Men’s basketball team set for UW-Green Bay

first_imgMATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photoGreg Stiemsma will have a high school reunion of sorts tonight when the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team (5-1) takes the court against instate rival UW-Green Bay (2-4).The sophomore big man will get to play against his prep running mate Ryan Tillema, now a freshman forward for the Phoenix, who along with Stiemsma won three straight Division IV state titles at Randolph High School. Tillema added a fourth crown last season without Steimsma.”I probably know him better than anybody,” Stiemsma said. “It’s pretty weird to see a guy on the other team that I have been playing with since we were in fifth grade.”Such familiarity and renewals of rivalries are characteristic of this time of year, when Wisconsin goes on its quest to claim the unofficial state championship of basketball, as UW will play all three of the Dairy State’s other Division I programs — UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette. The Badgers play Marquette on Saturday before finishing up the Wisconsin series Dec. 15 against UW-Milwaukee.”It’s always good to play the schools in the state. You know everybody across the state gets to see everybody. I guess you can sort of see it as a state championship. It is going to be very competitive and each team wants to win to show they are the best team in Wisconsin,” junior guard Kammron Taylor said, adding that pundits can throw out the records with these in-state rivalries. “Even though [some Wisconsin teams’] record might say another thing, but once they come in here they are going to be ready to play.”Such is the case tonight, as the Phoenix will walk into the Kohl Center with a 2-4 record, trying to rebound from a 59-51 loss to Illinois State last Saturday. UW-GB has played Wisconsin tough in the past, however, and has hardly rolled over for Bo Ryan’s squad. One need look no further than last year’s closer-than-expected game, when the Badgers defeated the Phoenix 65-55 in Madison.”That was actually one of my worst games last year, and I just try to put that out of my head,” Taylor said.”[Green Bay has] some very good players. The future is bright with the group of guys they have coming through that program,” assistant coach Greg Gard said.UW-GB’s youth will be on display, as the team has no seniors and only three juniors this season. Their best player, however, could very well be Stiemsma’s former teammate Tillema, who is averaging 10.7 points per game and is shooting 50 percent (16-for-32) from beyond the three-point line.”He’s got a nice touch around the perimeter and he definitely can score,” Stiemsma said.Alongside Tillema will be junior guard Ryan Evanochko, who leads the team in both points (11.5 per game) and assists (3.83).If the Phoenix are to upset Wisconsin, however, they will need to up their offensive production, as they have thus far only averaged 58.7 points a contest, while the Badgers have averaged 85.0. Strangely, UW-Green Bay’s three-point shooting percentage (.423) is better then their overall shooting percentage (.372), meaning that getting out on the Phoenix perimeter shooters will be of premium importance.”They have some guys that you just can’t leave open,” Gard said. “If you give those guys those open looks, they have some guys that can really knock them down and hurt you.”Although the Badgers should enjoy a significant talent advantage, don’t be surprised to see another hotly contested matchup.”All those teams from the state have something to prove. They just want to prove that they can play at the top level,” junior Alando Tucker said. “Green Bay is a good team. They always play us physical and hard, and they want to prove they belong.”For Stiemsma and Tillema, like many of the other players during the in-state series, something even bigger is on the line: bragging rights.”There might be a little bit under the table, but nothing too big,” Stiemsma joked. “The loser will have to hear about it at least until next year.”last_img read more

Tommy Morrison dies at 44

first_imgFormer WBO heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison died in an Omaha, Neb., hospital late Sunday night. He was 44.Morrison’s longtime promoter, Tony Holden, said Morrison died at 11:50 p.m. with his wife Trisha beside him.Morrison tested positive for HIV in 1996 before a fight with Arthur Weathers, effectively ending his boxing career. In the years that followed, he denied having HIV and also challenged the existence of the virus.Trisha Morrison, who married him in 2011, picked up that fight, and in a recent interview with ESPN.com insisted that Morrison had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, not HIV.Holden declined to comment Monday on the cause of Morrison’s death.“I don’t know what the official cause of death at the hospital will be,” he said. “You prepare for things like this, and still you feel like you got hit by a truck when you hear the news.”last_img read more