High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011
9:47 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet Chicago is your source for prep basketball highlights in Chicagoland! Were covering all compass points in this Fridays edition of High School Lites, including a key DuPage Valley showdown between 14 Glenbard East and West Aurora.

Well head north to check in with 3 Warren and Stevenston. Our cameras will also travel to the south side for a key Catholic League matchip between Hales Franciscan and Fenwick. Also, Luke Stuckmeyer visits Eisenhower High School to witness a rather unique offense run by head coach Mike Curta including an emphasis on three-pointers and substitutions that are reminiscent of a hockey game.

Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover Friday night:

Hubbard @ (23) Curie, 4:00pm

Is there such a thing as a quiet 17-1 team? If so, the 23rd-ranked Condors might fit the bill. They racked up another win Wednesday night over King, 90-67. Greg Travis had a solid night (16 points, eight assists, six rebounds and five steals). The visiting Greyhounds will face a stiff challenge, but they do have a few threats of their own. Cleo Jones and Javon Fields each scored in double figures in Wednesdays 76-67 win over Chicago Richards.

Palatine @ Vernon Hills, 6:00pm

Palatine hasnt had the best of luck this season (6-10, 2-2 in the Mid-Suburban West) but they did score a nice victory last week over a Conant team that came into the contest 11-3. Senior guard Peter Bony will have the Pirates in the game. The host Cougars will hope to bounce back from an 81-70 loss to North Chicago. Did you know that Vernon Hills standout wide receiver (and Notre Dame recruit) DaVaris Daniels also is one of the stars on the basketball team?

Lincoln-Way West @ (18) Thornton, 6:30pm

Think the Wildcats will be ready to get the bad tastes out of their mouths? They will have waited almost a week to erase the jarring memories from last weeks stunning 55-53 loss to unranked North Lawndale. Brian Greene Jr. will look to help raise Thorntons record to 14-1. The Warriors will be looking for their first win since December 27th (Oak Forest). They might have their work cut out for them Friday night in Harvey.

(5) Homewood-Flossmoor @ Bolingbrook, 7:00pm

The 5th ranked Vikings bounced back nicely after the tough overtime loss against Benet in the Proviso West championship. They defeated Lincoln-Way East last week behind Julian Lewis 18 points. H-Fs Delvon Rencher should also pose problems for Bolingbrook, who will be looking to erase a three-game skid. The Raiders have played tough, losing those three by a combined 13 points, including a 62-61 heartbreaker against Glenbard West. Devon Hodges, Chad Cooke and Nick Malonga are the go-to guys for Brook.

Fenwick @ (11) Hales-Franciscan, 7:30pm

The Friars were the big story in Chicagoland prep basketball last Friday night as they shocked then 3 De La Salle 49-48. Although they suffered a letdown the very next night against Ridgewood (48-42), the win over the Meteors should serve as a warning flare to the 11th ranked Spartans. Aaron and Aaric Armstead lead the way for Hales, who have won two straight after the Rich South McDipper tournament. Fenwick guard Dylan Barnett is back after missing some time in the Proviso West tournament with a high ankle sprain.

(25) Lyons @ Oak Park-River Forest, 7:30pm

Keep an eye on Lyons Township. Their 81-55 victory over Waukegan, a long-time prestigious program, should serve as a wake-up call for the rest of the opponents on the Lions schedule. Senior guard Nick Zeisloft can flat-out shoot. He scored 20 points and went 5-for-7 from behind the arc in that victory over Waukegan. But OPRF will be a tough out. The Huskies came back from a 10-point deficit to shock Proviso West last Friday 75-68. KaDarryl Bell scored 22 in that one and he will be needed to counter the Lions attack on Friday.

(13) Glenbard East @ West Aurora, 7:30pm

Is this the first big test for Glenbard East? The Rams, 5-0 in the DuPage Valley conference, head out to play a West Aurora teamalso 5-0 in the DVC. Illinois State recruit Johnny Hill and Zack Miller, an NIU recruit will be the ones to contain on GBEs roster. The Rams beat Glenbard North and Naperville North last week. The Blackhawks, who blew out West Chicago (67-34) and slipped past Glenbard North last weekend (55-54), boast high-flying junior Juwan Starks. Jontrel Walker and Jayquan Lee are tough to contain as well.

Stevenson @ (3) Warren, 7:30pm

The Blue Devils are a force to be reckoned with in the northern suburbs. They dismantled Lake Zurich and then beat Lake Forest by double figures last weekend. They go for their third in a row with Nathan Boothe, Darius Paul and Brandon Ferguson (just to name a few) starring as key contributors. Fellow North Suburban Lake foe Stevenson will come to Gurnee looking for their fifth straight win. Ryan Chapman and Michael Fleming, Colby Cashaw and Troy Radtke are keys to the Patriot attack.

