Monthly Archives: December 2016

Bucks, Packers, Badger thoughts

Thought I would share some thoughts on this weekend’s Bucks, Packers and Badgers games.

Fear the Deer (sometimes)

The Bucks so far are proving me wrong – they will probably make the playoffs. Rumors of Khris Middleton possibly returning early has me even more interested.

Some of my early thoughts are their ‘big’ off-season signings are disappointing.

Matthew Dellavedova is a ‘B’ at the best. I do like him, he is not worth what he is getting, but most players aren’t.

Mirza Teletovic has been maybe a ‘C’ but it was be nice if he could stay on the court. Both him and Delly have fallen short of what I expected from 3-point range.

Miles Plumlee was signed at a ridiculous cost, even though they though they could trade Greg Monroe, their best offensive center, and they failed there. Mile’s a ‘D.’


I am also sick of reading how many or how close Giannis Antetokounmpo was to a triple-double. I want to read more about wins, NOT individual feats.

If Antetokounmpo makes the All-Star team that is a positive for the Bucks from a PR point of view and that would be nice. But that and $2.00 gets you a cup of coffee.

Jason Kidd is quoted more about next year from an improvement point of view and I like that because he is being realistic.

The Bucks lack of consistency shows how young and arrogant they are. It makes no difference if you beat Cleveland and lose to the lesser teams. A win is a win and you don’t get two wins for beating the defending champs and a half a win beating the bad teams. The Bucks are ridiculous to show up to anyone in this league, throw the ball on the court and EXPECT a win.

Jabari Parker said the Bucks need to close teams out and that’s good. Shows he’s becoming a leader. But twice one of the reasons they failed was because he missed crucial free throws and lay-ups. Free throws are the easiest thing in the world to shoot. Lay-ups for a 6-9 guy should NEVER be missed. I don’t care if your hammered going into the basket, you’re 6-9!

Lack of D – Letting the opponents shoot 3-pointers like they’re free throws is ridiculous. The rules state you can’t be guarded when taking free throws, but there is no rule that states you can’t guard players shooting 3-pointers – yet the Bucks act like there is.

But I do see progress and that makes me happy. What would make me happier if the owners spent more money on the team getting ‘real’ talent and less on the surrounding neighborhood.

I know the Packers are favored going into the game Sunday night, but I am not as comfortable as the fans who see everything through green & gold glasses.

Injuries have a big deal to do with both defenses stinking – and boy do they suck. This should be a high-scoring affair, someone might even reach 40 points, especially in perfect field conditions. So here are the keys.

1. What teams will have a running game that can keep the other team off the field by controlling the clock? That’s their best defense. On paper that favors the Packers – but the game is not played on paper.
2. You have to like Aaron Rodgers over Matt Stafford, but the receivers are a wash. Stafford hasn’t been as accurate lately with the injury and the glove hampering his middle finger. That could be the difference.
3. Which defense can play better than what they are.

The Packers should win, but I would not be surprised if they lost this game, since they almost blew the first one at home.

I am interested in seeing what happens if they lose and don’t make the playoffs. Will Mark Murphy go hide in the corner or will he be a man. Digging yourself in a hole like this doesn’t give Ted Thompson or Mike McCarthy an excuse on the season win or lose.

I am not interested in division titles. I’m interested in Super Bowls. The Packers need to take that attitude instead of just talking about it.

I was never foolish enough to think the Badgers would be in the final four National Championship Playoff Format. They had never the reputation or the record for it.

I did expect them to defeat Penn State and go to the Rose Bowl.

LSU was 8-4 this year. Michigan State was 3-9. That’s a combined record of 11-13. They were Wisconsin’s ‘big’ wins this year. I don’t care what their records were when they played the Badgers. These were their final numbers.

The Badgers lost to PSU (11-2), Ohio State (11-1) and Michigan (10-3). They really didn’t beat anyone that was a ‘super’ team.

Now they get to face Western Michigan (13-0) of the Mid-American Conference. They are a fine team and if they beat the Badgers I wouldn’t be shocked.

The way the season ended – even with a win over Western Michigan, which is no big deal – makes the season feel like a disappointment to me.

If the Badgers win they finish 11-3, if they lost they finish 10-4. I give coach Paul Chryst and his staff credit for this season because I think they did a lot with an average amount of talent with a bunch of big hearts.

I will take it all things considered.

East’s Jake Graf – What does he do for an encore?


No matter what Brookfield East senior Jake Graf does for an encore with the Spartan basketball team this winter, it is going to be hard to top what happened in the fall.

That's because Graf quarterbacked Brookfield East to the first WIAA State Championship in school history - a 42-36 thriller over Monona Grove on Nov. 18 at Camp Randall Stadium.

All-State running back Sam Santiago-Lloyd received some well-deserved credit, scoring a state record 5 touchdowns and rushing for 197 yards in the title game.

But Graf also was a key to the Spartans victory, adding 179 yards rushing and a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Patrick Cartier.

"One of his best attributes were being calm and poised," first-year coach Ben Farley said. "Leading up to the year, he knew this was his opportunity to run with it. We had a strong line and a good running back. Jake has good skills and he works hard."

The thought of winning the state title is still sinking in for Graf, who is a key member of first-year coach Joe Rux's basketball team this winter.

"It still hasn't set in three weeks later," Graf said recently after basketball practice. "We get fitted for our rings tomorrow. It's still surreal. I can't even believe we're state champions."

Farley talked to all the seniors at the beginning of the year.

"We said our goals included winning the conference, beating Central and winning the state championship," he said. "I wouldn't say I expected us to win the state championship but I knew if we really got on a roll and did what we could do, it was definitely a possibility. We could get there. We did get on a roll and we made it happen."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Graf was the junior varsity quarterback as a sophomore and then was the backup quarterback and played fullback and safety as a junior.

He earned honorable mention honors this past season, rushing 165 times for 1060 yards (6.4) and 12 touchdowns while completing 49 of 85 passes (.579) for 669 yards and 6 touchdowns.

