STATE SPORTS ROUNDUP: Borland named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
Chris Borland has become the first Wisconsin player in nine seasons to be named the Big Ten's defensive player-of-the-year. The senior linebacker was given the Nagurski-Woodson award yesterday, one day after he was named the Butkus-Fitzgerald linebacker-of-the-year. Borland is the fifth Wisconsin player to receive the Big Ten's top defensive honor. The others are Erasmus James in 2004, Jamar Fletcher in 2000, Tom Burke in 1998, and Troy Vincent in '91. Borland leads Wisconsin with 102 tackles this season, 40 more than the next-highest Badger. He tied the Big Ten for forced fumbles with 14, and he tied the Wisconsin season mark for fumble recoveries with nine. He also had four sacks and eight-and-a-half tackles for losses. In other Badger football news, quarterback-and-safety T-J Edwards of Lake Villa Illinois has given his verbal commitment to play in Madison. He withdraw an earlier commitment to Western Michigan.
Aaron Rodgers said he expected to be medically-cleared to play in a game by now -- and he's not. The Green Bay Packers' quarterback had X-rays and bone scans yesterday. Team doctors checked the status of the broken collarbone Rodgers' suffered a month ago tonight against Chicago. Later in the day, coach Mike McCarthy said he's not ruling Rodgers out for Sunday's home game against Atlanta -- but Matt Flynn will be prepared as the starter, at least for today's practice. Rodgers said his on weekly ESPN-Milwaukee radio show yesterday that the tests were quote, "not the greatest news." However, he said there's still time before Sunday's game to further his recovery. McCarthy said Rodgers would practice today, but Flynn would take the snaps with the first-team offense. Green Bay's scoring offense has plunged by 51-percent since Rodgers went out -- and the Packer defense feels the sting as well, giving up 126-percent more rushing yards. Green Bay is 5-6-and-1 going into Sunday's contest, one-and-a-half games back in the N-F-C North with four-to-play. Atlanta comes is at 3-and-9.
Packers' coach Mike McCarthy said it was tough to see safety Jerron McMillian leave. The second-year pro was let go yesterday, so his roster spot could be taken by veteran running back Kahlil Bell whom the Packers signed. Earlier this season, McMillian was a starter in place of the injured Morgan Burnett. When Burnett returned, McMillian shared time with M-D Jennings -- but he kept getting demoted as he began to struggle. In the last few weeks, McMillian had played only on special teams. He was a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, and McCarthy said he had expectations. The coach called the release a necessary move from a roster standpoint. Bell, who played three years in Chicago, will be mostly on special teams -- and McCarthy does not rule him out as a kick returner. Bell is also the third string running back in place of Johnathan Franklin, who was put on injured reserve last week. Also, the Packers have signed corner Antonio Dennard to their practice squad. He takes the place of linebacker Victor Aiyewa, who was promoted last week to Green Bay's 53-man roster.
The Milwaukee Bucks split their home-and-home series with Boston, after losing 108-to-100 last night at T-D Bank Garden. Boston shot 70-percent in the fourth quarter, and hit 49-percent for the night. The Bucks tried playing catch-up the entire game. The Celtics went up 22-to-9 before Milwaukee chipped away and trailed by five after the first quarter. In the second, Boston went up by 15 before the Bucks closed the half on an 11-3 run to get within seven. In the fourth quarter, the Celtics jumped up by 12 with 6:28 left. Milwaukee had an 11-to-4 run to get within three. Boston then pulled away with an 8-to-2 spurt. But Milwaukee refused to give up, and got within three with 70 seconds to go. Jared Sullinger finally broke Milwaukee's back with a jumper as the shot clock expired in the final minute. O-J Mayo led the Bucks with 19 points. Brandon Knight scored 15. Jordan Crawford had a game-high 25 points to lead Boston, which snapped a four-game losing streak. The Bucks fell to 3-and-14, with two of those wins coming against the Celtics. Milwaukee will host Detroit tonight.
The U-W Milwaukee men's basketball team improved to 8-and-2, after beating Northern Iowa at home last night 83-to-72. U-W-M matched its victory total from all of last season, after coming from behind in the second half. Northern Iowa led by seven at the break, but Milwaukee turned things around and took control with a 17-0 run early in the second half. U-W-M led by as many as 14, before Northern Iowa got to within five with five-and-a-half minutes to go. Steve McWhorter hit a three, and then Milwaukee made 9-of-12 free throws to seal its victory. Matt Tiby and Jordan Aaron each scored 19 points for the winners. Deon Mitchell scored 19 for Northern Iowa, which dropped to 3-and-4. Milwaukee will host Bradley on Saturday. Tonight, the Wisconsin men play at Virginia as part of the Big Ten-A-C-C Challenge.
The Wisconsin men's basketball team will spend next Thanksgiving in the Bahamas. The school confirmed yesterday that Bo Ryan's Badgers will play in the "Battle-4-Atlantis" holiday tournament November 26th-through-28th. It's a solid eight-team field that also includes North Carolina, Georgetown, Florida, U-C-L-A, Butler, Alabama-Birmingham, and Oklahoma. Each team will be guaranteed three games during the event. The eight-teams have combined for 195 total appearances in the N-C-A-A Tournament along with 53 Final Fours and 20 national titles. Villanova won last year's Battle-4-Atlantis.
Jimmy Whitehead and Mallory Cramer, both of U-W La Crosse, have been named the W-I-A-C basketball players of the week. Whitehead, a senior guard, averaged almost 22 points in three games during the Stout Thanksgiving tournament. In the opener, he made two key baskets in the final minute to send a game against Luther College to overtime, where La Crosse won. Cramer, a senior forward, averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds in two games against Concordia-Wisconsin and Dubuque.