Byrne brings successes to UW

first_imgWisconsin 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.”last_img read more

LA Clippers, Paul Pierce fit like a glove

first_imgPLAYA VISTA — Paul Pierce played the first 15 seasons of his career with the Boston Celtics, so season-to-season familiarity was strong.Now Pierce is on the verge of playing for his third team in as many seasons.The Clippers small forward toiled for Brooklyn in 2013-14 and for Washington in 2014-15. Not that he’s having issues fitting in because … he’s Paul Pierce. “It’s going pretty good,” he said at practice Monday morning. “A lot of these guys I’ve known before I got here, so as far as getting to know them off the court, that wasn’t a problem. Pierce, who turned 38 on Oct. 13, has been a starter his entire career. Even last season, at 37, he started all 73 games in which he played for the Wizards. Of 1,250 career games, he’s started 1,240.Wesley Johnson, another newcomer, is the other leading candidate to start at small forward.Pierce, out of Inglewood, is 16th on the all-time scoring list with 25,899 points. His career scoring average is 20.7.Rivalry heating upThe Clippers (1-3) on Tuesday night at Staples Center will take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors (2-3) in exhibition play.Rivers and some of the Warriors have been going back and forth because of a recent comment made by Rivers, who noted to Grantland.com that a team has to have some luck to advance out of the West.As proof, he pointed out the Warriors did not have to play the Clippers or the Spurs in the playoffs.The Warriors took that as Rivers saying they were lucky to win the NBA title, and Rivers has said several times his comment was not meant like that.“I don’t pay much attention to all that stuff,” Rivers said Monday. “I was on that side before and you can almost say what you want. You won, so you have the right to say whatever you feel like saying.“To the victors goes the spoils. They can talk trash, they can walk with a swagger, they can do whatever they want. They’re the champs.” “I think it’s just all about getting adjusted to everybody’s game, getting adjusted to a new offense, style of play. That’s pretty much the main thing right there, but that’s going pretty good.”Clippers coach Doc Rivers was the coach at Boston for the last nine years Pierce was there, the two winning a title together in 2008. Rivers said he knew Pierce would adapt to his new surroundings with no problem.“He’s fitting in great,” Rivers said. “Whenever he’s on the floor, he’s going to figure it out because he’s played for a thousand years and he knows how to play, he knows how to fit in.”The question remains, will Pierce start or come off the bench? Rivers said he still doesn’t know the answer, but Pierce spoke in confident tones about either scenario.“I think it’s just about developing a chemistry, regardless, because I feel I can play with anybody,” Pierce said. “And I can play multiple positions, do multiple things on the court. So whether it’s with the first or second unit, I feel I’m a good enough player to make that adjustment.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more