Curie gets best of rival Bogan


Curie gets best of rival Bogan

By Clyde Travis

The Bogan-Curie matchup was a game that rivalries are made of. Both teams are on Pulaski Avenue, with two all-city players each, and who suffered a loss to top-ranked Simeon. As expected, it was a battle to the finish with Curie outlasting Bogan 50-47 in the semifinals of the Public League Playoffs Wednesday at DePaul University.

The Condors scored the first points and never relinquished the lead in the defensive battle. A free throw by Jabreel Jackson proved to be the magic number as Jackson shot the back end of a two-shot foul to give the Condors a 48-45 lead with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. The lead was cut to 49-47 with 33 seconds remaining but another made free throw by Malcolm Hill-Bey made it 50-47 with 12.1 seconds.

Bogan set up a play and appeared to have an open three-pointer to tie the score but 6-9 Cliff Alexander came off his man and blocked the shot. Alexander said he felt that they were going to go for the three-point play instead of the two so he left his man. It was just a feeling and I took a gamble and it worked out for us, said Alexander.Curie coach Mike Oliver said it was team defense that got the victory. No matter whether our offense is clicking or not, we are always going to play tough defense. Thats what we hang our hat on, said Oliver. Bogan is a tough tenacious team and we knew we had to be up for a physical game.Devin Foster led Curie with 13 points and eight rebounds. Alexander had nine points and 16 rebounds and five blocks. But the X-factor in the game was Curies two-sport star Maurice Fleming. After missing the entire football season, Fleming, a starter last year, saw his first action of the season and contributed with three crucial three pointers and some tough man to man defense. It felt good to be playing and even better to contribute, said Fleming. Bogan is a very physical team and I was glad I was out there. Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin said his team has nothing to hang their heads about. We played a horrible first half, but as a coach I know my kids gave me everything that they had, said Goodwin. Devonte Smith led the Bengals with 19 points. Ronnell Buckner scored 10.

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Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

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College teammates Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder made plans to go to dinner after Thursday’s game in Chicago but for a few short moments they weren’t just competitors but unexpected combatants, getting tangled up in the second quarter.

There looked to be some harsh words exchanged after Butler took a charge on an unsuspecting Crowder near three-quarter court, with Crowder putting the basketball in Butler’s chest while Butler was still on the floor, causing players on both teams to convene for some tense moments.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got involved and then before Butler could blink, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo joined the proceedings, as pushing and shoving ensued before technical fouls were assessed to both teams after an officials’ review.

If one wondered whether these Bulls—a team that touts itself as young with so many players having three years or less professional experience—could play with some bark and bite, perhaps the season opener provided a bit of a positive preview for the next 81 games.

Nearby, an unbothered Dwyane Wade took a practice 3-point shot, much to the delight of the United Center crowd, as observers witnessed the first sign of tangible proof the Bulls have intentions on regaining a bit of an edge on the floor.

Wade joked and took it as a sign of respect between the two teams.

“It looked like it, right? Yeah. It was a little something out there,” said Wade when asked if there was some chippy play. “Every time we play them it’s gonna be like that. Two teams finding their way in the Eastern Conference. We know we gotta see each other a lot. They never give up. They can be down 30 with 15 seconds left and they’re still gonna fight.”

The Bulls have externally preached toughness from the start of camp. Although Wade didn’t participate in that meeting of the minds, he isn’t exactly running away from such matters.
And Rajon Rondo is competitively ornery enough to have his voice hard no matter the setting.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s been a big theme of practice,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We want to play with physicality and toughness. I think it was evident on the glass tonight.”

Yes, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 19, but that could’ve been a by-product of the Bulls’ crashing the offensive glass on a porous shooting night. And yes, the slightly tense moment between Butler and Crowder probably won’t be an expected occurrence.

But when’s the last time one had multiple examples to dissect to discern this team’s level of toughness—or lack thereof.

“That’s something to show that the guys are out there fighting for each other,” Hoiberg said. “That they were playing with an edge. It happens with this game. You have to be competitive.”

Competition boiled over slightly, but considering the NBA isn’t exactly UFC, one doesn’t have to do much to display a little physical resolve.

“The fact that nothing escalated was good,” Hoiberg said. “The fact that those guys are out there and playing for each other and have each other’s back, that’s a huge thing right now.”

Too many times last season, it seemed the Bulls would submit in situations like those. Not that they were particularly soft, but it didn’t appear they had the collective will to fight for one another if an altercation arose.

Half the time, they looked like they could barely stand to be in the room with each other.

“It’s people’s will to win. Not saying a bad thing about anybody from last year,” Butler said. “To tell you the truth, I study the game and put in a lot of work but Rondo studies the game a lot. Every time I’m in the gym, he’s in the gym. That lets me know, these (dudes) are going to war with you. Every day. When I hit that deck, Rondo was right there. I wanna play with guys that’s gonna play hard, that’s gonna fight.”

And it didn’t take long for Butler to realize he has at least a couple teammates willing to jump in the foxhole with him.