"His toughness, game in game out is one of his strengths," Farley said. "He is very tough running the football. He refuses to go down. He got injured (AC joint left shoulder) and played through it. He is like having another coach on the field. He knows the game inside and out. He understands and he's smart."

When Santiago-Lloyd suffered an ankle injury, Farley talked about how Graf stepped up big time.

"It's a credit to his leadership," he said. "Jake didn't panic, kept his focus. He showed his poise, he kept it together. Whether in football or basketball, he has big games and big moments. He has that rare ability to remain calm and be there for his teammates

But Jake was quick to credit his teammates when Santiago-Lloyd went down.

"There really wasn't any more pressure. We needed to make longer drives," Graf said. "I knew Sam could make something out of nothing, but I wasn't too worried that we weren't going to be able to do our stuff.

"We matched up well and we have great backup running backs. We had Gaven Post and Caleb Wright back there just waiting. Obviously they are not the level of Sam, but no one is. You can't totally replace him, but we had two good replacements and they did their job and I just did what I normally do."

He needs to trust the process and trust his teammates and when that happens some really good things will start happening.”

- Coach Joe Rux

Graf played 11 varsity games as a sophomore on the East basketball team, but then exploded as a junior. He averaged 15.2 points in 21 games and was one of two juniors on the Greater Metro Conference second-team all-conference.

The Spartans didn't win a game in conference play (0-14) and finished the year with a 4-20 overall record. It's not surprising being such a 'team guy' that Graf was disappointed.

"I didn't look too much into it," he said. "Obviously I just wanted the team to win and we weren't able to do that. So it was a disappointment.

"If I was just looking at myself, I thought I came in and I did what I thought I could do. But I felt I could do a little bit better. It seemed like every game I would miss an easy lay-up or something and I would always kick myself for that. Overall I thought I had a pretty good year but obviously I would have liked to contribute to some wins actually."

This year Graf hopes things are different.

"Win. That's first," he said. "Obviously I feel we need to compete for a conference championship. It's wide open. So I don't see why we can't come together and take it. Obviously we have some confidence. We have that hunger to improve from last year. But we know we can win because we did it in football."

New basketball coach Joe Rux was familiar with Graf's abilities after taking over the job.

"When I took the job I heard we had a pretty good player who was a competitor," Rux said. "Obviously he had a good season last year as a junior. Essentially I knew for sure we had at least one guy I knew of who had some experience and who had a role in terms of scoring and he will help the team some.

"Jake plays a big role in terms of his leadership. Obviously he can score some points but it's going to come down to the way he gets his teammates the ball. How he can share his basketball IQ with them and help them perform a little bit better.

"I know a lot of people in our conference will be looking at Jake as our scorer. Therefore defenses are geared to stop him. Obviously his basketball IQ is the best thing he can bring to the table to help us right away."

Graf talked about his strengths.

"I think I'm aggressive. I like to take advantage of any opportunity I see," he said. "If it's an outside shot I can knock that down with a pretty good consistency.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

"I think I rebound well for a guard because in AAU I have to play everything. I even played some center. I know I'm not that tall, but I definitely know how to rebound."

Rebounding is something his father talked to him about when growing up.

"Starting young, my dad said 'You're never going to be the most athletic guy but you can box out and be aggressive for the ball. You can get rebounds.' So I've done that my entire life."

But Graf will be looked on to have the ball in his hands in the final seconds of a close game.

"It's a little nerve-wracking taking that last shot because everyone is looking at you," he said. "I feel confident that I will be able to make it. My teammates have the most confidence in me. So I just step up and I know I can take it and make it."

Graf talked about what he needs to work on.

"My passing. I have to let the game come to me instead of me trying to do everything," he said. "There are definitely things I can work on to be a better leader, especially the way I approach my teammates.

"In the games I'm all tense and emotionally and I have the tendency to yell at my teammates sometimes and that's up to me to fix that. They know deep down I just want to make everyone better. But I need to work on how to change my communication."

Rux could see what Jake brought to the table right away.

"He likes to compete. That's certainly something that jumps out at you right away," he said. "He is a guy who certainly wants to do the right things to help the team.

"You never have to worry about arguing with him or having him talk back to you. It's always going to be 'Yessir' and he makes sure that he's listening and relays what's best for the team."

Rux pointed out with a new coach, Jake's role is even more important.

"He has to trust in his teammates and trust in the process," he said. "This is a tough situation for him and all the guys with the new coach coming in and essentially a new team for him that he's working with as well after the graduations last year.

"He's one of those guys you can count on to make sure the guys understand because he has that experience. There aren't too many situations he hasn't already seen in his career. He's been there before.

"He needs to trust the process and trust his teammates and when that happens some really good things will start happening."


  • FAVORITE FOOD: Mom's macaroni & cheese
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: Shawshank Redemption.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Sportscenter, Archer.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Video games, 6-foot basket (ball)
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Winning WIAA State Football Championship.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attend college and play basketball. Major in nursing, pre-med or biology.

A look at the area teams before Christmas

With only a few games left before Christmas, here’s a quick look at some of my teams in Brookfield, Tosa and New Berlin.



Coach Dan Wandrey’s Brookfield Central squad is 6-0, 3-0 in the Greater Metro Conference, tied with Menomonee Falls (6-1 overall).

The Lancers are a 3-point shooting team, which starts three talented underclassmen – sophomore guards Gage (G-Money) Malensek and Cole Nau and junior guard Andres (The Giant) Peralta-Werns.

Seniors Sam Rohde, one of the team leaders and a dead-eye 3-point shooter, and Chris Post (7.8 rebounds) round out the starters.

But Central has plenty of depth topped by juniors Charlie Debbink and Jack Brady.

Wandrey is looking for his first boys title after winning several as the girls coach.


Wauwatosa West has as much physical talent as any of my former teams.

Seniors Alou Dillon (18.3 points), Se’veon James (11.3), Tyrone Powell (10.4) and LaRon Perine (10.4) give them four players who average double figure points.

They are 5-2, with losses to Woodland Conference rival New Berlin Eisenhower (59-56) and the aea’s top-ranked Milwaukee Vincent team (87-72). Poor free throw shooting and turnovers did them in in their losses.