St. Ignatius @ St. Joseph, 7:30pm

Nnanna Igwu is one of the dominant big men in the state. And the 6-10 senior might have St. Ignatius making some noise in the playoffs in the near future. They have won three straight, including a 58-40 decision over St. Rita last Friday. Igwu led all scorers with 23 points. Its been a tough season for St. Joseph so far, but a recent two game winning streak could have the Chargers headed back towards respectability. Joe Edwards, Reggie Johnson and Cameron Harvey will look to give St. Joes their third straight win Friday in Westchester.

GIRLS: Joliet West @ (1) Bolingbrook, 5:30pm

Will Bolingbrook be looking ahead to their Monday showdown against 3 Montini at Willowbrooks McDonalds Shootout? Well find out that answer Friday night as the Raiders battle a Joliet West team that has won three of their last four, including a 58-38 victory over Joliet Central Wednesday night. Bolingbrook, anchored by Morgan Tuck, Taylor Tuck and Ariel Massengale, is one of the elite high school girls basketball programs in the country. They have won their last four games by an average of 29 points, including a 98-37 triumph over Lockport last week.

THURSDAY GAMES:

(15) Crane 57, Marshall 53

Willie Connor scored 18 points and Kieran Woods tallied 16 more as the 15th ranked Cougars beat the Commandos in another hotly contested game in the storied rivalry. The Cougars 14-0 second quarter run offset 29 turnovers on the night and a 5-14 free throw mark from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Marshalls Keifer Sykes (17 points), Shamon Monck 11 points) and Marlon Sykes (9 points) paced the Commando attack.

(13) Farragut 51, (4) Whitney Young 49

The Admirals get a huge upset win on the road. DJ Tolliver made some key baskets down the stretchpart of his 21 points on the night. Whitney Young had key contributions from Ohio State recruit Sam Thompson. He had 11 points but it was not enough, as Farragut iced the game late with free throws. Farragut got the win without the help of their center, Rashaun Stimage, who has a broken hand. Youngs Luke Hager missed a three pointer from the corner as time expired.

Check us out this Friday night at 10:30. High School Lites streams live at csnchicago.com.

Wade in Bulls jersey: same material, different reality

Wade in Bulls jersey: same material, different reality

Media Day has become old hat for Dwyane Wade, so much so that he could go through the motions, interviews and promotional shots in Miami with his eyes closed.

But he looked like a wide-eyed rookie at times going through everything in the Advocate Center Monday, including the white-and-red jersey that was draped over his chest.

“It's really not the jersey. It's the same material so it feels the same,” he said. “It's a different environment. I was somewhere for so long, I knew where to go, I can walk backwards and get anywhere I want to go. It's just different, but different is not a bad thing.”

Comparing himself to the “new kid” in school, it won’t be long before Wade finds himself being the cool kid in class that everybody gravitates to and follows as an example, being a three-time champion and sure-fire Hall of Famer—at least that’s what the Bulls brass expects to happen.

“If I were a young player on this roster and I saw Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Taj Gibson, Robin (Lopez), I would soak up what they bring,” Bulls Vice-President John Paxson said. “As a young player you want to have longevity and success in this league and there's success right in front of them.”

Wade’s successes came in Miami, which makes Wade’s statement about things being different that much more pronounced—and before he can lead, he must adjust to the Bulls, and they to him.

His usage and his on-court role isn’t clear, as the Bulls are well-aware of the maintenance that comes with a player at his age—a player who was still pretty effective despite decline in the last few years.

“Our medical team and our athletic-performance team, we’ve visited some with him,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “But that’s going to be fluid. I don’t know that any definitive have come from that yet, but it’s obviously something that we’ll watch in regards to Dwyane being a little bit older but really to a number of our players.”

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Adjusting to his body, adjusting to a new city and even to a social conscience that has emerged since signing with the Bulls has been the theme of his summer.

His life—and the lives of many people close to him have changed in recent months and even days. From watching former teammate LeBron James bring home a title to Cleveland to his own departure from Miami after 13 years to sadly, watching Chris Bosh struggle with the news of his basketball mortality meeting up with the threat of his actual life, it’s been one after another after another.

“This news about basketball is unfortunate, and it was not nothing that he wanted to hear I'm sure, and nothing I wanted to hear for him and no one that loves Chris or is around him,” said Wade in reference to Bosh not being cleared by the Heat due to blood-clotting issues that ended Bosh’s last two seasons at the All-Star break. “It's another bump in the road in life that, from a basketball standpoint, Chris Bosh will figure out what he wants to do in life.”

“For Chris, it's a bump in the road for him in life. He's 31 years old, he's got a long life to live. Hopefully he'll get back on a basketball court. In a perfect world. But if not, for me, I'm just happy that we're able to be friends and enjoy life as friends and see him be healthy in that way.”

And oh yeah, he also stood in front of a nationally-televised audience at the ESPY awards two months ago, challenging his fellow athletes to take stock of what’s going on around them and more specifically, the ails plaguing people of color in this country.

It wasn’t so much a stand as much as it was a statement, and others have taken the baton to make waves that will be felt around the NBA.

His battle, he believes, is different from the one Colin Kaepernick is drawing attention to, as Wade sees the endless violence in Chicago and has jumped in feet first to make his presence known.

