Press Association Skipper Ron Vlaar admits Aston Villa have to conquer their frailty at defending set-pieces as they prepare for another searching examination from Andy Carroll in Sunday’s home game with West Ham. He added: “It’s something we have to take care of and focus on. We know the situation, I’m not afraid of that. We have to stand up and be counted, be brave enough.” Vlaar is aware of the threat that Carroll, on loan at the Hammers from Liverpool, will pose after his return from injury. He said: “He’s a very good player. I remember his goal for England in the Euros against Sweden. It was top class. That’s his quality. “We have to face that and deal with it and make sure he cannot come in that position. We also have to stop the crosses. “He scored a lot of goals for Newcastle, it was not easy for him at Liverpool, I guess, and now he is playing at West Ham. He was injured as well for a while. “But I think he has the ability to play at the highest level and he has quality, that is for sure. If you score goals like that (against Sweden), it says something.” Vlaar held his hand up and took responsibility for Everton striker Marouane Fellaini’s late equaliser in last weekend’s 3-3 draw at Goodison Park. It was the latest blow to hurt Villa from a dead-ball situation which has become their Achilles heel this season. Vlaar said: “Are teams beginning to target Villa? People will know our struggles (at set pieces). I bet they do. That’s what I would have done. West Ham have a very strong team and play a lot of long balls. We know that so we have to be ready for that.”
The Wisconsin women’s basketball team kicked off its 2014-2015 season with a 71-60 victory over Illinois State Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.In a weekend filled with Badger victories, it was time for the women’s basketball team to step up, head coach Bobbie Kelsey said.“We’re very happy with the win, it’s a nice way to start our season with the ‘W’,” Kelsey said. “After the football team did what they did, and [women’s] soccer won their [NCAA opening-round] game, everybody’s doing well, and we gotta carry our weight.”The win saw the Badgers lead by as much as 30 early in the second half, but the Redbirds wouldn’t go away.“I was really happy with our team’s fight,” Illinois State’s head coach Barb Smith said. “I was obviously not so happy we were down by 30, but the fight back, it showed a lot of character.”The Badgers carried a 34-21 lead into the locker room at halftime, behind junior guard Nicole Bauman’s seven points and five assists at the break.At the half, both teams struggled shooting the ball, with the Redbirds shooting at 26.5 percent, including 1-10 from three-point range. Wisconsin shot the ball at 34.4 percent, but made three out of their nine attempted threes.Redshirt senior Michala Johnson dropped in two buckets from the post to open the second-half scoring for the Badgers, which would mark the beginning of a 20-3 run to open the half.“Once my guards set screens for me and I come off the screens and finish strong, then I feel more comfortable finishing around the basket,” Johnson said.Johnson finished with a team-high 16 points and added seven rebounds.With the score at 42-24, Bauman took over. She drove hard to the lane and hit a layup to increase UW’s lead to 20. On the ensuing defensive position, she blocked a driving redbird, then streaked up court to find freshman Cayla McMorris on the block for an easy basket.The next possession for Wisconsin, Bauman, who finished with 14 points, drilled a three to make it 49-24. She then stole the ball and found McMorris for a three on the right wing for one of her nine assists, a career-high.McMorris drove to the paint and converted a weak-handed layup on the following possession put the Badgers up 54-24, which would be their largest lead of the game.In McMorris’ first regular-season collegiate game, she finished with 12 points and four rebounds in 23 minutes.“To start the game I had a lot of jitters, nervousness,” McMorris said. “But once I started playing, it goes away.”The young guard impressed her coach by being aggressive and taking the ball to the hoop, Kelsey said.Down by 30, Illinois State battled back. Senior Katy Winge put the Redbirds on her back, scoring 25 points on 8-18 shooting, including 20 second-half points.There wasn’t nearly enough time to mount any sort of comeback, although the last 12 minutes of play didn’t sit well with Kelsey.“I knew they weren’t gonna just be down by 30 and let us just steamroll them,” Kelsey said. “Sometimes the kids don’t really understand that they gotta keep their foot on their necks so to speak and close the game out the way we know we can.”Although Wisconsin had a significant height advantage — three of their starting five stands at over 6-foot compared to Illinois State’s tallest starter listed at 6-foot — the Badgers only out-rebounded the Redbirds by two (43-41).The game saw the return of Wisconsin redshirt senior Cassie Rochel, who sat out last season with a back injury and grabbed a medical redshirt. In her first regular-season game back, she had eight points and five rebounds in five minutes.Although the stat sheet looked similar at the final buzzer, the results were disproportional.Each team had 29 defensive rebounds, and while it seemed only a small advantage in the offensive rebounding column for UW (14-12), Wisconsin had 15 second-chance points while ISU had seven.Each team turned the ball over eight times, but Wisconsin was able to push the ball and get 15 points off of turnovers, including 12 fast break points. The Redbirds only had four points off of both turnovers and fast breaks.“It’s just a matter of being more intentional about running both ends of the floor,” Kelsey said. “So that’s what we were doing. And hitting shots.”Both teams took 66 shots, with UW making 27 (40.9 percent) and ISU sinking 23 (34.8 percent).In a tough non-conference schedule, Kelsey knows what kind of competition awaits the Badgers, and knows her team must take advantage of victories against lesser opponents.“If that wasn’t a 30-point lead game we would’ve been in trouble. We know what’s coming,” Kelsey said.“We’re playing for what’s coming, not necessarily what’s in front of us. We’re not looking ahead, but we have to shore up some areas to make sure we give ourselves the best chance to win those games as well.”
Ghanaian Bantamweight boxer, Duke Akuetteh Micah, is set for a ring return on September 26, to face World Boxing Organisation (WBO) World Bantamweight Champion, John Riel Casimero of Philippines.The bout is part of a PBC on Showtime pay-per-view featuring Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario in a unification bout.This is the first world title shot for Micah who is undefeated in his career having won 24 bouts with 19 coming by way of knockout. Source: GNA Micah would be looking to continue his impressive run despite being out of the ring almost a year with a unanimous decision win against Janiel Rivera back in July 2019.He is a two-time Africa and Commonwealth champion and represented Ghana at the 2012 Olympic Games.