Monthly Archives: November 2016

BUCKS’ MESSING WITH MONROE

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the NBA. Let’s get that out in the open right now. I do have some common sense, though, and that is something the Bucks seem to be lacking.

Someone please tell me why Jason Kidd has just about benched his best center – Greg (Moose) Monroe?

While averaging only 17.6 minutes a game Monroe is second on the team in rebounds (6.3) and steals (1.25), literally tied for third in points (8.4), third in blocks (0.58) and tied for fourth in assists (2.3).

He is playing behind John Henson, who in 17 minutes, averages (4.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1 BPG) and Miles Plumlee, who in 13.1 minutes, averages (2.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG).

Let’s take a closer look at this.

TRADE MONROE

It is the worst kept secret that the Bucks have tried to trade Monroe. So how do you help Monroe’s trade value if you sit him on the bench? Unless there is a deal made and they don’t want him to get hurt, by not playing him you are making one of two weakest position (along with the 2 guard) weaker and hurt his trade value.

NBA HAS CHANGED

I have read enough stories about how the NBA as changed. You don’t need a center anymore, everyone is running up and down the court, yada, yada, yada. That is not Monroe’s game, I know. So what if Plumlee and Henson can run up and down the court better than Moose, this is the NBA and not the NCCA (National Cross Country Association).

HE’S A BLACK HOLE

People whine because they say the ball goes into him and doesn’t come out. He’s fourth on the team in assists per game so he must be passing it to someone!  And if the ball does go inside to Monroe and he scores, that is something that Plumlee and Henson seem to be incapable of doing.

MONROE’S NOT THE PROBLEM

The problem lies in the front office. No matter what is being said, John Hammond is not calling all the shots. Kidd, who knows less about personnel than he does coaching, also has his fingers in the pie. And I have a feeling ownership does also.

Monroe did not change the type of player he is when the Bucks signed him. He has the ability to average a double-double – and there aren’t a lot of players who can say that. He was not brought here to block shots and shut down the other team’s center. So why do I have to listen to the experts complaining about that. That is not who he is.

I like Henson’s inside game, his defense around the basket and his little left handed hook, but he needs to develop another shot or two. Plumlee has that ability to run up and down the court and not get many results, although I stress in his defense, not from a lack of hustle.

But the bottom line is this. Monroe needs to play more minutes, with Henson as the closer and Plumlee filling in the rest. Even if Monroe comes off the bench to give the second team some scoring power, the minutes should increase.

It’s not really brain surgery.

A Lot to be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday behind Christmas.  Except for my West Coast family – Marty, Ann and my little man, Ayden (just turned one), I have my Wisconsin clan together.

We sold our house two years ago and my daughters are now hosting the holidays to give their mom a break. Tina, my youngest daughter, Nick, her husband, and my grandkids Aria (3 years old) and Sweet Lew (he’ll be 1 in Feb) will host Thanksgiving in Stoughton. My wife, Kathy, and youngest kid, Scott, will be making that trip.

My oldest, Jessi, and her husband – those of you who follow me on Twitter know him as ‘Big Jon Moore,’ and my granddaughter, Angie, will host Xmas. That’s the best day of the year for me because all my family is together.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

  • My wonderful wife, Kathy, who has put up with me for 41 years. The lady is a saint – and she is my saint.
  • Four great kids.
  • Two wonderful son-in-laws and a wonderful daughter-in-law.
  • Four cool grandkids (so far, hint, hint) – two girls and two boys.

Yeah, I am a very lucky guy.

I retired on June 30 and I have been enjoying life because I’m still doing what I love – writing about prep athletes on my web site Preps2Pros.net.  It has definitely been a successful project in the initial going.

I couldn’t have done this without two people.

First, my son, Marty, a film editor in Hollywood (he is currently working on the popular show called ‘Supernatural’). Marty has set up the site and taught me how to put it together. And for that I am thankful.

The second person I am thankful for is Al Herzberg, who handles all the beautiful photography which goes with the prep features. Al and I have a passion for prep sports and it shows in our work.

I will be adding to my site soon. When I left the Milwaukee Brewers, I wrote a book called ‘If you wanna have fun, go someplace else, a humorous insight look at major league baseball.’

That book sold out many years ago, but Marty suggested I do an audio book on it, which I have done and hopefully it will be on the site for people to purchase soon.

I also hope to do a pod cast early next year once I work out the details.

Finally, next spring I hope to come out with my next book – “Wanna Hear Something Funny,” a humorous and emotional piece – kind of like my memoirs.

Well, that’s it for now. So please have a happy and safe holiday and look around – we all have things we should be thankful for and Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to think about them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lancers’ Caroline Busch – Becoming the Total Package

Lancers' Caroline Busch is

Becoming the Total Package

Head basketball coach Mallory Liebl was very familiar with Brookfield Central star Caroline Busch when the former Divine Savior Holy Angels assistant took the Lancers job three years ago.

Liebl not only had the chance to observe the talented Busch at the high school level, but she also coached her with the Wisconsin Impact club team in seventh and eighth grade.

"I first saw her in seventh grade, but I coached a different club," she said. "It was a really big plus for us my first year here. I already had that relationship with her when I was at DSHA and she was a freshman here. We would talk all the time when we were on vacation or after a game I watched her play, if I was scouting.

"I put a lot of trust in her (when Liebl came over to coach Central) and she had a lot on her shoulders. It made the trust come a lot faster."

Busch has put together an outstanding career at Central, ranking fourth in scoring and eighth in rebounding and assists going into this season. She also holds the school single-season 3-point record with 69 points, set last season.

"I was a little bit surprised at the amount of responsibility she had to take on as a freshman," Liebl said. "I thought she did a really, really good job. She was a shooter from the beginning, but she had to be a point guard at other times.

"I have always thought very, very highly of her as a leader. Someone who doesn't back down ever. One of the three toughest kids I've ever coached."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Busch moved to Wisconsin from Michigan when she was 7 years old. When she was 4-5 years old, she and one of her friends were put on a rec team made up of all boys.

"We were the only two girls on it," Caroline recalled. "My dad was the one of the coaches. I held my own."

After moving to Wisconsin, she started playing in the Jr. Lancers program in fourth grade.

"One of the things that got me to love it was that our team was so close," she said. "We still have five girls from that team playing varsity right now (including her twin sister, Elizabeth). The team chemistry that we had was a big thing."

Although she has a more rounded game now, Busch is more well-known for her long-range shooting. She had 34 3-point shots as a freshman and then set the school record with 64 as a sophomore before breaking it again last season.

"That's what a lot of people have known me by," Busch said of her long-range shooting. "A lot of the other stuff I do goes under the radar. When I was younger, I was always one of the smaller players on the team. (Outside) shooting was one of the things I worked on more instead of shooting in the post.

"I always turned to shooting more. I think freshman year was when I got the confidence and figured out I was a pretty good shooter when I took the role of point guard. I think that was when I really got the confidence in my shooting."

As a freshman, Caroline averaged 6.0 points per game and was second on the team in 3-point shots and 3-point percentage (.405) to all-star guard Lydia Rohde (58, .492). Her switching to point guard made the Lancers better, so the talented Rohde could move to the No. 2 guard position and focus on her scoring.

I have always thought very, very highly of her as a leader. Someone who doesn’t back down ever. One of the three toughest kids I’ve ever coached.”

Central coach Mallory Liebl

Central finished 21-5 and 11-3, tied for second in the Greater Metro Conference her first season and she earned honorable mention recognition.

Then her sophomore year Central finished 16-9 and 10-4, tied for second in the GMC in Liebl's first season as coach.

Caroline led the team in scoring (14.5 ppg), field goal percentage (.542), free throws made (67), free throw percentage (.817), 3-pointers made, rebounds (6.6), assists (2.6) and tied for first in steals (1.3). She was second in 3-point percentage (.496).

She earned first-team all-conference for her performance.

Last season Central was 19-6 and 11-3, second in the GMC and Busch earned first team all-conference once again.

She led the team in scoring (13.8), 3-pointers, 3-point percentage (.457), rebounds (6.7), assists (2.7) and steals (1.4).

Liebl points out there is much more to Caroline's game than just shooting.

"She can definitely shoot the ball," Liebl said. "But I don't think she gets enough credit defensively. Her rebounding last year - she was one of our rebounding leaders. She will hustle all the time. She's becoming more of a playmaker for us, which is huge; we need that. Just all-around, she's a really, really,  good, solid player."

When Busch was asked - besides shooting - what did she think her strength was, she had an interesting answer.

"One of my main strengths is how I hold myself on the court," she said. "A lot of people tell me whether I'm playing really well or playing really bad, I just look the same. I never get too high with the highs or low with the lows. Just being able to play through all types of situations is one of my strengths."

Both Liebl and Busch were on the same page when asked what Caroline needed to work on.

"She is becoming more of an offensive threat from inside the 3-point line," Liebl said, "which she knows she has to do. She knows she's going to have to get to the basket and become a scorer from inside. Being able to handle the pressure of being guarded closely she is just going to continue to get better at all levels."

Busch agreed with her coach on what she needs to work on.

"I want to be able to drive to the basket to go all the way or pull up and hit a jump shot instead of just looking for the 3-pointer," she said.

Liebl talked about her two-time captain's leadership skills.

"From my perspective she's a quiet leader," she said. "She is not a quiet person. But she leads by example. She is the kid I get on the most since I have started coaching her. But she shows how to take a coach pushing a kid.

"When she needs to speak up, she'll speak up. But she's definitely not the most vocal person. She leads by her actions."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Busch admits she does lead by example.

"I'm definitely more the quiet and reserved leader," she said. "I will definitely try to lead by example. I'll be vocal sometimes, but I'm not always telling people what to work on. If I see something they're doing wrong that I can help fix, I'll do that.

"In spring practice some of the new girls would get confused and come to me or the other seniors. Claire Haynes is our other captain."

Busch has been happy to see her hard work pay off. The Lancers are 56-20 (.737) overall and 32-10 (.762) in Caroline three seasons.

"Looking back at the past three years and looking ahead to this year, it definitely makes me happy and excited to see all the hard work, the time and the commitment to this sport is so far paying off for the most part. I'm just looking forward to seeing what this year can hold for me and my team, so I'm excited.

Busch has not doubt what her and the team's goal is this season.

"One of my goals since fourth and fifth grade is to make it to state," she said. "That is my main senior goal and I think that is the team's main goal. Just work hard, practice hard and make this happen."

So what does Busch have to do for the Lancers be successful according to Liebl?

"Everything," she laughed. "She needs to continue to believe in herself, her ability that she brings to this team. Not putting so much pressure on herself. Just being the player she is, the leader she is, continue to push her teammates.

"If she can do that we're going to have a very good season."

QUESTIONS FOR CAROLINE BUSCH

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Grilled Chicken
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP: Taylor Swift.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  One Tree Hill, Grey's Anatomy.
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Anatomy & Physiology.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Alaska.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Outdoor Activities.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE: Divine Savior Holy Angels.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Defeating top-seeded Milwaukee King in overtime in regional her sophomore year.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Attend college. Major in Business.

I’ve figured out why the Bucks disappoint me

Like a lot of people, I was hopeful (not expecting) the Milwaukee Bucks to be a contender for a playoff berth. When Khris Middleton was injured any hope the Bucks had of making the playoffs went out the window. If you disagree with me, let’s put some cash on it.

