Big Ten

Badgers make Greg Gard permanent head basketball coach

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Badgers make Greg Gard permanent head basketball coach

Bo Ryan's sudden retirement in December came, according to the legendary Wisconsin head coach, so associate head coach Greg Gard would have an opportunity to prove he should be Ryan's successor.

Gard made the most of that opportunity.

Gard, a Wisconsin native, was named the Badgers' permanent head coach on Monday.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be named the head coach at the University of Wisconsin," Gard said in the announcement. "I'm extremely thankful to (athletics director Barry) Alvarez, the Athletic Board and the Board of Regents for this incredible opportunity to lead my home-state program into the future. It's a role and a responsibility that I cherish and take extremely seriously. It's been a long journey over the last quarter-century or so, but for me to be able to spend my entire career in this state and be surrounded by such incredible support has been vital to my success. I am so grateful to everyone who has played an integral part in my development.

"I am thankful to Coach Ryan for the opportunity he gave me to be a college coach over 25 years ago. He has been a positive mentor in the professional development of my career and showed great confidence in my abilities and potential as I grew as a young coach.

"I'm looking forward to building on the great tradition at Wisconsin and representing my home state in a manner that can make Badgers fans proud."

Gard, who worked as a Wisconsin assistant since 2001, has been extremely impressive since taking the reins from Ryan before the start of the new calendar year. After a disappointing non-conference schedule that saw the Badgers drop home games to the likes of Western Illinois, Marquette and UW-Milwaukee as well as a 1-4 start to conference play, Wisconsin rallied for a terrific finish to the regular season, winning 11 of its final 13 games, tying for fourth place in the conference standings and earning the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a 12-6 conference record.

Gard led the Badgers on a seven-game winning streak that featured wins over Michigan State, Indiana and Maryland. Wisconsin's first Big Ten Tournament game -- Gard's first game as the permanent head coach -- comes Thursday.

"As I said many times throughout the past weeks, I've been very impressed with the job Greg has done with this team," Alvarez said in the announcement. "Not just from a wins and losses perspective but also in terms of player development and making necessary adjustments. It became clear to me as the season wore on and I was able to observe Greg both on and off the court that he was the right person to lead our men's basketball team. I was extremely excited to be able to offer him the job and fully believe that the program is in good hands for years to come."

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.