Four players average over 5 rebounds per game – Jaravee Jackson (8.4), Dillon (7.6), Powell (6.2) and John Frank (5.2).

But unless the Trojans play better defense, learn to avoid the pressure and improve on their half-course offense, they will not reach their potential.



Eisenhower (3-3, 2-2) and Wauwatosa East (2-3, 1-1) have talent, but are still working things out and New Berlin West (3-3, 1-3) and Brookfield East (2-3, 1-2) are showing improvement over last year’s squads.



New Berlin Eisenhower – The defending state champion Lady Lions reside in the Woodland West and they are off to a fine start with a 6-1 record and a 5-0 mark in the conference play.

This is a different Ike team, still playing good defense, but attacking more so from the perimeter behind sophomore Julia Hintz (11.3 pts, 5.1 assists 2.3 steals) and junior Kate Ludwig (9.9 pts).

Junior Hannah Plockelman (8.9 pts, 7.3 rebs), a 5-foot-11 inch forward, and senior Jasmyn Somarsingh (7.1 pts, 5.1 rebs) a 6-1 forward, handle the inside game for coach Gary Schmidt.

Juniors Olivia Canady and Alicia Putney, senior Abby Szukalski and 6-2 freshman Erin Hedman are just some of the players Schmidt can call on because the Lady Lions are extremely deep.

New Berlin West – New coach Collin Thompson and old coach-new assistant Jef Radtke are one of my top two teams to watch. The Lady Vikings have always played outstanding defense in the past and this year is no different.

Now add to that the scoring of juniors Alyssa (Chubby) Nelson (16.8) and Maddie Fritz (7.2) and seniors Morgan Henrichs (7.0) and Ewelina Schlomann (8.0) and you can see why the Lady Vikings are 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the Woodland West.


Brookfield East – Coach Michael Goodman’s team is 6-2, 3-1 in the Greater Metro Conference, losing to Menomonee Falls, 50-47. The Lady Spartans have no seniors on the team, so the best is yet to come.

Molly Devalkenaere, a 6-0 junior forward, leads the way (13.9 pts, 7.9 rebs, 23 blocks) and has help underneath from multi-sport star Lizzy Cagle.

Cagle, a 6-0 junior, is an outstanding volleyball player and excels in the field events (shot put, discus) in track & field. She averages 8.4 pts and 7.4 rebs per game and gives the Lady Spartans two tough inside players.

But East has an outside arsenal as well in Emma Ralfs, a 5-11 junior guard (12.1 pts, 4.1 rebs, 3.6 steals, 2.4 assists), Adriana Plavsic, 5-10 junior guard (7.1 pts, 5.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds) and Nikki Pink, a 5-4 junior guard (5.8 pts, 12 3-pointers).

Wauwatosa East – Sophomore Brooklyn Blackburn (15.9 pts) and senior Johanna Taylor (8.8) have led East to a 6-2 start, but only 1-2 in Greater Metro Conference play.

Coach Rob Hamell has depth and talent with juniors Molly Persin, Mariana Ibanez-Baldor and Elizabeth Bueckers on hand.


Wauwatosa West – West (2-5, 2-2) has shown improvement under new coach Gordon Nikolic behind senior Dasia Davis and sophomores Irene Phillips and Kayla Stoffel leading the way.


I have to have a separate category for Brookfield Central, a team that has been ripped apart by illness and injuries before and then in the first part of the season.

Coach Mallory Liebl lost junior Jenny Cape (illness) and Maddy Brauer (ACL), an outstanding sophomore forward, before the season even started.

Then in the second game of the season, Claire Haynes, one of two returning All-GMC selections, injured her back (two fractured transverse processes) and was lost for the year.

Senior captain Caroline Busch (16.7 pts, 4.7 rebs) will be asked to carry a bigger load than she was already counted on for and it will be a difficult task.

Senior Ellery Nordling has picked up the rebounding load (5.9 pts, 5.5 per game) along with 6-foot freshman Anna Mortag (7.6 pts, 4.3 rebs). Senior Amanda Miller tops the team in assists (2.2) and steals (2.0), but there is some drop off in talent after that.

It is a tough break since the Lancers were favored to win the GMC, but will now struggle to finish above .500.

The guts of this team’s talent has been ripped right out, but Liebl will have her team ready to play every game and the effort will be there.

It will be interesting to see what the results are.

Brookfield’s Caitlin Locante making her way in space



Brookfield Central senior Caitlin Locante is not your usual student-athlete.

You see, Locante spends most of her time 'in space.' No, she is not an astronaut, but she is a state tournament qualifier in two sports and she is an outstanding athlete in three.

Caitlin placed third in diving this past fall for the Brookfield Central swim team. This winter she is one of the top performers on the combined Brookfield Central/Brookfield East gymnastics team, having placed second in all-round at state last season.

In the spring, she is a key member of the Lancers track team when she spends most of her time 10-feet in the air participating in the pole vault or leaping over hurdles.

Caitlin had a head start in diving, starting at 6 years old, two years before she started gymnastics.

Her diving was recreational at the Westmoor Country Club - where she now coaches diving. She took part in gymnastics at M & M Gymnastics.

"I was always jumping around and said 'Mom please let me join gymnastics," Caitlin said. "As for diving, I first competitively dove as a freshman (at Brookfield Central).

Her success in both sports doesn't surprise her diving coach - Carol Rose - or her gymnastics coach - Erin Kokta.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

"Usually divers are good at gymnastics, synchronized swimming or dancing," Rose pointed out. "They're perform in space. Caitlin is also helping us out by swimming on relays this year."

Kokta, who also coaches track & field, agrees and tosses in pole vault.

"It's the same moves, body awareness. They have to know when to stop and twist," she said. "There's a 'special awareness.' The best pole vaulters in the state are probably on their gymnastics team.

"If someone is good on the bars, they're usually a good pole vaulter because they understand the swinging motion."

Locante also understands the commonalities among the sports.

