University of Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves has probably spent more time than he would like to recall tinkering with his lineup card.But it appears the Badgers are that much closer to solving the mystery of what line each player should be on after last weekend’s series with Alaska-Anchorage. The strange part is, the potential new top line makes so much sense that it’s a mystery how they weren’t playing together sooner as an even-strength line.Seniors Ross Carlson and Jake Dowell have been stalwarts on the power play, with freshman Michael Davies and sophomore Jack Skille playing into the mix. Davies got his chance last week in practice, and against UAA to play with whom he calls “probably the two best forwards on the team,” and didn’t disappoint.Davies had his first two-goal game since the season opener, and Carlson and Dowell each chipped in two points Friday night as the new-look second line helped Wisconsin burst out of an offensive slump.In practice Monday, those three were practicing together on a line again, and could see themselves ascending to the top line’s spot.”We clicked right from the start,” Davies said. “The chemistry was just there this weekend, and hopefully we can keep that going as long as we can.”After a frustrating winless weekend at Colorado College two weekends ago, Eaves asked Dowell what he thought of making the power play line an even-strength line as well.”Coach just wanted to shake things up,” Dowell said. “He asked us what we thought about it when we met with him for lunch on Monday with the captains. He said he wanted to shake things up, and it seems to work.”This line appears to be as balanced as any line Wisconsin is going to get, for a couple reasons. Past statistics suggest a good mix among these three: Dowell the goal scorer has 15 goals and six assists this season, Davies has been consistent with eight goals and nine helpers, and Carlson, while struggling for goals this year, has still done his part within the offense with five scores and 12 assists.But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Carlson and Davies are talented skaters and puck handlers, and tend to succeed away from the net. Dowell, on the other hand, is Wisconsin’s best inside player, gifted at setting screens and clearing space for Carlson and Davies to move around.”He’s a value just to get in front of the net,” Carlson said of Dowell. “He just brings that physical aspect, he’ll take cross-checks, he’ll throw his weight around, he’ll get the pucks in the corners when there’s rebounds. It’s one of those things, both 5-on-5 and on the power play.”Leading 2-0 going into the third period Saturday, this line showed why it could potentially work so well for Wisconsin. Freshman defenseman Jamie McBain scored his third goal of the season 3:52 into the final period for an insurance 3-0 lead.Though the power play unit had previously gone 1-for-14 on the weekend, it only took UW nine seconds to capitalize on this opportunity. Davies and Carlson got assists on the play, while Dowell set a valuable screen, occupying two defensemen and allowing McBain to gain the open look.”We feel pretty good about the power play right now. We work on it in practice; we kind of try to adjust to what the team’s doing,” McBain said. “We feel for the most part we’re generating a lot of energy through the power play.”The numbers, admittedly, aren’t anything to write home about. The Badgers have just a 15.3 percent conversion rate with the man advantage, near the bottom of the WCHA.But if you ask the Badgers, the statistics mean just that — a number. In fact, since Wisconsin has shown a propensity to score goals just moments after a power play opportunity expires, Carlson said the unit knows what it has done this year, regardless of what the numbers say.”A goal’s a goal, no matter what,” Carlson said. “It’s nice for the team to know that we got credit for the power play goal, but if they get out of the box and then we score, it’s not a big deal as long as we get that goal.”The fact that Carlson, Dowell and Davies have played together on the power play could lead to more success to the line as a five-on-five unit, and Dowell said the benefits will go both ways once they play more hockey together in both situations.”When you play some power play and have some success on the power play, you build some chemistry,” Dowell said. “That way, we’re feeling good offensively when we get back out there five on five, so we’re gelling instead of all being split up and out of sync.”We could go an entire period without playing a regular shift with your line, so it helps to have that defined group.”Is this line ready to put an end to Eaves’ nightly shuffling of the lineup?”It could,” Eaves said. “One would hope that would happen because they’re on the ice together and you would hope that the chemistry is such that it becomes an automatic type of thing.”
Published on February 21, 2017 at 10:26 pm Contact Connor: email@example.com | @connorgrossman The Duke report: This season has been nothing short of a roller coaster for the Blue Devils. Heralded as the top-ranked team in college basketball for the season’s first two weeks, Duke steadily began a decline, losing three of four games last month. Duke slipped to No. 21 in the rankings, but has since responded by winning seven straight. With all the publicity surrounding controversial Grayson Allen, it’s Luke Kennard who’s been the Blue Devils’ best player. He’s one of the ACC’s top scorers, coupled with Amile Jefferson, one of the conference’s best defensive players. The senior forward is among the ACC’s leaders in rebounds and blocks. Up and down the roster, Duke is one of the deepest teams in the country.How Syracuse beats Duke: The Orange’s split, home-and-away personality is a narrative beaten into the ground. But Syracuse playing better in the Carrier Dome is the only predictable outcome in what’s been a bizarre season. For whatever reason, SU can go shot-for-shot with the country’s best teams on its home court. Games against Louisville, Virginia and Florida State are enough reason to think the Orange can hang with the Blue Devils. But to win, SU will need to unleash one of its best defensive efforts of the season. Duke leads the ACC in field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage during conference play, a specific area of defensive weakness for SU. If Syracuse can neutralize sharpshooters like Jayson Tatum and Kennard, it’ll have a good chance at keeping up.Stat to know: 31.7 percentThe Blue Devils shoot 3-pointers better than any ACC team in conference play. Duke opponents are shooting a lowly 31.7 percent from behind the arc, a definite concern for Syracuse given how poorly it handled the 3-point defense from a similar Louisville team. The Cardinals boast the best 3-point defense in conference play, and forced the Orange into an 8-for-34 performance from deep.Player to know: Luke Kennard, guard, No. 5The 6-foot-6 sophomore is the can’t-miss scoring talent on the Blue Devils. He’s demonstrated an elite jumper around the basket and a selective presence behind the arc. He’s not going to match Andrew White in 3-point attempts, but he might in actual baskets. Kennard shoots 45.5 percent from 3, better than any player on Syracuse. If the Orange can’t get a handle on Kennard defensively — not many teams have — it’s going to be a mighty challenge to keep pace with Duke.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Duke’s ranking was misstated. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Comments UPDATED: Feb. 22, 2017 at 8:53 a.m.It’s finally time for Syracuse and Duke. In the most anticipated matchup of the season, the No. 10 Blue Devils (22-5, 10-4 Atlantic Coast) enter Wednesday night’s game in the Carrier Dome having won seven straight, while Syracuse (16-12, 8-7) is coming off a loss on the road against Georgia Tech.Here’s everything you need to know about Wednesday’s matchup.All-time series: Duke leads, 5-4Last time they played: In a 2015-16 season full of surprising wins, beating the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Arena last January was among Syracuse’s most unlikely feats. SU’s eight-point lead with a little over five minutes remaining was the largest advantage for either team in the game, but Duke still trimmed its deficit to a single point with 34 seconds to go. A couple of defensive stops for the Orange sealed the game, in which Tyler Roberson notched a third-straight double-double with 14 points and 20 rebounds. Roberson set a record for the most rebounds by a visiting player in Cameron Indoor Arena and his 14 offensive rebounds tied Billy Owens’ single-game SU record set in 1990.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Facebook Twitter Google+
Eze is however still eligible to play for Nigeria as he is yet to feature for England’s senior side. Indeed, he trained with the Super Eagles in October, 2017 before opting to star for England U20 team. The talented midfielder has scored six goals in 14 league appearances for the Londoners and observers see him as the long -sought successor to Austine Jay Jay Okocha if he eventually choses to star for Nigeria..“We have approached him, but not directly. Tunde Adelakun, my assistant, spoke to his mum. What we understand is that there is a lot of pressure on him and Ebere Eze doesn’t want to give an answer now. Obviously, we would love to have him in the SuperEagles, of course! We continue to work on getting him. It may take some time,” Rohr said in an interview.A Nigeria Football Federation official who recently pleaded anonymity revealed that the player was under the watch list of Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr and urged him to maintain his impressive form in the Championship.“Yes, Ebere Eze is doing very well for Queens Park Rangers (QPR) in the Championship in England and it’s good news for us. Besides, he has come to the Super Eagles camp before when we went to play in London. Our scout knows him very well. Nigerians should not be too anxious and put him under undue pressure.“There is always space for a good player in a team, most especially like the team we are building at the moment. So the scouts are monitoring him, he’s known to us and we see how it goes. But you know a lot of young players have come into the team of late and it’s an ongoing thing. If you are good enough and you can bring something extraordinary to the team, we can always give you a chance.“So we are very happy that Ebere Eze is doing well and believe that at the right time he will be giving the chance to play for the Super Eagles,” he said.When last weekend OPR lost to Leeds United, Manager Mark Warburton singled out Eze’s performances for praise, while Leeds fans calls for his transfer to Elland Road. Eze had an excellent game in QPR’s midfield and Leeds United fans on Twitter were suggesting the club make him a serious transfer target. He has been linked with a move in the past as Leeds had a ‘tentative interest’ in Eze ahead of the summer window. The youngster has been in fine form this season and certainly caught the eye at Elland Road. Warburton, in fact, believed that Eze was the best player on the pitch, as he explained to the official QPR website.Leeds United fans will certainly be hopeful that previous ‘tentative interest’ is still present from the club. The 21-year-old was all over the pitch and his ability certainly stood out in West Yorkshire. Eze looked like a player who could easily slot into the Leeds philosophy and should they secure promotion this season it will be interesting to see if Leeds rekindle their apparent keenness.