CSN to air three 'Chicago Blackhawks Classics' telecasts in November

CSN to air three 'Chicago Blackhawks Classics' telecasts in November

COMCAST SPORTSNET TO AIR THREE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS CLASSICS TELECASTS IN NOVEMBER

Classic games include a vintage bw telecast from 1971 featuring Hull, Mikita & Esposito, the 1991 NHL All-Star Game from Chicago Stadium & the 2009 NHL Winter Classic from Wrigley Field

Chicago, IL (November 13, 2012) Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, will provide viewers with a special trip down memory lane this month as the network has announced it will replay three Chicago Blackhawks Classics telecasts beginning Friday, November 16 at 7:00 PM CT.

Chicago Blackhawks Classics will be hosted by Comcast SportsNets Pat Boyle, who will be joined in-studio on a rotating basis by Blackhawks game announcers Pat Foley & Eddie Olczyk, along with Blackhawks Hall of Famer Denis Savard & Blackhawks team historian Bob Verdi among other special guests.

Comcast SportsNet will televise its next Chicago Blackhawks Classic on Friday night, November 16 at 7:00 PM with a vintage 1971 re-air of a black and white Hockey Night in Canada telecast featuring Hockey Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito and the Blackhawks taking on the rival Maple Leafs. In addition to former Blackhawks RW Cliff Koroll (who played in this game in 71) joining Boyle on set, this special telecast will also include an original interview with Mikita, who discusses that unique time period in our history, along with the strengths of that particular Blackhawks team. Additional games on Comcast SportsNets Chicago Blackhawks Classics schedule in November include the memorable 1991 NHL All-Star Game from the old Chicago Stadium and the 2009 NHL Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks hosting the Red Wings in a game for the ages at historic Wrigley Field. NOTE: These games will only be made available within Comcast SportsNet Chicagos viewing territory.

Fans are also encouraged to visit Comcast SportsNets Blackhawks section on CSNChicago.com (CSNChicago.comBlackhawks) for the latest NHL news 247 from Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers (via Twitter @TraMyersCSN), plus fans can interact during the games via Twitter by utilizing the HawksClassics hashtag.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS CLASSICS on Comcast SportsNet

Friday, November 16 at 7:00 PM

December 11, 1971: Chicago Blackhawks at Toronto Maple Leafs

This vintage black and white Hockey Night in Canada telecast from Maple Leaf Gardens features the on-ice brilliance of Blackhawks Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Tony Esposito. This special re-broadcast will include an original interview with Mikita from Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers.

Tuesday, November 20 at 7:00 PM

January 19, 1991: 42nd NHL All-Star Game (from Chicago Stadium)

Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War had officially begun just two days prior to the 42nd NHL All-Star Game in Chicago, but this memorable game in league history will always be known for the patriotism shown by every single fan in attendance at Chicago Stadium via numerous American flags hanging from every bannister at the old barn to an emotional singing of our national anthem. The All-Stars representing the Blackhawks in this game included Chris Chelios, Steve Larmer and Jeremy Roenick. Among the Hall of Famers playing in this game included Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque, Guy LaFleur and Denis Savard (as a member of the Canadiens).

Tuesday, November 27 at 7:00 PM

January 1, 2009: NHL Winter Classic - Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks (from Wrigley Field)

In what will go down as one of the greatest events in Chicago sports history, the Blackhawks hosted the rival Red Wings at arguably the most iconic sports venue in the nation Wrigley Field. The ecstatic sold out crowd endured freezing-level temperatures in a game that forever solidified the Winter Classic as an annual event for the league. This NHL on NBC re-broadcast was also the highest-rated hockey game shown in the U.S. in 33 years.

All times are Central Time
Schedule Subject to Change

With losses piling up, things starting to get predictable for Illini — and not in a good way

john-groce-0122.jpg
USA TODAY

With losses piling up, things starting to get predictable for Illini — and not in a good way

Remember when the season began and we were talking about the likelihood of Illinois ending a three-year NCAA tournament drought?

Yeah, about that.

The Fighting Illini were again walloped on the road Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, their fourth road defeat in as many games during conference play. Against Michigan, Purdue, Indiana and Maryland, the losses have come in extreme fashion, by a combined total of 73 points, an average of 18.3 points.

And those numbers would be much bigger if not for a garbage-time 18-6 run to close out Saturday's 66-57 loss to the Wolverines. The game saw Michigan's lead grow as big as 21 with fewer than six minutes to play. It was another blowout, even if the final margin of defeat was in single digits.

How this continues to happen is frankly somewhat mind boggling. Illinois entered the season with experience, health and depth and have kept all of those traits throughout the campaign. But the experienced players who were believed to lead the Illini to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013, Groce's first season, simply haven't shown up.

Malcolm Hill has, and he deserves a pass in this critique. Hill, the only Illinois player who scored in double figures Saturday, ranks fifth in the league in scoring, averaging 17.8 points a game. He also ranks in the top 20 in rebounding (5.9 rebounds a game), free-throw percentage (79.4 percent) and minutes played (32.4 minutes a game).

