Adekoya seeks better finish in 2013

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Adekoya seeks better finish in 2013

36-22.

Jubril Adekoya doesn't have to be reminded. He knows what 36-22 means. It was the final score of Andrew's loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in the Class 4A sectional semifinal last year.

Adekoya and his teammates were experiencing the most successful basketball season since the Tinley Park school opened in 1977. They won 15 of their first 17 games, won their first conference title in 35 years and were ranked among the top 10 teams in the Chicago area.

Then they met Homewood-Flossmoor in the sectional semifinal.

"That was ugly. Quite honestly, I don't try to remember it," Adekoya said. "We weren't prepared to play. We weren't excited to play. It wasn't a good day for us as a team."

Adekoya scored no points in the first half and shot 0-for-4. He managed 14 points in the second half but it was too little, too late. Andrew converted only 11.9 percent (5-for-42) of its shots. The Thunderbolts finished with a 23-5 record.

"When the buzzer went off, I realized that was it, no practice tomorrow," Akekoya said. "It was tough for a lot of guys but it was reality. I didn't handle it great. I was frustrated at myself. What could I have done to help my team? It was my worst game of the season. We ran out of gas. People who were ready to play weren't knocking down shots or doing what they usually do. I was frustrated, double-teamed. I couldn't get the ball."

So much for 2011-12. Adekoya, a 6-foot-6 junior whom coach Mike O'Halloran describes as only the third Division I player in 35 years to come out of Andrew, returns with one other starter, guard Glorind Lisha. He knows it will be difficult to improve on last year's record but he is determined to finish the 2012-13 season on a winning note.

"After the buzzer went off (at the conclusion of the H-F game), I just began to think about this year," Adekoya said. "I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I don't ever want to feel that again. Mentally, I'm preparing for next season and I haven't even started summer workouts yet. I'm motivated a whole lot.

"With so many losses (three starters, four of the top six players), my role will have to triple. I averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds last season. For total effectiveness, I must continue to rebound and score more points, probably over 20 per game. I feel I have to get more selfish to help my team next season. My task in every game also will be to defend the other team's best player. I have to step up in every aspect of the game and become a better leader."

Meanwhile, Adekoya is eager to prove he is one of the top prospects in a class that recruiting analysts project as perhaps the best crop of talent produced in the Chicago area since 1979.

He has scholarship offers from Loyola, St. Louis, Northern Illinois, Pennsylvania, Western Illinois, Akron and Toledo. He has interest from Illinois, Tennessee, Oregon State, DePaul, Northwestern, Illinois-Chicago, Detroit, Ball State, Indiana State, Creighton, Drake, Ohio, Wichita State and Illinois State. As he gains more exposure and becomes more dominant, more offers can be expected.

His dream school is Oregon. "Since I was young, it started with the colors (green and yellow). I fell I love with the jersey and the colors. I fell in love with Oregon, watching them on TV when I was growing up. Now I follow them. I feel it would be fun to play in the Pac-12 Conference. It would be cool to play on the West Coast, to play against UCLA. It would be awesome if (Oregon) showed me some attention. I'd be super excited about
that," he said.

He has no favorites at the moment. He is just enjoying the recruiting process. He wants to play wherever he can fit in best and play right away. He thinks a large college would be cool but if he can't help the team right away, he might prefer a smaller school that would provide a better fit. Location doesn't figure in the equation. He figures his decision will come down to how he fits in with the coaches and players and if he feels comfortable on the campus.

Adekoya admits he felt comfortable midway through last season and was ready to commit. But more schools began to contact him as he played better. So now he believes he will wait until after the 2012-13 season. He isn't in a hurry. He figures he will get better and more schools will become aware of him.

"Hopefully, more schools will offer me," he said. "I want to be patient and hope the decision will be easier to make. I know there will be somebody who wants me to go there as bad as I want to be there and feels I can play at a high level."

Meanwhile, he is improving his skills and showcasing them this summer while playing with Mean Streets on the AAU circuit. "I'm improving my guard skills. Last year, I was one-dimensional, on the block or inside. I overpowered smaller people last year. But my outside shot and dribbling and ball-handling have improved. I hope recruiters see I am more comfortable on the perimeter," he said.

"I have improved a lot. My guard skills and perimeter game have shot up since last year. I was constricted in high school because I was the biggest guy on the team. For Mean Streets, I'm playing all over. For college, some have talked about strong forward, some wing, some say both positions. I feel I am a mismatch for a lot of people. I have size but also quickness and I can play on the perimeter. My skills are there but my goal always is to get better.

