5 Questions with...The Score's Laurence Holmes

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5 Questions with...The Score's Laurence Holmes

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

November 4, 2009

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with a new weekly feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weekhighly-regarding as one of the top young personalities on Chicago sports radiohis local sports insight can be heard Monday-Friday from 6:00-10:00 PM on WSCR AM 670 The Score as host of the Me Showhere are 5 Questions withLAURENCE HOLMES!

BIO: Laurence Holmes has been a fixture at The Score since 1998. He was just 22 years old when he started producing Les Grobsteins overnight show. Hes done just about every job at the Score: Board Op, Executive Producer and now Host and Reporter. He started covering the Bears in 2003 and has made it his passion. He says hes obsessed with whats going on with the team and makes it his goal to find the truth and bring it to his listeners.

From a personal side...Holmes was born and raised on the Southside. RoselandMorgan Park to be specific. He fell in love with radio listening to Steve Dahl & Garry Meier on his parents kitchen floor. His family moved to Glenwood, so he could attend Homewood-Flossmoor High School. He had his own talk show at H-F when he was 16 and says the facilities at H-F were better than the old Score bunker on Belmont.

From there, Holmes went to DePaul and, while a student, he interned for Lou Canellis and Jeff Joniak at WMAQ radio. He got his first taste of TV working on the weekends at Channel 9 for Dan Roan and Rich King. A solid athlete as well, Holmes played baseball for the DePaul Club team and even had minor-league tryouts with the Marlins, Braves and Exposhes now the starting third baseman for the Score softball team. Such is life.

1) CSNChicago.com: Laurence, this Bears season has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride and thats probably going to continue for the rest of the season. As someone who covers the Bears so closely, right now, what are three things that are working for this team and three things that Lovie Smith and his staff should change immediately?

Holmes: Heres what's working:

1) Special Teams: Dave Toub is one of the best in the business. People used to think it was just Devin Hester, but he keeps finding returners, whether it's Danieal Manning, Johnny Knox or Earl Bennett. Robbie Gould is as quality a kicker that there is in the league (under 48 yards) and Brad Maynard has been awesome punting the ball inside the 20. The coverage teams are really solid as well.

2) Lance Briggs: What I love about Lance is that he's living up to his big-money contract. A lot of players cry about money and then when they get it, they don't produce. When you watch games, Lance is everywhere. I think people are learning that his game is just not a product of playing alongside of Brian Urlacher. Lance has elevated his game. For everyone who pines for Bernard Berrian, realize that had Berrian re-signed with the Bears, Lance would most likely be somewhere else.

3) Jay Cutler: Yes, he's struggled, but the quarterback position for the Bears has never been so solid. The best is yet to come for him and the Bears offense, but it's nice to see a QB who doesn't have limitations.

Now, what's going wrong...

1) The Offensive Line: They've really struggled. I've heard that they're still getting to know each other, but we're now seven games in and they still play like strangers. It makes me sad because you're seeing the end of two great careers (Olin Kreutz and Orlando Pace). Run-game and pass protection have been the problem. You've seen Cutler take to 7-step drops to try and get time. If they ran better, it might lead to a better pass-game.

2) Pass Rush: Things looked really promising at the beginning of the season. Wale and Alex were getting to the QB and then it just stopped. They would be helped by sustained pressure up the middle, but Tommie Harris (who unlike Lance), got the money and hasn't lived up to it.

3) The Head Coach's Attitude: I have to admit that this is MY issue. Its effect on the team is minimal. I don't mean "fire & passion. I wish that Lovie would give more freely of himself. He asked Bears fans to trust him after the Super Bowl season. As it stands, he's a .500 coach since then and he isn't going to be given the benefit of the doubt because you don't feel like you know him. And even if that's an illusion, it breeds trust. For the record, I think Lovie is a good coach and, a lot of times, he gets a rough ride, but if his team doesn't make the playoffs for a third consecutive year, people will begin to wonder if he is leading the Bears in the right direction.

2) CSNChicago.com: Speaking of Lovie Smith, the national media is now covering what has been written locally about fans becoming impatient after the teams mediocre start, especially with all the enormous pre-season hype and big expectations with the acquisition of Jay Cutler. If the Bears fail to make the playoffs this year, do you really think Lovie may be out of a job come January?
Holmes: I think, because of the money he's owed, the Bears will be hesitant to make a move, but when you consider that there are coaches out there who have won Super Bowls (Mike Holmgren, Mike Shannahan, Jon Gruden and Bill Cower), they'd be silly to not explore making a move. Especially, when you consider Shannahan's relationship with Cutler.