Maverick Morgan, too, has been a bright spot. He's shooting 60 percent from the floor, good for fourth in the Big Ten, and is averaging 13 points a game over the last 10 games.

But where has everyone else gone? After a stellar non-conference season, Tracy Abrams' production has fallen off a cliff, and he's just 1-for-21 from 3-point range against Big Ten competition. Jalen Coleman-Lands hasn't been very reliable, averaging almost two points fewer per game and shooting almost five percent lower from 3-point range than he did during his freshman season a year ago. Mike Thorne Jr. was supposed to be the team's starting center, but he's not even averaging 15 minutes a game. Second-year guys like D.J. Williams and Aaron Jordan have barely seen the floor. Michael Finke has had good games and quiet games. This veteran team is more and more reliant on freshmen Te'Jon Lucas and Kipper Nichols for sparks that only rarely come.

The biggest issue has been the defense, with the team allowing opponents to shoot 44.5 percent from the field. That number has been significantly worse in conference play, up to 50.8 percent. Saturday was better, Michigan shooting only 45.1 percent and only 40 percent in the second half, when its lead grew largest. But the Wolverines, also a poor defensive team, clamped down on the Illini, who only shot 45.8 percent and more importantly turned the ball over a whopping 17 times, leading to 22 points for the home team.

With consistently subpar defense and inconsistent offense — a win over the same Michigan team just 10 days earlier saw Illinois drop 85 points on red-hot 64.2-percent shooting; where was that Saturday? — has been a recipe for disaster.

Coming into the conference season, it seemed Illinois was a prime contender for a spot in the Big Dance's field of 68. After all, only one disastrous week prevented the non-conference season from being a success. The Illini scored wins over name-brand opponents North Carolina State, VCU, BYU and Missouri, with that nightmarish week featuring losses to West Virginia and Florida State, the current Nos. 7 and 10 teams in the country.

But despite the high rankings of the Mountaineers and Seminoles, that resume has weakened. North Carolina State is just 2-5 in ACC play, and Missouri has just five wins this season, a nasty record that includes 10 straight losses. BYU and VCU aren't at the top of their respective mid-major conference standings.

That has made Illinois' conference showing all the worse as the tournament hopes flicker. The two wins have come at home against Ohio State and Michigan teams that stumbled out of the gates themselves. The losses, as chronicled above, have been convincing to say the least, and the one that came at the State Farm Center, against Maryland, featured an ugly second-half collapse after Illinois went to the locker room with a lead.

With typical bottom-feeders like Penn State and Nebraska improving their play this season, there aren't many noticeably winnable games remaining on Illinois' schedule, with just the season-finale at Rutgers looking like a surefire win, though the Scarlet Knights are no longer winless in Big Ten play after beating the Huskers on Saturday. What it means is a gauntlet the rest of the way for the Illini. There are plenty of home games, but does the venue matter when the Illini are playing like this and their opponents are of a significantly higher caliber?

Groce's seat is undeniably warm, and the heat could crank up if the campaign progresses as it has played out to this point. Would a fourth straight season without an NCAA tournament invite mean Groce's tenure would be over in Champaign? That's difficult to say, as Groce has secured one of the best recruiting classes in the country for next season. Illinois' best recruiting work in years would be in real danger if he's axed before his Class of 2017 arrives on campus.

But the on-court results are starting to get predictable, and not in the way games were predictable back during Illinois' glory days a decade ago. 

How about this: Last week's 23-point shellacking at Purdue was the 12th loss by 20 or more points of the Groce Era, which is in its fifth season. Bruce Weber, who coached the Illini for nine seasons, had three such losses during the course of his entire tenure. Prior to Weber, it was Bill Self, who had one such loss in his three seasons. Prior to Self, it was Lon Kruger, who had four such losses in his four seasons.

You have to go all the way back to 1980 to find the last time Illinois missed the NCAA tournament in four straight years.

Right now, the future is a mystery. What we do know is that the present is not going well.

Deerfield defensive end Josh Maize pledges to Miami of Ohio

Deerfield defensive end Josh Maize pledges to Miami of Ohio

Deerfield three star ranked defensive end Josh Maize (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) gave Miami of Ohio and head coach Chuck Martin his verbal commitment on Sunday morning. Maize was making a weekend official visit to the Oxford, Ohio based campus and left for the airport verbally committed to the Redhawks.

"I'm about to board my flight but I wanted to let you know that I'm committed to Miami (OH)," Maize said. "It's a great fit for me and I knew that I found the right place for myself so I committed.

"Miami of Ohio is just a great fit socially as well as academically. They also have amazing facilities plus the last two guys that plays my position for them (rush end/outside linebacker) one is in the NFL and the other one is about to get a shot to play in the league. The Miami coaches will be able to develop me into that type of player for them."

Maize had 13 scholarship offers and also made official visits to Wyoming and UConn before giving Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment.