Bulls face off against Rockets on CSN

927333.png

Bulls face off against Rockets on CSN

The Bulls continue their five-game circus road trip tonight when they travel to Houston to take on the new-look Rockets on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live.

Houston's core is perhaps as different from a year ago as any team in the league, as three newcomers have paced the way for a team that comes into tonight having lost three straight on a recent West coast road trip.

Chicago will match up with a familiar foe, but may not recognize his game when Omer Asik tips off. The 26-year-old center received a 25 million offer sheet from the Rockets this offseason, one the Bulls did not match. The two-year pro averaged a mere 2.9 games in two seasons with the Bulls, acting more as a defensive stopper with the second unit. He scored in double-digits six times in 148 games with the Bulls, but in his expanded role has done so seven times in 11 games with the Rockets. He also has crashed the glass well, ranking third in the NBA with 12.3 rebounds per game.

His career year has been matched by Joakim Noah, who will square off against his former complement in the front court. The fifth-year Noah is averaging career-highs in points (14.8), free throw percentage (80.7 percent), assists (4.0), blocks (2.0) and steals (1.3). It's a sure bet that Noah will want to win tonight's matchup, both to get the Bulls back on track and to knock Asik's confidence down some.

Asik isn't the only Rocket who has succeeded in a bigger role, as James Harden ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring (24.2 points per game). Out of the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Harden has exploded in a leading role, as his numbers across the board are as good as they've been in his four-year career. He has cooled down from his red-hot start to the season, when he scored 37 and 45 points to start the season. He'll be on the Bulls' radar, and Jimmy Butler may once again be asked to make Harden work for his shots.

The Rockets' other posion-pill offer sheet was to Jeremy Lin, who signed with Houston after New York declined to match in the offseason. Lin has produced mixed results through 11 games. His numbers are down from his magical season a year ago, but he's still producing as a passer (6.6 assists) and is seventh in the league at 2.0 steals per game. His shooting numbers are way down, and Kirk Hinrich's defense should prove to be a tough task, as Lin has shot better than 40 percent from the field just twice.

The Rockets are 10th in the league in points per game, but just 24th in field goal percentage. They make a living from beyond the arc, hitting 8.7 3-pointers per game. Lin and Harden have contributed, but second-year small forward Chandler Parsons leads the team with 2.3 makes per game. The Bulls rank 8th in defensive 3-point field goal percentage, making this an aspect of tonight's game to keep an eye on. If the Bulls can hold the Rockets from beyond the arc, it will go a long way toward a victory.

Having scored 80 and 94 points their last two games -- both losses -- it's apparent the Bulls' road trip is beginning to take its toll. But the Rockets are allowing more than 100 points per game, 27th in the league, so the Bulls have a chance to get back on track tonight on Comcast SportsNet.

Report reveals details behind Kevin Wilson's departure from Hoosiers

kevin-wilson-1203.jpg
USA TODAY

Report reveals details behind Kevin Wilson's departure from Hoosiers

Indiana athletics director Fred Glass was vague during a Thursday press conference announcing the resignation of head football coach Kevin Wilson, citing "philosophical differences" between the two as the primary reason for Wilson's departure from the football program and refusing to get into specifics.

But new reporting from the Indianapolis Star's Zach Osterman revealed Saturday that multiple investigations and allegations of player mistreatment played a role in Glass' actions Thursday that led to Wilson no longer being the Hoosiers' head coach.

Reports throughout the day Thursday indicated this might be the case, suggesting a similar situation to what played out last year at Illinois, where Tim Beckman was fired a week prior to the start of the season after an investigation found support for claims that Beckman forced his players to play through injuries and held too much influence over the training staff.

Osterman's reporting revealed an investigation into the Hoosiers' football program in the spring of 2015 after a student-athlete left the program and his parents complained to the athletics department. The player, Nick Carovillano, sustained a back injury that the Indiana training staff did not take seriously enough, and it took an evaluation by Carovillano's hometown doctor to determine that he shouldn't be participating in football activities while injured.

Carovillano also said that Wilson's treatment of injured players was demeaning, not unlike some of the allegations at Illinois, where Beckman was said to have belittled injured players.

From Osterman's report:

"(Wilson) would come over and yell at us, saying, 'I’m paying $70,000 a year for you to sit on your ass,'" Carovillano said. "That happened about halfway through the season and carried on to the end of it. If you were injured, he just wanted to make you feel like crap. He just wanted to make you feel bad, so you basically would stop being injured."

...

"It just seemed like I wasn’t welcome there, and I was kind of considered a disappointment to them. I injured myself playing for them. I wasn’t starting at all. Everything I was doing was for the betterment of the team. You get injured, and the whole attitude changes toward you."

After Carovillano's parents made their complaints, Indiana launched an investigation into the program and found that there was no "inadequate" medical care. But Glass felt the need to tell Wilson to change his approach anyway, instructing the coach and his assistants to take a different attitude toward injured players. Glass also ordered the implementation of several changes involving the medical attention given to injured players.

Osterman reported that Glass was pleased with the changes Wilson made and considered the issues to be resolved. Wilson received a six-year contract extension in January, less than a year removed from the investigation into Carovillano's departure from the program.

But new issues popped up last month, according to Osterman's interview with Glass. This prompted another investigation, the results of which are not yet public knowledge. But given that this was not the first time such issues arose in Wilson's program, Glass felt it was enough and that a separation was necessary, that separation being Wilson's resignation.

Wilson resigned rather than getting fired, leaving an eyebrow-raising amount of money on the table. He will be paid his base salary of about half a million dollars for one year, but there was approximately $11 million left on his contract.

Tom Allen, who just completed his first season as Indiana's defensive coordinator, was named Wilson's permanent replacement Thursday evening.

Check out all the details in Osterman's report.

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

The Blackhawks were put in a rough spot on Saturday afternoon when goaltender Corey Crawford had to undergo an emergency appendectomy before their matinee matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.

With Scott Darling as the lone goaltender on the active roster the Blackhawks signed Eric Semborski to an amateur tryout to serve as Darling's backup for Saturday's game against the Flyers.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Semborski, 23, has no NHL experience and last played club hockey at Temple University and for the Empire Junior Hockey Jersey Wildcats.

According to EliteProspects.com, Semborski had a 4.98 GAA and .844 save percentage in 29 games with the Wildcats.

Both the Blackhawks and NHL Twitter accounts had some fun at the expense of Semborski.