CSN Top 20 IHSA basketball rankings

600388.png

CSN Top 20 IHSA basketball rankings

1 Simeon

PrepsTalk: The Wolverines quest for a four-peat will share as much intrigue as Jabari Parkers eventual college decision. Simeon also features standouts in Jaylon Tate, Kendrick Nunn and many others.

2 Whitney Young

PrepsTalk: All eyes will be on 6-10 Jahlil Okafor this season for the Dolphins. But their size doesnt end there. 6-8 Paul White should make big contributions for coach Tyrone Slaughters team.

3 Proviso East

PrepsTalk: The Pirates finished second to Simeon last year and could go deep into March again. Forwards Sterling Brown and Brandon Jenkins, along with guard Paris Lee will bring excitement to Maywood.

4 Morgan Park

PrepsTalk: The Mustangs have three senior guards who could cause trouble for opponentsKyle Davis, Markee Williams and Billy Garrett Jr. They will challenge Simeon and Young for city supremacy.

5 St. Rita

PrepsTalk: Brothers Charles and Dominique Matthews provide a good 1-2 punch for the Mustangs. Charles is a sophomore, as is 6-8 Myles Carter. 6-7 Vic Law should also give St. Rita balance.

6 St. Joseph

PrepsTalk: The last time Gene Pingatores Chargers advanced to state was 1999. They could get back there again with sophomore guard Jordan Ash and junior forward Paul Turner leading the way.

7 Curie

PrepsTalk: As was the case last year, the team revolves around 6-9 Cliff Alexander, now a junior. Keep an eye on Demarcus Richardson, a transfer from De La Salle, to help the Condors.

8 Hillcrest

PrepsTalk: Jalen Loving and Jayone Troutman are gone, but Jovan Mooring is back looking to get Hillcrest back to state. Kyle Oden and Taylor Adway also look to step up.

9 Bogan

PrepsTalk: Four south side Public League powers are in the top 10. The Bengals have a couple of fine guards in Juwan Henry and Luwane Pipkins. Theyre also big up front.

10 Seton

PrepsTalk: Guards Kamal Shashi and Mark Weems were lights-out at times last year. But theyll get a boost in 2012-13, with 6-8 senior forward --and De La Salle transfer-- Alex Foster joining the squad.

11 Benet

PrepsTalk: From the front line to the frontcourtSean OMara helped Benets offensive line make a good playoff run in football. Hes once again the Redwings go-to in the post.

12 Bloom

PrepsTalk: The Blazing Trojans finished fourth in class 4A last year. Theyll try to get back to Peoria with help from seniors Johnny Griffin (F) and 6-2 guard DeJahown Freeman.

13 Orr

PrepsTalk: Its a family affair on the west side, with sophomore Louis Adams (son of coach Lou Adams) helping lead the Spartans. But this team belongs to Tyquone Greer and Marlon Jones.

14 North Chicago

PrepsTalk: Aaron Simpson is gone, so itll be up to the likes of Javairius Amos-Mays and Kurt Hall. The Warhawks have played in Peoria the last two years (finished fourth, then second)

15 Bolingbrook

PrepsTalk: The Raiders will run a lot of their offense through 6-8 senior forward Ben Moore. Expect Brook, Joliet West and Homewood-Flossmoor to duke it out in the SW Suburban Blue.

16 Glenbrook North

PrepsTalk: The Spartans have one of the best big men in the area with 6-8 senior Andrew McAuliffe. The Davidson recruit will battle with the likes of Niles North in the Central Suburban conference.

17 Notre Dame

PrepsTalk: The Dons finished first at the Lane Thanksgiving tournament. MVP Matt Mooney and Jake Maestranzi will look to bring more hardware to the trophy case in Niles this season.

18 Marist

PrepsTalk: Like Notre Dame and Benet, Marist should also make a run in the East Suburban Catholic. Keep an eye on senior guard Lexus Williams for the RedHawks.

19 West Aurora

PrepsTalk: The Blackhawks look to continue a long tradition of basketball excellence, with Jontrell Walker, Chandler Thomas and Spencer Thomas setting the pace.

20 Schaumburg

PrepsTalk: Seniors Kyle Bolger and Jimmy Lundquist look to take the Saxons deep into the playoffs this season. Keep an eye on sophomore guard Brendan Parker.

Looming and Lurking: Andrew, Evanston, Marshall, St. Charles East, Waubonsie Valley, Homewood-Flossmoor, Lake Forest, Oswego, Niles North, Mundelein, Stevenson, Zion-Benton, Marian Catholic, De La Salle, Hyde Park.

Programming Note: The first basketball episode of High School Lites will air this Friday night at 10:30pm on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The show streams live at csnchicago.com. And stay with us all season long, as well profile the Simeon Wolverines in our Drive segment. Can Jabari Parker lead the Wolverines to another state title? Well also catch up with the Montini Broncos in our Muscle Milk Team of the Week segment. This football powerhouse in Lombard has won four consecutive 5A state championships. Well have scores, highlights and much more.

Be sure to follow @JoeCSN for prep basketball coverage.

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

john-beilein-1001.png

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.