CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins & Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (2-0)

Results: Defeated Hillcrest Saturday 69-51 and Notre Dame 73-53 on Sunday. Jabari Parker had 26 points in the victory over Hillcrest and 22 against Notre Dame.

This Week: Friday vs. No. 13 Farragut.

2 Warren (5-0)

Results: Darius Pauls 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists helped the Blue Devils take down 16th-ranked New Trier on Saturday, 64-46.

This Week: Tuesday at Stevenson; Friday at Mundelein

3 Whitney Young (1-0)
Results: Defeated Kinston High School (NC) 82-61 Friday. Tommy Hamilton has a torn patella tendon and will miss six weeks. How will that impact the Dolphins?

This Week: No games scheduled. Next game 1214 vs. Orr.

4 Proviso East (5-0)

Results: Defeated Raby 79-53 in Springfield Saturday. The Pirates got 13 points and five assists from Keith Carter in the victory.
This Week: Friday vs. Addison Trail

5 Curie (1-0)

Results: The Condors got a scare from Bowman (IN) HS, but survived in an 81-71 overtime thriller Saturday. Devin Foster led all scorers with 30.

This Week: Tuesday vs. Uplift; Saturday vs. Champaign-Centennial (Shootout At The HallChampaign)

6 Downers Grove South (5-1)

Results: Defeated Hinsdale South 58-46 Friday and Oak Park-River Forest 54-44 Saturday.

This Week: Jerron Wilbut, who did not play in the OPRF victory (coaches decision), should be back for Fridays contest at Morton

7 Bogan (4-0)

Results: No games played.

This Week: No games scheduled. Next game 1214 vs. Chicago Vocational.

8 St. Rita (2-0)

Results: Defeated Lake Forest Academy Tuesday 79-61 and De La Salle 66-64 (OT) Friday. Tony Hicks was unstoppable in a huge win against the Meteors.

This Week: Tuesday vs. Marist; Friday at Gonzaga DC Classic

9 Homewood-Flossmoor (4-1)

Results: Defeated Joliet West 60-53 Friday and No. 15 Morgan Park 57-47 Saturday. Maurius Hill, Tyrone Sherman and Delvon Rencher pace the Vikings.

This Week: Friday at Lockport

10 De La Salle (4-1)

Results: Lost to No. 8 St. Rita 66-64 (OT) Friday. Alvin Ellis tallied a double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds), but could not outlast St. Rita. Tough schedule awaits.

This Week: Tuesday vs. No. 13 Farragut; Friday at No. 12 St. Joseph

11 Crete-Monee (3-1)

Results: Defeated Tinley Park 67-45 Saturday. Michael Orris (19 points) and Laquon Treadwell (14 points, 10 rebounds) guide the Warrior attack.

This Week: Friday vs. Rich East, Saturday vs. Notre Dame (Shootout At The HallChampaign)

12 St. Joseph (3-2)

Results: Defeated Hales 59-42 Wednesday. A.J. Patty and Reggie Johnson contained Hales. Can they do the same against De La Salle?

This Week: Friday vs. No. 10 De La Salle

13 Farragut (2-1)

Results: Lost To Harlan 74-72 Saturday, defeated Thornton 71-45 Sunday. No rest for the Admirals as a top 10 team awaits.

This Week: Tuesday at No. 10 De La Salle; Friday vs. No. 1 Simeon

14 Crane (1-0)

Results: Defeated St. Charles North 52-45 Saturday. Willie Conner tallied 28 points and nine rebounds as the Cougars get their first win of the year.

This Week: Tuesday at Seton Academy, Saturday at Peoria HS (River City Shootout)

15 Morgan Park (1-1)

Results: Lost to No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 57-47 Saturday. Billy Garrett scored a game-high 18, but it was not enough to corral the Vikings.

This Week: Saturday at Soldan International (St. Louis, MO)

16 New Trier (5-1)

Results: Defeated Deerfield 46-31 Tuesday, lost to No. 2 Warren 64-46 Saturday. Dartmouth-bound Connor Boehm scored 10 points in the loss to the Blue Devils.

This Week: Tuesday vs. Niles West, Thursday vs. Glenbrook South

17 Andrew (4-0)

Results: Defeated Thornton 58-56 Friday. Jawad Adekoya netted 18 points in a nice road win for the Thunderbolts.

This Week: Friday vs. Stagg

18 Bloom (5-0)

Results: Defeated Plainfield North 62-44 Saturday. The Blazing Trojans outrebounded the Tigers 38-14.

This Week: Tuesday at Thornwood, Friday vs. Rich Central

19 Evanston (7-0)

Results: Defeated Maine East 77-65 Tuesday and Maine South 36-35 Saturday.

This Week: Friday vs. Waukegan, Saturday at Loyola

20 Morton (4-0)

Results: Defeated Willowbrook 68-38. Rocco Belcaster and Walter Perez help the Mustangs get off to a 4-0 start.

This Week: Friday vs. No. 6 Downers Grove South

Looming and Lurking: Oak Park-River Forest, Hyde Park, Oswego, Waukegan, St. Charles North, Notre Dame, Riverside-Brookfield, Seton, North Chicago, Metea Valley

Report: Cubs preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson

Report: Cubs preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson

The Cubs are preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson, hoping the talented, frequently injured pitcher can stay healthy and provide insurance for their rotation.

Anderson posted a telling message on his Twitter account on Monday night, hinting at what would be another offseason check mark for the defending World Series champs.

The physical for the agreement — first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and MLB Network — won't just be a formality as Anderson underwent back surgery last March and appeared in only four games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

But Anderson fits on paper as a left-hander who will turn only 29 on Feb. 1 and won't have to carry front-of-the-rotation responsibilities or feel Opening Day urgency on a team with five projected starters.

The Cubs had been willing to gamble around $6 million on Tyson Ross, who recently signed a similarly structured one-year deal with the Texas Rangers as he recovers from surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

The calculus would essentially be the same with Anderson. The Cubs have to factor in last year's grueling playoff run into early November, this season's sky-high expectations, the organization's lack of high-end, upper-level pitching prospects and the uncertainty surrounding the 2018 rotation.

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Anderson finished sixth in the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year voting with the Oakland A's, but he's reached the 30-start mark only one other time and never accounted for 200 innings in a single season.

Anderson underwent Tommy John surgery in the middle of the 2011 season, and the injuries piled up from there, dealing with a strained right oblique, a stress fracture in his right foot and a broken left index finger.

Anderson had such a fragile reputation that he accepted the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers after a strong platform year in 2015 (10-9, 3.69 ERA). The Dodgers only got 11 1/3 innings out of Anderson, who didn't pitch during a playoff run that ended at Wrigley Field in the National League Championship Series.

The Cubs stayed exceptionally healthy while winning 200 games across the last two seasons and need to be prepared in case John Lackey sharply declines at the age of 38 or Mike Montgomery experiences growing pains while transitioning from the bullpen.

Whether or not Anderson is ultimately the answer, the Cubs will be looking to place a sixth starter into their plans.

"I don't know if a six-man rotation on a permanent basis is the wave of the future," team president Theo Epstein said earlier this winter. "But we certainly endorse it on a temporary basis as a nice way to pace guys for the whole season.

"We can get them some rest, whether you do it in April to preserve depth and ease guys into the season, especially after a deep October and November run. Or after the All-Star break in the summer to kind of get through the dog days and give guys a little bit of a breather as you ramp up for the stretch run.

"I think it would be tough to pull off all season long. But it's something that (could certainly work) in the right spot."

The start of preseason brings the return of hope for the Fire

The start of preseason brings the return of hope for the Fire

A year ago there was hope surrounding the Fire. Hope that general manager Nelson Rodriguez, entering his first offseason with the club, and new coach Veljko Paunovic could spark a turnaround at the club. Those new faces, coupled with an overhauled roster, meant there was hope that things could be better.

Rodriguez and Paunovic had not yet failed with the Fire so there was still that hope that they had a magic touch.

That eroded as the season unfolded and the team’s shortcomings were quickly apparent. The reworked defense seemed to be improved, but the midfield was typically overwhelmed.

Now, after the Fire finished last in Major League Soccer for the second consecutive year, that innocent hope that a new coach and general manager bring is gone. Fans have seen Rodriguez and Paunovic fail and, even though they inherited a team that was not an easy one to turn around, there will be more skepticism.

This year there is hope again, but instead of coming in the form of new management, it comes in the form of accomplished players. Juninho (a three-time MLS All-Star and three-time MLS Cup winner), Dax McCarty (an MLS Best XI selection in 2015) and Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goalscorer in the Polish Ekstraklasa in 2015-16) on paper make the Fire a better team. Can they mesh into a cohesive team that will actually perform better in matches?

“You’d like to think so,” Rodriguez said on Monday at the team’s media day at the PrivateBank Fire Pitch on the North Side. “It’s an inexact science, or at least for me it is. I know others will be more brash and saying it’s all there and all the pieces are together. Until they’re on the field, until they’re in the hotel rooms, until they’re off the field at team meals you never really know.”

[RELATED: Dax McCarty tweets thank you to Red Bull fans]

Rodriguez did say that this group is “very different” than last year’s.

“You can talk about all these clever ways to change culture, but the best way to have a winning team is to have winners as part of your team,” he said. “With those four guys (including goalkeeper Jorge Bava) at least we’ve added certified winners.”

So with two former MLS All-Stars arriving in central midfield, arguably the team’s biggest weakness last season, and a proven goalscorer, the pieces are there for the Fire to be better. Now it’s up to Paunovic to put the pieces together in a winning way.

“Obviously we have high expectations because we believe we did this job so far in offseason by the acquisitions that we had and the guys that are still to come,” Paunovic said. “It’s going to be a better team, more competitive.”

Even with the additions, the roster isn’t finished yet. Two trialists are in camp with the Fire, right backs Drew Beckie and Boyd Okwuonu. Beckie is a 26-year-old Canadian who played the 2016 season with the Carolina Railhawks in the North American Soccer League. Importantly, Beckie has a green card and would not count against the Fire’s international roster spots.

Okwuonu, 23, was drafted by Real Salt Lake in the second round of last year’s draft but was not retained. He has represented the U.S. at youth levels, including as a part of the Olympic qualifying team last year.

Right back has been an opening on the roster since Rodrigo Ramos’ loan was not renewed and no player has been added to fill that spot yet so those two could be fighting for a contract. Rodriguez said further additions to defense and midfield are still possible.

“Preseason is going to tell us where we have to improve,” Paunovic said. “Of course, theoretically we all know that there are a couple of spots still to reinforce and a couple of spots that we have to improve. For us now during all this time we are open to all the possibilities.”

The roster appears to be better, but even Rodriguez admitted he had hope last year.

“I was confident last year and the results of last year were bitterly disappointing and utterly unexpected by me," he said. "I have to believe our roster is better, whether that roster comes together the way we imagine, time will tell.”