"There is a combination of air sense, agility; both divers and gymnasts work really hard to push through fears," she said. "That's not something all athletes necessarily have - a really good idea of where we are in space. Sometimes you lose it. You lose where you are in the air."

Caitlin knew she would be diving in high school, but it took some convincing to go out for gymnastics.

Brookfield East girls swim coach Mike Rose, Carol's husband, knew of Caitlin.

"She was about 75 pounds when she was at Westmoor," Carol recalled. "She has three sisters - older sisters Lauren and Erin (UW-Whitewater) and Ryann, a freshman cross country runner at Central.

Rose knew Locante was special immediately in her freshman year.

"She was coachable. She listens. She's attentive to details," she said. "She was better than any athlete I coached. She was an efficient twister.

I don’t know if I ever met a gymnast that’s more of a gamer than she is.

- Coach Erin Kokta

"Twisting, first and foremost, is her biggest strength. Physically, technically, she does things right. She had a good feel for it. It comes naturally."

Rose talked about Caitlin's second-place performance at state last year. She finished third this year and 10th as a sophomore.

"It was a pleasant surprise," she said. "We were hoping to just be on the podium (top 6). She moved from fifth to second. It was an awesome surprise. It's not the way it usually goes.

"Caitlin has an incredible mental makeup. She goes out and just does her best on any given day, not wanting to let anyone down."

Getting Locante to come out for gymnastics was an entirely different story and it took some persistent recruiting by Kokta.

"I saw her as a freshman diver," Kokta recalled. "She was hesitant to join the high school team. I watched her dive at meets and introduced myself. I told her I would love for her to come to meeting."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

When asked when Kokta knew she had something special in Caitlin, she didn't hesitate.

"The second she showed up," she said. "There are different types of gymnasts. Power gymnasts and elegant gymnasts. She definitely has that elegance and she twists. The second I saw her twist on the floor, I said this kid is going to be good."

Locante explained why she was hesitant to go out for the gymnastics team initially.

"I was invested in our club team," she said. "But once I did high school diving, I thought it would be best for me to do high school diving and high school gymnastics."

Most of the time divers (Rose coaches Central and East divers, even though the teams are separate) and swimmers don't even practice at the same time. But that didn't stop Caitlin from keeping the team together.

"I make a huge effort to be part of the swim and dive team," she said. "We are a close team in both of them (swimming and diving)."

As for the gymnastics team, Kokta sees the same attitude.

"She always organizes carbo crams, going out to eat together," she said. "She loves be part of the high school team."

Looking back, Kokta felt that not qualifying for state as a freshman probably helped Locante.

"I think that was the best thing that could have happened to her," she said. "She definitely wanted it more. She had all the potential. It just wasn't in the cards for her that year even though she was awesome that entire season."

Caitlin said her best event is the floor exercise.

"It's my favorite because I just get to express myself," she said. "It just truly shows who I am as a gymnast. I honestly just go out there and give it my all. I create my own routines. I also help my teammates choreograph theirs."

Kokta agreed with Locante's assessment and went on to bring up an example of her talents.

"She loves floor," Kokta said. "She's really good on floor. She has great presentation. She will spend a long time choreographing her routine.

"But she is also one of the best bar workers in the state. Last year at state meet she hadn't qualified for bars and she scored the highest bar score in the entire state meet to finish to finish second in the all-around."

​Locante, who is a captain in diving and gymnastics, is a leader on her team.

Locante, who is a captain in diving and gymnastics, is a leader on her team.

"She's really supportive of her teammates," Kokta said, also pointing out that Olga Bouhkualova and Christina Kirmis are also team captains. "We have 25 girls all at different levels. So Caitlin helps out, give corrections. She has so much experience in the sport.

"She's great. She has a bubbly personality, is positive at meets and cheers for all of her teammates. She's become a good leader."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Rose pointed out she relied on Caitlin to help out with the divers, especially when Rose was working with one of the eight other divers individually.

"I think I'm a good leader," Locante said. "I show my teammates what it takes to be a good gymnast, a good diver. It's ultimately up to them if they want to follow me, look up to me. I try my best to help them out. I show them how to work hard. If they see that every day, they will say I'm going to do that too."

Caitlin talked about her strengths and what she needs to improve on.

In diving, it's twisting," she said. "One of the categories is twisters. It's really something that has always come easy to me. It doesn't always come easy to other people. It's really fun.

"In gymnastics my composure as a gymnast is one of my strengths. On the floor I really put personality into my routines when I'm competing. That's definitely a strength that I have."

She also talked about some areas she needs to get better with.

In diving I really need to work on going in on my head a little more," she said. "I made huge strides with that this year. That's something a little goofy for me. I do do it, but I have to do it more, I think."

In diving each athlete gets 11 dives; two from each category - front, back, inward, reverses and twisters. One of the categories they can do three dives from.

"In gymnastics I have to work on my power, because I'm more of a graceful gymnast," she pointed out.

Kokta then gave Locante one of the highest compliments you can give an athlete when asked about her strengths.

"I don't know if I ever met a gymnast that's more of a gamer than she is. Here's an example.

"She hadn't gotten through a full bar routine yet because it takes time to get all that stuff back. Last week she just pulled it out at our meet. It was the first time she had done it all season. She shows up at the meets jumping higher, twisting better than I have ever seen her do. I have never seen anyone just turn it on like she can in meets."

As good an athlete Locante is, both coaches appreciate her away from the sport as well.

"Caitlin is probably pretty social," Rose said. "She has a lot of spunk. spending time with friends, with sports, with part of a team. She's a good student, smart, confident and loves to compete."

Kokta added laughing.

"She's a goofball, man. She cracks me up."


  • FAVORITE FOOD: All Italian Food, Olives.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: Disney Movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Grey's Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, One Three Hill.
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Anatomy/Physiology
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Netflix, Sleep.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Junior year finishing second in diving at state.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attend college and dive.

Tosa West’s Alou Dillon – A Special Talent


When the late Mike Landisch first saw Alou Dillon at Whitman Middle School, he knew eventually the Wauwatosa West basketball team would have a special player.

