially all 20 Serie A teams have unanimously backed a return to competition, despite reservations from clubs such as Brescia and Torino, in the north of Italy, which was particularly hit hard by the virus.Torino president Urbano Cairo conceded there were “divergent opinions”.“Everyone is assessing whether the restart is possible and it is normal, even if the last word will be down to the institutions,” he told Radio Anch’io.Cairo stressed the importance of safeguarding the health of employees, “without forgetting that the players have been stopped and locked up at home for two months”.With the league suspended since March 9, football authorities point to the severe economic impact for a sector which according to the federation posts a turnover of 4.7 billion euros ($5.1 billion) and employs more than 120,000 people.
A Florida man went on a vandalism crime spree because he believes President Donald Trump owes him money.Justin James Wilson, 30, caused an estimated $30,000 in damages to 20 cars at the the Holiday Inn Resort on Okaloosa Island, according to police.The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrested the 30-year-old on Monday.Deputies say he admitted to breaking the windows, saying “Take me to jail. I did it because Donald Trump owes me one trillion dollars and these vehicles belong to the mafia.”Wilson, who is homeless, is now facing 14 felony and six misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief.