McAuliffe hopes to bounce back in 2012-13

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McAuliffe hopes to bounce back in 2012-13

Glenbrook North was unbeaten, ranked among the best teams in the Chicago area and dreaming of the postseason success that coach Dave Weber's team experienced during the Jon Scheyer era.

Then the dream turned into a nightmare. Andrew McAuliffe, the team's leading scorer, suffered a fractured patella and spent most of the rest of the season in a brace and undergoing rehabilitation. The Spartans finished 20-6, losing to Niles North by one point in the regional final.

"I scored 29 points in a game against Niles North in December. I hurt my knee in the first quarter but I played the rest of the game," McAuliffe recalled. "I went to the emergency room that night to see what was wrong. They said it wasn't an ACL or a tendon tear.

"So I went to a doctor, got an X-ray and he said it was a broken patella. I didn't have to have surgery. But I was in a brace for a month-and-a-half, then rehab for three weeks. I came back and played the last five games of the year. I was about 60 percent.

"I was definitely frustrated. I had started off well (16 ppg, 5 rpg) and the team had started off well. I tried to stay positive. I knew being negative wouldn't help the team. I got back as soon as I could. But it was a real bummer, very frustrating."

McAuliffe, a 6-foot-8 junior, watched practice every day. He went to a pool and tried to stay in shape, swimming for 30 minutes a day. After the season, he iced his knee daily and began to work out with his AAU team. He still isn't 100 percent but he is getting better and better.

"In my first tournament, my knee felt sore after playing four games on the weekend. But I got stronger with more tournaments. The more I play, the better it is. Days off aren't a good thing for me," he said.

At the recent Best Buy tournament in Minneapolis, McAuliffe began to feel like his old self again. "My knee felt great. I was moving well and jumping well. I played through the soreness. It felt great to play again without having to worry about my knee. Now I'm almost there. Some days I'm sore, some days I'm not. I'm close to 100 percent," he said.

McAuliffe is eager to play with Fundamental University team in upcoming tournaments at Orlando and Las Vegas and looking ahead to the July evaluation period. He has scholarship offers from Loyola, Northern Illinois, Davidson, Drake, Tulane, Santa Clara, Belmont, Bucknell and Holy Cross and can expect more when he demonstrates that his knee is healthy.

"I'm not worried about recruiting. Offers will come in. I feel I am a major Division I player," he said. "I was a little worried. I knew I'd get back healthy but I was concerned about how much I'd have to work to get healthy. I'm a better player now. But it was brutal missing those 2 12 months.

"I'm keeping my options open, hoping high Division I offers will come. I'm not stressing over it. I think my game is what college coaches are looking for. My game? I'm a power forward. I'm good at passing to guards on the double team and I can step out and shoot from 15 feet. I want coaches to know I work really hard. I'm working a lot on extending my game and taking people off their dribble. I'm a team player. I make my teammates better."

Recruiting analysts Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye see McAuliffe as a good fit for the Atlantic 10 or Conference USA. "He would be a steal for the Horizon, MAC or Missouri Valley," they said.

Weber believes once college recruiters get another look at McAuliffe this summer that they will be convinced he is ready to play at their level.

"He is definitely a Division I player," Weber said. "We will know in the summer, when he is fully healed, at what level of Division I, whether he is a high major player or mid-major. But he has the potential to play at a higher level.

"He is a power forward playing center for us. He is very skilled, very athletic inside and can dominate a game. He is a good shooter from the perimeter. The big problem is big guys in high school aren't always dominant because guards usually dominate in high school."

Mike Weinstein, McAuliffe's AAU coach, agrees with Weber's assessment. "He is good enough to play at a high major level but he has to show he is fully healthy by July. Now he is a mid-plus player. If he goes to a mid-plus school, he will be a dominant player and be able to score against high major players. But he needs to get the spring back in his legs and needs to show that he is healthy," Weinstein said.

He pointed out that several major Division I programs, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Stanford and Virginia are monitoring McAuliffe's progress. Illinois-Chicago and Illinois State also are interested.