Landisch, who lost his battle with cancer in 2011, got Alou involved with the varsity as a team manager recalled a choked up Trojans coach Chad Stelse.

"Coach Landisch and I knew right away he was a good character guy," said Stelse, who has coached at West for 12 years, the last six as Landisch's replacement.

"Mike couldn't say enough about him. Most of the varsity would go with coach Landisch and I to watch his AAU games. Coach was the last connection (with Alou). I'm sure he's looking down and is proud to see his development. I get emotional when I realize he didn't get to see what he's turned into."

What Dillon has turned into is a 6-foot, 8 inch, 205 pound basketball player, who has earned a Division 1 Scholarship at South Dakota State University.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Dillon showed promise his sophomore year (10.0 points per game), but he hurt his knee.

"He could have been the difference for us that year," Stelse recalled. "We beat Pius XI in the regional semi-final, but then lost to Wauwatosa East, 56-54, in the regional finals. He really wanted to help that senior class get to state. I could see he was ready to go."

Having missed that time, Dillon was ready to go when he got healthy again.

"Going into summer I picked it up again going into AAU," he said. "I really got my confidence back. Going into my junior season I felt it was my time to step it up to the plate. I felt this was the year I could take over and be a big part of this team."

But in the second game of the season, any chance Dillon had of sneaking up on teams went out the window in a 63-61 overtime win at Brookfield East.

Dillon scored 41 points, including the winning shot on a leaner on the baseline. He had 10 field goals, was 3-for-3 from the free-throw line and he hit six 3-pointers. He had one 3-pointer at the end of the half and another late in regulation.

"The whole conference saw what he did at that game and they keyed on Alou every chance they had after that," Stelse said. "They would double, triple team him, but he still had a huge season."

Last season Dillon was unanimous First Team All-Conference and he was also Honorable Mention All-State, averaging 19.8 points per game.

His 448 points last year came within 12 points of breaking the single season scoring record at Tosa West. He had 596 total points going into the season.

He has a high basketball IQ. He is not only talented, but a good decision maker…More often times than not he’s going to make the correct basketball play.”

Coach Chad Stelse

Dillon talked about his shooting strategy.

"I like to play inside-out," he said. "Once I get a couple buckets easy, I know my defender won't know I can shoot a 3, so I get him on both. I think I'm unstoppable. I like the 3-point game a lot. That is one part I'm working on so I can really perfect my game. That causes a lot of mismatches and teams have no idea how to guard that."

But despite his overall numbers, Dillon was not pleased with the final results, as Tosa West finished 12-11 overall record.

"For most part I wasn't really happy," he said. "I think we could have done better. It was a new group together. We were inexperienced and we lost a couple close games, overtime.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

In the first four games this year Dillon scored 17 points per game, adding 68 more points to his total (664). He shot .545 per cent from the field, .462 from the 3-point line and .778 from free-throw line.

His all-around game has improved as he's averaged 9.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists 2.3 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game. 

Looking to his senior year, Dillon talked about his strengths and what he has to work on. 

"I also say blocking shots," he said. "I'm a great defender. I can time a lot balls going in the air. I think that's the most effective part of my game is my defensive style.  

Stelse also talked about Alou's pluses - mentally and physically.

​"He has a high basketball IQ," he said. "He is not only talented, but a good decision maker. He can score on the perimeter or down on the block and he has a mid-range game. That's why he is so tough to guard. More often times than not he's going to make the correct basketball play."

Stelse did point out that his talented forward still has some things to work on.

"Being more aggressive," Stelse said. "He needs to assert himself from the opening tip. Last year if they put a box and one on him, he would disappear for portions of the game. Haven't seen that yet. So he needs to be assertive every single possession that he's out there.

"In certain situations I would rather see him take the shot. We teach making the extra pass. But when you have a guy who is arguably the one of the best, you want to have the ball in his hand at key points."

Being a senior, Dillon needs to bring out another part of his personality - leadership.

"I have to be more of a leader. Last year I shied away from being more vocal," he said. "It's just not my personality. But this year I have to be more vocal because the guys listen to me and respect me. I need to use my voice more in practice. Get on guys who aren't doing the right things.

"If somebody needs a boost in confidence, a pat on the back - when they do the right things or when they mess up - I need to be there for them."

Dillon is also quick to answer questions for his teammates when they come to him.

"I lead by example first and I'm vocal second," he said. "I'm not afraid to show someone what to do. I'm like a second coach. A lot of guys come to me and ask questions. I think I give them good advice and they do what I tell them to do. I try to do a better job of helping out everybody."

Stelse also pointed out how Alou is off the court, as one of the awards he won last year was the Thomas Steiner Award, named after the former principal who died of cancer. It goes to the player who also works with the community and is good in the classroom.

"He is good in classroom as well as the community," Stelse said. "I know how thrilled he was - it was no-brainer for him to win the award.

"I'll give you an example. During the off-season he played an AAU game on a Friday, two AAU games the next morning and then still made it to my basketball camp in the afternoon.

"I can't say enough about Alou's character. Landisch saw it back in class in middle school. A soft spoken, nice kid who looks out for others as well as himself.

"One that we're excited to have in our program. He challenges himself. He gets it done."


  • FAVORITE FOOD: Lasagna.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: Home Alone, Comedy.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Sportscenter.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Video Games, Watch TV.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Beating Tosa East last year for the first time in several years.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attending South Dakota State University on a Division 1 Scholarship. Study Business.

Can Lancer boys win the GMC this season?

With the Greater Metro Conference boys basketball regular season about to begin on Friday, coach Dan Wandrey’s Brookfield Central Lancers are considered the favorites in which should be a very close race.

Wandrey is not only blessed with talent, but young talent, and a senior leader in 6-foot-2 inch sharp-shooting ‘2’ guard Sam Rohde.

Rohde is averaging 8.3 points per game and has made 5 of 6 3-pointers in the first three games. He also hasn’t missed from the field (9-for-9) or the free-throw line (2-2).

Central’s best player and one of the best guards in the area is sophomore point guard Gage Malensek, a 5-9 guard who is worth the price of admission.

