WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: UW's Borland honored as Big Ten's best linebacker
MADISON - University of Wisconsin senior Chris Borland has received the Butkus-Fitzgerald award as the Big Ten's linebacker of the year. He was also named to the all-conference first team by both the league's coaches and media for the second straight season.
During last night's awards' show on the Big Ten Network, Badgers' coach Gary Andersen said Borland could play anywhere on the field and quote, "He just goes, and does what he's supposed to do." Borland was one of only two unanimous first-team picks by the coaches, along with defensive back Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State. Also, Wisconsin senior receiver Jared Abbrederis was a consensus first-team selection for the second straight time. Guard Ryan Groy made the coaches' first team, and the media's second squad. Badger running backs Melvin Gordon and James White were both consensus picks to the all-Big Ten second team. Badgers' tackle Rob Havenstein was named to the media's second team, and was a coaches' honorable mention. Consensus honorable mentions went to Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen, tackle Tyler Marz, defensive end Pat Muldoon, nose guard Beau Allen, and safety Dezmen Southward. Quarterback Joel Stave, corner Sojourn Shelton, and safety Michael Caputo were given honorable mentions by the media.
Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers was reportedly scheduled to have a medical scan performed on his left shoulder today. ESPN said the results should determine how much healing has taken place since he broke his collarbone November fourth. The cable network said team officials would review the test results, and then decide whether Rodgers can return on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field. Coach Mike McCarthy has a news conference scheduled at 3:15 this afternoon in which we'll reportedly hear the verdict. The Packers have struggled in all phases of their game since Rodgers went out. Green Bay is 0-4-1 in that stretch. The Packers are 5-6-1, a game-and-a-half behind Detroit in the NFC North Division with four left. Atlanta will come in at 3-9.
The Green Bay Packers have not said who they'll start at quarterback on Sunday at home against Atlanta -- but whoever it is, they hope to protect him a little better. Last week, Green Bay was in the NFL's Top-10 in the fewest sacks given up with 25. That total is now 32, after Matt Flynn was sacked seven times in the Packers' 40-10 Thanksgiving Day loss at Detroit. Rookie left tackle David Bahktiari said it's been a top priority to make the quarterback feel comfortable. That was after Aaron Rodgers was sacked a league-high 51 times in 2012. Rodgers only went down 18 times this season before he broke his left collarbone on a sack against Chicago on November fourth. The offensive linemen and their coaches believe a stronger running game has helped cut down on the sacks. Guard Josh Sitton said defenses can no longer quote, "tee off every time knowing it's going to be a pass." The Packers are 5-6-and-1, and they'll host an Atlanta team on Sunday that's 3-and-9.
Running back Kahlil Bell said on Twitter that he has signed with the Packers. The team has not announced the move -- but it appears to make sense, after rooking running back and kick returner Johnathan Franklin was recently put on injured reserve. Bell has not played this season, after he averaged four-point-three yards per carry in three years with Chicago. He had 633 total rushing yards with the Bears. Bell had 159 all-purpose yards in a game against the Packers on Christmas Night of 2011.
The UW-Milwaukee men's basketball team will try to extend its winning streak to four games tonight, when it hosts Northern Iowa. The Panthers are 7-2 after a five-point victory at Missouri-Kansas City this past Saturday. Coach Rob Jeter's team now has four non-conference road wins, the most since 2004. Four Milwaukee Panthers average at least 12 points a game, led by Matt Tiby with just over 14 points plus seven rebounds. Northern Iowa comes in at 3-3, after placing third at the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands with wins over Loyola Marymount and LaSalle. UNI has four players averaging in double figures, topped by Seth Tuttle with almost 14 points a night.
Conference play resumes tonight for men's basketball teams in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. Five teams have the early lead at 1-0 -- Milwaukee School of Engineering, Lakeland, Edgewood, Marian, and Aurora. Two of those schools will face each other tonight, when Marian of Fond du Lac hosts MSOE. Edgewood plays in Mequon against Concordia-Wisconsin. Lakeland travels to Milwaukee to take on Wisconsin Lutheran. In non-conference men's play, Silver Lake is at Concordia-Chicago. And UW-Whitewater travels to Beloit. There are no Wisconsin Division III women's games tonight.
UW-Stevens Point remains at No. 2 in the new Division III men's basketball poll from D3hoops.com. UW-Whitewater jumped one place to fourth. Both teams are 4-0. Saint Norbert fell one spot to 18th. Platteville dropped out of the Top-25 after being 20th a week ago. The Pioneers still received votes, as did UW-Stout and Carthage. Amherst is still the men's No. 1. In the D-III women's poll, Whitewater dropped from third place to ninth after losing to Wheaton College by four points last Saturday. Carthage of Kenosha remains 16th at 5-1. Stevens Point dropped one place to 22nd. Oshkosh also received votes. DePauw remains No. 1.
Steve McAfee and Lauren McNanna, both of Beloit College, were named the Midwest Conference men's and women's basketball players-of-the-week. McAfee, a junior guard, scored 48 points in a loss to Grinnell. He shot 20-of-28 from the floor with 10 rebounds and four assists. The 48 points were the fourth-highest in Beloit history, and McAfee's 20 field goals were the second-most in school annals. McNanna, a senior guard, made six three-pointers -- the second-most for a single game in Beloit history -- when the Buccaneers lost to Ripon. McNanna also had 33 points in a win over Grinnell.
It seems hard to believe, but the Milwaukee Bucks can be 3-0 against the Boston Celtics this season with a victory tonight at TD Bank Garden. The Bucks will face the Celts for the second time in four days, after beating them 92-85 in Milwaukee last Saturday night. It ended an 11-game losing streak, the second-longest in Bucks' history. Coach Larry Drew says he likes playing the same team twice in a row, because it gives him a chance to quote, "think out of the box" in making adjustments. Drew calls it a "chess match." On Saturday night, the Bucks came out with a solid zone defense. It caused Boston to make just 4-of-19 from three-point range -- and it helped create fast-break scoring opportunities for the Bucks. The Celtics are expected to make adjustments to change those concerns. Bucks' forward Ersan Ilyasova practiced yesterday, after he missed Saturday's contest with injuries to his right thumb and left hamstring. Drew hopes Ilyasova can play tonight.
The Milwaukee Brewers have offered contracts to all players on their 40-man roster. They had until 11 last night to decide not to offer tender contracts for players who are not signed for the following year -- and the Brewers chose to tender everyone. Two Milwaukee players have salary arbitration coming up -- starter Marco Estrada and infielder Juan Francisco. Estrada made just under two-million dollars last year when he went 7-4 with a 3.87 ERA and sat out two months with groin and back problems. Francisco made just under a half-million dollars in 2013 when he .227 with 18 homers and 48 RBI's. That includes 35 games with Atlanta before he was traded to Milwaukee and played in 89 more games this past season. Three other Brewers who were facing salary arbitration are now gone. Reliever John Axford was dealt to Saint Louis in July. First baseman Mat Gamel was placed on waivers and signed with the Cubs. Reliever Burke Badenhop was recently traded to Boston.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has given his certificate-of-achievement to Ultimate Fighting light-weight champion Anthony Pettis. The 26-year-old Pettis still lives in Milwaukee, where he was born-and-raised. He won the UFC light-weight title in August in a Milwaukee card at the Bradley Center. Pettis was also honored for his community and charity work in Wisconsin. He's a former light-weight champion in World Extreme Cage-fighting.