The Milan Indians Boys Basketball Teams will be having their Annual Fundraiser Sale coming up.Indians Basketball Fundraiser SaleSubmitted by MIlan Coach Josh Blankinship.
In case you missed it — and I know most of you did — the U.S. team won gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship. And yes, even though it is hockey, it’s still a big deal.Even though it’s not the senior squad — those guys will try for gold in the Olympics next month — any fan of USA Hockey has to be excited that the U-20 team won. Because internationally, America is an underdog in pretty much every major sport except basketball.See, the senior U.S. hockey team — which still is mainly remembered for the 1980 Olympics — has finished third or better just five times in 40 major international tournaments since the “Miracle on Ice.” If international hockey is Major League Baseball, then the Americans (at any level) are the Tampa Bay Rays and the Canadians are the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies all rolled into one.So when the JV boys in the red, white and blue knocked off Canada in a 6-5 overtime thriller, nobody was more surprised than the mainly Canadian crowd of 15,171 that packed the Credit Union Center in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Canada had won the World Junior Championship gold for the past five years and 12 times since 1990, when most of the players on either team were born.The United States on the other hand, had medaled just twice in the WJC since 2000, taking bronze in 2007 and winning the gold in 2004 — under current University of Wisconsin men’s hockey head coach Mike Eaves.So yes, this most recent American victory qualifies as an upset, and a big one at that. It was an instant classic as well, featuring four lead changes and two Canada goals in the last four minutes of regulation to force overtime.Too bad nobody saw it, since it was on the NHL Network in the States, and I’m willing to bet more people have Playboy TV than the NHL Network.But the best part of this for hockey fans in Madison? Three of those gold medal winners play here at Wisconsin.Sophomores Jake Gardiner and Derek Stepan, as well as freshman John Ramage were all key players for Team USA. Stepan and Gardiner were fourth and fifth in plus/minus for the tournament, both going plus-nine. In layman’s terms, the two were on the ice for nine more U.S. goals for than U.S. goals against.Stepan was named team captain and was the tournament’s leading point-getter. His 14 points (4-10-14) led tournament MVP Jordan Eberle of Canada (8-5-13), and he was second on the team with 29 shots on goal.Ramage and Gardiner played strong defense throughout the tournament, with the former posting a respectable plus-five mark. Ramage wasn’t called for a single penalty, and assisted John Carlson’s incredible game-winning goal in the gold medal game. Both defensemen had three assists each in the seven games played.And although the players at the WJC aren’t as old or strong as the competition in NCAA hockey, Eaves said the level of play is still even.“It’s right there,” he said. “And the pace of the game that was there was excellent.”Meanwhile, back in Madison the Badgers “struggled” and went 2-0-1 with a slapped together lineup that used essentially five defensemen.Stepan, Gardiner and Ramage had played in all 18 of UW’s games before missing the Badger Hockey Showdown and an exhibition game against the U.S. U-18 team. While it’s a testament to the depth of the team that Wisconsin beat Merrimack and No. 5 Yale despite missing its biggest playmaker and two regular defensemen, it also shows how important those three are to the Badgers.Stepan is second on the team with 22 points, even though he’s missed two games. While the offense managed to click without him, the defense looked a bit out of sync at times, which is understandable given they were missing two of six regulars.But as important as that trio is to this year’s team (Wisconsin is going to the Frozen Four and anything less will be a disappointment), UW will need them to continue to develop for the future.With a veteran roster that includes seven seniors, UW will need its young guns to keep producing next season and beyond. Wisconsin loses leading goal scorer Blake Geoffrion, shots leader Ben Street and gifted forward Michael Davies to graduation in the spring.If junior defensemen Brendan Smith and Ryan McDonagh bolt for the NHL after this season — and there’s a good chance they will — that leaves five big holes in the lineup, and even more importantly it’s a huge loss of experience.Luckily, despite rumors and reports that Stepan would leave UW for the New York Rangers after this season, Andy Baggot of Madison.com has reported that Stepan is returning for his junior year.While only Ben Street remains from UW’s last national title team, the experience Stepan, Gardiner and Ramage gained in their gold medal run gives UW three more guys that know what it takes to win it all. Eaves said Stepan’s experience as captain will be especially beneficial.“If you’re dressing 20, you want 20 captains. You want everybody to take a piece of that rope and pull in their own way, accept their role,” Eaves said. “If [Stepan’s] role has accelerated where he’s more of a leader because of his experience, then accept that and do that part.”So for UW fans, it might be a coin flip as to who benefitted more from Team USA’s WJC gold — USA Hockey, or the Badgers.If the last few months are any indication, it doesn’t matter — the future looks bright for both.Adam is a junior majoring in journalism. Did you see any of the WJC games? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will the real Trojans please stand up?We’re three weeks into the 2017 season, and we know more or less as much about this USC team as we did heading into opening day. The Trojans kicked off their campaign with an unconvincing win over Western Michigan, rebounded with a statement victory against Stanford but then required two overtime periods to down a double-digit underdog Texas team.Redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season, but he has also been picked off six times — already two-thirds of his 2016 total. The two-headed rushing attack of junior Ronald Jones II and freshman Steven Carr, which shined against the Broncos and the Cardinal, was held to less than three yards per carry against the Longhorns. USC’s defense, though formidable, has appeared prone to the occasional big play, which nearly crushed the team last weekend when Texas marched down the field and took the lead with 45 seconds left to play.The Trojans now hit the road for their first game away from the Coliseum this fall. They will face an undefeated Cal team surging with confidence from its Week 3 upset over Ole Miss — and new head coach Justin Wilcox will be eager to exact revenge on his former team (he was USC’s defensive coordinator under former head coach Steve Sarkisian). Though the Bears endured a brutal 2016 campaign, they picked up an opening-week win at North Carolina in addition to beating Ole Miss, and they could very well give the Trojans their biggest test of the year so far come Saturday.But another battle of attrition could spell trouble for this banged-up USC squad, which can ill-afford more injuries — let alone a loss. A slew of key players have been on the sidelines during practice this week, including Jones, junior linebacker Porter Gustin and three other starters. Of course, the Trojans’ injury issues will only make their task more difficult against the hungry Bears.Fortunately, USC can take heart looking back at last year’s matchup. Even if Wilcox’s presence is a massive boost to the defense, this is largely the same roster that allowed USC to torch them for 629 total yards on offense in 2016; Trojan runners bowled the Bears over for 398 yards while Darnold rang up five scores through the air. Granted, 163 of USC’s receiving yards came from JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers, but junior wideout Deontay Burnett, who has racked up more than 120 yards in four consecutive games dating back to the Rose Bowl, should still keep Cal’s defense very busy.However, can Jones and Carr rebound from their tough night versus Texas? Will a potentially depleted receiving corps get open for Darnold?Can Darnold himself avoid giving the ball away to a Cal defense that ranks third in the FBS in forced turnovers? There is still plenty of confidence in this program, especially after last week’s dramatic win, but the feeling of invincibility that made fans chant “We want ’Bama” last year is fading rapidly. Whether it’s due to unlucky bounces or lack of chemistry, USC hasn’t completely clicked yet this season, and paranoid fans are starting to see upsets looming around every corner.But there still remains a feeling that — when push comes to shove — the Trojans will jump on Darnold’s back and pull through. There was no better example of it than last weekend (save for maybe the Rose Bowl). Darnold, despite his two picks on the game, came out firing with no fear and deadly efficiency with less than a minute on the clock and no timeouts. From the second USC went down, the Trojans’ quarterback was spectacular, showing off his mobility, pocket presence and unmatched improvisational ability.Even with all Darnold’s ability, though, it’s impossible to expect that from him every week. If they keep trying their luck, the Trojans will eventually wind up on the losing end of one of these nail-biters, especially away from home. USC hasn’t seen a deficit it couldn’t overcome in a full calendar year. You wouldn’t expect that streak to come to an end against Cal, who the Trojans haven’t lost to since 2003, but you can be sure the Bears smell blood after USC’s close call against Texas. Depending on which version of the Trojans shows up at Memorial Stadium, we could be in for another heart-stopper.This team has been more roller coaster than hype train so far this season, but I’m still all in. With all the playmaking talent USC has on either side of the ball, there’s no question there is championship quality on this roster — and right now, there doesn’t seem to be a more automatic player in football than Darnold in clutch situations. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Trojans took care of the Longhorns last week. Now it’s time for the bear hunt.Ollie Jung is a senior studying print and digital journalism. He is also a sports editor for the Daily Trojan. His column, Jung Money, runs Fridays.
DES MOINES — The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved the latest version of the five-year road improvement plan.The pandemic has created some uncertainty about the state funding sources — but DOT planner Stuart Anderson says the commission adjusted. “The forecasts that commission used were all done pre-COVID-19, and in discussions with the commission, they decided to continue using those forecasts for the development of this program,” according to Anderson. This is a five-year program and hopefully, those impacts of COVID-19 don’t extend a real long period in that five-year program.”Anderson says the Transportation Commission has for the last several years used a stewardship approach in setting projects. “Which really means putting more money into rebuilding and repairing existing roads and bridges. Doing more modernization improvements along existing infrastructure,” Anderson says.New additions to the program this year include six-lane improvements on I-35 in Polk and Story Counties, I-74 Mississippi River Bridge replacement in Bettendorf, I-80/380 Interchange reconstruction near Iowa City, six-lane improvements on I-80 in Dallas and Johnson Counties, I-80 Mississippi River Bridge replacement in Scott County, I-380/Tower Terrace interchange construction in Hiawatha, and the interstate system reconstruction in Council Bluffs.He says they also added work to increase the resiliency of Iowa Highway 2 in southwest Iowa along the Missouri River to increase the elevation for the area that has seen a lot of flooding. Anderson says the amount of money spent on the road plan has stayed pretty stable. He says it was $3.5 billion last year and this year it is $3.6 billion. “The state funding is relatively flat. We of course has the fuel tax increase in 2015, which provided a big bump in funding.”You can see the complete plan on the Iowa DOT’s website.