Gage the Rage

Gage is averaging 18.3 ppg, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game. And like Rohde, he can shoot the eyes out of the basket. He is hitting .792 from the field (19 of 24), .929 from the free-throw line (13 of 14) and .800 from the 3-point line (4 of 5).

He is an outstanding passer, distributes the ball well and is money taking the ball to the hoop.

Central’s second-highest scorer is 6-2 junior guard Andres Peralta-Werns, who is averaging 17.3 ppg, 3 assists and 2 steals and has brought a more well-rounded game to the Lancers this season. He has improved his floor game, his defense and he is still working on becoming a better rebounder.

Sophomore Cole Nau, a 6-2 guard, rounds out the top four, averaging 8.7 points, a team-leading 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals. Another all-around athlete, giving Wandrey two sophomores and a junior among his top four players.

Chris Post, a 6-2 senior forward, is Central’s other captain along with Rohde and provides scoring (6.0) and rebounding (4.5) help and does the dirty work inside.

Plenty of depth

Guards Charlie Debbink (a 6-2 guard) and Ian Debbink (6-0) provide a spark off the bench, and are joined by 6-0 guard Jack Brady, 6-2 forward Nate Verhagen, 5-11 guard Matt Flynn and 6-3 forward Carson Gehl.

The Lancers have plenty of depth, as Wandrey can also call on 6-0 guard Stephen Williams, 5-10 senior guard Dawson Carnell and sophomore forwards Joey Cleary (6-4) and Jack Cooney (6-1).

The Lancers will go as far as their defense and shooting take them. Their defense can cause headaches for other teams – in the half and full court, applying pressure when they need to. Their shooting in the early going as has been outstanding.

But the Lancers are going to have to hit the boards with more than one player. If this team has an early weakness is they don’t have that  regular ‘big’ player, who can dominate.

Look out for Hilltoppers

Ryan Coffey, a second-team all-conference selection along with Malensek and Brookfield East’s Jake Graf, returns to lead defending champion Marquette.

Coffey is a 6-5 dominating forward and leading scorer so far this year as is Niko Kerschner, a 6-6 junior forward. Also on their roster is 6-7 junior Liam Schroeder and 6-6 senior Justin Novotny. Will Barbera, a 6-3 guard, will also be someone to deal with.

West Allis Hale returns scoring machine Ryan Haertel, who was an honorable mention all-conference choice along with Rohde and West Allis Central’s Payshame Jelks. Guard Jordan Smith, who is averaging 16 ppg, will lead Sussex Hamilton.

Wauwatosa East should have excellent balance and depth behind senior guards Blake Kratzer and Dane Mikkelson. I saw the Red Raiders defeat Kettle Moraine the other night and Leonard Avery was an impressive player around the basket.

Menomonee Falls had eight players average 8.0 or more points in their first few games under new coach Steve Showalter, who replaced Ben Farley, who came to Brookfield East and won the state football championship.

Speaking of the Spartans, look for a big improvement under new coach Joe Rux, who brings a winning background with him.

One of East football stars – QB Jake Graf – returns along with Patrick Cartier, an outstanding 6-7 forward, who also stood out on the football team as a receiver. This is a great base for Rux to work with.

It could be a very interesting season on the boys side in the Greater Metro Conference this season.



For West’s Alyssa Nelson – The best is yet to come


For New Berlin West's Alyssa Nelson, the best is yet to come. For Lady Vikings basketball fans, that is good news indeed.

Nelson has that rare combination that can help a team in many ways. The first time I saw her play as a freshman, she came into the game, immediately got the ball outside the 3-point line and drained the shot. It wasn't the fact that she MADE the shot which impressed me, but the fact that she TOOK it.

I remember telling myself - 'I'm going to like this girl.'

She only averaged 5.7 points per game (ppg), but she was third on the team in 3-pointers made her freshman year.

First-year head coach Collin Thompson, who has been at West for nine years, talked about Nelson's move to varsity as a freshman.

"When we started to slot players early in tryouts, we knew she would be an option," he said. "We knew she would be on the varsity sometime during the season, but we thought it would be toward the end of the season. When she scored 20 points on JV in the Brookfield Central Tournament (in November). We knew she was ready."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Alyssa was more impressive as the season went on, showing up big time in the post-season.

"She helped a ton," Thompson recalled. "When we beat (New Berlin) Eisenhower in the regional finals her freshman year she had 17 points. It was our first win over Eisenhower in years. When she scored 10 points in a 38-33 loss to Pius in the sectional final, we knew we had something special.

"In the Eisenhower game Alyssa took control of situation. She has the unique ability to hit a floater or hit a mid-range jumper which is kind of lost in today's game. She was able to show the ball, get the defenders to jump at her 3-point shot and then she moved to a soft spot and hit the jumper and that's a lost art."

Nelson realized her move to the varsity had a lot to do with her ability to put the ball in the hoop.

"I was a little surprised, but people know I can score and that's why they did that," she said. "At first it was definitely a little scary, but having my sister (Jenna was a senior) there really helped. She said 'You deserve it,' so that really helped a lot.

Her experience as a freshman helped her out last season.

"It helped my confidence," she said. "I knew I could play on the varsity level."

Thompson was excited when talking about Nelson's sophomore season.

"She's very aggressive, she knows her strength, especially the last year and a half we've asked her to step up her offense," he said. "In practice she wants others to be involved, create with her teammates more. But when it comes to the game situation, she knows when it's her turn to take the shot or when it's time to drive and kick the extra pass.

"In a year and half plus since she came up on varsity we can count on one hand how many bad shots she's taken. She has such a high basketball IQ you trust any sort of offensive impact she has on the game.

"Her drive is to get better individually," he said. "She's a gym rat. She works out all the time. She's a girl who puts in the extra effort even though it's always been there."

Her drive is to get better individually. She’s a gym rat. She works out all the time. She’s a girl who puts in the extra effort even though it’s always been there.”

Coach Collin Thompson

Nelson topped the team in six offensive categories as a sophomore, including points per game (13.0) and points (313), free-throw percentage (.844), 3-point percentage (.435), 3-pointers made (50) and attempted (115).

