Wisconsin men’s hockey head coach Mike Eaves has talked all season about getting to the “top of the mountain.” He and his Badger squad will attempt to do just that starting this weekend, as the Badgers play Bemidji State in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Green Bay.After a win against Minnesota last weekend for third place in the WCHA tournament, the Badgers earned the No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, giving them a considerable advantage over the rest of the field.The Badgers will also have the advantage of not having to play outside Wisconsin for the duration of NCAA play, as the Frozen Four will be held at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.”That’s a big help,” junior forward Andrew Joudrey said of the atmosphere in Green Bay. “As we saw at Lambeau, the support’s awesome up there. We still have to come ready to play, but that’s definitely something we like to have on our side, having our fans behind us.”The Badgers last played in Green Bay in a game at Lambeau Field against Ohio State Feb. 11. More than 41,000 Badger faithful showed up to cheer on Wisconsin to a 4-2 victory.This time around, the game will be at the Resch Center, home to the Green Bay Gamblers and venue for several Badger players’ USHL careers. Seniors Adam Burish and A.J. Degenhardt as well as sophomores Josh Engel and Kyle Klubertanz played for the Green Bay Gamblers before coming to Wisconsin. Assistant coach Mark Osiecki also coached the Gamblers prior to his UW coaching career.Along with playing on their own turf, the Badgers also play in one of the easiest regional brackets in the tournament. Third-seeded Colorado College struggled in the second half of the season and failed to make the WCHA Final Five after losing to St. Cloud State in the first round. The two seed, Cornell, is the lowest-ranking two seed in the tournament at No. 8, and they finished their season with a loss as well in the ECACHL championship game to Harvard.Bemidji State is not even ranked. The team made it into the tournament after winning the CHA championship over top-seeded Niagara. The Badgers, however won’t take their first-round opponent lightly.”We’re not going to underestimate Bemidji,” freshman Jack Skille said. “They’re a really good team, they beat some pretty good schools in the past and I think they’re going to give us a hard time if we take them easy.”Bemidji went 4-2-0 against WCHA teams this season, although their four wins came against Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota State, two teams sitting in the bottom half of their conference standings.The Badgers themselves boasted a 6-1-0 record against non-conference opponents this season, though they did not play any CHA teams. Whatever the opponent, the Badgers know there is only one satisfactory result.”We know that we have to do our jobs,” Joudrey said. “Whether you’re a four seed or a one seed, you have to win two games to advance.”Should the Badgers win a pair of games in Green Bay, they will advance to the Frozen Four in Milwaukee, where they will take on the winner from the East Regional in Albany, N.Y.Wisconsin has appeared in three-straight NCAA tournaments, but has failed to make it to the Frozen Four in the two previous years. Maine knocked the Badgers out of the tournament in the East Regional Final in 2004, and Michigan took care of Wisconsin in the first round last year.This year, between the high expectations and a top seed, anything less than a championship will be disappointing for the Badgers.”Anything less than that is a failure,” Joudrey said of a national title. “The most important thing is the national championship. That’s our ultimate goal, and that’s what we’ve been working for all year.”Eaves will change the practice regimen throughout the tournament, with shorter practices that involve less physical play and almost no skating drills. His goal is to have his team peaking mentally and physically in the coming week and a half.”You’re going to be fresher mentally if you’re not skating, if you get on and off the ice quicker,” Eaves said. “All those little things help.”Wisconsin seems to be hitting its stride at the right time. After a slump in the second half of the season when goaltender Brian Elliott went down with an injury, the Badgers now seem to be clicking on all facets of the game, with their penalty kill strong as ever and their normally flaccid power play working as well.”Our numbers have been very good recently,” Eaves said of his team’s play with the man advantage. “I think in the second half of the year, we’ve been up above 20 percent and, in the playoffs, we’re pushing 25 percent. We hope that continues.”Also helping them peak will be the momentum from the 4-0 victory over interstate rival Minnesota last weekend, despite not winning the WCHA championship.”I think it helped us a lot to rebound against Minnesota the way we did,” Joudrey said. “It shows how we can play as a team and how we need to play to be successful.”The Badgers will also sport their playoff beards next week for good luck. Whether they work has yet to be determined.
