Frankie O's Blog: Tears

Frankie O's Blog: Tears

Friday, March 11, 2011
9:00 a.m.

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Of course Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstras comments caught the attention of everyone at the bar this week and added greatly to the derisive nature of ALL Heat conversations that I listen to at work. As far as villains go, this Heat team has got to be an all-timer. People HATE them. So while, in-over-his-head Spoelstra tried to convey how much his team cares by sharing the fact that his team was in the locker room CRYING after their heart-breaking loss to the Bulls on Sunday, his words had no such affect. In fact it was the total opposite, much like his comments the next day when he tried to spinlie his way out of it by saying he was misunderstood. No. We understand. You were making stuff up, and when you went back in the locker room and were confronted by Two and a Half Men, you understood that what you had done was very wrong. Well, for your players any way. Where I make my living, it was a great reason for additional Heat-bashing, which is just good, clean fun! Can you imagine what Kevin Garnett is going to have to say about this the next time he faces them?

Lost in all that foolishness nationally, was another stellar effort by Derrick Rose, willing his team to victory once again. After what happened in Atlanta last week, there was a lot of consternation over the fact that the Bulls were just one game over .500 on the road. As he has done after bad efforts time and again this season, he came back possessed and led the Bulls to the impressive road-double of beating both Florida teams in consecutive games on the road and giving the Bulls a 4-1 road-trip. The mind boggles in thinking how good this kid is now and where he is headed. While Ive been trying to temper my expectations on how far they can go this year, with D-Rose leading the way, who knows? Were all learning not to bet against him.

My favorite story of the week has to do with the mess at Ohio State. (The? Seems to me youre not better than anyone else!) To say that there is an air of condescension from the university or its fans is as big an under-statement that I can make. I could go on and on (I heard that!) but Ill stay for the most part in the present. First there was the Little sisters of the poor comments from university president E. Gordon Gee, when discussing the merits of non-B.C.S. schools in B.C.S. bowls. Whatever! Im sure hes a real hoot at his endowment fundraisers, but he seems a little out of touch. Or is he? He seems to realize the win-at-all-cost method of building a big-time football program that produces big-time money and helps him greatly in those endowment cocktail parties. His choice of a football coach, Jim Tressel, was a proven winner at the 1-A level, even if there were a lot of concerns over certain boosters that were on HIS sidelines. One booster was later convicted for his financial relationship with one of Tressels best players. Tressel denied any complicity and who wouldnt believe him? (LMAO!) Upon coaching at The University he won a national title in his second season. If my math is correct that would mean that he won with a lot of John Coopers players. Since then, hes been blown-out in two national title games, won 6 Big Ten Titles and compiled an 85-17 record in the last 8 seasons. Ill admit that I dont know a lot, but I would think, at that school, with that kind of record, there must be a lot of pressure to win another title and validate that the first one wasnt a fluke due to a late interference flag in over-time. As you know here, I was shocked at the audacity of the school to let 5 players who were found to be guilty of violating NCAA rules, to play in last years Rose Bowl.

Then again, it seemed to be par for the course for CheatyPants McSweaterVest. He promised that the players would pay for their mistakes buy agreeing to return to The University for next season and sitting out the first five games, when they traditionally play Mr. Gees favorite teams. He was aghast at what they had done, since he had just learned of it. Turns out that was a con-job since e-mails have been found that proved that he knew about this last April. Of course he is going to make amends by sitting out the firsttwo games of next season. This penalty is university imposed and its possible that the NCAA could impose a tougher sanction, but I wont hold my breath, Jim Calhoun and Bruce Pearl have taught us, that mis-remembering what they or their players have done, is no big deal. Say what you want, but it turns out that the coach who enjoys going by the nick-name The Senator must now realize we can use that name in its not so flattering connotation. Just one question: Dont you think that the man in charge of young men, for leading them, should face more punishment for covering-up their infractions when he knew better? Why does he only get two games? Nice message. I guess The Ohio State University really is an institution of higher learning, meaning that the higher you are, the less of what you learn, you have to share, or pay the price for.

Something Ive been asked a lot this week is my opinion on the dismissal of B.Y.U. forward Brandon Davies from the basketball team for violating their honor-code. Much to their surprise, I dont have one problem with it. Davies is a Mormon. He knew what was expected of him when he signed to play at the school. I think this is the point. Too often, see above, players and coaches are allowed to do whatever they want in the name of winning. I think its refreshing that in this, probably, its best season in basketball, EVER, that the university would stand by its ideals, even if it could cost them the opportunity to play for a national title. I guess they can take the The in front of Ohio State and put it in front of their name, Ohio State wont be needing it for a while. And let me make this clear: I could have never gone to school there! Did you see that honor code? But it is what it is, dont go if you cant abide. Makes you wonder though: How in the name of Mitt Romney, did Jim McMahon actually go to school there for four years?!!

