Josh Gasser scored 21 points against Prairie View in his debut, good for 2nd best in UW history.[/media-credit]Maybe the holiday season isn’t quite here yet, but nevertheless, the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) received an early gift in their season-opening 99-55 trouncing of the Prairie View A&M Panthers (0-2) Sunday evening at the Kohl Center.Senior forward Jon Leuer led all scorers with 24 points and seven rebounds and junior guard Jordan Taylor contributed 20 points and six assists, but arguably the biggest story for Wisconsin was freshman guard Josh Gasser. The 6-foot-3, 185-lb Port Washington, Wis. native scored 21 points, pulled down nine rebounds (six offensive) and contributed three assists in 26 minutes of playing time.Gasser’s 21 points marked the second-highest point total in a Wisconsin freshman debut, and the team’s 99 points were the most since the Badgers scored 105 against Eastern Illinois in 1995.“If I didn’t [like what I saw], they’d be giving me an examination,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said of Gasser. “He took care of the ball; he made great decisions. People remember the points, but he did some other things pretty well.”After breezing through their exhibition schedule, the Badgers were tested early by the Panthers Sunday, as the halftime score was tight, at 41-31. Wisconsin shot only 36.8 percent from the field in the first half, including 23.5 percent from three-point range. Prairie View A&M, meanwhile, came out hot, knocking down 46.2 percent of their first half shots and sinking more than half of their attempts from behind the arc.“We were a little anxious [in the first half],” Ryan said. “It was heads butting and tough, hard, aggressive play; some shots not going down and the other team hitting some shots. We still got that 40 complete minutes, but our shot selection was better in the second half.”Leuer, in particular, came out red-hot, nailing three consecutive treys to give UW a 9-0 lead from the start. The lead extended to 15-6 with 12:50 remaining before PVA&M hit two shots to come within five points. After two Gasser free throws sandwiched between two Taylor field goals, Wisconsin’s lead hit double digits at 21-11 with 7:30 on the clock.“We were just out there trying to get better; that was the main focus tonight,” Leuer said. “I thought we did that, and that’s been our goal from day one, to just keep getting better. We don’t really ever focus on the numbers.”Indeed, the Badgers got better in the second half. Taylor opened the period with a steal and breakaway layup to put the score at 43-31, and six minutes later, Wisconsin had built a 20-point lead, 59-39 at the 13:56 mark. UW’s lead never sank below 20 for the duration of the game, and it was extended to 40 when Brett Valentyn sunk a three-pointer with 3:09 left to make the score 95-55. After a quick 4-0 run, the game ended 99-55.“I think we played with a higher energy level in the second half,” Taylor said. “John and Tim [Jarmusz] in the locker room, they were in there telling us we need to come out with more intensity; we were a little flat in the first half. In the second half, we just came out; we pushed the ball, we played better defense and it translated into [the win].”While Wisconsin’s shot selection improved in the second half, the bench play was arguably the biggest reason the Badgers outscored the Panthers 58-24. Sophomore forward Mike Bruesewitz – after only playing three minutes in the first half and not taking a shot – was perfect from the field in the second half, connecting on all three of his attempts from behind the arc and hitting one other layup to finish with 11 points. Known for his budding red-orange afro, “Brueser” also provided a significant spark off the bench, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out two assists.“Bruesewitz is a kind of guy who can shot-fake, put it on the floor and get to the glass, pull up or hit wide-open threes when open,” Ryan said.Wquinton Smith and Jarmusz also were solid contributors, filling in the starting lineup spots vacated by the graduated backcourt duo of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. Smith only scored one point but pulled down five offensive rebounds and picked up three assists, while Jarmusz added two rebounds, two assists and two steals. 6-10 redshirt sophomore forward/center Jared Berggren added seven points and displayed his potential as another three-point marksmen, connecting on one of his four shots from behind the arc. Valentyn finished with six points on two three-pointers, as well.“With what we have this year, we’re going to have to do it by committee, there’s no question,” Ryan said. “We’ve had teams like this before. You’ve got to ham and egg it off of each other enough to get by in some of the games we’re going to be in.”