To say the Bucks have driven me crazy is an understatement. Their losses to some of the garbage teams – and please don’t tell me anyone can beat anyone in the NBA – because I will tell you where you can stick that idea. If the favored team comes prepared, is more talented and comes to play (gives an effort), they will always win – PERIOD.

I have other things to do than waste two hours watching someone who is playing poorly or not giving an effort like I have seen the Bucks do.

As much as I want to watch the Bucks, I couldn’t figure out why I was so upset. Finally, the ‘light went on.’

Like many others, I really was looking at the Bucks as contenders, not as a building team. I realized l needed to watch the Bucks like I watched the Brewers.

The Brewers surpassed my expectations this year. I found them competitive, I saw them start to develop some players and I look for positives when they lose. So when I watch the Bucks from now on I will treat them as a rebuilding team, not as a contender.

They have already have more talent than the Brewers, which is easier to do in basketball, but I will not expect them to beat the bad teams like they should or even hope they can beat a good team consistently.

That way maybe they will surprise me and I will look for positives in the individual play.

In my opinion, the biggest difference is the Brewers have a plan and are sticking to it. I have no clue what the Bucks plan is. Some of their moves were confusing (Miles Plumlee, give me a break). I didn’t like Michael Carter-Williams put they gave the kid away. And Jason Kidd’s use of the rotation is frightening. It’s like he’s pulling names out of a hat.

So now that I have changed the way I will watch the Bucks I’m looking forward to it again.

I just hope my patience can hold up.

For Tosa East’s Aaron Plaisted, Tradition is important

For Tosa East's Aaron Plaisted

Tradition has always been important


Like in the play 'Fiddler on the Roof,' tradition has always played a part in Aaron Plaisted's volleyball career.

Plaisted, a four-year varsity starter for Wauwatosa East, began playing when he was 10 years old for the North Shore Volleyball Club, which is now the Milwaukee Volleyball Club (MVC). This week he followed in his brother Ben's footsteps and was named boys volleyball State Player of the Year by the Wisconsin Boys Volleyball Coaches Association.

His father, Jim, and Tosa East boys volleyball coach John Simon founded the club in 1990, and Jim is an assistant coach for the B17 team. Jim also was an assistant coach at Wauwatosa East High School in 2007 and 2011-2013; 2015.

An outstanding volleyball high school player, Jim played three years at Whitefish Bay and was the Most Valuable Player of Suburban Conference in 1980 when his team won the title.

Aaron's older brother, Ben, also played for the Red Raiders and was the Wisconsin Player of the Year his senior season (2014). He holds several records at Tosa East and is currently a junior on the Loyola University Chicago volleyball team, which won the national championship in 2015.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC


"Part of it was the family tradition," Aaron said when asked about why he got into volleyball. "It's just been a thing in the family. It's a lot of fun and I get a lot of knowledge for the game and I like playing it."

Growing up and then playing on the team with his big brother was also a benefit.

"It's nice having a player like him to look up to, especially when I was younger," he said. "He was always ahead of me at the game and he is playing at a high level right now. It's good to look up to him as a player. It is also a good drive for me to try and be better than him."

Ben was also ready to help out Aaron and his teammates and that is something that Aaron has carried on.

"He was a big help when I was a freshman and he was a senior and we both played on varsity. He was a big help to our team and to me. He gave me a lot of pointers. He helped me out, keeping my head up."

Simon pointed out he knew he had something special in Aaron.

"I typically don't keep freshman on varsity," he said. "But as a freshman, he came in and was clearly one of the better players. I had him at libero his freshman year. He was a good ballhandler, he could pass, he could play defense and he wasn't really tall enough to handle the load to be an outside hitter in high school.

"In 30 years of coaching, he was the second freshman to make the varisty (Andy Patton was the other in 2002)."

He has a higher volleyball IQ than more than 90 percent of all the volleyball people, including some coaches.”

Coach John Simon

Aaron now plays left outside hitter for the Red Raiders, but he is Simon's most versatile player.

"He is so multi-faceted," the veteran coach said. "He was a libero as a freshman. He can play right side, left side, I had him setting. His skill set is as completely developed in all facets of the game.

"It makes it easy for me. I'll tell him 'I'll plug you in here. I will plug you in there.' I can find a spot, the best spot for him. Last year he played the right side. This year we wanted to get him the ball more, so we played him on the left side. I had to have him in a place where he was receiving a serve."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

"I think I have a higher volleyball IQ than most players," Aaron said. "I think that comes from a lot of years of experience since I'm been playing since I was 10 and most kids get into volleyball when they're in high school. I do think I have a good arm swing and I swing pretty hard."

But Aaron knows his game isn't perfect.

"In volleyball there is always stuff to work on, it's a game of errors, pretty much," he said. "I maybe have to work on my shot selection with hitting. I can hit better shots, keeping discipline."

Simon agrees with his star player.

"He hits the ball really, really hard in a certain spot. Now he defaults to one spot in his wheelhouse," he said. "If a blocker knows that, gets in the right place, they can block that.

"So he has to work on not only hitting that power shot, but he has to hit that crosscourt shot. He has to be able to hit the line shot. He has to be able to hit them all."

Aaron is a team captain for the second year in a row. He talked about being a leader on the team this year.

"I really try and be a vocal leader and I talk a lot on the court," he said. "I encourage people to talk a lot with me. That's a big part of volleyball. If you're not talking on the court (there is a problem).

"With all the younger guys we have, with all the knowledge I have, I try to spread it around as much as possible. I always try to pick kids up when they're down. I try to encourage my teammates to do the same. Like I said, mentality is a big part of volleyball."