3) CSNChicago.com: Your success at The Score has been nothing but impressive over all these years. Youre still a young guy, but a veteran so to speak at the station. What advice do you have for aspiring broadcast journalists out there that want to break into the sports radio biz?
Holmes: Well, thank you. I would tell them to study what they're interested in if they're in college. I was Pre-Law at DePaul and finished with a History Degree. You don't have to go to school to do this. I would also advise that if you're looking to do this for a living, internships are crucial. I worked the desk at the Daily Southtown, to see what print was like. While I was producing Les Grobsteins show, I was working as an intern at Channel 9 to see what TV was like. Be varied. Realize that you're doing this job because you love it...if there is "big money" to be made, it's WAAAAAAYYY down the road. When you start out, you're gonna be poor, (I lived off of less than 25,000 for a long time), but the experiences you'll have will be worth it.

4) CSNChicago.com: Your high school alma mater, Homewood-Flossmoor, has cranked out some pretty impressive local sports talents over the years such as yourself, MLB.coms Scott Merkin and Comcast SportsNets very own Chuck Garfien to name a few. Its unfortunate that many young and talented aspiring broadcast journalists in Chicagos inner city do not have the same hands-on access and available facilities that benefited you, Scott, Chuck and so many others who attended suburban high schools. In your opinion, what can we do to change this?

Holmes: That's a great question. At H-F, you can basically "major" in broadcast journalism. I spent most of my junior and senior years working on what would later be my career. My broadcasting teachers, Mr. Comstock and Ms. Tipton, treated WHFH like a professional radio station. That's why you see me, Chuck and the Merkin brothers working in this market. And it's not just sports. Ben Bradley (Channel 7) and Jen Jameson (Q101) came out of there too.

Regarding potential future broadcasters living in the inner city, it deserves more thought than I can type. My parents have a combined 75 years in the CPS and, when I would visit them, you'd see the difference in materials, money and equipment. Kids need to know it's an option. They need to know it's something that is within they're grasp. And perhaps that means I should get off my butt and start working with all the connections I've made for equipment donations and training seminars.

5) CSNChicago.com: Name the most overrated and underrated athletes in Chicago pro sports today?

Holmes: If there's one thing that I've learned from Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers, it's that I don't know what "overrated and underrated" mean. Mainly because there's no consensus on who's doing the rating...so I'll give you someone from each team that I love watching play.

Bears: Alex Brown. His motor never stops. He is equal parts little kid and total professional when he plays. He emotes like a fan, win or lose.

Sox: John Danks. Lots of talent, even more guts. His performance in the "Blackout" game vs. Minnesota is one of my favorite personal sports memories.

Cubs: Carlos Marmol. I know he's a roller coaster ride, but when he's on, his slider is unhittable.

Bulls: Joakim Noah. I think he gets it. Everyone will remember the bow-tie and the weird hair on draft day, but last year, he grew as a player. He busts his hump every night.

Hawks: Duncan Keith. It's real easy to be enthralled with the scoring ability of Patrick Kane or the leadership of Jonathan Toews, but Duncan Keith is just a solid player. He works hard and the Hawks defensemen are pretty skilled.

Fire: Marco Pappa. It's so much fun to watch him run.

Holmes LINKS:

WSCR AM 670 The Score website

Laurence Holmes Chicago Football Blog
Laurence Holmes on Facebook

Bears formula for beating Lions is basic

Bears formula for beating Lions is basic

Talking about what the Bears can do to defeat the Detroit Lions suddenly has a vague feel of irrelevance, since the downward spiral of the 0-3 start raises far broader questions and doubts than one game. But in point of fact, it IS about one game. More on that later.

Earlier in this week your humble and faithful narrator laid out three foundation points upon which the Bears could begin building a way out of the abyss. Nothing has changed in the meantime other than a few injury designations, and there is zero reason to dwell on those because the solution is about as simple as things can get. And they extend beyond Sunday’s game against the Lions.

“You’ve just got to keep improving,” said Brian Hoyer, the presumptive starting quarterback Sunday against Detroit and until Jay Cutler’s injured right thumb is sufficiently healed. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. Everybody has injuries. It’s unfortunately part of the business so everybody just has to step up.

“And not only the guy himself has to step up, the guys around him have to step up. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Which gets back to those three “turnaround” elements, because those comprise the basic formula for the Bears to overcome the Lions and themselves. Consider these the proverbial “three keys,” tailored to the immediate game at hand.

