UW fans should enjoy national ranking while it lasts

first_imgYou are told to appreciate life’s great moments because you never know how long they will last. Faster than an unnecessarily rushed 3-pointer while trailing late in the game or the Izzone flowing onto the floor like tears from Izzo’s own eyes, the luster of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team owning the No. 1 spot in the national rankings faded away. The Badgers just didn’t execute down the stretch when they needed to most, something that has become characteristic (even after only three episodes) of this team when losing. But enough of the sour grapes. The Wisconsin Badgers are the No. 1 team in the country. Now there’s a sentence I never really believed I would type. Despite the loss, Wisconsin can lay claim to the top spot in the Associated Press poll until sometime next Monday afternoon. Although some of the excitement of Sunday’s first-ever game between two No. 1 teams may be gone, the game will still be played as such — Wisconsin will have a No. 1 next to its name (CBS uses the AP rankings). And when you stop to think about it, being No. 1 is really something special. Growing up in the Milwaukee area, I remember Badgers sports always being a big topic of conversation. I spent every Saturday in the fall playing youth-league soccer games before coming back home to watch Brent Moss, Terrell Fletcher, Lee Deramis, Ron Dayne and company play. In fact, I still own my 1999 Ron Dayne jersey and wear it to every game. My first real sports memory is of Wisconsin winning the ’94 Rose Bowl. I didn’t really know a whole lot back then, but I figured it had to be pretty good. Not No. 1, though. During basketball season, I would make the trip up to Madison a couple times every year, to go to the Plaza for dinner and bubble hockey, and then the Field House (later the Kohl Center) for basketball games with my uncle. In 2000, UW hoops made an improbable run — actually, it was more like a walk — to the Final Four under Dick Bennett. While that team was leagues better than many that came before it, and fans were genuinely excited about the team, there was really no sense that the team was anything more than an annual good-story tournament team. The point is, between football and basketball, Wisconsin never really stood out as being the best at either. The sports have always been just good enough for fans to get excited but not dominant enough to rise to the top nationally. As a lifelong Wisconsin fan, I was comfortable with it. The times are changing, though. Bret Bielema has openly discussed his desire to take the football program to the “next level” — something Barry Alvarez never did — and seems intent on following through. And Bo Ryan has put the basketball team in a position of national prominence for years to come. We are entering what should be a revival for UW athletics, and fans attitudes need to change right along with the expectations. So there I sat Monday afternoon, refreshing my browser every couple minutes and still staring at last week’s rankings. For the first time in my life the Badgers legitimately had a chance to be the No. 1 team in the country. Did I expect it to happen? No. I fully expected for Ohio State to grab the top spot, followed by a week of “We’ll show them; we get no respect” talk from Badgers fans. I even jokingly told my roommate Wisconsin was the No. 1 team in the country. Apparently I wasn’t too convincing, because he didn’t buy it. Then it happened. This time the browser refreshed and the following was printed at the top of the page: 1. Wisconsin (35) 26-2 1,747. This time, I convinced him. My roommates and I spontaneously broke out into “Hail! To the Victors” — a bad habit we acquired on a road trip to the Big House not because we like Michigan (we don’t), but because it’s catchier than the “Macarena” — before eventually settling back into the more true-to-our-roots “On Wisconsin.” We were excited, to say the least. But what happens now after Tuesday’s loss? I think that is a question that few really know how to answer. Still, after never holding a No. 1 ranking in the basketball program’s history, Wisconsin finally does. Make sure you appreciate this week: Cherish every graphic showing Wisconsin at No. 1, read every story and celebrate it like a true No. 1 team. Ben is a sophomore majoring in political science. You won’t find him crying like Izzo and he’s still excited for the Ohio State-Wisconsin game. He can be reached at [email protected]last_img read more

Shohei Ohtani will start Sunday, but Angels’ eventual six-man starting rotation still short on details

first_imgAfter Richards starts Thursday and Tyler Skaggs on Friday, Matt Shoemaker will start Saturday’s game in Oakland. Shohei Ohtani, who was officially added to the Angels’ 40-man roster after Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Dodgers, will start Sunday. He and Skaggs threw bullpens side-by-side at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.Heaney threw a bullpen Tuesday as well. The left-hander could conceivably begin the season on the 10-day disabled list with elbow inflammation before jumping in as the team’s sixth starter. His schedule is to be determined.As for when Richards and the others learn of their subsequent assignments, he said “we’ll know apparently the day after we pitch when we’re throwing next, or they’ll give us as early a heads up as possible.”In theory a six-man rotation might allow Manager Mike Scioscia to stretch out each pitcher longer than he would within a five-man rotation. Scioscia didn’t dismiss that possibility Tuesday, but he isn’t counting on it either. For now, don’t expect the prospect of extra rest lengthening Scioscia’s leash on Richards – or the Angels’ other starters.“They might be fresher and they’ll be able to pitch longer into the game,” Scioscia said, “but you just can’t go on the assumption that ‘it’s a six-man rotation, these guys can throw an extra four outs.’” LOS ANGELES — Garrett Richards will leave the task of dressing up his opening day start to the game-day crew at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.One day after learning he would pitch the Angels’ first game of the season, Richards spoke matter-of-factly about the assignment.“Eh, I mean honestly I’m just taking the first turn in the rotation,” he said. “After we get through it one time, everything gets jumbled around anyway.”What happens next could be more interesting than what happens first. At some point the Angels will flip from a traditional five-man rotation to a flexible six-man rotation. When, exactly, remains to be announced. Even their fifth starter hasn’t been announced yet. Richards was healthy all spring after being limited to six starts last season due to a biceps injury. Injuries limited the availability of Ohtani, Heaney, Skaggs and Shoemaker at times last year, too. That might be why Richards, for one, is willing to trade the uncertainty of his schedule for the promise of extra rest down the road.“We’re all healthy. We’re all adjusted,” he said. “We’re all ready to go.”FINAL ROSTER MOVESTo make room for Ohtani on the Angels’ 40-man roster, catcher Carlos Perez was designated for assignment.Right-handed pitcher Felix Peña was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake, leaving right-handers Noe Ramirez and Rule 5 pick Luke Bard with the final bullpen jobs. Additionally, Chris Carter was told he would not be on the Opening Day roster. The veteran first baseman was in camp on a minor-league contract.Perez, who was out of minor league options, might have needed an injury to starter Martin Maldonado or backup Rene Rivera to open the season in the majors. He batted .265 (9 for 34) with four doubles in spring training, after hitting .224 with 10 home runs in 184 games for the Angels over parts of the last three seasons.Juan Graterol, who was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday, is the third catcher on the Angels’ 40-man roster.Peña allowed five runs in 11 spring innings. Ramirez allowed six runs in 12-1/3 innings and Bard allowed 11 runs in 12-1/3 innings. As a Rule 5 pick, Bard must remain on the Angels’ major league roster or be returned to the Minnesota Twins.Carter went 11 for 41 (.268) with three home runs in 24 spring games.KINSLER AILINGIan Kinsler was held out of the Angels’ starting lineup for the second straight day, and Scioscia revealed the second baseman is battling tightness in his groin.“We’re going to evaluate him (Wednesday),” Scioscia said. “He’s going to work out at 11 o’clock and we’ll get an idea of where he is. He’s made a lot of progress.”Scioscia wouldn’t venture to estimate the likelihood of Kinsler beginning the season on the disabled list. Zack Cozart started at second base each of the last two days. Luis Valbuena started at third base on Tuesday and Jefry Marte played third on Monday.Kinsler finished spring training with 11 hits, including one home run, in 43 at-bats, a .256 average.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more