Simon pointed out that Aaron was a captain as a junior, which doesn't happen too often, along with a senior teammate.

"He defaulted to the senior last year, but this year he took on a more proactive role in helping other kids come along," Simon said. "He's played on a very high level club team. When you leave the club scene with the best players around and you come to your high school team, those kids aren't as invested as you are. You have to bring them around.

"I said, 'Aaron they're excited to play with you because you're the best player around.' He kind of bought into that. I could see him help the kids on the high school team with their technique."

Simon then paid Aaron one of the highest compliments I have ever heard a coach give.

"He has a higher volleyball IQ than more than 90 percent of all the volleyball people, including some coaches."

It is not surprising that a talent like Aaron had high expectations for the season.

"My goal is to play at the highest level possible at all times," he said. Along with coach Simon doing a great job of coaching us, I try to coach myself personally all the time; trying to figure out things I can get better at. Small things - as little as keeping my elbow up when I swing.

"As for the team, we set our expectations high. Now that we're getting into the playoffs, we set our goals one at a time and focus on the game ahead of us."

The Red Raiders played in the WIAA State Tournament last weekend at Wisconsin Lutheran College. They beat Arrowhead, 3-1, but lost to Marquette, 3-0, in the semifinals. Aaron finished with 27 kills in the two games and 12 digs.

It was the 10th time in the school's history the Red Raiders went to state, having made it in 2014, Aaron's sophomore year.

"The atmosphere at state was probably one of the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen," he said looking back at his sophomore year. "We had like 3/4 of our school there. It was awesome. Right as I walked out of the locker room, I didn't expect to see that many people there. When I did, I got some huge chills."

Aaron then tipped his cap to the Red Raiders' supporters.

"We have crazy fans," he said. "The guys who are getting rowdy (in a good way) in the stands are normally my best friends. It's awesome to have them talking. I can always hear them in my ear."

This season Aaron was the Player of the Year in the Greater Metro Conference and a first-team all-conference choice the second straight season. He was honorable mention in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He was also All-State honorable mention as a junior and Volleyball Magazine's Top 25 players to watch as a junior.

He was also invited to USA volleyball A1 training and made the all-tournament team in 2014 (top 40 players in the country).

Looking back at his career, Aaron summed it up simply.

" It went really fast, I thought, and it's been a lot of fun; very exciting."

Simon saw it a little differently.

"It a roller coaster ride. His freshman year he's libero. His brother is State Player of the year and Brookfield East breaks our heart in the sectional final.

"His sophomore year we're under .500 and we the break Brookfield East's heart in the sectional final and go to state. Last year in the sectional final vs Brookfield East - thinking we have a good chance (to go to state) and they beat us. So it's been up and down, up and down. Thankfully it was another 'up'.

"He is so talented. He had a great run here."

QUESTIONS FOR AARON PLAISTED

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Qdoba Burrito.
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP: Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lomar.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: Comedies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Californication comedy series.
  • FAVORITE CLASS: AP Government.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: San Francisco.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Listen to music.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE: Wauwatosa West, Brookfield East, Marquette.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Beating Brookfield East sophomore year to go to state; pitching a shutout against Sussex Hamilton.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Play volleyball in college. Interested in Urban Planning

He has a higher volleyball IQ than more than 90 percent of all the volleyball people, including some coaches.”

Coach John Simon

Preps Potpourri

What a great weekend for my local prep sports teams and individuals, topped off by Brookfield East qualifying for the WIAA State Football Finals for the first time ever.

GO SPARTANS

Where as running back Sam Santiago-Lloyd and quarterback Jake Graf get a ton of well-deserved credit, a tip of the cap should go to their big offensive line led by Max Aslin.

Don’t forget that defense, led by linebacker Brad Dati (117 tackles, 4 sacks), DL Caleb Wright (82 tackles) and DB Cam McDonald (77 tackles, 2 interceptions), among others.

The Spartans play for the Division 2 Title against Monona Grove at 1 p.m. Friday.

Congrats to coach Ben Farley in his first season of running the show after being defensive coordinator under the now retired Tom Swittel, who initially turned a struggling program around.

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

Wauwatosa East went 1-1 at the state volleyball tournament, defeating Arrowhead, 3-0, before losing to second-place Marquette, 3-0. New Berlin United also split, defeating defending state champion Kaukauna, 3-0, before losing to eventual champion Catholic Memorial, 3-1.

Veteran coach John Simon led Aaron Plaisted and the Red Raiders. First-year coach Nick Maske led Kyle Kraninger and the United.

Look for my feature on Plaisted beginning on Nov. 17.

GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING

DIVISION 1

Brookfield Central finished 8th as a team at the WIAA State Swimming & Diving Meet last weekend.

The Lancers were led by Gwen Gustafson, who was first in the 50 freestyle and fourth in the 100 free and Caitlin Locante was third in state in Division 1, 1-meter diving,

Central was fifth in the 200 free relay behind Anna Kult, Maggie Teng, Natalie Daniel and Gustafson and 11th in the 400 free relay behind Kult, Teng, Daniel and Gustafson.

Brookfield East’s Leah Westcott was 7th in the 500 freestyle and 11th in the 200 IM, Daniel was 8th in the 200 freestyle and 11th in the 100 butterfly and East’s Zoe Woods was 9th in the 100 backstroke.

Teng was 10th in the 100 breaststroke, East’s 200 medley relay was 14th behind Woods, Westcott, Reegan Tiltmann and Emma Smith and Kault was 16th in the 100 breast.

DIVISION 2

New Berlin Eisenhower’s Bella Passamani won the 100 butterfly and was second in the 500 free.

New Berlin West’s Dailey Albino was third and Sarah Hamilton was seventh and Ike’s Brooke Sullivan was 16th, all scoring points in the Division 2, 1-meter diving.

