Wisconsin has built itself into a cross country powerhouse over the past several years. New head coach Mick Byrne understands that, and he doesn’t want that to change.Byrne addressed the media Monday for the first time since taking over for former head coach Jerry Schumacher, who left the program to take a position with Nike as a coach for elite runners.“I’m a new old guy on the block, so I’m really excited to be here,” Byrne said. “A little bit different, obviously, than the Bronx.”Byrne acknowledged the legacy Schumacher left behind but also boasts a rather impressive r?sum? himself.As the head coach at Iona College in New York for 24 years, his Gaels team finished second in last year’s national championship — ahead of Wisconsin, which finished fifth. Iona also claimed third place in 2006 and fourth place in 2003 and 2005.“Wisconsin’s had a great tradition. We’ve also, by the way, had a great tradition at Iona College,” Byrne said. “The plan is to continue a great tradition and get out there and get back on the podium this year and win the Big Ten. We’ve won it the past nine years, so I’m looking forward to, hopefully, our 10th victory and then going out to nationals and getting back on the podium as a top four finisher.”The transition between coaches elicited mixed results among the Badger runners. Two members of the UW squad — Brandon Bethke and Evan Jager — chose to take different paths, leaving the team.“The way I look at it is any change you can either look at as an opportunity or you can go the other way with it,” Byrne said. “Unfortunately, those guys needed to move on and do something differently.”Even though this year’s roster is already familiar with Schumacher’s style, Byrne feels he brings a lot to a program rich in tradition.“I think a lot of what we do philosophy-wise is pretty similar,” Byrne said of Schumacher. “We might have a different approach to some aspects of it, but I think kids are always looking for new ideas. I think I’m bringing some fresh ideas.”Moving to the bigger stage in Madison presents new opportunities for Byrne. At Iona — a small school in the Bronx with an enrollment of just 3,500 — there wasn’t much on campus to draw in potential student-athletes on recruiting visits.“It was tough for us to get kids from the Midwest to come to Iona College,” Byrne said. “The differences are obvious. Big-time football, big-time basketball, hockey — all the great things that any 17, 18-year-old kid would enjoy on a college campus. We didn’t have that. The atmosphere was completely different.” In fact, Byrne himself has already taken in some of the big-campus atmosphere since he arrived.“I’ve spent my last two Saturdays at the games, and I’m just blown away by the whole atmosphere, the involvement of the student bodies, the involvement of the community,” Byrne said. “It seemed like everybody in the state of Wisconsin (was) at the games the last two weeks.”To some, it may come as a surprise to see Byrne leave such a successful program at Iona that he had helped build. But for him, the move was something he had wanted to do for a while, but was waiting for the right time.That time was now.“The University of Wisconsin is Big Ten, big-time athletics. I always wanted to make that move,” Byrne said. “It was a great time to make it right now. I felt we were at the top of the game at Iona College. The last couple of years, we were fourth, third and second [at nationals]. I felt that if I was ever going to do it, it was the right time to do it.”
Dwight Howard had a “minor setback,” per Scott Brooks. Tweaked his hamstring. Howard had been working his way from back surgery and has been doing non-contact drills in Washington.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) March 5, 2019Howard has been out since undergoing a spinal procedure in November and there is no timetable for his return. He had been participating in non-contact drills.The 32-year-old big man is an eight-time All-Star and has averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in just nine appearances in 2018-19. Bradley Beal says he tried recruiting players to Wizards during All-Star weekend Dwight Howard has suffered a “minor setback” in his recovery.Washington coach Scott Brooks told reporters Tuesday the center has tweaked his hamstring. Related News The Wizards are 26-37 and sit in 11th in the Eastern Conference standings.Washington has gone 2-3 since the All-Star break and will face Dallas on Wednesday.