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NBA: Bucks waive La Crosse Aquinas grad Bronson Koenig
 
 09.22.17

The Milwaukee Bucks officially waived guard Bronson Koenig on Thursday, but the news wasn’t unexpected or defeating to the Aquinas High School graduate.

Koenig said Thursday evening that he knew “for a couple of weeks” that the news was coming and that it isn’t a real setback on what he still hopes is a path to a playing career in the NBA.

“It doesn’t change anything for me,” Koenig said. “I have more freedom now with other teams being able to contact me.

“The only unfortunate part is that it was done so late because some teams that had interest have signed other players at my position.”

Koenig’s spirits weren’t dampened with the announcement. He spent most of Thursday in Milwaukee doing a photo shoot with Nike and N7, Nike’s brand geared toward its Native American consumers.

After that, he was driving to Madison for a Trevor Hall concert at the Barrymore Theater. Workouts will continue today for a likely upcoming season with the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s G League affiliate in Oshkosh, Wis.

Koenig was on a two-way contract with the Bucks, which was a combination contract between the NBA and G League teams. The next move could end up being a G League contract with the Herd.

Koenig, who signed his two-way contract in July, said the team told him that it wanted to fill its two two-way contracts with players ready to step on the NBA floor immediately.

Utah State’s Jalen Moore was Milwaukee’s other two-way contract, but he was released on Sept. 10, leaving the Bucks with two openings on their roster.

Photos: La Crosse Aquinas grad Bronson Koenig hosts basketball camp in hometown

“There are a lot of rookies that aren’t able to contribute right off the bat, so I understand what they are doing,” said Koenig, who averaged 5.2 points in an average of 15.8 minutes during Milwaukee’s games in the NBA Summer League and has been working with the team since it ended. “If I don’t go to another (NBA) team, I can continue to develop in the G League.”

Koenig, 22, will spend 48 hours on the waiver wire before getting the chance to sign with any other team or the Herd. He said has chosen not to pursue international opportunities at this time.

The 6-foot-4 guard didn’t make the kind of splash he wanted to make in the Summer League, but he was also used out of position. Koenig wasn’t given the chance to play the point and was put more in the role of a spot-up shooter, and he didn’t get many opportunities to show what he believes are his strengths.

Milwaukee also signed 6-4 Kendall Marshall to a training camp contract on Thursday. Marshall played 160 NBA games with four teams since being drafted 13th overall by Phoenix in 2012.

Marshall averaged 4.2 points and 3.1 assists for the Bucks in 2014-2015.

Koenig averaged 9.9 points and made 270 3-pointers during his career with the Badgers. Before that, he helped Aquinas advance to — and win in 2011 and 2013 — the WIAA Division 3 state tournament twice. He was The Associated Press Player of the Year as a senior.

“My playing focus hasn’t changed at all,” Koenig said. “Whether it’s the Herd or another team, this doesn’t change what I’m trying to do.”


Photos: Bronson Koenig hosts basketball camp in La Crosse this summer

Photos: La Crosse Aquinas grad Bronson Koenig hosts basketball camp in hometown

Football
High school football: Logan, Central both ready for Ark of Victory
 
 09.22.17

Christian Kapanke has seen just about everything, but tonight, he and the Logan High School football team are going to have to be ready for just about anything.

Kapanke, the senior linebacker for the Rangers, knows that he and his defensive teammates have their work cut out for them as they try to contain the playmakers that the Central offense will bring to Swanson Field.

High school football: La Crosse Tribune podcast previewing Week 6 games

The Red Raiders offense is led by the combination of dual-threat quarterback Johnny Davis and all-purpose back Greg Kohler, who has caught 31 passes for 434 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for three scores.

Kapanke said that Logan has focused on discipline, technique, and persistence while preparing for a chance to win the Rangers’ sixth straight game in the Ark of Victory series.

“It’s really working on our assignments on defense and making sure everyone is on the same page,” said Kapanke, a second-team All-Tribune linebacker a season ago. “Whereas last week, we weren’t on the same page (in a 28-26 loss to Onalaska), this week, we need to focus more on our own responsibilities, and then we’ll come together as a team.”

One of Kapanke’s duties tonight will be limiting the production of Davis when Central has the ball, especially when plays break down and the sophomore quarterback decides to take off and run.

