Fiammetta: Enthusiastic postseason hopes simply illusions

first_imgCOLUMBUS, Ohio – Wisconsin’s first trip to Ohio Stadium since 2009 was so cruel to the Badgers that you’d have to wonder if some sort of karmic revolt conspired to shatter the hearts of Bret Bielema & co. one more time.In the span of one week, the Badgers have plummeted from a team with national title aspirations, and a quarterback with Heisman Trophy hopes, to one wondering how far it can sputter with the wheels fallen off and the season having taken the worst possible turn.But for all the misery that, for whatever reasons, struck a team and a fan base so gosh-darn happy to finally have a seemingly elite squad that would once again carry Wisconsin to the BCS promised land, there are very clear reasons why it was all a flash in the pan. The Badgers, for all their sheer brilliance through the season’s first six games, are simply not as good as everyone thought.It was absolutely so exciting for Wisconsin to get behind Russell Wilson and drive the RussellManiaXVI Heisman campaign, and the fact that a Rose Bowl berth was suddenly designated as Plan B is a resounding testament to the progress this program has made over the past two years.And while a return trip to Pasadena remains scarcely feasible, the Badgers’ first two true road tests of the season proved that this team just wasn’t ready for actual upper-echelon status. Calling them “fraudulent” is likely a bit excessive – they did fall by a combined 10 points in two of the toughest environments in the country – but the Badgers showed over the past two weeks that all the illusions of grandeur envisaged in Madison really were just illusions.The statement reeks of clich? over-simplification, but to a great extent, it’s true – legitimately great teams win on the road. Squads “destined” for postseason greatness do not allow two blocked punts in back-to-back weekends, on the road in the heart of the Big Ten schedule. Teams that finish atop conference standings and computer rankings follow up on quick starts; they don’t get outscored 26-0 in the second quarters of two games after opening the first quarters with 21 unanswered points.The realizations discovered Saturday night in Columbus are harsh, and the numbers only bolster their sting. Wilson finished 20-of-32 for 253 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, but he missed more throws than he had in any game (as a Badger) to date. Montee Ball, despite finishing with a 5-yards-per-carry average, was held to just 85 yards and one touchdown rushing and receiving respectively. Wisconsin’s rushing attack as a whole mustered only 89 yards, the first time the Badgers have failed to eclipse the 100-yard mark since Nov. 21, 2009, at Northwestern.Wisconsin even exited Ohio Stadium with a plus-one turnover margin, though its greatest miscue – the blocked punt in the third quarter – proved more critical than any negative play from Ohio State. The blunders committed by the Badgers over the past two games have been so monumental that it’s a wonder they were able to mount desperate comebacks not only once, but twice.That speaks to the unmistakable talent on this team, but it also highlights a sizable void that, until it’s filled, will bar Wisconsin from maximizing its potential. The Badgers lost so much following the Rose Bowl – J.J. Watt’s mesmerizing ability to produce in the biggest moments and his sheer willpower, as well as the aggressive leadership on and off the field of Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt – that it’s kind of a wonder national title hopes once seemed so genuine.The abrupt fall from grace normally would provoke questions regarding the leadership on this team, but even the most brief look at Wisconsin’s four captains seems to debunk them. Wilson, though far from perfect against the Buckeyes, put the Badgers firmly in the national title picture and very nearly avoided this midseason collapse with two stellar late, late comebacks on the road. Bradie Ewing, reliable as ever, played one of his finest games in Columbus, providing a tremendous safety blanket for Wilson in the passing game in addition to usual well-rounded contributions. Aaron Henry and Patrick Butrym continue to lead as necessary and produce without much fanfare, though they’ve clearly anchored their respective positions.Perhaps a different picture has unfolded behind the scenes, in the locker room, than the one that’s been painted under the spotlight of the media. Speculating any further is an injustice to a team that nevertheless has put itself in position to have something to play for in November and December. With some help – and/or further chaos in the Big Ten – a trip to the conference title game in Indianapolis is indeed still possible, though the Badgers absolutely must win the remainder of their games.So many questions were born Saturday night, and a few more answers likely would provide a little relief for a fan base that is aching for some. With that said, the most concrete takeaway from this weekend is obvious. For all the promise this season appeared to hold, the Badgers were just not for real.Mike is a senior majoring in journalism. Where does this team go from here? Share your thoughts with him on Twitter @mikefiammetta and be sure to follow @BHeraldSports for all the latest Badgers news.last_img read more

