Proviso West's 32-team tourney set

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Proviso West's 32-team tourney set

Joe Spagnolo always has been an innovator, a visionary and a wheeler-dealer. And the longtime director of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament outdid himself this year.
Spagnolo came up with a couple of new innovations for the 52nd annual event, which will be conducted on Dec. 22, 26-29 and 31 at Proviso West in Hillside. He has expanded the tournament from 16 to 32 teams, and the championship game will be played on New Year's Eve afternoon.
It is advertised as the largest high school holiday event in the nation conducted under one roof.
It isn't the first time a holiday tournament in the Chicago area has been concluded on New Year's Eve afternoon. Spagnolo recalls when the old All-Chicago tournament conducted its final game at that time and he thought it was a good idea to copy.
In the early 1970s, the all-city event was held at Illinois-Chicago's old gym on Roosevelt Road. In 1973, Leo and Tony Parker, father of NBA star Tony Parker, won the event. Crane dominated in the 1980s with Cory Blackwell, Ken Colliers Norman, Anthony Emanuel and Joe Daughrity.
The afternoon final had enormous appeal for high school basketball fans who could watch some of the city's best players and teams and then have plenty of time to attend New Year's Eve parties.
"I've been working on this project in the back of my mind since the summer of 2011," Spagnolo said. "I brought in logistical people to see if it would all work. It was one of the best-kept secrets until we announced it."
There were many questions to be answered. Can we install a college floor? Do we have enough electricity? How can we move people from gym to gym? Will fans accept a 32-team concept?
It will be the biggest event of its kind in the country...six days, 61 games, as many as 16 games in one day, 132 officials. And every game will be televised on High School Cube.
In scheduling the championship game on Monday afternoon, New Year's Eve, Spagnolo was influenced by the old All-Chicago tournament at UIC.
"I thought it was great, a day where people didn't do a lot of things. They could see the games and still celebrate," he said. "We're committed to not playing on Sunday. So I like how the calendar fell with the semifinals on Saturday and the finals on Monday. It was a no-brainer. We'll be the only game in town. All the other tournaments will end on Saturday night."
In addition, Proviso West will conduct games in two venues at the same time--the 3,000-seat gym and the adjacent field house. Proviso West will bring in new seating for about 1,200 people, a wooden floor, scoreboard and backboards to transform the field house from a track facility into a basketball-friendly arena.
"I think people will like the idea of coming and going back and forth all day to watch games," Spagnolo said. "We're just trying to perfect our 32-team plan. We will have more fan-friendly stuff, more contests, more marketing things and fan-fest activities in the field house. It will be a circus-like atmosphere."
The 32-team field is headed by 13 schools that have participated in the event for 10 or more years--Proviso East, Proviso West, St. Joseph, New Trier, Westinghouse, Homewood-Flossmoor, Morton, Benet, Fenwick, Glenbrook North, Hillcrest, Von Steuben and Morgan Park.
There also are 13 first-time entries--Urban Prep, Ellison, Crespi from Encino, California, Bogan, Lincoln Park, Maine South, Nazareth, Oswego, Rockford Auburn, St. Charles East, Stevenson, Thornton Fractional South and Wheaton Academy.
Other teams are Hinsdale Central, Foreman, Downers Grove South, Brooks, Dunbar and Glenbard East.
Tickets for the 2012 tournament currently are on sale. On-line sales will run through Dec. 14. Season ticket booklets, good for all 61 games, can be purchased for 75 on-line at www.pwhoops.com.
"We're going for greatness," said Spagnolo, who has been affiliated with the tournament since 1978 and has served as tournament director since 1981. "We've been working on it for a long time. It will give more teams an opportunity to play here. I got tired of saying 'no' to new teams that wanted to play here."
In expanding the event from 16 to 32 teams, Spagnolo said he didn't want to negatively affect other holiday tournaments.
"Our original plan was to get as many good programs as we could," he said. "We didn't take more than two teams from any existing tournament. A lot of emerging schools wanted to get into our holiday tournament. We had our eye on some of them."
For example, Proviso West had never invited an out-of-state school--until this year. But Crespi contacted Spagnolo. The Encino school had qualified for the Final Four in the California tournament in four of the last five years and boasts one of the most widely recruited point guards in the West, London Perrantes, who is committed to Virginia. Spagnolo jumped at the chance to add Crespi to the 32-team lineup.
Ellison is a small charter school in Chicago, the first charter school to be invited to participate in the tournament.
"I like the blend of teams. It gives us a little bit of everything," Spagnolo said. "Our goal wasn't to bring in the top 32 teams in the state, just 32 good programs that have interesting stories."
Spagnolo didn't get everything he wanted. He talked to Farragut but coach William "Wolf" Nelson doesn't like to play at Christmas. He talked to St. Rita but the Mustangs are going out-of-state at Christmas. He also lost one school, St. Patrick, which opted out of its contract to compete at Hinsdale South.
"Our mission has always been to promote high school basketball," Spagnolo said. "Our motto is: 'Proviso West is where basketball is best.' we want everyone to enjoy what we have, from paying customers to referees to participants. We think it is a special event and we want more people to get involved in it."
First-round pairings on Saturday, Dec. 22, will pit Oswego vs. Lincoln Park, New Trier vs. Nazareth, Westinghouse vs. Downers Grove South, Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Ellison, Benet vs. Urban Park, Morton vs. Dunbar, Proviso East vs. Thornton Fractional South and Rockford Auburn vs. Foreman.
First-round pairings on Wednesday, Dec. 26, will pit St. Joseph vs. Brooks, Crespi vs. Bogan, Morgan Park vs. Wheaton Academy, Proviso West vs. Fenwick, St. Charles East vs. Von Steuben, Stevenson vs. Hinsdale Central, Glenbard East vs. Glenbard North and Hillcrest vs. Maine South.