Mighty Mo has readily stared adversity in its face, Now, he’s ready for the payoff. Join DAZN to watch Hooker vs. Ramirez on July 27 and 100+ fight nights a yearThe 29-year-old WBO junior welterweight champion will look to unify against WBC champion Jose Ramirez roughly 10 miles from the city where he grew up, in front of his friends and family, in the main event on DAZN at the College Park Center. It should be a joyous occasion where Hooker will earn his first seven-figure payday — but Hooker only sees the road ahead.“It doesn’t matter where I’m fighting because I still have to go in there and do my job,” Hooker told Sporting News, wiping sweat from his brow at the Maple Avenue Gym. He’s making his final preparations to face Ramirez, an opponent who has routinely fought in front of his hometown of Fresno, Calif. and drawn huge crowds.To Ramirez’s credit, he was willing to make the journey to foreign territory (Texas) on a foreign network (DAZN) against a 5-11 junior welterweight with an 80-inch reach.“I don’t know how (Matchroom Boxing’s) Eddie Hearn did it but I’m happy he did,” Hooker said, giving credit to Ramirez for accepting the fight. “I am fighting at home where my fans, family and friends will come to see me, so I need to bring my A-game and nothing less. I want to give everybody a show and show them why I am a world champion.”The quest to become a champion began when Hooker was a pre-teen who simply enjoyed beating people up. He’s not proud of it, but states it matter of factly.“I just liked to fight,” said Hooker, who is co-promoted by Roc Nation Sports and Matchroom Boxing. Maybe it was because he had to watch his mother and brother fight drug addiction. Or it could have been that time his family’s apartment was robbed and had a gun put to his head while his stepfather and the rest of his siblings were threatened. Who knows exactly what triggered Hooker’s anger, but that energy needed to be channeled somewhere — anywhere.“I was fighting a lot of the streets, so my stepfather took me to the gym to get beat up and teach me a lesson,” Hooker recalled of his introduction to boxing. Hooker’s stepfather, whom he credits heavily for keeping him out of trouble, was once a boxer and understood how that form of discipline could help keep the young Hooker off the streets.The intention was for Hooker to learn that he just couldn’t beat everyone up. The result was much different.“I surprised everybody when I beat a couple of guys up and fell in love with boxing after that,” he said. “I loved it.”MORE: Hooker vs. Ramirez: How to bet, expert pick and moreHooker’s desire to roam the streets in search of trouble was replaced with training inside the musty confines of the original Maple Avenue Gym, which existed a few blocks away from the 7,000-square-foot facility he’s in today. Admittedly, he’s not a big fan of the new location.“This gym is too big,” Hooker said, laughing. “I understand you have to make money, but I miss the smell and the sounds of an old gym. (The original Maple Avenue Gym) was small and important. There’s something about a dirty locker, that funk of sweat that lets you know they are working. You walk into gyms now and smell incense and cologne. Ain’t nobody in there working!”That’s “Mighty Mo.” If there’s a microcosm of ease, it ain’t worth his time.Hooker’s excellent 97-7 amateur record wasn’t the reason he believed he could make a living off of boxing. Strangely enough, it was the first time he lost when he realized that he had more to give to boxing.“When you lose and you knew you could do better, it will eat you up,” he explains. “It haunts you to be in a situation where you maybe didn’t give it your all. So now I do.”Hooker was greeted by the professional ranks with a draw against Tyrone Chatman in Chatman’s hometown of St, Louis. It’s a fight Hooker thought he clearly won, but quickly realized that he wasn’t just fighting the opponent — he was fighting the environment. Two more draws checkered his professional record, but he found himself in position to fight for a world title.Once again, it wouldn’t be easy.Hooker went into then-undefeated Terry Flanagan’s backyard of Manchester, England and won the vacant WBO title by split decision last June, following that performance by once again entering enemy territory and stopping Alex Saucedo in the opponent’s hometown of Oklahoma City. Another title defense followed against Mikkel LesPierre all the way up on Verona, N.Y., in March. Now, he finally has the opportunity to fight at home in a unification fight that will get him one step closer to becoming the undisputed champion of the world.MORE: Maurice Hooker vs. Jose Ramirez: Fight time, live stream, price, full cardOh, and along the way, Hooker had eight children. That was more than enough to shift the motivation from fighting because he enjoyed it to fighting for the future of his children. Again, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be part of Mighty Mo’s journey.“No matter what happens, I know I have eight people that support me and I have to support them,” Hooker said of his children, his oldest 9. “I have to go hard. I’m fighting for a lot of futures. Jose is just in my way. It isn’t personal. I’m just trying to take his head off his neck.”With the children still living in the Dallas area — not too far from where he was raised — Hooker opines about the day when he can get all his kids out of the area and away from danger. And even though his kids don’t quite understand why daddy fights, he believes they’ll eventually comprehend he did it to give them an alternate path to life.“They know daddy is going in there to fight,” he says. “They think to impress me that they have to fight, too. But I don’t want them to fight. I fight so they don’t have to. I want them to be something else. Boxing is hard.”Ah, there it is: something that he wants to be easy. Though all of this conversation of his uphill climb, we finally figure out he’s paving these rough patches to make the road to a successful future for his children’s easier than the one he had.Providing for one child is difficult enough. But, as always, Hooker is up to the task. And should he get past Jose Ramirez on Saturday, Hooker will aim to further unify by challenging the winner of the upcoming fight between WBA champion Regis Prograis and IBF titleist Josh Prograis. But before that fight, he will task himself with the difficult challenge of the year: taking all eight of his children to Disneyland. DALLAS — Nothing has come easy for Maurice Hooker. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.He fought to escape the dangerous confines of Oak Cliff, Texas, where murder and mayhem surrounded Hooker’s childhood. He fought to get eight children of his own as far away from that chaos as possible. He fought for his status as a road warrior who has had to face opponents amid hostile crowds who viewed as nothing but an enemy. “That’s what I’m going to do!” Hooker said. “Eight flights and rooms and eight tickets to Disneyland. Imagine that!”He smiles. As difficult as it all sounds to the average person, he’s been through more than enough to enjoy that particular challenge. “I want to give them things that I never imagined,” Hooker said. “I need to give them things that they will always remember. They deserve to have a better life than I had and I plan on giving it to them.”