The Ballinahinch clubman, who’s 31 follows in the footsteps of James Woodlock and Conor O’Mahony who also retired in recent days.The midfielder was part of the All Ireland winning Tipp team in 2010 while he also picked up five Munster titles and one league title, while he was also named an All Star twice.Shane says the level of training required to play Championship hurling is intense and this played a role in his decision.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said X-rays on Beverley’s arm were negative, but he wasn’t certain what that meant for the guard’s status in the immediate future.“We know that there’s no break, but that doesn’t mean he’s not gonna be out or not,” Rivers said. “He clearly felt like he couldn’t even grab the ball, so that’s not a good sign.”Beverley didn’t want to talk about the injury, but Landry Shamet — who recently returned after missing 17 games with a sprained ankle — said seeing Beverley go down was concerning.“Obviously, we care about him,” Shamet said. “You see a guy go down like that and run into the tunnel, you’re concerned.”The Clippers (23-11) fell behind by as many as 10 points before the third quarter was over, but guard Lou Williams said that wasn’t related to the gutpunch of Beverley’s tumble. PreviousLos Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, front left, shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, behind Leonard, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, left, shoots as Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac celebrates during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, left, and guard Patrick Beverley defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, right, tries to drive by Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 7Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandLOS ANGELES — Sniffles and scrapes marred the Clippers’ 120-107 loss to the surging Utah Jazz on Saturday.Already missing an ill Montrezl Harrell and with several players bothered by flu-like symptoms, the Clippers received a fright when Patrick Beverley — their fiery, tone-setting guard — took a spill early in the third quarter.The defensive hero of the Clippers’ Christmas Day victory over the Lakers, Beverley picked up Saturday where he left off two days earlier, flooring it on both ends. But shortly after halftime, as the 6-foot-1 guard tried to circumvent Utah’s 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert, he lost he balance and landed awkwardly, crumpling onto the court beneath the hoop and grabbing his right elbow.Beverley headed directly for the locker room with the game tied 66-66 and 10:15 to go in the third quarter. He returned to the court for four minutes in fourth quarter with his right wrist wrapped in tape and his right forearm covered with a padded sleeve, but his presence wasn’t enough to ward off the Jazz (20-12), who secured their eighth victory in 10 games by closing on a 9-0 run Saturday in the final 3:14. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “We were already leaking before that,” Williams said. “Offensively, I don’t think we were very efficient tonight that led to low confidence, low energy and we just allowed them to do what they wanted.”As a team, the Clippers struggled shooting, making only 35 of their 95 (36.8 percent of their) shot attempts. Specifically, their typical go-to scorers, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Williams all struggled from the field, although they all were perfect at the free-throw line.George had a team-high 20 points on 6-for-20 shooting from the field and 4-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line; Leonard went 6 for 24 from the field and 6 for 6 from the stripe for 19 points and Williams shot 5 for 14 from the floor and 5 for 5 from the line for 16 points.Donovan Mitchel led six Jazz players in double figures with 30 points, including burying back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Jazz to within 63-61 to close the first half.“We have not done a good job on him yet,” Rivers said of the Utah’s star guard, who entered having scored 24 and 36 points against the Clippers this season. “He’s way, way, way too comfortable against us, and we either are going to do something about that or he’s gonna keep doing it.”Utah finished the game 17 for 35 (48.6 percent) from 3-point range; the Clippers shot just 12 for 40 (30 percent) from deep.The Clippers missed Harrell, their seeming indestructible big man off the bench, who hadn’t missed a game this season or last, but was a late-scratch Saturday because of illness.“Definitely affected us,” said Leonard, who was one of the Clippers feeling ill. “He’s one of the guys that we’re down today as well, not feeling well. he comes in that second unit, brings a lot of energy with some blocks, just getting easy point baskets, post touches, we missed him tonight.”Thin in the post against one of the game’s dominant defensive centers, the Clippers leaned harder on Ivica Zubac, their 7-foot starting center, who logged a season-high 28 minutes and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds on Croatian Heritage Night.He and Beverley carried the Clippers early, combined for 21 of the Clippers’ first 24 points. Zubac’s seven first-quarter offensive rebounds were the most in a quarter by anyone in the NBA this season.But Zubac picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter and scored only three points after the first quarter.Shamet chipped in with 13 for the Clippers, going 4 for 5 from 3-point range and in the process becoming the sixth fastest player in league history to reach 300 made 3s in his career.