She also averaged 3.5 rebounds per game and her 79 rebounds total ranked second on the team. She was third in assists (43) and assists per game (2.0) and third in steals (35) as her game continued to develop.

Both Thompson and Nelson know there are still parts of her game she needs to work on.

"She is continuing to work on her defense," Thompson said. "That was her real weakness her freshman year. That's improved quite a bit, but we still need her to dive on the floor for loose balls and create those energy plays for us.

"Another weakness is she must always be on attack mode. You can see it when against good teams she averages high points while against the lower-tier teams she doesn't. She wants her teammates to get involved. 

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

"We have to get that mindset back - 'This is the opportunity I have to be in the attack mode' - because she has a future at the next level. Get better and get explosive all the time is a key for her.

"She's a quiet girl who leads by example, but we need her to be more vocal on the floor," he said. "In practice she's very quiet. She's not a rah-rah type, but she understands the game and is willing to help her teammates."

"We talked over summer about her giving us more in order for us to be competitive. Her rebounding this year has gotten tremendously better. She has a knack for the ball. She gets how the ball bounces. When she is more in attack mode she is only going to open up options for her teammates where she can kick for shots."

The slightly built Nelson - whose nickname 'Chubby' was bestowed on her by a friend back in third grade - has a lot of pressure on her shoulders and is a key to her team's success.

Alyssa knows what she needs to work on.

"This year I can definitely get a lot of post-ups because people are laying off thinking I am going to stay on the perimeter," she said. "I'm changing that a little bit; definitely something I try to improve on."

Nelson has the rare ability to drive the lane and softly flip the shot in while driving to the basket. So how does she do that?

"Once I get to the lane, once I'm driving, I keep my eyes on the hoop," she said. "I don't focus on people coming at me."

She also needs to get in the weight room more.

"I need to get stronger so I can get more rebounds and play like I want to do," the 5-foot, 7 inch guard said. "Also becoming a leader verbally not just behind the scenes kind of thing.

"I'm not exactly the loudest person on the team, so I just try to lead by example and hope people can follow that. On the court (leadership) is huge. It can make a difference between winning and losing."

"I feel a little (pressure) from before the game," she said. "But once it starts, that's not where my mind is. It goes away. you forget about everything."

Unlike some players, Alyssa has never seen a shot she's afraid of taking, especially in the big games when her numbers are better.

"I know I shouldn't necessarily do that, but when the spotlight comes on against the better teams I know I have to do something to help this team win," she said. "My youth coaches back in seventh and eighth grade when we went to state always said 'Shoot the ball when you're open, don't hesitate' and I just try not to think about it. So when I get open, I shoot it."

Thompson knows in order for the Lady Vikes to succeed, he needs Alyssa to be aggressive with her shot.

"That's what's great about Alyssa," he said. "She is not afraid to miss that shot. She's willing to take it. We need someone to take control in big moments of big games and she's able to do that - raise up in the moment, be consistent with it and be that on court leader. It's important she makes sure she's a presence out there."

But winning is the name of her game.

"I'll do whatever I can to help us win," she said. "It's not necessarily about me and my points or whether I score. It's the win."


  • FAVORITE FOOD: Chicken Tenders.
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP: Drake, Rap Music.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE: Blind Side, Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: One Tree Hill.
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Anatomy & Physiology.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Watch Netflix.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Winning State Tournament in 8th Grade.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Attend College. Major in Radiology.

Weekend Thoughts – Bucks, Packers, Badgers

What an interesting weekend of local college and pro sports. Here’s a closer look.


I was more impressed with the Milwaukee Bucks beating Brooklyn twice than defeating the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers once.

Too many times – and it will probably happen again – the Bucks would beat a strong team and then turn around and lose to a garbage team next time out. Anyone with a brain would realize all they did was cancel each other out.

So beating the Cavs was impressive BECAUSE the Bucks followed up with wins over the Nets on the road and at home. Tough schedule coming up so it will be interesting to see how they compete.


Important win for the Packers – they are all important and necessary at this point. Not impressive, but that’s not important. All that’s important is the ‘W.’

Wonder when Mike McCarthy will wake up and use Ty Montgomery,  Christine Michael and Aaron Ripkowski more. I said when it happened, James Starks should have NEVER been signed in the off-season. That one is on Ted Thompson, but coach Mac is dumb enough to use him. Mr. ‘I’m a Highly Successful coach’ has one more Super Bowl win than I do.

If the Packers can be successful using the short-passing game in Sunday’s miserable weather, Big Mike shouldn’t hesitate to use it most of the time in good weather.


I feel sorry for the coach Paul Chryst and his staff, especially secondary coach Jim Leonard to see the Badgers fold quicker than a deck of cards against Penn State.

A 10-3 record is impressive – but wins over LSU and MSU aren’t impressive when you see how their seasons finished. The only good teams UW played they lost to – PSU, OSU and Michigan.

I said beforehand that there would be no way the Badgers would make the final four with a win over PSU. The playoff committee looks at won-lost record and WHO you beat.

Facing Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl is certainly a BIG step down for Badger fans who watched their team choke away the season in the second half on Saturday.

Senior Sam Rohde looking to key Lancers basketball success

Senior Sam Rohde looking to key Lancers basketball success

Things haven't come easy for Brookfield Central senior guard Sam Rohde.

After excelling on the junior varsity as a freshman, Rohde stepped into the starting varsity point guard position as a sophomore, only to see his season end 12 games later with a broken left ankle.

" He was probably our best player," Central coach Dan Wandrey said. "but the injury set him back. We had older kids when Sam was a sophomore, who put themselves in situations that Sam never did. Those are things that are hard to teach."

Despite the injury, Rohde topped the team in assists (3.9 per game), was second in free-throw shooting (.825 per cent) and 3-point percentage (.471), while finishing third in scoring (7.6 points per game).

Sam talked about the role Wandrey wanted him to play.

"If it helps the team I was ready to play point guard, shooting guard, wherever he wanted me to. That's what you got to do."

