Brent Suter, Brewers reliever (⬆️ UP)
Manny Pina, who had suited up for Milwaukee for six seasons from 2016-21, signed a free-agent deal with the defending champion Atlanta Braves. It means left-handed reliever Brent Suter now takes the crown as the longest-tenured Brewers player. Suter, a 31st-round pick by Milwaukee in 2012, debuted on Aug. 19, 2016 and has appeared in 142 contests over the last six campaigns. Is there a better player to represent the organization than the Harvard grad and Jurassic Park superfan? Probably not.
Shaka Smart, Marquette men’s basketball coach (⬆️ UP)
The Smart era in Milwaukee is off to a great start. Perfect, actually. The Golden Eagles didn’t exactly dominate Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and New Hampshire to notch their first two wins of the season, but on Monday night they defeated 10th-ranked Illinois 67-66 at Fiserv Forum. It’s the first 3-0 start for Marquette since the 2011-12 season when Buzz Williams was still on the sidelines. Marquette has three more games before the annual rivalry matchup against Wisconsin on Dec. 4.
Joe Barry, Packers defensive coordinator (⬆️ UP)
Sunday was another outstanding performance by Barry’s defense. The 17-0 win over Seattle marked the Packers’ first shutout since 2018. They haven’t allowed a single point in the last six quarters. Green Bay’s defense ranks third in total yards (309.9), passing yards (202.7) and points allowed (18.0) per game. Last year, the Packers ranked 13th in scoring defense, coughing up 23.1 points per contest.
Looking at Eastern Conference standings (⬇️ DOWN)
If the playoffs started Wednesday (breaking news: they don’t!) the Bucks would miss the expanded playoffs. Milwaukee has dropped its last two contests and four of its last six, adding up to a 6-8 record. Of course, it’s no reason for concern. Khris Middleton hasn’t played since late October (although, thankfully, he should return Wednesday night) and Brook Lopez has been sidelined since the opener.
Graham Mertz, Badgers quarterback (⬆️ UP)
We haven’t said this much in 2021: Mertz is trending up. The signal-caller completed 18 of 23 attempts for 216 yards and a pair of scores in Wisconsin’s 35-7 victory over Northwestern, one week after tossing three touchdowns and racking up 240 yards vs. Rutgers. It’s the first time Mertz has thrown for 200+ yards in back-to-back weeks since the third and fourth games of the 2020 campaign, and just the second time in his career in which he tallied multiple TD passes in back-to-back outings.