"As far as next season, I feel stuff will fall into place. I want to be the best leader I can be on and off the floor. And I want to play everywhere on the floor. I hope to continue to rebound as well as I did last year but I want to improve my assists. I should be involved in almost everything we do...score, set screens, pass, rebound, defend."

And erase the memory of 36-22.

James Franklin and staff celebrate Penn State wrestling win in singlets

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USA TODAY

James Franklin and staff celebrate Penn State wrestling win in singlets

Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy — the man with America's finest mullet — made headlines last week when he posted a video promoting an upcoming Oklahoma State wrestling match while wearing a singlet.

Hilarious, right?

Well, as you can tell from that video, the match was against Penn State. And Penn State won.

So, to celebrate the Nittany Lions' big wrestling win, James Franklin and his staff upped the ante, donning singlets for a meeting and tweeting out this "Last Supper" style picture of it Monday morning.

You've got to love seeing football coaches and teams supporting the sports that don't get as much attention.

I'll let you be the judge if this is, as Franklin tweeted, #NotAGoodLookOnUs.

Scottie Lindsey didn't light it up vs. Rutgers, but his return is huge for Northwestern

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AP

Scottie Lindsey didn't light it up vs. Rutgers, but his return is huge for Northwestern

Scottie Lindsey didn't light up the scoreboard in his return to action, and Northwestern still struggled offensively.

But getting their leading scorer back from a four-game absence was huge for the Wildcats.

It was to be expected that Lindsey wouldn't be back at 100 percent in his first game since Jan. 29. Lindsey chipped in just six points, his second lowest scoring output of the season, and played only 24 minutes, his lowest total of the year. Head coach Chris Collins told reporters after Saturday's nail-biter of a win over Rutgers that Lindsey hadn't done anything for three weeks.

"I was proud of Scottie. It's not easy. Really, he didn't work out, he didn't do any exercise for three weeks," Collins said. "A lot of you have your workout regimens that you do, and you know how you feel when you don't do anything for three weeks. You lose conditioning, you lose shape. And so for him on a couple days' notice to find a way to get out there and give us 24 minutes — I was actually mad at myself at halftime. I looked at the box score, and I felt like I played him too long in the first half. I think he played 13 minutes. He didn't really have much left in the second half."

No, the numbers were not pretty in Saturday's game. Northwestern is cruising toward its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, while Rutgers is spending another season at the bottom of the Big Ten standings. Yet the visiting Scarlet Knights led for much of the second half, a period during which the Cats shot just 35 percent from the field and made only seven baskets. Seven of Northwestern's nine turnovers came in the second half, and it took some heroic 3-point shooting by Gavin Skelly and Bryant McIntosh in the final minutes to prevent a third straight home loss and what would have definitely been the team's worst loss of the season.

But even with all that, the Cats have to be thrilled to have Lindsey back on the floor.

In the six games prior to Lindsey's absence — a six-game winning streak with victories over Nebraska, Rutgers, Iowa, Ohio State, Nebraska again and Indiana — the Cats averaged 74.5 points per game and shot a combined 44.5 percent from the field. But in the last five games, the four without Lindsey and Saturday's win over Rutgers, Northwestern has averaged 63.8 points per game and shot a collective 39.6 percent from the field.

Obviously the quality of opponent has a lot to do with that. Three of the four games during Lindsey's absence came against the Big Ten's three best teams. But Lindsey sitting down for those three games plus the unexpected loss to Illinois made a tough stretch a whole lot tougher.

Even after Saturday's rough game against Rutgers, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that the Cats can start putting up some points during the regular season's final two weeks.

There are only four games left on the regular-season schedule: at Illinois, at Indiana, home against Michigan and home against Purdue. Those first three opponents are among the Big Ten's worst, defensively, though Michigan has stepped things up of late. That right there ought to provide perfect opportunities for Northwestern to start scoring points again.

And there's the way McIntosh has played of late. He's finally found some consistency, which proved challenging earlier in the year. He was again great Saturday, scoring 18 points and hitting the biggest shot of the night, a go-ahead 3-pointer with under a minute to play. In his last nine games, McIntosh has scored at least 17 points in seven of those and 20 or more in five of them.

Plus, Lindsey will obviously get better. He'll get healthier and more accustomed to being back on the court. And he'll get back to the guy, Northwestern hopes, who averaged better than 15 points a game before his four-game absence.

"He's only going to get better," Collins said. "His whole thing is every day he's got to keep working, he's got to get through that soreness, he's got to get through that fatigue and get his conditioning back.

"Hopefully we can get him back to being the Scottie that we've had most of the year."