“Eze was going to start working part-time in Tesco when we (QPR) first asked him to come in on trial. The journey he’s made in a short space of time since then has been quite phenomenal.”Those the words of Paul Hall, who has been a mentor to Eze throughout his spell at Loftus Road, as well as his manager when he featured for the Under-23s.Eze has endured a whirlwind few years since his release from Millwall in 2016. Lions boss Neil Harris felt Eze wasn’t the type of player who would succeed at a club like Millwall.Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT.com, he said: “When I got released by Millwall, I understood the decision. I get why Neil made that call. You could see in training and in matches that I wasn’t their typical type of player. I didn’t think I would get released at the time I did though – that came as a big shock to me.“I thought I’d probably get another year there, even though it didn’t look like there was much chance of me getting near the first team. It took me by surprise, but ultimately it was a blessing in disguise.”Following that setback, Eze had a number of unsuccessful trials elsewhere before his break finally came with Rangers.Chris Ramsey, the club’s technical director, has a long standing relationship with Eze’s agent – with QPR moving in swiftly to invite the Greenwich-born attacker on trial and It wasn’t long before Eze would be signing his first contract in W12, after impressing Ramsey and co enough with his technical prowess, drive and work rate.Eze admitted that he was considering calling it a day in football prior to that, with college or university on the horizon.He added: “When I initially got released by Millwall I wasn’t too down, as there were plenty of clubs interested in me. But after being turned down by a few of them that’s when it really started hitting me. I was getting a bit worried – all I’ve ever wanted to do is to be a professional footballer.“So then I was thinking about plan B and potentially going to university or college, and then QPR came along and gave me my big opportunity, which I’ll always be eternally grateful for.” After netting nine goals in 14 starts for the club’s Elite Development squad, Eze was rewarded with a new contract in January 2017.Soon after Eze made his senior debut against Blackburn in the FA Cup, but a promising 18-minute cameo was cut short by an Achilles injury.The 2017/2018 season is when Eze really introduced himself to the Football League, and after an excellent loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers – managed by Gareth Ainsworth, he was ready to make his mark at Loftus Road.Eze impressed in the second half of that campaign, featuring regularly under former Rangers boss Ian Holloway, who he knew from his time at Millwall.Big things were expected of the youngster this season as he put-pen-to-paper on a new three-year deal in August.He was also handed the iconic No 10 shirt by another former boss Steve McClaren, which has been worn by club legends Rodney Marsh and Stan Bowles – as well as the likes of John Byrne, Roy Wegerle and Adel Taarabt and with that has come considerable pressure. “No, I didn’t see the No 10 shirt as too much pressure being put on me,” he said.“Of course with that comes expectation, but at the end of the day I know what I’m capable of producing. I didn’t let it affect my mindset in terms of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to play. You have to deal with that pressure and expectation as a footballer, regardless of your age or status.“I saw being given the No 10 shirt as an appreciation for what I had achieved so far and a belief from people at the club that I can prove to be a key player here. At the end of the day I’ve got a job to do, and I’ve got to produce and help this team as much as I can in the future.”After establishing himself as a regular under the former England boss, he was taken out of the firing line and dropped to the bench after he hit a patchy run of form.Eze, though, was ‘very disappointed’ to see McClaren – someone who he holds in very high regard axed by the Hoops .“It was really disappointing to see Steve leave. He played me on a regular basis and did a lot for me, both as a player and a person,” he revealed.“The belief he showed in me is something I’ve only received from a few managers, so for him to be so honest and invest the amount of time he did into me is something I won’t forget.”However, there is general feeling among many Rangers fans is that Eze’s progress stagnated under McClaren – an assertion he strongly disagrees with.“No, that’s not true whatsoever. I continued learning under Steve,” he continued.“He showed me a lot of things that I hadn’t seen before. I know what he did for me at the end of the day, and he most definitely gave me a platform to show what I could do. I’ve played a lot of games this season and taking my age into account that isn’t something you see that regularly at this level.“My form had dipped a little bit from the start of the season, so I understood why Steve put me on the bench. But I have nothing but the utmost respect for Steve, he taught me so much. I have a lot to thank him for.”Eze had been attracting interest from Championship promotion chasers Leeds, has been watched by Premier League duo Tottenham and Crystal Palace this season.There is the same belief around QPR that Eze can eventually go on to play at the highest level.“I tell Ebere he can be anything he wants to be. He’s the best player on the pitch when he’s on top form – it doesn’t matter who else is playing,” Hall added.“In his case especially patience will be absolutely key, if he is to develop into the player that we know he is truly capable of becoming.”Eze is on one hell of a rollercoaster, and Rangers fans should enjoy the ride for the duration that they’re on it. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram His form for Queens Parks Rangers has been devastating and it did not come as a surprise to anyone when he was voted the Championship Player of the Month in October. This has made him an attraction to England and Nigeria, culminating in his invitation to the England U21 team, while an emissary was sent to his mother from the country of his parents to convince his son to play for Nigeria. He is now at crossroads as to where to pitch his allegianceEbere Eze has built a reputation for himself at Queens Park Rangers so- much-so that when his team loses he is exonerated from blame, however, the Anglo-Nigerian born midfielder is still undecided over his international future in spite approaches from Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr.He had featured for the England’s U-20 side earlier before he was called up to the England U-21 squad in September this year by manager Aidy Boothroyd for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Turkey and Kosovo, though he was an unused substitute on both occasions.