UW seniors play last game

first_imgWith the UW men’s soccer team’s elimination by penalty kicks in the opening round of the Big Ten Championship, the playing career for UW’s four seniors is effectively over. Barring an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship, Victor Diaz, Kenny Dix, Zack Lambo and Andy Miller have played their last game as Badgers. For Miller, who has been a fixture on defense during his four years as a Badger, facing the end is an uneasy prospect.“It’s tough. It’s tough. I feel like I came in as a freshman last week,” Miller said. “It’s hard. … I put a work into [soccer] my whole life. A lot of us will never play in a situation like this again.”UW’s four seniors were all starters and accounted for 21 of UW’s 87 individual points this season, as well as 4 of 28 goals scored. The graduating class of 2009 finished its career with a 32-34-10 record, though the group was not able to get a Big Ten tournament win during that time. The Badgers got heartbreakingly close to their first before falling on penalty kicks 4-3, and Miller was glad he got the opportunity to shoot with his career on the line.“Absolutely. Any senior that wants to take one is going to get one,” Miller said of making the first shot for the Badgers. “It’s our last game, you know, it’d be horrible not to take it. It’s an incredible honor to be able to go up and have the chance to do it.”The seniors received recognition for their work on and off the field, as Diaz and Miller have been named as Academic All-Big Ten selections multiple times, and Diaz has received spots on the All-Big Ten first and second teams. Diaz and Miller were also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2005, and all four seniors have been named to all-tournament teams during their careers.Though the team’s losses number-wise will not be great going into next year, the experience and minutes they played will be sorely missed. All four seniors have started since their freshman year, offering beneficial stability, which, according to head coach Jeff Rohrman, has been indispensible.“I’ll tell you what — it’s a great group of guys. They’ve really contributed to the growth of this program over the last four years,” Rohrman said. “I can’t say enough about the quality we have in that group.”Though the elimination by Michigan is likely the end of the line for UW, a number of pieces could fall into place and net them a spot in NCAA postseason play. For the at-large bids, RPI — a measure of strength of schedule as well as results — is taken into consideration. The Badgers are currently No. 26 in RPI, which puts them in contention to receive one of 26 at-large spots in the 48-team field. The strength of the Big Ten as a conference could play in UW’s favor when the teams are selected, as well as the fact that the game technically goes in the books as a tie, with Michigan advancing on PK’s.If Thursday’s game indeed ends UW’s season, it will leave a bitter taste in Miller’s mouth. Although all three of the Big Ten tournament opening round games went to overtime, the Badgers were the only team to be eliminated on penalty kicks, making it all the tougher to swallow.“It’s an unfair way to go out, but I guess it’s part of the game,” Miller said. “It’s the worst way to go.”last_img read more

Syracuse takes step closer to NCAA Tournament in 79-54 win over Wake Forest

first_img Published on March 2, 2019 at 2:00 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Frank Howard tossed the ball toward the rim from the right wing. Elijah Hughes, instead of staying still behind the 3-point lane, cut behind the Wake Forest zone from the left corner. For the second time in the second half, Hughes dunked off a dime from Howard.“They stay connected on our guys, really,” Hughes said. “That made it easier to get in the lane … Frank and I just made eye contact, he just threw it up and I caught it. It was cool.”Syracuse carried over its solid offensive showing from Tuesday night’s loss against No. 5 North Carolina, but this time, it came within the arc. Syracuse (19-10, 10-6 Atlantic Coast) handled business against a lower-tier ACC team in Wake Forest (11-17, 4-12) on Saturday, 79-54. The Orange rode dominance inside — shooting 71.1 percent from 2-point range — to an early lead that SU held for the last 35 minutes and 50 seconds of the game. It gives the Orange a win that bracketologists think should solidify SU’s NCAA Tournament hopes and breaks their two-game losing skid.“I thought we did a great job with it,” junior Tyus Battle said. “It was a game that we’re supposed to win, but a lot of times, you’re not up and ready for those games.”The inside assertiveness began with Hughes choosing to take his defender off the dribble. He hadn’t shot above 50 percent from the floor since Jan. 24, but he made 4-of-6 attempts in Saturday’s first half, and finished 8-for-12. Three came inside the paint after driving from the left wing with his right hand, and he also knocked down a right corner jumper to stake Syracuse to an early advantage.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter the game, Hughes heard a reporter ask Battle about his performance. So Hughes jumped in, leaned into the scrum and nodded his head as SU’s leading scorer praised his play.“I’ve been telling him all season, get to the basket,” Battle said. “Finally did it. It was good to see as a teammate, and he’s capable of doing that every night, every game.”Hughes set up two of his teammates for easy first-half buckets, too. On one drive, he chose to lob a pass toward Paschal Chukwu instead of scoring himself. The 7-foot-2 center threw down a slam. Then, in transition, Hughes picked out a wide-open Oshae Brissett for an up-fake and layup.Battle attacked from the beginning, as well. A miss off an early floater bounced right back to the SU junior, so he put it back up and in. Running back down the floor, he matched his head coach, raising his arms and wondering where the foul call was. Then, Battle swished a foul line pull-up jumper and used a sidestep to score as the trailer in transition.“That was one of our objectives: to attack them off the bounce,” Battle said. “… We had a size advantage, and we were just trying to take advantage of that.”The Orange were coming off one of their better offensive showings of the season: 85 points on the road at No. 5 North Carolina. But that was a loss, just as SU’s prior game against then-No. 1 Duke had been. The Demon Deacons provided a respite, enough so that a solid outing on the attacking end of the floor held up.But it was a different win for the Orange because Syracuse struggled to make 3s. Instead, its offensive dominance came inside, with the Orange winning the battle in the paint, 44-10 — the most paint points for SU in conference play this season.“Defense dictates our offense,” Hughes said. “If we’re not getting going from the 3, then we get stops and get on the breaks.”Out of halftime, Hughes cut backdoor for his first alley-oop jam behind WFU’s zone. A few minutes later, Battle hit two tough pull-ups from the left side of the floor. Shots kept falling from all over, but they weren’t 3-pointers. Hughes caught his second lob a bit later, this time after more telling eye contact with Howard. That put the Orange up 56-37 and extended SU’s run to 10-0, effectively putting Saturday’s game out of reach.“(Hughes) was really good early today,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Tyus was really good the whole game. Those two guys were really solid out there.”A game against Wake Forest didn’t have season-making potential, but it had season-breaking implications. A few days ago, bracketologist Patrick Stevens told The Daily Orange that Syracuse had to avoid a loss to Wake Forest to be in “no real danger” of missing the NCAA Tournament.A year ago, SU was the final at-large team selected to the NCAA Tournament. The season before, Syracuse barely missed and was a one-seed in the National Invitation Tournament. This year, though, the Orange rebounded to propel themselves past a subpar bubble. Preseason point guard injuries and consistent struggles at the center spot didn’t do them in. Neither did two losses in each of November and December.The selection committee has proven to be unpredictable. But barring an unprecedented decision, Saturday’s interior dominance affords the Orange a certain comfort: For the first time in three years, Syracuse should avoid being affected by its instability.“I feel comfortable,” Hughes said of SU’s postseason resume. “I feel confident in where we stand on Selection Sunday, whatever the case may be. I feel like we should be all right.” Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more