Unleash a defensive “village”

The Bears have not proved themselves capable of winning enough one-on-one matchups pretty much anywhere on the field, any side of the football. An alternative exists on defense, however: Swarm to the football, something that was axiomatic with Lovie Smith defenses but evaporated under Marc Trestman/Mel Tucker and has not developed under John Fox and Vic Fangio. It is also the only realistic way the Bears can have a dominant defensive game, which is the only realistic way the Bears can win a football game.

The Lions were never a particularly fun matchup for Chicago defenses when they had Calvin Johnson. In beating the Bears the last six times the teams met, Detroit averaged 29.3 points per game. Without Megatron the Lions are averaging 27 per game this season. Meaning: Things haven’t necessarily gotten any better since the Big Fella called it a career.

In place of Johnson, the focal point of the Detroit offense has become wideout Marvin Jones, No. 2 in the NFL in receiving yards and averaging 22.7 yards on his 18 receptions. Equally concerning: Jones has picked up first downs on 13 of those 18 catches.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“He's made some big plays,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He's had some big ‘chunk’ plays, a 73-yarder last week, I think he had a 50-some yarder in another game. He leads the [NFC] in receiving yards and [is No. 2 in] average per catch. They've got a lot of weapons.”

The problem with that is that the Lions are predominantly a three-receiver offense, another team that will schematically force the Bears out of their base 3-4 and into nickel. The Bears intercepted a Houston Texans pass on the first possession of the season. They have not intercepted one in the 34 opponent possessions since then.

Detroit doesn’t run the football overly well (101 yards per game), but if the Bears cannot force quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw toward Jones or Golden Tate before he wants to, an undermanned secondary has no chance.

The defense no longer has a shutdown corner, even one must-account-for pass rusher or an established all-around game-changer. Jerrell Freeman is the best player on a struggling defense. The solution is a form of flash-mob flying to the football, second and third men in stripping the ball. One tackler or pass rusher has proved insufficient.

Take it on the run

It is far from any sort of exact correlation, but all six of the Bears’ wins last season came in games where they rushed more times than their opponent. A seventh win escaped them when Robbie Gould missed a kick against San Francisco. Only the Lions in Week 17 rushed fewer times than the Bears and won.

The Bears are not only among the NFL’s worst rushing teams (70 yards per game, 30th), but also its least busy, with 53 total attempts through three games. The total is mystifying because the Bears led the Texans through three quarters and the Eagles for most of two, making the reasoning that the Bears were trailing and forced to throw very difficult to understand.

The Lions allow 5.1 yards per rush, worst in the NFL. They are without top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah. If the Bears cannot run on this defense (allowing 28.3 ppg.), the issues are far deeper than feared and the philosophies and play calling of coordinator Dowell Loggains will come under even more scrutiny than they already have.

“I was pretty disappointed as well [after 15 rush attempts at Dallas],” guard Kyle Long said. “Just execution, and sometimes it’s not execution. It’s just you’ve got to beat the guy across from you and we haven’t done that enough.”

Win one play…then one drive…one quarter…one game

The Bears cannot get back to .500 Sunday afternoon. Barring a 28-point outburst, they cannot win the Detroit game in the first quarter. They led Houston and Philadelphia in first halves and lost.

To his credit, Fox has kept the target small, and simple. Because it is.

“It’s execution and it’s execution in all three phases,” Fox said. “Whether it’s the first half or the second half, they’re two equal times. And you have to put a complete game together and we have not done that through the first three games.” 

And the winner is...

“View from the Moon” erred in Dallas by going against its first impression and pick back early in the offseason, that the Bears would lose to the Cowboys, which they did. The Bears have done little to suggest that they are poised to go on any sort of upswing, but the Lions inspire not a lot to suggest that they are an NFC North power. The preseason pick stays:

Bears 17,  Lions 14

View from the Moon 2016 record: 1-2

Check out Michigan's new Jordan basketball uniforms

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Check out Michigan's new Jordan basketball uniforms

Michigan's football team grabbed all the headlines in recent months for — well, for just about everything, but specifically for becoming the first football team ever decked out in Jordan Brand uniforms. His Airness himself even showed up as an honorary captain at the Big House.

Well, don't forget that in the school's apparel deal with Nike, Michigan's basketball team also gets Jordan uniforms.

The Wolverines unveiled their new hoops unis Friday, and as one might expect, they look pretty cool.

Check them out:

In true Michigan fashion, the uniforms were unveiled at some giant party event with celebrities and whatnot.

John Beilein's team will be taking the court in these sweet duds this season.