Badgers end tough streak with higher expectations

first_imgThe No. 15 Wisconsin volleyball team endured a challenge that no other team in the country has faced this season. Spanning the last few weeks, the Badgers (17-5, 6-4 Big Ten) completed a six-match streak of ranked opponents last Wednesday, a test that no other team in the country has encountered this season.Wisconsin finished 3-3 in that stretch, including the first time in program history the team has defeated back-to-back top ten opponents.With the team entering the second half of league play this weekend, Wisconsin currently sits tied for fourth place in a Big Ten conference with seven ranked squads and three others receiving votes.The Badgers have beaten five ranked opponents this year, including four in the Big Ten. This is the most victories over ranked teams since the 2006 Badger squad recorded six top-25 wins.Junior outside hitter Ellen Chapman said this is not a position most teams expected Wisconsin to be in at the start of the year.“I don’t see ourselves as an underdog, but I know starting the season off everyone saw us as an underdog,” Chapman said. “Now that they realize how good of a team we actually have, they’re starting to scout us more and take us more seriously — that’s going to make our job a little bit harder.”A highlight of Wisconsin’s difficult stretch of matches was the two straight victories over then No. 5 Michigan State and No. 7 Minnesota. In the win over the Golden Gophers, the Badgers tallied the second-most kills and third-most assists of any match they have played this season.Chapman said she wasn’t surprised at Wisconsin’s performance over two high-caliber teams — she said if the team plays to its full potential, it can beat anyone in the conference.Senior libero Annemarie Hickey said wins over two of the best teams in the league does not come close to the expectations the team has yet to fulfill.“Those two wins were great, but we can do a lot more,” Hickey said. “This team has a lot to prove; we’re just going to keep working harder and harder each week to prove [to] everybody that we are a great team, and that we’re not going to fall flat the second half of the season.”An important change from prior seasons and prior months has been Wisconsin’s surge in confidence. Head coach Kelly Sheffield said he has seen a competitive fire in players like Chapman and junior outside hitter Deme Morales that was previous lacking.In wins over then No. 14 Ohio State, Michigan State and Minnesota, Wisconsin had lost the first set by at least five points, but the team bounced back to take the second set in each match. Against Michigan State and Minnesota, Wisconsin proceeded to win three straight sets after the game one stumble.Sheffield said in recent weeks the team as a whole has displayed an increased willingness to battle and an overall better feistiness during matches.“I’ve been really, really impressed with our ability to get after it every match,” Sheffield said. “We’ve really been ready to play every one of our conference matches. That’s really hard, and it’s not something every team is doing.”Now in her third season, Chapman said this is the highest level of volleyball Wisconsin has displayed in her career. With the arrival of Sheffield at the helm of the program, she said there is a sense of effort and determination on the team she has never seen before.“Our togetherness is way better than it has ever been in the past two to three years,” Chapman said. “Everything on the court is just different — the mentality is different, we’re all trying our hardest out there. [With] the second half of the season rolling around, none of us are going to give up on anyone. That’s very different from what’s happened in the past.”Battling back during matches and after tough losses has become the name of the game for Wisconsin during the past three weeks. Before defeating Michigan State, Wisconsin was swept by No. 16 Michigan at home. The Badgers also dropped a match to Illinois 1-3 on Sunday — a contest in which Wisconsin outscored Illinois in every offensive category.Sheffield said in the Big Ten, there is not much separation of teams near the top and bottom of the conference. Illinois has undergone the toughest schedule in the country this year — it is the only team in the top 75 of the RPI with a record below .500.Even though the Badgers are coming off the toughest streak of matches in the country, UW’s schedule doesn’t let up in the team’s remaining 10 games. Wisconsin faces six ranked opponents in its last 10 matches, including a rematch with No. 16 on the road this Saturday.Sheffield said if the Badgers are playing at the high level that he expects, no opponent is too difficult an obstacle to tackle.“I think we’ve got talent,” Sheffield said. “I think all of us think we can win, think we can beat anybody. We’ve got a lot of confidence in ourselves.”last_img read more

LA Clippers’ Jeff Green’s debut anything but smashing

first_imgForward Jeff Green did not have a terrific debut for the L.A. Clippers in Saturday’s 115-112 loss to the high-flying Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. Green played just under 20 minutes, scored five points on just 2-of-7 shooting, grabbed two rebounds, had one assist and three turnovers.Coach Doc Rivers put some of the blame for that on himself.“(It was) Jeff’s first game,” said Rivers, whose team will play host to the Phoenix Suns on Monday night at 7:30 at Staples Center. “He didn’t really know what to do. We didn’t know what to do with him at times. He’s such a great passer, and I thought we put him in the post a lot to be a scorer, which I thought was just not great offense from us.”Green, who was acquired from Memphis on Thursday for Lance Stephenson and a future draft pick, seemed calm. But he understandably appeared a bit lost at times. Clippers kept fightingWith the Warriors (49-5) coming off a shocking 32-point loss Friday at Portland, it appeared they might blow out the Clippers (36-19) when they jumped out to a 13-point cushion (33-20) after one quarter.But the Clippers didn’t go quietly. After twice trailing by as many as 15 points, they were within five (89-84) near the end of the third quarter. The Clippers were behind by as many as 18 with 5:20 to play and by 16 with just 2:27 left before the Clippers’ reserves nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat.Rivers isn’t one for moral victories, but he appreciated his team’s mettle.“One thing I liked was that we didn’t flinch when they jumped out to an early lead,” he said. “We just kept playing. I think that’s how you have to play against the Warriors. They are a team of runs and they are going to make runs. But we are, too.”The Clippers are 0-3 against the Warriors. The losses were by four, seven and three points.This and thatSuns point guard Eric Bledsoe (20.4 points, 6.1 assists) has not played since sustaining a knee injury on Dec. 26, so the Clippers won’t have to face Phoenix’s best player, who is out for the season. … The Suns took a record of 14-41 into their game Sunday against San Antonio. … The Clippers’ J.J. Redick and Chris Paul both took technical fouls in Saturday’s loss. Redick clapped his hands hard toward referee Bill Spooner after a no-call, and Paul beefed about a foul called on him by referee J.T. Orr. … The Clippers are 19-6 without Blake Griffin. … After Monday, the Clippers will complete this four-game homestand with a game Wednesday against Denver. Even though Green played parts of two seasons for Rivers when Rivers was the head coach at Boston, Green said he realizes reaching a comfort level with the team won’t come right away.“It is going to take time, but how much time I do not know,” Green said after Saturday’s game. “My job is to study and get in the playbook and take this time to try and figure out my spots. It is not going to come overnight, but as long as I continue to work on it, it will come.”Green also seems to understand the pressure the Clippers are under to make franchise history. It was only this past May when the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals, falling 4-3 to the Houston Rockets.The Clippers have never made it past that round.“I want to give this team whatever it needs,” he said. “Whether it be on the offensive or defensive end, I want to win. Being around these guys, I know it is important, I know it is big for everybody, and I want to do whatever it takes to win.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Has Nirav Modi left Hong Kong business

first_imgIndia’s most wanted diamantaire, Nirav Modi, may have made a quiet exit from his Hong Kong business, documents accessed by India Today TV have revealed. Nirav Modi’s Firestar International Pvt Ltd., which was registered as a non-Hong Kong Company, informed the country’s authorities through their company secretary Suresh Kumar Bhutani that their company had ceased to have Hong Kong as a place of business.Read it at Business Today Related Itemslast_img