“It’s mostly wrapping up and tackling, and making sure we go until the whistle blows,” Kapanke said of stopping the Red Raiders signal caller. “It’s really just (focusing your) eyes on his hips, and make sure you break down and tackle him. Not letting him get outside, or letting him have room to run and throw.”

Logan coach Casey Knoble said that defensive coordinator Brock Harney has been hard at work finding ways to both contain and attack the Central offense.

“We’ve got to put some pressure on him and give him some looks that he doesn’t feel comfortable with,” Knoble said of Davis. “We hope that we can keep him reined in and limit the big plays.”

In the middle of any scheme that the Red Rangers come up with will be Kapanke.

“He’s an anchor, as far as knowing all of our schemes, and using his athletic ability,” said Knoble. “In my eyes, pound for pound, he’s one of the toughest kids in this area, when it comes to blocking and tackling and just being an all around football player.”

That means plenty of work on offense too, where Kapanke lines up as fullback, tailback, tight end, or wherever quarterback Matt Escher needs him.

“He’s a pretty dynamic kid, and faster than people think,” Knoble said. We’ve got to keep moving him around.”

Logan will do whatever it takes to add its name in the rivalry record books, and send the senior class out having never lost to its South Side rivals.

“This game definitely means something,” Kapanke said of the Ark of Victory. “We’ve talked about it all week. We don’t want to be the senior class that gives it up. We definitely have our eyes on the prize.”

Knoble said that the recent graduating classes have set the tone for what this rivalry means to the Rangers.

“It’s one of our most focused and intense weeks in practice,” Knoble said. “It means a lot to these guys, and as well it should. When they get after it like that, hopefully they carry it right through to Friday night.”


Pro
Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry set to have hand surgery
 
 09.22.17

GREEN BAY — The day after the Green Bay Packers’ season-opening victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field, Mike McCarthy dared to use the “D” word.

“I thought Nick Perry and Mike Daniels had dominating performances,” the Green Bay Packers coach said.

And, he was right. In a game filled with some of the top players in the league, Daniels and Perry were the best two players on the field.

Against the Seahawks, while Daniels controlled the line of scrimmage, Perry set the edge. They had 1.5 sacks apiece, combined for 16 total tackles and six quarterback hits, Daniels forced a fumble that Kyler Fackrell recovered and Perry broke up a pass.

And now, less than two weeks later, neither of them will be on the field for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

McCarthy announced Thursday morning that Perry was set to undergo surgery on his hand, which he injured in last Sunday night’s loss at Atlanta. While McCarthy gave no details about the injury or a timeline for Perry’s return — including whether the injury is to the same hand he broke last season — surgery doesn’t necessarily mean Perry will miss extended time.

Last December, when he broke multiple fingers on his left hand and underwent surgery to insert screws to realign them, Perry missed two games, then played in the remaining games wearing a bulky club cast to protect his hand.

“Nick Perry, he’s a violent football player. He’s physical, he plays the game the right way. If you look at his play style, that’s really part of his game, the violence that he plays with, with his hands,” McCarthy said Thursday. “Until we get through the surgery, I don’t really have a timeline for you.”

Daniels, who went into the Atlanta game with a hip injury, aggravated it against the Falcons and didn’t practice for the second straight day Thursday. While McCarthy gave no timetable for his return, and Daniels has not yet officially been ruled out, the fact that the Packers’ re-signed veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois on Thursday seems like an ominous sign that Daniels might be sidelined for awhile.

“You guys have heard me say (many times), ‘To be the kind of defense we want to be, we’ve got to have some difference-makers out there.’ Obviously in the first game, those two guys were difference-makers,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “(In) one week, Nick goes out in the first series (against Atlanta), breaks his hand. Mike goes out seven plays into the game. That’s the nature of the NFL. From one series to the next, you can look a lot different.

“That’s where you really have to be ready for guys to step up. You’ve got to have answers, whether it’s a different package that you play or a different guy that’s ready to go at that position. That’ll be the case this week. We’re going to have guys that have to step up and rise to the occasion. That’s the nature of our game. You move guys around and try to find your best 11 combination with the guys that are healthy and available.”