Rohde recalled how his teammates helped out, even though he was a sophomore and had to play point guard.

"The team was really accepting," he said. "That helped me out a lot. It's harder when you're at a younger age to run the show. But as you get older, play the games, get used to the guys your playing with you get a feel for what your teammates are like; how you can distribute the ball, make plays."

Rohde hated to see his season end with the injury.

"It was really tough," he said. "I liked what we started to do as a team. I had a lot of fun with the guys. It was just tough to think about it, getting to that point of the season, the playoffs coming up. Then have it all end. I still went to all the practices, but I was on crutches for six weeks."

"When you are watching from the bench, you can see all the aspects of the game," he said. "I didn't take things for granted, but I appreciated it more."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Coincidentally, Wandrey coached Sam's sister, Lydia Rohde, who has gone on to play basketball at Northwestern University after an outstanding career at Central.

"Obviously having coached Lydia, they were very similar," Wandrey said. "They have an instinct, a knowledge, an IQ of the game. They are a little wise beyond their years. I think you only get that from being around it, watching it and studying it. You have a feel for the game.

"It's basketball, it's like a higher level processing there. He was always a really good ball handler, a very good passer, a distributor, he had a great feel for what's going on around him. Especially when you're younger, that really stands out."

Sam used that knowledge and even after missing several games as a sophomore, he learned from the experience and was anxious to go last year.

"When you are watching from the bench, you can see all the aspects of the game," he said. "I didn't take things for granted, but I appreciated it more."

He earned honorable mention All-Greater Metro Conference last year, while finishing first in 3-pointers (43), tied for second on the team in scoring (9.2 ppg) and was third on the team in free-throw percentage (.833), 3-point percentage (.355), rebounds (3.3 rpg) and assists (2.0 apg).

Rohde had his first real exposure to the pressure of playing before a varsity crowd as a freshman when the Lancers played Germantown in a big non-conference game Wandrey recalled.

"He won the Germantown-Brookfield Central JV game in front of 3,500 people with a running 7-8 foot shot at the buzzer against guys who were much bigger than him," he said.

Rohde remembered that experience.

"I've never really played in huge basketball atmospheres like that," he said. "There were tons of people there for the varsity game. I never really experienced the energy, the crowd, all the crazy good athletes you're playing against. It took a little time to adjust, but it helped me out a lot."

Playing those dozen games as a sophomore also helped prepare him for his junior season.

"Varsity experience helps a lot," he said. "People don't realize the jump it is from freshman to JV to varsity. So if you already have a year under your belt, the game slows down for you."

Ironically, the emergence of freshman Gage Malensek at point guard last year, allowed Rohde to move back to shooting guard, giving the Lancers perhaps the best backcourt in the conference.

He’s responsible, makes good decisions. He’s kind of like the boy next door you want your son to be like or your daughter to date. “He does everything the right way.”

Coach Dan Wandrey

Wandrey talked about the switch in positions for Rohde last season.

"It was kind of funny because he doesn't play point guard for us now - he's our third option (behind Malensek and Cole Nau, both sophomores)," he said. "Even though the injury set him back, he seems to know the right play, makes the right decision and he's a great shooter.

"A couple games last year he hit 6 or 7 3's. He a lights-out shooter. He's improved dramatically defensively and he became a really good rebounder last year. He's a good ball handler, not a good dribbler. He doesn't turn it over.

"And he has that higher level basketball IQ. I can sit and watch film and see it. You can tell kids don't put yourself in these positions and Sam doesn't. As a coach he's kind of guy who is really dependable."

So it's not surprising that Rohde knows his strengths and weaknesses.

"Perimeter shooting, positional defending, I'm a pretty smart player on both ends," he said, then adding "being a good teammate, encouraging my teammates. Mentally, I'm pretty good defensively. I know where guys are supposed to be.

"But I need to work on my overall athleticism; lateral quickness for on ball defending. My decision-making could improve, my ability to help my teammates improve."

Wandrey added one more factor.

"He's almost unselfish to a fault. He needs to shoot the thing more often."

After listening to Wandrey and Rohde talk, it is no surprise he is one of the team's captains and leaders this year.

"I'm an encourager," Rohde said. "A leader should always be a great teammate first. Then it's kind of contagious with the other guys. Being a positive role model off the court. That's how we should perform in the classroom, the community."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

But Wandrey would like the soft-spoken Rohde to be a little more outgoing.

"All the stuff outside of basketball skill he's a coach’s dream," the veteran coach said. "He's attentive, he's respectful. He's committed, he's loyal. But I'd like him to be a different type of leader. With his personality, he's not going to grab a guy by his shirt. He's not super vocal.

"Two years ago when he was playing point guard, that was a big problem. I told him we need you to be vocal and tell these guys what the situation is."

Rohde agrees with his coach, but he also knows who he is.

"I need to be a leader," he said. "Working hard at practice, setting the tone every day for the expectations of everyone. I need to make it known what we expect of our team and help our teammates become a closer group to accomplish our goals.

"I'm not extremely loud on the court, but I talk when things need to be said."

It is not surprising that Rohde is a goal-oriented person. When asked what he wanted to accomplish he talked about personal and team goals.

"I would like be a first-team all-conference selection," he said. "I want to be a more legitimate go-to threat and improve my ability to stop people on defense and not be the guy you put on the worst offensive player on the other team.

"And I would also love to win conference (Central is the pre-season favorite) and put ourselves in the best position to make a run at the state tournament."

When closing out the interview, Wandrey talked more about the likeable Rohde as a person.

"Adults look at him and say I'd love my kid to be like that," he said. "The other kids realize he's a great kid, the example that he sets. He works hard. He's quiet, soft-spoken, reserved, awesome.

"He is that kid who you don't have to worry about. He's responsible, makes good decisions. He's kind of like the boy next door you want your son to be like or your daughter to date.

"He does everything the right way."


  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Comedies and Action movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  The Office.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  World History.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Watch TV, Movies, Hang out with friends.
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT: Making State Tournament in soccer this fall.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE? Attend college. Play basketball if it presents itself.