Deja Vu: Jon Lester throws his glove to first base...again

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Deja Vu: Jon Lester throws his glove to first base...again

Jon Lester still hasn't gotten over his yips throwing to first base.

But he appears to have no issues throwing the ball to first when it's stuck in his glove.

For the second year in a row, Lester fielding a comebacker on the mound only to see the ball get stuck in the webbing of his glove.

For the second year in a row, Lester ran toward first base before eventually tossing his entire glove over to Anthony Rizzo.

And for the second year in a row, Rizzo dropped his own glove to catch Lester's glove and the ball, recording the out at first.

Check it:

And compare to last year's:

Might as well just make this an annual event, eh?

Rutgers unveils new football uniforms

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Rutgers unveils new football uniforms

Rutgers has updated its look a bit, and that means some new uniforms for the football team.

As part of updating the brand identity and establishing a consistent look across all sports the Rutgers football team got some new duds.

Check em out.

It's certainly a time for new starts at Rutgers, with a new football coach in Chris Ash, a new men's basketball coach in Steve Pikiell and a new athletics director in Patrick Hobbs. Makes sense that a new look would follow.

From the school's release:

Over the past 18 months, Rutgers and Nike collaborated on the brand evolution program that honors the transformative and hardworking nature of its teams and personnel. Rutgers and Nike worked with student-athletes, coaches, administrators and alumni to pay tribute to key attributes of the institution.

As part of the updated brand identity, all 24 Rutgers teams will showcase consistent colors, logos, lettering and numerals over the course of the next few seasons. The football uniforms offer a very traditional look, with visibly larger numbers, chainmail pattern and new helmets. Women’s basketball, women’s soccer and men’s basketball also support traditional looks, and add both the chainmail and secondary mark as well.

The Block R (spirit mark) is the emblem for strong, emotive support given by students, alumni and all those associated with Rutgers. The Block R suggests pride and affinity and will continue to serve as the primary logo for Rutgers University athletics.

Over 5.5 million Chicago market TV households tuned in for 45 live pro games in April on CSN

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Over 5.5 million Chicago market TV households tuned in for 45 live pro games in April on CSN

 

#1 Highest-Rated “Cable” Network in Primetime in April for Households & ALL Key Adult, Male & Female Demos

Chicago, IL (May 4, 2016) – Fueled by the highest-rated pro game telecast in network history (Blackhawks at St. Louis/Game 7 – 19.07 Chicago market household rating), an amazing start to the 2016 MLB season featuring the top team in the American League (White Sox) and the top team in the National League (Cubs), along with a massive month-long marketing blitz, which included a media signage takeover throughout the Metra Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago, Comcast SportsNet’s #WhatAnApril proved to be one of the network’s busiest and best-performing months to date.  Note the following April 2016 highlights for Comcast SportsNet Chicago:

  • Comcast SportsNet was the #1-highest rated “cable” television network in the Chicago market during primetime (7:00-10:00 PM CT) for every major TV ratings category including Households (HH) & all key Adult, Male, and Female demo categories (see below chart as it pertains to Adults 25-54). 

  • Comcast SportsNet was also #1 “overall” in primetime (which includes all broadcast TV stations) in the demo categories of Men 18-34, Men 18-49, and Men 25-54 (NOTE: Comcast SportsNet was #2 overall in Adults 18-34 and #3 overall in Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54).
  • Over 5.5 MILLION Chicago market TV households tuned in to 45 live professional game telecasts from April 1 – May 1 (Blackhawks: three regular season/five playoffs; Bulls: three regular season; Cubs: 14 regular season; White Sox: 17 regular season; and Fire: three regular season). 
  • Comcast SportsNet also attracted an additional 3.7 million Chicago market TV homes tuning in for all editions of Pregame Live and Postgame Live, along with the network’s locally-produced, live sports news, talk, and Original Content programming, which includes SportsNet Central and SportsTalk Live.  (Source for all ratings information is provided by Nielsen Media Research)
  • Comcast SportsNet’s live streaming of its Chicago Bulls game telecasts experienced significant year-to-year traffic growth as over 10.9 MILLION total minutes were consumed by fans in the network’s second season of live streaming coverage on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports Live Extra app (an increase of 30% compared to the 2014-15 season).  (Source for all digital traffic information is provided by Adobe Reports & Analytics)