Former 'Bench Mob' member Watson returns to Chicago


Former 'Bench Mob' member Watson returns to Chicago

The Bench Mob reunion tour continues Saturday night at the United Center with the return of C.J. Watson, now the backup point guard for the visiting Nets.

Its fine, its cool, Watson said prior to the game, after greeting a litany of former teammates, coaches and Bulls employees on the United Center court. A lot of emotions, but youve just got to go out there and play the game.

Watson has made a smooth adjustment to his new team, probably because hes used to his role of backing up an elite point guard in Chicago, it was Derrick Rose and in Brooklyn, its All-Star Deron Williams for a team in a major market.

Its been fun. Im just trying to get used to the system that Coach Nets head coach Avery Johnson and get used to my teammates, he said. I just try to go out there and be aggressive, lead the second unit and also try to go out there and play with Deron some, depending on matchups. So its good and I just try to go out there, and do my best.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau lauded Watsons performance with the Nets thus far after the teams practice Friday.

Hes a winning player, he said. Hes going to play for the team first and those guys could go a long way.

Watson also addressed a mild controversy from the offseason, when he reportedly ranked Williams above Rose in his introductory Nets press conference after signing with Brooklyn as a free agent in the summer.

Actually, I didnt say that, he explained. I said, To me, he was the best point guard. Then, I was asked who was better and he the reporter said, Compare the two, and I said, You cant compare the two.

While Watson remains close with some of his former teammates among them, Nets teammate Keith Bogans, whos one year removed from his stint in Chicago he isnt exactly pining to be back with the Bulls.

Ive watched some of the games. I havent really been keeping up with them that much, he said. I talk to Ronnie and Kurt all the time because theyre in New York, so I see them a lot. I try to keep up with John Lucas III and everybody else.

Sometimes I think about what would have happened if I had returned to Chicago, but you cant think about that because it didnt happen, the Las Vegas native continued. I try to take some of the stuff that I learned from Thibs, the defensive stuff and apply it to our team here because Averys trying to be a defensive coach.

"Just trying to teach some of the stuff that we learned in Chicago, because theyve been the best defensive team the last couple of years, so its always good to take away and learn, and take it somewhere else.

While he acknowledged his defensive improvement with the Bulls, Watson also joked that he didnt miss Thibodeaus famously long practice sessions.

No, he deadpanned. Not at all. I like these 30-minute, 45-minute practices.

Watson has mixed memories of his time with the Bulls, as he fondly remembers his experience with the Bench Mob, but also hasnt forgotten how last season ended, when he was a target for angry fans after passing the ball to Omer Asik, a subpar free-throw shooter in Game 6 of the teams first-round series with the 76ers, a contest that was eliminated the Bulls from the postseason.

It was fun because we all knew our role, we knew what to do and we knew who was going to get the ball, who was going to score and who was going to play defense. We just fit into our roles and everybody played their role to the best of their ability, said Watson, who noted that he never considered returning to Chicago at a lesser salary. The season ended how it ended. I wasnt worried about that. I knew I could do better. It was a critical mistake, maybe. But at the time, I didnt think it was. I just thought I kind of got mistreated, but it is what it is.

Huskers stay unbeaten with comeback win over Purdue


Huskers stay unbeaten with comeback win over Purdue

At halftime Saturday, Nebraska, the No. 8 team in the country, was trailing Purdue, which just fired its coach.

Uh, what?

Order was soon restored, but the Huskers needed to bounce back from a halftime deficit to grab a 27-14 win over the lowly Boilermakers on Saturday in Lincoln.

Purdue threw an interception on the game's opening drive, and Nebraska turned that into a touchdown, something that looked very much like how everyone expected this one to go. But quarterback David Blough retaliated with the first of two first-half touchdown passes, while the Huskers mustered only a field goal on the next drive and then went silent the rest of the opening 30 minutes, punting three times and Tommy Armstrong throwing an interception right before the break. In there, Blough threw his second touchdown, an 88-yard monster to DeAngelo Yancey that gave the Boilers a lead.

That lead didn't last too long, though, as after going three and out on their first drive of the third quarter, the Huskers scored on each of their next three possessions: an Armstrong pass to De'Mornay Pierson-El, a 24-yard run by Alonzo Moore and a 51-yard field goal by Drew Brown. Meanwhile, the Nebraska defense clamped down, and Purdue had just one drive that lasted more than five plays in the second half, with that drive ending in a turnover on downs and Blough adding an interception.

All in all, the Huskers out-gained the Boilers, 409-333, and had the ball for about seven more minutes, avoiding a repeat of last year's matchup, when Purdue scored its lone Big Ten win over Nebraska.

Armstrong threw for 252 yards, one touchdown and one interception and added 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Terrell Newby had 82 yards rushing.

Blough threw for 309 yards, but the Boilers managed just 24 rushing yards.

The win sent Nebraska to a perfect 7-0 ahead of next weekend's huge Big Ten West Division showdown with Wisconsin.

The loss dropped Purdue to 3-4. The Boilers take on Penn State next weekend.

Michigan improves to 7-0 with predictable blowout win over Illini


Michigan improves to 7-0 with predictable blowout win over Illini

Plenty could've predicted Michigan blowing out Illinois. And, well, that's exactly what happened.

The Wolverines, who at 7-0 now have an average margin of victory of 38.7, grabbed their latest runaway win Saturday in Ann Arbor, crushing the visiting Illini to the tune of 41-8.

Michigan had an insurmountable 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, and Illinois seemed to start this one without a chance as third-string quarterback Jeff George Jr. was pressed into starting duty due to injuries to Wes Lunt and Chayce Crouch.

The Wolverines entered Saturday's contest with the No. 1 scoring defense in the country and the No. 2 scoring offense in the country, and that certainly shone through in the final statistics. Michigan out-gained Illinois, 561-172, holding the Illini to 95 passing yards and 77 rushing yards. Illinois turned the ball over twice while going 2-for-11 on third and fourth downs. Michigan had its typical explosive day offensively with 291 passing yards and 270 rushing yards. The Wolverines were 8-for-16 on third and fourth down.

Michigan scored a touchdown on each of its first four drives: two touchdown tosses from Wilton Speight to Jake Butt and Tyrone Wheatley and a pair of touchdown runs from Khalid Hill and De'Veon Smith. The Wolverines made it 31-0 right before halftime, kicking a field goal off a George interception. Michigan added just 10 points after halftime.

The Illini scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 43-yard pass from George to Malik Turner to end an impressive eight-quarter scoreless streak by the Wolverines which dated back to the Oct. 1 win over Wisconsin.

How about this number? Michigan won the time-of-possession battle 41:23 to 18:37. The Wolverines had 29 first downs to the Illini's six.

Speight finished his day 16-for-23 for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Karan Higdon had 106 of the Michigan rushing total, and Amara Darboh had 99 receiving yards.

George completed only four passes for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Kendrick Foster and Ke'Shawn Vaughn combined for 88 rushing yards.

The win kept the Wolverines without a loss and sent the record to 7-0. Next weekend is the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy against in-state rival Michigan State.

The Illini dropped to 2-5 with the defeat and play host to Minnesota next weekend.