Tommy Edman, Cardinals: He’s in a bit of a funk lately, but Edman had an .814 OPS through 29 games and had worked his way to the leadoff spot in the St. Louis order.Nick Senzel, Reds: He’s had his ups and downs, but I feel pretty confident saying this: When we look back at the rookie class of 2019 in five or 10 years, Senzel will be much more prominently featured in the retrospective. Nate Lowe, Rays: The other Lowe rookie on Tampa Bay’s roster (same spelling, different pronunciations), Nate has an .875 OPS in 30 games. And then I drove to the office. By the time I’d gotten there, it seemed that most of Milwaukee was in an uproar, and fans in Houston and Pittsburgh and other places were perturbed, too. How in the world could I leave Keston Hiura, Yordan Alvarez, Bryan Reynolds and about a dozen rookies off that poll? Had I ever even watched baseball? MORE: How to watch “ChangeUp,” an MLB whip-around show, for free on DAZNI tried to respond to the angries with the truth. Twitter only has four poll spots, I wasn’t saying these were the only four good rookies or even the four best rookies, etc. With the damage somewhat mitigated, I put up another poll, this time with Hiura, Alvarez, Reynolds and Eloy Jimenez. Thing is, even that one didn’t satiate the masses. Still waiting for Oscar Mercado— Brian Baker (@Bizake13) August 8, 2019Sheesh, right? But here’s the thing: The fact that so many fan bases can be agitated by a single Twitter poll about rookie baseballers speaks volumes about the quality of rookie baseballers this season. Truth is, it’s pretty incredible, and I wasn’t the only one to have that moment of clarity. Seriously though, you ain’t lying. 2019 really does have an absolutely stacked rookie class. Never realized how insanely deep it really is.— Tommy Malecki (@tmalecki15) August 8, 2019We are watching a special season from the youngsters, folks. With more than a month-and-a-half left in the season, Tatis and Alonso already have bWAR numbers of at least 4.0. Reynolds and Alex Verdugo are above 3.0. Alvarez, Brandon Lowe and Victor Robles are north of 2.0. Eleven more rookies have bWAR numbers of at least 1.0, again, with seven weeks remaining in the 2019 season. Before we go any further, let’s look at the results of those two polls. Here’s the first one (Tatis was always leading, but the numbers were a little closer before San Diego fans got a hold of it in the evening hours on the West Coast). Ten years from now, which standout 2019 rookie hitter will have had the best career?— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) August 8, 2019And here’s the second poll.Sheesh. Few things get baseball twitter people more upset that a perceived slight of their favorite rookie.So here’s Poll No. 2: Ten years from now, which of these rookie hitters will have had a better career?— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) August 8, 2019Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the rookie pitchers. Mike Soroka has a 4.0 bWAR in Atlanta and John “Bright Spot” Means has a 3.5 bWAR in Baltimore. And then you have rookies like Chris Paddack, Spencer Turnbull, Zach Plesac, Zac Gallen, Cal Quantrill and, oh yeah, Marlins rookie Sandy Alcantarra made the NL All-Star team before struggling a bit. But we’re just talking about the batters today. MORE: The social media initiative that MLB hopes will attract young fansWe’ve mentioned Bichette, Guerrerro Jr., Tatis Jr., Alonso, Hiura, Verdugo, Alvarez, Reynolds, Jimenez, Lowe and Robles (and I can almost guarantee you somebody just got mad at the perceived slight in the order I listed these guys). The list of rookie hitters worth a mention is just as long, if not longer. Here’s a quick rundown:Oscar Mercado, Indians: Traded by St. Louis to Cleveland for two players still in the minors, Mercado has provided much-needed outfield offense in his 300 PAs, racking up nine homers, nine stolen bases, 47 runs scored, a 1.5 bWAR and .781 OPS. Kevin Newman, Pirates: He’s played mostly shortstop and second base and been a consistent source of offense in 86 games, rolling up a .304 average, 10 stolen bases and 40 RBIs.Christian Walker, Diamondbacks: OK, he technically qualifies because he hadn’t eclipsed rookie requirements heading into this