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Today is Wednesday, Sept. 14, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
Some concern over Clement after all
Corey Clement, Wisconsin’s biggest offensive player, spent only a small portion of time on the practice field Tuesday.
RB Corey Clement (ankle) did some individual drills but was mainly limited at practice. Still expects to play this week. #Badgers
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) September 13, 2016
Clement injured his ankle in the second quarter of Wisconsin’s win over Akron last Saturday, but coach Paul Chryst said Monday that he expected the senior to be good to practice this week and play in the Badgers’ final nonconference game against Georgia State.
“That’s (still) the plan,” Clement said of seeing the field this Saturday. “Gradually increase the workload as the week goes on.”
— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) September 10, 2016
It seems like Clement is answering the same questions week after week, year after year. In 2014, it was a shoulder injury that limited him in the final three games of the regular season. Last year, it was a sports hernia that kept him out all but four games. And now, this year, it’s been a hamstring injury first in fall camp, and now it’s the ankle injury.
It’s concerning on several levels. If Wisconsin is going to have a shot at beating the likes of Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa in the coming weeks, it needs to have Clement fully healthy. And if Clement is going to show NFL scouts that he’s not injury prone — and that he’s worthy of being drafted next spring — then he needs to stay on the field and put his skills on tape.
True to the person he’s become during the last year, it appears Clement is more concerned with the former than the latter.
“The next level can wait. I’m here right now,” Clement said. “These guys are going to help me get to the next level, but, for now, I want to help this team get to the College Football Playoff.”
Bowl projections find a warmer climate
Just two weeks ago, the two writers who project ESPN’s bowls — Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy — had the Badgers playing in Detroit and New York, respectively. Following wins against then-No.5 LSU and Akron, Wisconsin is moving on up.
The latest projections have Schlabach sending the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, while McMurphy puts Wisconsin in Orlando for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
Bowl projections at this time of the year are all just a shot in the dark, but the sudden change shows what’s at stake for Wisconsin in the coming weeks. Though the schedule remains daunting, the chances of the Badgers making it back to a New Year’s Day bowl game after a one-year hiatus is certainly viable. And, who knows, an upset or two in those first four games of the Big Ten season could have the team playing for even more when the holidays roll around.
Special delivery for hockey fans
Hockey fans throughout Madison received a surprise Tuesday when Wisconsin hockey coach Tony Granato and several players delivered their season tickets to them in person.
How do you show appreciation to the best fans in college hockey? Show up unannounced to deliver season tickets. pic.twitter.com/hDnlGVdw2H
— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) September 13, 2016
This hockey program isn’t the first to do this. Earlier this year, the women’s volleyball team went on a similar trip. But the outreach is vital for Wisconsin hockey. As the team has struggled in recent years, attendance has decreased. Winning a total a 12 games over the past two seasons — the worst stretch in modern history — led to long-time coach Mike Eaves being fired, and another former Badgers great — Granato — being brought in.
A once rabid fan base has largely stayed away during the lean years. According to an article last fall from Todd Milewski of Madison.com, season tickets were down 23 percent, and the season opener last year was attended by just 6,467 people — the fewest ever.
But Granato, along with assistants Don Granato and Mark Osiecki — two other former Badgers — have energized the program since coming aboard in March. The trio, as Milewski highlights, already have recruited several top prospects and have overhauled a roster that was responsible for just eight wins last season. They’ve reached out to former players to help push the program, while also making sure everyone knows about the success players are having once they leave Wisconsin.
— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) September 14, 2016
Though attendance will ultimately come down to the product on the ice, it appears the Badgers, with Tony Granato at the helm, are on the right path to turning around a program that won six national titles and was once the pride of the athletic department.
A new hill for a new year for Gard’s team
For 15 years, ever since former coach Bo Ryan took over the Wisconsin basketball program, players would head to the west side of Madison in September and run Elver Park Hill, a challenge that tested even the fittest of players.
The team would go multiple times over several weeks, with the number of trips up the hill increasing each time. But with Ryan no longer around, and Greg Gard in charge, the Badgers started running a new hill on Tuesday, this one being just slightly more visible.
Day one at the (new) Hill… Let's get it pic.twitter.com/X9kAQ46T1Y
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) September 13, 2016
That new hill is Bascom Hill, and it resides smack dab in the middle of campus.
Team workout in the middle of campus…✔️ #OnWisconsin
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) September 14, 2016
The move from the much steeper Elver Park to Bascom Hill makes sense. It’s unlikely the pot holes that make up much of the former running spot are prevalent on the pristine lawn that leads to the main administration building on the Wisconsin campus. Also, it seems more in-line with the New Age training that head strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland favors.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) September 13, 2016
Still, it’s the end of an era. Ryan loved the hill, and it wasn’t just a Madison thing. His teams at UW-Platteville and UW-Milwaukee also ran hills.
The coach is a proponent of the bonding it created, with teammates helping each other make those final few feet. It was a throwback to a different time, one that is coming to an end as coaches of Ryan’s time retire.