Eisenhower’s Maddie Guman was third in the 100 backstroke and Eisenhower’s 200 medley relay was fourth behind Guman, Anna Oleniczak, Emma Oleniczak and Passamani.

In the 200 free, Julia Larson of Wauwatosa West finished third and tied for sixth in the 100 free.

Paige Pelikan of New Berlin West was fifth in the 100 free and 7th in the 100 backstroke and Ike’s Anna Oleniczak was 8th in the 100 breaststroke.

Ike was 7th in the 400 free relay behind Anna Oleniczak, Emma Oleniczak, Guman and Passamani.

Gabby Hrdlick of Brookfield Academy was 12th in 100 free and Emma Oleniczak was 14th in the 100 breast.

Emma Oleniczak was 10th in the 100 fly, Hrdlick was seventh in the 500 free, Gruman and Marsan were 11th and 12th in the 100 free.

In the 50 free Marsan was 5th in the 50 free, in the 200 IM and Anna Oleniczak was 7th,

The Tosa West 400 free relay was 13th behind Megan Krummel, Jessica Wilson, Bridget Thuli and Larson and their 200 free relay was 15th behind Wilson, Thuli, Ashley Salomone and Larson.

Eisenhower finished 4th as a team, New Berlin West 14th followed by Tosa West 18th and BA 19th.

When the football finals end on Friday, the fall season is officially over – Where did it go?

East swimmer Leah Westcott – Reaching her goals

East's swimmer Leah Westcott - Reaching Her Goals

Last Saturday Brookfield East junior Leah Westcott qualified for the WIAA Girls State Swimming Tournament at the UW-Natatorium in Madison.

That is nothing new for the talented Spartan.

Westcott is making her third straight trip to state in the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle. She will be looking to place in the top 16, something she has never done.

Westcott will take some impressive momentum into Madison.

She won the sectional in the 200 IM with a time of 2 minutes, 7.33 seconds and finished second in the 500 free at 5:00.6. Both were lifetime best times by a good margin (2.5 seconds in the IM and 9 seconds in the 500).

She also led off the state-qualifying 400 free relay team which set a school record by more than 2 seconds.

"She was pretty great at the meet," East coach Michael Rose said.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Going to state was something Westcott had her eye on all season.

"One of my main goals was to go back to state again," she said. "This is my third year going. I want to place better. I had some specific times, (in mind). I wanted to get a best time or drop two seconds in the IM and five in my 500."

Westcott talked about her favorite races, the 200 IM and 500 free.

"Usually swimmers are better at distance swimming or sprint swimming," she said. "And my pace would be distance. So I'm training longer races. In the individual medley I would do every stroke.

"It's something you decided or fall into at a younger age. Then as you get older you just specialize in that a little more. Those are the two events I've swam all my years here."

Westcott is a veteran at making the trip to state, but recently she recalled going to state her first season.

"My freshman experience helped a lot," Westcott said. "You compete against every age. Going into blocks, you look around and there are swimmers older and bigger than you and you will know what you are capable of doing."

Westcott has been successful since donning the East colors.

She won the Greater Metro Conference 500 free the last two seasons - she was second as a freshman - and was second in the 200 IM all three years.

Like several athletes, Westcott started competing at a young age.

She joined the Elmbrook Swim Club when she was 6 years old because her sister, Jessica, was a member and eventually went on to become a good swimmer at East.

"I had (wanted) to do everything she did," Leah said of following in Jessica's footsteps. "I decided to join the club and basically, I've been following her ever since."

She is incredibly smart and easy to work with. She combines brains and physical skill. She is extremely coachable.”

- Coach Michael Rose

Leah enjoyed swimming at a young age for many reasons.

"Swimming is something you can do recreationally," she said. "You do it and your family has a lot of fun. The sport attracted me because it was something different than what the other kids were doing at the time. You meet a lot of people that you didn't know before. That really kept me in the sport."

Rose, the long-time Spartan coach was well aware of Leah, having her in a swim class when she was 6 years old.

"She started swimming competitively at 7-8 years old," Rose recalled. "She got good fast as a little kid. At 9-10 she was a zone qualifier. At 11-12 - with the Elmbrook Swim Club - he swam the 500 and the 1500. She made the varsity as a freshman and got good pretty quickly."

Rose talked about coaching Westcott.

"She is incredibly smart and easy to work with," he said. "She combines brains and physical skill. She is extremely coachable. She is a thinker, so she is easy to coach. She tells you what she needs. She has a good understanding of that."

Westcott enjoys working with Rose and appreciates how he coaches his swimmers.

"I'm very thankful that because of the Elmbrook Swim Club, I've known coach Rose for a while," she said. "He specializes in sets a lot. He knows everyone individually and that's a lot of help. He knows the events I want to do well in, so he will change the sets and really hone in on the girls’ goals and tries to help them."

Rose explained how he works sets with Westcott.

"She is one of the only kids who does distance," he said. "She does a lot of stuff on her own. It's a combination of working on distance and the IM. She is unique enough and we have enough space that she can work out in her own lane. We can focus directly on what she needs to work on. It's nice for both of us."

Westcott talked about her strengths in and out of the pool.

"Knowing what I have to do to get better," she quickly said when asked about her strengths. "I like to set goals and each practice I try to push myself harder. That has really helped me being confident going into a meet. I know I've done this before. I hopefully will get a best time and good outcome."

But Westcott knows there are areas she can improve on.

"One thing I need to get better at - we all work on in practice - are the technical things," she said. "Starts, reaction time, splits, pushing off the wall to get that extra edge."

Asked about the difference between swimming in individual races vs. relays, Westcott pointed out how important relays were when it came to the meets.