season, even though this is the FIFTH year he’s worn a big-league uniform (his MLB debut was 2014!). All that aside, he’s been excellent, with 20 homers and an .829 OPS in his first real, extended shot in the bigs. Mike Yastrzemski, Giants: Carl’s grandson has been great for the Giants, with 11 homers, 37 RBIs and an .815 OPS in 64 games. Cavan Biggo, Blue Jays: Yep, another legacy big-leaguer. Craig’s son’s average isn’t great, but he has 10 homers and a .341 on-base percentage in 60 games. Austin Riley, Braves: Atlanta fans clamored for his promotion for a long time, and he immediately rewarded that fandom, collecting nine homers and 25 RBIs in his first 18 MLB games. He’s slowed down since then, but he has 17 homers in the bigs. Aristides Aquino, Reds: I know, I know. He JUST got called up, but he has three homers and eight RBIs in his first seven games, and he did this yesterday …Just checked the top exit velocities for yesterday….Aristides Aquino 👀👀👀 pic.twitter.com/1wHu6t4r5D— Daren Willman (@darenw) August 9, 2019Luis Arraez, Twins: He’s the only batter in Minnesota not slugging home runs at a record pace, but he’s batting .353 in 190 PAs, which ain’t too shabby.Will Smith, Dodgers: All the rookie catcher does, it seems, is slug clutch late-inning home runs to help the Dodgers win baseball games. Michael Chavis, Red Sox: Here’s how good the other 2019 rookies are: A RED SOX ROOKIE has 18 homers already and you’ve probably only heard of him in passing. True story: I had MLB Network on at the house as I was getting ready Thursday morning, and it showed another highlight of another great game by Blue Jays rookie Bo Bichette. That sparked a thought, and that thought sparked a poll idea. Bichette, as you know, is just one of several famous sons succeeding in a big way in the majors this season. I wondered what baseball Twitter people thought of those three — Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. — in terms of who would have the best career. So I put those three guys in a poll and added Pete Alonso because Twitter gives four options (but only four options, which is important to this story).
The Rossoneri coach says Lazio deserved to qualify to the Coppa Italia Final after his side was simply embarrassing.In the first leg of the Coppa Italia Semifinal played in Rome, the game between Lazio and AC Milan ended in 0-0.But tonight, a goal on aggregate time by Joaquin Correa, ended up giving the visitors a 1-0 win to put Lazio in the Final.And after the match, Rossoneri manager Gennaro Gattuso spoke to the press, saying he feels embarrassed by what happened tonight.“We held out well in the first half, but after the break Lazio had three chances, we didn’t move enough off the ball,” he was quoted by Football Italia.“It’s a difficult moment, we’re struggling and have to turn over the page, as on Sunday there is another knockout round type game against Torino.”“We’ve got to try to understand why we are in this negative spell. Lazio deserved to quality and the fans deserved more tonight,” he continued.Serie A Betting: Match-day 3 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Considering there is a number of perfect starts so early in the Serie A season, as well as a few surprisingly not-so perfect ones….“Sometimes you change just to do something different, to improve the performance, lift the team. Something isn’t working and we’ve been struggling for the last month. I don’t think it’s just physical, but also mental and tactical, as we are performing below our capabilities.He added: “I don’t think it’s an issue of systems or individuals, but the entire team has taken steps backward. We’re playing with the handbrake on and paying a price for that. We had tried to play a life or death game today, but it didn’t work. There’s no point denying it, we were embarrassed tonight and have to look forward.“Lazio were coming off a difficult moment too, but we made it easier for them. We’ve got a month left in the season and it is our duty to give our all, to get back on our feet.”Rossoneri bow out of the #TIMCup in the semi-final. Full focus on the league now / I rossoneri vengono eliminati in Semifinale. Testa al campionato#MilanLazio 0-1 pic.twitter.com/QFzyj2O4eU— AC Milan (@acmilan) April 24, 2019