Apparently in Wisconsin, it takes a lot to carry regular-season memories into March.The Badgers entered last weekend’s Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis riding a four-game winning streak that saw them play their best offensive ball, which began with a rousing road upset of Ohio State. In their opening round game of the tourney, previously unheralded bench player Rob Wilson scored 30 points on an electric 11-for-16 shooting performance (7-for-10 from 3-point range).Collectively, the Badgers’ late-season efforts seemed to set them up perfectly for a strong finish to the year. But then Wisconsin met Michigan State in the tournament semifinals and fell 65-52.In their first game of the NCAA tournament, the fourth-seeded Badgers (24-9) will face the 13th-seeded Montana Grizzlies (25-6) Thursday afternoon in Albuquerque, N.M. The Grizzlies most recently won the Big Sky conference tournament with an 85-66 win over Weber State March 4.“You’ve just got to take it game by game and all the hoopla, all the media talk really, at this point, is just out the window,” point guard Jordan Taylor said. “People are obviously going to pick who they want; that’s the fun of March Madness.”While the Badgers have the higher-profile resume after finishing with a 12-6 record in the Big Ten – arguably the nation’s deepest conference this season – the Grizzlies enter the NCAA tournament having won their last 14 games, a stretch that dates back to Jan. 19. Their last loss came five days earlier at Weber State, a game that Montana entered on a six-game winning streak.The Grizzlies heavily rely on their starting five, each of which averages at least 26 minutes per game. Three players average at least 10 points per game – junior point guard Will Cherry (16.0), sophomore guard/forward Kareem Jamar (13.8) and junior forward Mathias Ward (11.1). Montana’s two other starters, senior forwards Art Steward and Derek Selvig, each average 9.2 points per game.“You look at stat sheets, they’re the iron five,” UW assistant coach Greg Gard said of Montana’s starting lineup. “They play a couple of other guys off the bench, but those five that start have really done a lot for them, carried them. … They’ve had different guys step up at different times throughout the year.”According to Gard, Wisconsin scouted Selvig before he opted to stay in his home state. The 7-foot, 230-pound forward isn’t Montana’s only connection to Wisconsin, however.Montana assistant coach Freddie Owens played four years for Wisconsin and two under current head coach Bo Ryan from 2001-04 and was a two-year starter.Although Owens sports familiarity with Ryan’s system, Wisconsin’s head coach hardly seemed concerned on Selection Sunday.“Look at the Big Ten, how much we know about each other,” Ryan said in Sunday’s post-selection show press conference. “But you expect that. Out of league, it’s a little different. So Freddie might be the most popular guy with [Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle] right now.”Regardless, Wisconsin appears focused solely on its own game entering its 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 11th under Ryan. Although the Badgers’ offense seemed to be clicking at the end of the season, the loss to the Spartans in Indianapolis highlighted a season-long issue – prolonged, ill-timed scoring droughts.Against Michigan State, Wisconsin opened the game on a 14-5 run. Over the next 13 minutes, though, the Spartans built a 26-5 run to close out the half and lead 35-25.MSU’s advantage blossomed to as many as 19 points little more than four minutes into the second half, but UW was able to bring it down to six points another four minutes later with a 13-0 run. That was the closest the Badgers came, however, as they ultimately lost by 13 points.Entering the NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin believes it will be able to return to more fundamental scoring.“Just moving without the ball, and maybe pushing it a little more, trying to get more easy baskets, whether it’s off the defense or just transition, stuff like that,” Taylor said when asked for the key to avoiding those droughts. “Most teams are better when they can play 5-on-5 defense the whole game, so just trying to put them at a disadvantage.”
Also the duo of Edo FA Chairman, Frank Ilaboya and Nigeria Womenâ€™s League Chairman, Aisha Falode, say they have been mobilizing at all levels to ensure that the team win and win well the duel against Tanzania on Saturday. â€œThe team is staying at Prestige Hotel in our capital city and they are enjoying the best of Edo hospitalityâ€, Ilaboya declared.Falode on her part, said despite her tight schedule with the Aieto Cup championship, her team was already on ground to ensure that the Falconets get all necessary support that will give them victory on Saturday in Benin City. â€œWe have decided to do this job selflessly and here we are on the brink of another World Cup, coming to be done in my home state, all the support the team need will be provided on all fronts and I have been assured by Governor Obasekiâ€, Falode stated.The Tanzania U20 side is expected in the country today and all logistics have also been provided for the team to ensure their easy stay and the usual Nigerian hospitality during their stay in the country.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, was in his elements as he went to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to train with Nigeriaâ€™s Women Under-20 national team, the Falconets wednesday evening.Shaibu, who has been a major light in the saddle of Governor Godwin Obaseki, said he came to train with the team on the orders of Obaseki, who has promised that state matters permitting he will be physically present when the Falconets take on their Tanzania counterparts on Saturday.Before the deputy governorâ€™s training with the team, the Commissioner for Youths and Special Duties, Mican Aimonokhai, had visited the team and assured them that the Edo State government was all ready to take very good care of the national team ahead of the World Cup qualifier.
Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery has been named the 2013 Bundesliga Player of the Year.The winger, who is also on the shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, adds the title to the UEFA Champions League Best Player and UEFA Best Player in Europe awards he won earlier in the year.The Frenchman came out on top in a poll of the 36 captains from the top two tiers of German football.Ribery, 30, claimed the crown ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s Poland international Robert Lewandowski.Since the turn of the year, Ribery has recorded 18 goals and 20 assists in 44 appearances in all competitions, and has won UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and UEFA Super Cup in that time.With Bayern through to the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, Ribery could add to that impressive haul in Morocco on Saturday.