Caribbean showcased ‘celebration of cricket’: Richardson

first_imgICC chief executive Dave Richardson, has hailed the just concluded Women’s Twenty20 World Cup as a major success, noting the large crowds and excitement which accompanied the tournament had made for a “celebration of cricket” in the Caribbean region.The November 9-24 tournament was the first ICC stand-alone women’s T20 event and it saw three-time champions Australia clinch yet another title after prevailing over arch-nemeses England by eight wickets in Saturday’s final at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium here.Cricket WI congratulated“I would like to congratulate Cricket West Indies for organizing a tournament that proved to be a celebration of cricket. The crowds came out in thousands to watch and the tournament displayed the love people in this part of the world have for the game,” Richardson said.Commitment to back women’s cricket “We saw some memorable performances and milestones being achieved and I would like to thank all the teams for putting up their best and showing the world what women’s cricket is all about. The ICC is committed to backing both women’s cricket and the T20 format and this tournament has played a significant part in that.”He added: “This tournament has been watched around the world and I’m sure the quality of cricket displayed during the tournament will inspire girls across continents to pick up a bat or a ball and play cricket.”It was the second time for the Caribbean hosting the ICC T20 World Cup, following on from the successful staging of the 2010 edition. In 2007, the region hosted its first-ever ICC tournament when it put on the 50-overs World Cup.For this tournament, preliminary matches were staged in Guyana and St Lucia, with the semi-finals and final played here in Antigua.Large crowds were a hallmark of the tournament, especially for West Indies’ final preliminary match against England in St Lucia and the semis and final.last_img read more

Churches to begin providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants

first_imgOrganizers don’t believe immigration agents will make arrests inside the churches. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has not tried to arrest Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant who has taken shelter at a Methodist church in Chicago since August. ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice declined to say if agents would attempt to arrest others who take sanctuary in churches, although she did say agents have “the authority to arrest those who are in violation of our immigration laws anywhere in the United States.” Participating churches in San Diego, Seattle, Chicago and New York won’t initially house illegal immigrants. Instead, leaders will provide legal counsel, accompany people to court hearings and prepare plans to house them in churches if authorities try to deport them. In New York, religious leaders gathered at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Paul the Apostle and said their promise of sanctuary could include financial assistance, legal help and physical protection, if necessary. LOS ANGELES – Two churches intend to give sanctuary to illegal immigrants to protect them from deportation and pressure lawmakers to provide a chance at U.S. citizenship. Beginning Wednesday afternoon, a Catholic church in downtown Los Angeles and a Lutheran church in North Hollywood each intend to shelter one person as part of the “New Sanctuary Movement.” A handful of churches in other U.S. cities plan similar efforts in the months ahead to spotlight the plight of illegal immigrants. “We want to put a human face to very complex immigration laws and awaken the consciousness of the human spirit,” said Father Richard Estrada of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Los Angeles, where one illegal immigrant will live. “For us, sanctuary is an act of radical hospitality, the welcoming of the stranger who is like ourselves, the stranger in our midst, our neighbors, our friends,” said Rabbi Michael Feinberg of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition. Two families facing deportation stood with the religious leaders. Jani, a U.S. citizen who did not give her last name, said her Haitian-born husband Jean is facing deportation because of a 1989 drug conviction in the U.S. that put him in prison for 11 years. She said the family would take refuge in a church, if necessary, rather than be separated. Anti-illegal immigration groups called the sanctuary effort misguided. The faith groups “don’t seem to realize that they are being charitable with someone else’s resources, and that’s not charity,” said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors limits on immigration. “We are talking about illegal immigrants taking someone else’s job, filling up the classroom of someone else’s child,” he said. The sanctuary effort is loosely based on a movement in the 1980s, when churches harbored Central American refugees fleeing wars in their home countries. Organizers of the current movement include members of the Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and other faiths. The plans come as immigration reform legislation has been stalled since last summer, and tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have been detained and deported in stepped-up immigration raids in recent months. The first to receive refuge in Los Angeles will be a single father from Mexico who has two children who are U.S. citizens, said Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, executive director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, an interfaith association spearheading the national plans. The man, whose name was not released, worked 17 years as a cook at Los Angeles International Airport before getting injured on the job more than a year ago, she said. He has been unable to work and is facing deportation. “If he goes back to Mexico, the family will literally not have enough food to eat,” she said. The other church will shelter an unidentified Guatemalan man who runs a small gardening business and has two U.S. citizen children. He fled Guatemala in the 1990s during its civil war. He has been denied political asylum and is facing deportation. The churches put out calls for immigrants who were willing and wanted to take part in the sanctuary movement. Immigrants were screened to make sure they paid taxes and didn’t have criminal backgrounds, Salvatierra said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more