The Packers have a handful of options at outside linebacker while Perry is out, starting with veteran Ahmad Brooks, who was signed before the season opener after being cut by San Francisco. Brooks played just six snaps against the Seahawks before leaving with a concussion that kept him out against Atlanta.

“It’s just unfortunate,” Brooks said of missing time. “I really wanted to come here and show what I was all about from the jump and that’s the very first game of the season. I was upset that I couldn’t do that at that time.”

He’ll get that chance now, although Fackrell and Chris Odom, whom the Packers claimed on waivers at the Sept. 2 cutdown, is also an option.

“I think he’s a great fit for what we’re doing,” McCarthy said. “I really like the way (he plays). I got to see him in practice going into the opener in Seattle. His role will definitely be bigger this week. You’re talking about an excellent player in this league for a long time.”

For Perry, it’s a continuation of his rotten luck injury-wise. Despite a lengthy injury history, the Packers signed him to a five-year, $60 million deal this offseason that paid him $18 million in a guaranteed signing bonus after he recorded a career-high 11 sacks in 2016. Assuming Perry doesn’t play Sunday, it’ll mark the sixth straight year that the 2012 first-round draft pick has missed at least one game.

After playing in only 17 of a possible 32 games his first two seasons in the NFL, Perry had missed only five of a possible 50 games since.

“It’s sucks, for lack of a better term,” said Matthews, who has battled his own injuries in recent years. “But we always try to keep it in perspective — it’s a tough position to play. I mean, I think last year, Julius was the only guy to not miss a game at that outside linebacker position. But for Nick to, this early in the season, mess up his hand like that, we’re just hoping he can get back out there and play as he did with that cast (last year).

“But it’s tough. This position is all about playing with your hands, being explosive, getting off (blocks) and so forth. Hopefully he takes this time to get healthy, rest up. But in the mean time, we’ll expect big things from the guys filling in — like Ahmad, Kyler. We’ll weather the storm.”


Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune  

Bronson Koenig, former University of Wisconsin and Aquinas High School basketball star, leads young players through a drill in July during his Bronson Koenig Shooting Academy at the Mathy Center Boys & Girls Club at Viterbo University.


College
Badgers focusing on themselves during their off week
 
 09.21.17

Chryst

There’s plenty to look forward for the University of Wisconsin football team.

The ninth-ranked Badgers open Big Ten Conference play next week against Northwestern at Camp Randall Stadium, and if they take care of business as a betting favorite over the next month-plus, they’ll figure into the College Football Playoff picture when the first CFP rankings are released on Halloween.

With no opponent this Saturday, though, UW hasn’t focused much attention on those Big Ten teams looming on its schedule.

“The primary focus of the bye week has got to be your team and your players,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said Thursday. “Where are you at right now, and can you take advantage of that extra time to hone in on a couple fundamentals? ... I think it’s all about putting the focus and energy on yourself and making sure you’re improving. That’s what we have to do this week.”

Focusing on themselves also means the Badgers want to give their players adequate rest before grinding out either nine or 10 games in a row beginning next week.

Players lifted on Monday and Tuesday of this week but Chryst gave them off from practice those two days. UW practiced Wednesday and Thursday and plans on taking the field again Friday.

Many of UW’s key first-team players have earned some additional time off this week, giving them extra rest and allowing second-team players to see more reps before potentially being forced into a larger role later in the season.

“There’s going to be a group of guys that are that next guy in, and it’s a really good time for them to get some good work in,” Chryst said. “Maybe they’re not sore after playing a lot of snaps in three games, although we’ve been fortunate to get a lot of players some snaps, but it can be a really good week for our twos.”

Chryst said it’s important to weigh which players need more work than others this week so that the Badgers are able to make a smooth transition back into a normal game week Monday.

“You’re kind of in a rhythm of the season,” he said. “You want to stay sharp, so you try to balance that.”

Dietzen’s status uncertain

Chryst said sophomore left guard Jon Dietzen has made progress with his right leg injury, but his status remains uncertain for next week’s game against Northwestern.

Junior Micah Kapoi replaced Dietzen in the starting lineup in last week’s 40-6 victory at BYU.

“We’ll see,” Chryst said when asked about Dietzen’s availability for next week’s game. “I do feel good that he’s getting better, but we’ll see how that all works out the rest of this week and next week.”


Chryst