Proviso East stays perfect

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Proviso East stays perfect

By Paul Johnson
YourSeason.com
When Proviso East legend Donnie Boyce took over his alma mater this season, few could have imagined the run his Pirates have put together.That journey has one more trip left in it, to the Class 4A state tournament in Peoria this weekend, after surviving a strong test from West Aurora in Tuesdays Hinsdale Central Class 4A Supersectional, 62-51.The Pirates roll into the state semifinals Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Rockford Auburn with a spotless 31-0 record.I dont think anybody, Year 1, would expect us to be 31-0, guaranteed spot at state, Boyce said. But the job is not done yet. Weve almost achieved the goal that we set at the beginning of the year. Right now, Im just so emotional.A 9-0 run in the first quarter provided the distance that the Pirates needed to keep the game Blackhawks (25-6) at bay. A three-pointer from Paris Burns started the run, followed by a jumper from Sterling Brown and two buckets from senior Keith Carter (game-high 18 points) to open a 12-3 lead.But West Aurora was never fully in the rearview mirror. A three-pointer from Blackhawks senior Juwan Starks at the end of the first quarter, followed by five quick points from Jontrel Walker to start the second, cut the lead to 19-17.We got off to a good start, Boyce said. They made some adjustments. We came out a little flat in the second quarter. I think they thought they won the game in the first quarter. But I thought our guys did a good job of taking their punches and we came back with three or four and we were eventually able to win the game.The Blackhawks were unable to capitalize on Browns foul trouble and the Pirates sluggish play in the second, however, going only 2 of 10 from the field with five turnovers in the quarter, heading into the half down, 29-21.That proved to be enough of a margin for the Pirates to survive. West Aurora never got the lead lower than six points, but Proviso East never led by more than 13 points.They didnt go away, Carter said. We had a good first quarter and they kind of got back in it. Our coach told us not to worry about it, everybody makes runs. We just had to make another run.Paris Lee scored 13 to go with five steals for the Pirates. Brown and Burns each scored nine. Walker scored 12 for West Aurora.Starks went for 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss for West, becoming the schools all-time leading scorer in the process. His rebound putback with 1:35 left in the second quarter helped him surpass Billy Taylors mark, set from 1987-91. The new record now stands at 1,627 points.We didnt capitalize on their mistakes, Starks said. We were still in the game, but not really. It was real tough. Im real proud of my team.

Five things to watch during Bulls’ training camp

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USA Today Sports Images

Five things to watch during Bulls’ training camp

All the new guys: Last October, the Bulls entered camp with essentially the same roster that lost to Cleveland in the second round of the 2015 playoffs, save for then-rookie Bobby Portis. This time, there’s no Derrick Rose, no Joakim Noah, no Pau Gasol, no Mike Dunleavy, and no E’Twaun Moore.

That’s four starters (essentially) whose performances or presence has been counted on in some way, even through some of the uncertainty that surrounded a few of these guys.

Conceivably, the Bulls can have around five new players in the actual rotation who weren’t thought of this time last year, although last year’s product left a lot to be desired.

The adjustment time and chemistry building starts Tuesday.

Who starts at power forward: All other positions in the first five are set, especially with the new faces. But the pivotal decision for Fred Hoiberg, if it hasn’t been made already, is who will start alongside Robin Lopez at center. It could be Nikola Mirotic, or Taj Gibson or even Bobby Portis, depending on Hoiberg’s sensibilities.

Smart money says it’ll probably be Mirotic considering he’s the best perimeter shooter of the three and actually a decent defensive rebounder. Gibson being a great screener, finisher and defender makes him intriguing as an option, but offensive space will be limited if he’s out there with Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. As for Portis, is he ready to take a step toward consistency in year 2?

The point guard: Rajon Rondo’s basketball intelligence is genius level, where he can master a gameplan and probably even devise one of his own that rivals his coaches. The man can counter a play before the opposing defense initiates an adjustment. That said, how will he and Hoiberg mesh this season? He clashed with Doc Rivers, had knock-down battles with Rick Carlisle in Dallas and George Karl didn’t have it in him to fight anybody in Sacramento, let alone Rondo.

Rondo likes playing the game at his speed, with his own feel and rhythm. Hoiberg will have to tailor his style for the new personnel he has, and luckily for him, isn’t a “my way or the highway” type of fellow that’s sure to rub Rondo the wrong way. Will Rondo embrace Hoiberg’s system and become an extension of the coach, or will Hoiberg give Rondo enough rope to explore Rondo’s intelligence to find a middle ground?

Will that even be enough?

The backup point guard: Just as intriguing as the starting power forward battle will be who backs up Rondo at point guard, although it’s likely that player won’t have to fill the traditional role of doing anything aside from walking the ball up and letting either Butler or Wade initiate the offense.

It’s likely Hoiberg will change his substitution patterns to have either Wade or Butler anchor second units in the second quarter, as a way to maximize the time he has with both while not having them invade each other’s space in the halfcourt. So who plays backup point could be more about who fits best next to the best player on the floor as opposed to who the best player is.

It seems to open the door for rookie Denzel Valentine since he can play three positions (although defense will be a task), along with Jerian Grant, Isaiah Canaan and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Grant was a first-rounder in 2015 who wants to show he’s worth that status, while Dinwiddie was projected as a lottery pick three years ago before tearing his ACL at Colorado.

It’s certainly not the most stressful decision Hoiberg will have to make, but a curious one.

Developing an identity: Does it happen in training camp? Who knows, but tones are often set as to what type of squad a team will be. Last season, Hoiberg believed he was building on a solid foundation after Tom Thibodeau’s defense first mentality, but signs of things crumbling began to show very early in the preseason.

This season, with so many new pieces, moving parts and overall uncertainty, there’s question as to what kind of team the Bulls will be. It’s intriguing, to say the least. But what will the Bulls hang their hats on come late October?

ESPN to broadcast Notre Dame-Syracuse, NC State kickoff still TBD

ESPN to broadcast Notre Dame-Syracuse, NC State kickoff still TBD

ESPN selected Notre Dame's road game at North Carolina State for a six-day option, meaning we won't know what time that contest will kick off until after Oct. 1's games. 

The other two ACC games selected as part of the six-day option are Virginia Tech at North Carolina and Florida State at Miami. Both FSU (No. 12) and Miami (No. 14) are ranked in the latest AP top 25, while Virginia Tech and North Carolina both received votes in the poll. Notre Dame and NC State did not receive any votes in this week's AP poll. 

Notre Dame's game against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium this Saturday will be broadcast by ESPN, the ACC also announced, and will kick off at noon E.T.