"A lot of the races we do individually, so those are the ones we focus on in practice," she said. "But coming into big meets, it's really important to have good relay swims.

"The relays are the only events you can come together and win points as a team. They're actually more important because they win more points in meets. It's especially fun to make state in those."

East has three captains this season - Melissa Torbey, Elaine Klatt and Tatiana Babikova. But Westcott also has leadership capabilities according to Rose.

"She's a cool leader, a confident kid, very well-liked," he said. "She is the leader in the pool. Our captains are elected by the team previous season and we have three senior captains. They take care of stuff out of the pool - the banquet, the carbo crams. But Leah is like our quarterback - our kids look to her. She's a natural leader. She's pretty humble."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Westcott feels she does have leadership tools.

"I feel in a way I try to do more as a motivational leader," she said. "I try to set a good example for the girls. Showing them how to try hard and do their best in the pool.

"I let them know they are doing a good job, what they did well. There could be something I'm working on, maybe they can work on it too. Having that help from previous years that I've gotten is always nice. It's a gesture that you remember for awhile."

Swimming is a difficult sport, so much so that many swimmers get burned out at a young age. So I asked Leah why she liked so much.

"We do a lot of work in the morning, weight lifting," she said. "But it's worth it in the final weeks of your season. You have good meets, you get closer to your goals, you feel good about yourself. You feel good as an athlete."

In the end, Rose summed up his star swimmer with a litany of compliments.

"She's a good person with a unique sense of humor. She's actually quite funny," he said. "She's really smart, outgoing, nice.

"She is well-respected by teachers and other kids. She works hard and thinks well. She's just a great kid to coach."

QUESTIONS FOR LEAH WESTCOTT

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Strawberries. Meal: Stir fry.
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP: Florence & the Machine (Pop Alternative)
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: The Italian Job, Comedy.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Criminal Minds
  • FAVORITE CLASS: AP U.S. History.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: San Diego.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Cooking, talking with friends.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE: Brookfield Central swimming & football.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Going to sectional and qualifying for state for the first time as a freshman.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attend a Big 10 School. Would like to swim, but Academics come first.

You just have to be there

On Friday night, my wife, Kathy, asked me a simple question (She has to keep her questions simple because otherwise I don’t understand them).

She said ‘You are going to the game tonight. You aren’t working. And it’s on television. Why?’

Because when Brookfield Central and Brookfield East square off in the third round of the football playoffs – you just have to be there.

If you like high school football – and there seemed to be a lot of people there who did – Brookfield Central was the place to be Friday night.

I arrived an hour early – tickets went on sale at the gate at 5:45 p.m. – and the parking lot was starting to fill up.

By game time both bleachers were packed, people were lined up 2-3 deep by the fences and the temporary bleachers put in on the south side were filled.

Now you add the unsung heroes like the cheerleaders, the dance teams and the marching band and at this level, it doesn’t get better than that.

(Speaking of marching bands, I struggled with the trumpet when I was in grade school and the thought of playing an instrument and marching at the same time is something I can’t deal with.)

My trusted son-in-law, Big Jon Moore, was also on hand. I like to think we’re like the Lone Ranger & Tonto or Batman & Robin, but some people think we’re more like Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello or Martin & Lewis.

That hour pre-game goes by quickly, as we peruse the sidelines and talk to everyone who will listen.

Bob Brainerd was on hand doing television and Dan Pfeifer was on hand to do radio, as well as Todd Hansen, Pewaukee girls basketball coach, who writes for the Waukesha Freeman. Todd Rosiak, took off his Brewers gear, to come out and cover the game for the Journal Sentinel preps side and join us little people.

And, of course, my successor at the Brookfield NOW, the young, talented male model known as Andrew Gruman was also on hand.

It’s amazing how the sidelines always fills up with former players out to watch the big game from the sidelines. I had a conversation with recent Lancer Hall of Fame member Steve Johnson, who looks like he can still play linebacker.

There were several other players on hand – but I didn’t recognize most of them without a uniform number and lack of memory.

Central coach Joel Nellis, one of my Twitter buddies, came over to greet me, and one of my favorite people basketball coach Dan Wandrey was on hand. One of the things I like about covering basketball is it’s inside and I have a place to sit, so I’m looking forward to the winter prep season.

I also look forward to seeing BC boys track coach Steve Kracht, one of the nicest people I have ever met, on the sidelines. If you don’t like coach Steve, then there is something wrong with you.

One thing I detested when I covered Brookfield was being accused of playing favorites because I am a Central grad. First of all, as a journalist, that was an insult to my integrity, which I feel is one of the most important qualities that a person can have. And I don’t have a lot of abilities, but one thing I do have is that.

Many people who accused me of that had no idea I had four kids who attended East and all four played athletics at some level.

One time East principal Andy Farley, a Spartan graduate, had a parent complaining to him about me being a Central grad. Farley asked the parent if he was aware that he and my son, Marty, played on the same Spartan defense together. My son, Scott, also played against East coach Ben Farley in the little league baseball program.

Before the game I went over to wish Ben Farley good luck. He thank me and laughed and said, “Come and stand on our sideline.” I told him I wasn’t working tonight and being a Lancer, this was a side I belonged on. But Big Jon Moore went over to the East side in the second half to represent us – there was more room he claimed. Believe me, even today my kids and I have some strong conversations about East vs. Central.

Bottom line is I’m a Lancer graduate, but I like both teams. I have gotten to know many coaches and teachers from both schools over the years and for that I am blessed. When I covered the games I have seen some great battles. What I didn’t like was I knew someone was going to lose afterward.

Coach Jed Kennedy has done a good job since he took over the football program, winning the Greater Metro Conference last year and sharing the title this season.