Have you seen the video of Tom Brady dancing in Brazil? I dont know where to start. I found myself laughing and feeling very uncomfortable at the same time. I guess when Charlie Sheens out there, you can do anything you want, if you have the cash.

Finally, theres one story from this past week that I cant get out of my head, the story of Wes Leonard and Fennville (Mi) High. By now, most of you have heard the story: Wes hits game-winning shot, in over-time, to win the game and cap a perfect regular season, 20-0. Then tragedy struck. In the post-game euphoria, as the players were being gathered for a team photo, Wes was felled by an enlarged heart and is with us no more. As a parent, I cannot explain my heartache. I cry every time I read a story about it. But, were way past whats fair in this life. My only hope is that his family and friends can find a way to move on, while always remembering the gift that they were given in Wes. Needless to say, Ive been following the team as they progress through the Michigan high school state playoffs and in the wake of Wess death they have won two games and play in the District Championship game tonight. So tonight, instead of following up on the rantings of Americas Madman Charlie Sheen, maybe type in Wes Leonard into your Google search bar instead, and start to read. I think his story, and everyones around him, while tragic, are what winning is all about.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night:

1. A sluggish start.

The Blackhawks have gotten off to some solid starts lately, scoring the game's first goal in the opening frame in five of their last six contests heading into Friday. But they were lucky to get out of the first in a 0-0 tie this time.

They had 15 shot attempts (six on goal) through the first 20 minutes while the Bruins had 30 attempts (17 on goal). Fortunately for the Blackhawks, Scott Darling stopped all of them that came his way.

Boston's third line of Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash and David Backes dominated possession, leading all skaters with a plus-12 Corsi in the period.  

2. Scott Darling steals two points.

Joel Quenneville decided to go with Darling in an effort to give a slumping Corey Crawford a chance to reset, and the Lemont native an opportunity to play in front of his father away from home, where he's used to watching him shine. It's safe to say he made his papa proud by putting on a great show.

Darling turned aside all 30 shots he faced, including 17 in the first period, for his second shutout of the season and fourth of his career. He has now allowed two or fewer goals in eight of his last 12 starts. 

Asked after the game whether he will earn a second straight start Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks, Quenneville responded, "We'll see."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Special teams not a factor.

In a game that featured only one goal, you'd think the way to crack the scoresheet would be on the man advantage. That didn't happen.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Bruins failed to cash in on their only two opportunities. Boston entered the contest by going 7-for-17 on the power play in their previous five games, good for a 41.2 success rate.

It was a nice bounce-back game for the Blackhawks' penalty kill unit, which allowed a goal on the man advantage in their previous two games.

4. Third line steps up at crucial moment.

The Blackhawks' third line of Vinnie Hinostroza, Marian Hossa and Tanner Kero had the worst possession numbers among all skaters, each registering a 24 percent Corsi or below. But when their team needed them the most, they stepped up.

With 1:26 left in regulation, Hossa ended his 10-game goal drought by burying home a terrific feed from Kero to snap a 0-0 tie and give the Blackhawks their second consecutive win. It's Hossa's 17th goal of the campaign, which ties Artemi Panarin for second on the team, and his fifth game-winning goal of the year. His 83 career game-winning goals now ranks 24th in NHL history, surpassing Mike Bossy, and remains fifth among active players.

Hossa's goal also moved him within a tie of Pierre Turgeon for 37th on the all-time goals list with 516.

Kero has six points in his last six games, while Hinostroza has two goals and one assist in his past two.

5. Despite recent struggles, Bruins in good hands with Claude Julien.

It seems like this is a discussion every year, but firing Julien would be a huge mistake for a Bruins team that fell to 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. They're still the No. 1 possession team in the NHL, controlling 55.42 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, and give up the fifth-fewest high danger scoring chances with 326, according the naturalstattrick.com. They average the second-most shots on goal per game at 33.9, and allow the second-fewest at 26.5.

To back it up, their PDO is 97.5 percent, the sum of a team's even-strength save percentage and shooting percentage that usually works it way toward 100, which indicates they're due for a fairly large correction. They're not getting bounces right now, but they're playing the right way and a change behind the bench would be a step in the wrong direction, considering Julien is easily a top-five coach in the NHL.

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn’t enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23.

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder’s 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scored 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

Perhaps it’s the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

The Bulls weren’t about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn’t relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Jimmy Butler’s 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could’ve trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can’t simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.