“I think Kaepernick educated a lot of us on things we didn't know, things we wasn't aware of. I think for me, things in this city that I've seen, we have a different kind of battle here in Chicago, a different focus,” Wade said. “That's what my focus is on. My focus is on this city and what am I capable of doing to help our youth in this city in a bigger way. That's where my focus is.”

“But what (Kaepernick) is doing is great because it's what he wants to do, it's what he believes in and he's using his voice for that cause.”

And as Wade turns the corner, a fresh start after a surprising divorce, the new old kid in town reiterated Chicago is the place for him—even as he adjusts.

“I'm figuring it all out,” he said. “Like I said, I'm happy to be here. At this time in my career, this is where I want to be.”

Bulls begin 'necessary' new era by creating a culture 'to take steps forward'

Bulls begin 'necessary' new era by creating a culture 'to take steps forward'

The busiest Bulls offseason since Gar Forman took as over as general manager and John Paxson became vice president in 2009 came to a close Monday with the unofficial start of the season. The Bulls begin training camp Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Advocate Center, and they’ll do so with eight new faces on the floor, and without perhaps the two biggest faces of the franchise in the 2010s.

But Paxson admitted in his press conference at media day “it was time” to turn the page on a talented group once expected to compete for an NBA title that never lived up to that billing. The decision to trade Derrick Rose and move on from free agent Joakim Noah – as well as Pau Gasol – were difficult ones given those players’ place in Bulls history, but also necessary to move the franchise forward into a new era.

“I didn’t feel that group had a collective fight to it,” Paxson said. “And I think all of us looking back on it, that was true. Change was necessary.

“We had ridden that group a long way. With a little more luck we might have had more success, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. And we just felt it was necessary to try to take some steps forward.”

And while the sweeping overhaul of the roster was noticeable on paper, management is also seeing a different culture transforming on the Near West Side of Chicago they hope will usher in this new period of Bulls basketball.

It’s the reason Forman and Paxson were excited to bringing in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. With a combined 23 NBA seasons, 260 playoff games and four NBA titles, the two longest-tenured NBA veterans on the roster have already begun leaving their mark.

Forman noted specifically that Rondo has been around the team’s facility “a good part of the summer,” and that his work ethic and time spent in the community has rubbed off on his teammates. Wade walked around the Advocate Center floor with a certain larger-than-life persona, and the future Hall-of-Famer’s accolades speak for themselves. Paxson referred to Taj Gibson as “the ultimate pro,” and Jimmy Butler even noted Monday that he wants Fred Hoiberg to coach him harder than any player on the team, to use him as an example in practice and to “get on me about every little thing.”

“That’s another reason changes were necessary,” Paxson said of helping younger players progress. “And it’s created an environment in this building. We have to start from a base level, and a base level is culture and how guys go about their jobs every day. That’s why we’re talking about accountability.”

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Forman and Paxson are also excited about the balance they’ve created. There was some criticism about the Wade and Rondo signings after Forman had said the team was looking to get younger and more athletic – both Wade and Rondo have dealt with serious knee injuries in the past. In that sense, management feels as though they’ve done just that.

In addition to drafting Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine and German wing Paul Zipser, both of whom are 22, the Bulls received 23-year-old Jerian Grant and 28-year-old Robin Lopez in return for Rose. Add 23-year-old Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Canaan (25), and as Forman noted the Bulls will have 12 players in camp under the age of 27, in addition to 10 players with three years or fewer NBA experience.

“And in doing that (retooling with youth) you still want to create a culture that’s conducive to professionalism, a team-first attitude. Some of those things, those intangibles, that are so important. And having that type of veteran experience around your young guys is critical as we go through this phase that we’re changing over the roster.”

Of course, simply overhauling a roster to management’s liking won’t produce wins. That won’t automatically place the Bulls back in the playoffs after they missed out last season for the first time in 2008.

All the pieces need to fit together – no executive, coach or player who spoke Monday seemed overly concerned about Wade, Butler and Rondo (the three Alphas) sharing the spotlight – and head coach Fred Hoiberg will need to show improvements in his second season.

With a plethora of young talent comes training-camp battles that Paxson said will be healthy for the team. Players like Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott, Valentine and whoever wins the back-up point guard spot will have not just the opportunity to learn from Wade, Rondo and Butler, but to play alongside them in expanded roles. Paxson went as far to say that how the Bulls’ role players perform “will probably dictate how well we do.”

It began with Forman and Paxson overhauling the roster, and continued into a busy summer full of individual workouts that impressed both upper management and the coaching staff. But now the speculation and critiques of the roster are over. The start of a new era has arrived in Chicago.

“The vibe that’s with this group right now is just really positive. I think ultimately the expectation (over the summer) was that they had to be professional in their approach every day,” Paxson said. “There’s going to be accountability to everything that they do, and that if we’re going to have any success in any way it’s going to come from us being together and giving great effort.

“That’s the great thing about a new season starting and putting together a team: it’s all out there in front of us.”