But what I admire most about Jed is how much he cares about the kids who aren’t football players. Many times you will find him, his lovely wife, Melissa and two beautiful girls, Makenna and Shaelyn, at other athletic events, cheering on the other student-athletes.

After working with professional athletes a good portion of my life – and I worked with some good people – I will take covering the preps anytime. Like I said, I’ve been blessed.

By the way, Brookfield East won, 21-0, behind three touchdowns by Sam Santiago-Lloyd.

(Self-promotion)

See my feature on Sam at http://preps2pros.net/2016/11/03/easts-sam-santiago-lloyd-tough-dude-on-field-good-guy-off/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

East’s Sam Santiago-Lloyd: Tough dude on field, good guy off

East's Sam Santiago-Lloyd
A tough dude on the field, good guy off

When you think of Brookfield East's pile-driving running back Sam Santiago-Lloyd, you imagine a powerful 235-pounder, moving piles of tacklers like a bulldozer moves dirt.

But the outstanding senior has a different image off the gridiron.

"What I really like the most about Sam is his easy-going approach," first-year Spartan head coach Ben Farley said. "He can laugh. He can have a good time, but at the same time when it's time to play football he's the most serious guy out there.

"He recognizes the big moment. (He) recognizes when things are important. He's a really good student of the game.

"Just the fact that he's so nice and so humble are the two biggest things. Tough practice, good practice, the day before, the day after, a good game, bad game, he's always saying 'hi' in the hallways, helping younger guys out, jumping in there at practice. And he's just a nice kid."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

East running backs coach Jeff Ferguson agrees.

"I think he's a great kid," he said. "I think he seems a little reserved, but once you get to know him, he's a good kid."

As good a career as Santiago-Lloyd has had, it might have been better except for some serious injuries his freshman and sophomore year. He talked about missing all that time early.

"It was very disappointing. At one point I was very discouraged about playing," he said. "I really wanted to focus on my junior year and have a really complete year and bounce back and not let it hold me back."

Santiago-Lloyd bounced back well, as he was the Greater Metro Conference's Back of the Year on Offense and Defense (as a linebacker) last season. He has had another good season, which could have been better. He missed one game with a right ankle injury and played sparingly in a couple others.

Santiago-Lloyd is known for moving the pile and he spoke about his strategy when he is gang-tackled.

"When I get the ball in my hands, I try and get vertical as soon as possible," he said. "When I make that first contact, I don't like to go to the ground. My thought it the play's not over until I'm on the ground. that's how everybody on the offense thinks."

Ferguson talked about what makes Santiago-Lloyd such a tough runner.

"He's a strong kid," Ferguson said. "I think his vision is underrated. He sees things that develop in front of him very well. He sees what happens, which allows him to run through a lot of tackles. His strength does too, but because he sees things develop, it gets him to a spot where he runs through an extra tackle."

He’s a well-liked guy. He’s a respected guy on this team. That’s very important. So I think his words carry a lot of weight.”

Running backs coach Jeff Ferguson

Santiago-Lloyd agrees with his coach, having also played on defense.

"When I'm on 'O', I think about what's going through the linebackers head and how they're going to try and tackle me; are they going to go for my legs or something," he said. "It also helps a lot (because he played defense). When you're looking at a play you can see how it develops before it actually does."

It might be hard to believe, but Ferguson thinks people underrate Santiago-Lloyd's speed because of his size.

"Everyone (the experts) knocks his speed. I think his speed's underrated. Someone would probably say he's not as fast as I thought he was. And I don't agree with that," he said. "Their evaluation on him would be he needs to have a little more foot speed. I think it's underrated. He's a big kid. Everyone who is that big wishes they could run that well."

Santiago-Lloyd didn't hesitate to talk about his strengths and weaknesses.

"My strengths? I'm a team player. It's a little mix between knowledge, being physical at the point of attack; hustle, relentless effort. What do I need to improve on? I can get faster, more physical. I can do everything better."

When someone is the best player on the team, he usually finds himself in a leadership role. Santiago-Lloyd is no different.

"I do see myself as a leader," he said. "I don't know if I'm a vocal leader or not. I show it in some ways I guess. I have been vocal. I do try to build someone up when they're down. Before a game, I pull someone aside and amp them up. Make sure they're ready for the game.

"I'm not screaming or anything. I'm more of a lead by example guy. On the field, I hit somebody, people watch me and then they get fired up and hit somebody."

Ferguson, who gets to watch Santiago-Lloyd up close likes his leadership style.

"He's a guy that people look to; they look to what his actions are," he said. "He's a more personable kid than what people make him out to be. He's vocal when he needs to be. He's not overly vocal. I wouldn't describe him as a rah-rah guy. But he's vocal when it's important to be vocal. They look to him and he will lead by example.

"He's a well-liked guy. He's a respected guy on this team. That's very important. So I think his words carry a lot of weight."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Santiago-Lloyd has been playing football since his mother entered him in a tackle-league when he was 5 years old.

"When I first started football I was just the tiniest kid," Santiago-Lloyd said. "Compared to other kids, I wasn't that big, but I played linebacker. I loved the contact part about it, so I guess that's what really kept me going."

Another thing that keeps Sam going is his family. Almost every game he has his own cheering section, who actually follows him on the field after the game to get a close up look when he is being interviewed.

"I have a real good family. We're really close," he said. "My uncles, my aunts, my grandparents on both sides, my mom and dad and my dad's close friends and then their kids. They all come out to watch me.

"It makes me feel real good knowing I have that support system to fall back on."

They have had a lot to cheer about this year.

Going into a Level 3 playoff game at Brookfield Central on Nov. 4, he has rushed for 1,366 yards on 198 carries, an average of 6.9 yards per attempt. He has 16 touchdowns and he averaged 136.6 yards rushing per game.