McAuliffe doesn't need any more motivation than that.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks beat Avalanche; Bulls lose to Mavericks

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Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks beat Avalanche; Bulls lose to Mavericks

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After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

Dwyane Wade sounded every bit like a frustrated 35-year old father when talking about the repeated ills and so-called growing pains of his Bulls, as they surrendered yet another game against a sub-.500 team.

Sometimes it's the New York Knicks whom the Bulls are offering temporary refuge. Or maybe the Minnesota Timberwolves as they are all-too-generous to roll out the welcome mat for returning figures to Chicago.

Tuesday it was the Dallas Mavericks, the second-worst team in the Western Conference, who stormed into the United Center and escaped with a 99-98 win, courtesy of Wesley Matthews' triple with 11.7 seconds left followed by him locking down Jimmy Butler on the ensuing possession.

Wade was forced to take a contested 21-footer that went awry, but the Bulls' ills went far beyond the last two possessions, when the Mavericks exploited their strategy yet again.

"Either you learn the lesson or figure out," Wade said. "Keep putting your hand on the hot stove every day.

"We just gotta figure out not to put our hands on that stove. And understand when we come in the kitchen, that stove is hot, don't touch it. As I continue to say, this is a very young team and they have to play in these games and have to go through these moments. The one thing you want, whether it's this year or next year, is to not make the same mistakes."

The Bulls are apparently insistent on touching the stove and keep burning themselves, the most recent time with the confusion or the bad strategy in defending the Mavericks' final offensive possession.

Deron Williams found himself with Nikola Mirotic defending him off a switch from Jimmy Butler. Not the quickest afoot, Mirotic gave Williams an easy path to the basket and Wade was the backside help, not wanting to leave Matthews on the wing for a triple.

But with the bench commanding Wade to help, Williams easily found Matthews for an open 3 as Wade had no help for his man. With the Bulls up two, one could see how Wade didn't want to leave Matthews.

"I'll have to go back and watch, but it looks like Deron got downcourt, Wade went over to help and we didn’t rotate accordingly," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We obviously need to do a better job of staying in front of the other end."

Mirotic was supposed to be brought back slowly in his return from strep throat, but he played the entire fourth quarter and 22 minutes overall, having lost eight pounds with his illness that had him miss four games.

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Their issues were game-long and have been seasonlong as the Mavericks were supposed to absorb a shellacking from a Bulls team that felt a 25-point beatdown in Texas last month.

Instead, they would've been happy with settling for an escape when Butler rose up over his college teammate Matthews for a 20-foot wing jumper with 22.8 seconds left.

Butler nearly added a triple-double and clutch moment to his growing resume with 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds but was dogged by Matthews all night, the defender who wouldn't give him airspace, went chest-to-chest and even earned a technical foul when he felt Butler exaggerated some contact in the third quarter.

"He took away my space, wouldn't let me get to my spot," Butler said of Matthews. "Good for him. I should've did something different."

Wade missed 13 of his 21 shots, scoring 17 with five rebounds on his 35th birthday

With scoring at a premium, Robin Lopez had a season-high 21 points being guarded by Dirk Nowitzki — and they were necessary considering the Bulls were without Taj Gibson (ankle injury) and Doug McDermott couldn't repeat his 30-point showing from Sunday in Memphis.

Rick Carlisle has long been regarded as one of the top strategic coaches, and though he doesn't have the usual personnel from the Mavericks' salad days, he had enough tricks up his sleeve to throw the Bulls off.

Six Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Harrison Barnes' 20 points and Seth Curry's 18, as Barnes, Matthews and Curry combined for eight triples — spreading the Bulls out and picking them apart defensively.

The Mavericks started Nowitzki at center, going to an almost all-small lineup. And though Lopez scored 14 points in the first half, trying to feed him seemed to take the Bulls out of it in the second half.

The energy was tardy to the party, as they shot just 41 percent in the first half but woke up a little in the third quarter — continuing their all-too familiar trend of half-hearted efforts against lesser teams.

And it looks like the ever-optimistic Wade is dishing out some realism, probably something that comes with the perspective of turning 35.

"You can't keep getting stressed out or frustrated. We've been going through this all year. We'll get back in in the morning.

"Once you realize who you are, you're better off. I sleep better at night. Once we want to be a better team and start winning games, we will. I'm not mad, I'm not frustrated, I'm not stressed. Just taking the hits."