He has had games rushing of 283 yards, 203, 196, 177, 151, 97, 92, 82 and 74. He has been a workhorse, carrying the ball 45 times, 31, 28, 24 and 22.

Ferguson talked about the way Santiago-Lloyd handles his situation as the man who makes the Spartans go.

"He's a great athlete, but I like his approach," he said. "He understands the game very well. He carries a big portion of the load, but it doesn't seem to phase him at all. He carries himself really well. He's even-keeled."

Before the season Farley and Sam talked about handling the pressure this season.

"We both love college football. One of the things we talked about was Stanford's (star running back) Christian McCaffrey," Farley said. "There was a big thing about how does McCaffrey handle the pressure this year. His standard line in the articles was there is no pressure because he sets his own expectations.

"Sam bought into that this year. He holds himself up to high expectations He puts that pressure on himself. There is no other outside pressure. He also recognizes we're a strong senior class, playing with a strong offensive line. He's played varsity football for four years, he is very confident in his ability to run."

In the last 5 games - as he regained his health - he has rushed for 859 yards, an average of 172 per game. Things are coming together for him and the Spartans, who have won three in a row.

"I'm feeling a lot better than what I was," he said. "Health-wise I'm feeling really good. I'm very fired up now. The intensity is up more than ever. The health is up more than ever. Everything is just coming together."

And the timing is perfect for the Spartans and their fans.

QUESTIONS FOR SAM SANTIAGO-LLOYD

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Pepperoni Pizza
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Drake (Rap). Phil Collins song 'In the Air Tonight.'
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Remember the Titans. Action movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Last Chance University
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? NBA 2K Play Station 4
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE: Brookfield Central
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Beating Brookfield Central in overtime in the playoffs last year.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Go to college and play football.

Octo. 28-30 My Takes on the Weekend

Oct. 28-30 Weekend Takes

 

PREP TAKES

 

In a busy sports weekend, here are some things I took out of it.

Brookfield Central defeated Hartford, 28-7, and Brookfield East beat Menomonee Falls, 27-3, to start the weekend on Friday. The Lancers and Spartans had both beaten their teams earlier this year, so it really wasn’t a surprise.

Central is working on a 2-game winning streak. The Lancers are Greater Metro Conference co-champs (10-1). East has a 3-game winning streak and has won 5 of 6 games.

Big Jon Moore and I aren’t covering any prep football games this Friday since my skills aren’t required as the local football field starts to shrink. But because Jon and I have understanding wives, we’re going to watch a prep game – ‘The Battle of Brookfield II’, what else.

East and Central meet on Friday at 7 p.m. at Central and the Lancers are out to show that their 43-14 win over the Spartans on Sept. 15 was no fluke. It will be a match-up of running backs Zach (What the) Heckman of BC and (Slamming) Sam Santiago-Lloyd of BE – the Flash vs. the Hulk.

I can’t wait.

WISCONSIN BADGERS

I can’t say enough about this Badger football team. People keep on getting injured and the Badgers step in and find capable replacements. These kids not only have talent and smarts, they play with heart and emotion.

After beating Nebraska, 23-17, in overtime Saturday, a game that I didn’t think would be this close, UW must beat (at) Northwestern, Illinois, (at) Purdue and Minnesota to finish 10-2 and have a chance at a ‘real’ bowl game appearance. One loss and they end up at some post-season Toilet Bowl.

Congrats to coach Paul Chryst and his staff for doing an excellent job.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

I picked the local team to win 36 games if they’re lucky and after watching the first three games that figure might be too high.

Jason Kidd has no clue as who to play. He throws players on the wall and sees if they stick. He has no idea as to what a ‘rotation’ is.

His team doesn’t know how to play defense. Time after time the opponents get easy shots – whether from 30 feet or 2 feet. It has been disgusting to watch so far.

Most of the time when a shot is missed there might be one player – key words ‘might be’ – near the basket, so their chances to get a rebound are far and few between.

Years ago almost everyone could shoot who played in the NBA. That may still be true, but not on this Bucks team. And when I say shoot – I don’t just mean 3-pointers – I mean 15-footers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo should be an All-Star – and that’s nice for him and Bucks fans everywhere – but I’m more concerned about winning a basketball game than see him get a triple-double because of the lack of talent on this team.

I want to watch the Bucks play when they’re on TV, but I can only take so much. The owners need to put real money into this team instead of the surrounding neighborhood. They have led you to believe – there is no rebuilding here – they want to compete now.

Well, I hope I’m wrong, but they need to improve 100 percent before that happens.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Unlike a lot of people – I don’t wear green and gold colored glasses – I didn’t take a lot out of Sunday’s 33-32 very winnable loss at Atlanta.

Aaron Rodgers played well, until he failed miserably on the final drive. Superstars are supposed to come through in the clutch. He didn’t. Let’s stop saying he is one of the best ever. He’s not in Tom Brady’s class.

I don’t know who played worse with the game on the line. A-Rod or Dom Capers defense (or lack of it). Matt Ryan, also playing much better than A-Rod this season, went through the defense like a knife through butter. Mohamed Sanu was so wide open on the winning TD he had time to pitch a tent and make a campfire. Explain to me who the genius was who had Jake Ryan in the game in a passing situation.

I think the young wide receivers – Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and my man, Jeff Janis, all played well. I also think it will be a while for the gutsy Jordy Nelson to get back to 100 per cent if he ever does. Also, I tip my hat to Davante Adams, who is beginning to win me over.

I would like to comment on the running backs – but they have none – good job by Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy.

If this team makes the playoff – and there are no guarantees there – they will be lucky to win one game.

Blame the injuries if you want. But then look to the Badgers and toss that excuse out the window.

Like the old saying goes, take them one game at a time and see what happens.