Simeon's upcoming road trip will focus on more than basketball


Simeon's upcoming road trip will focus on more than basketball

The Simeon Wolverines will board a plane on Wednesday afternoon heading south to Dallas, Texas to play Prestonwood High School on Thursday evening. That contest will be the school's first since opening the season last Saturday night at the Chicago Elite Classic.

During the teams extended layoff, head coach Robert Smith took that time to get his team into a better offensive and defensive rhythm during practice, and to get his superstar, Jabari Parker, into better playing shape after his nearly five-month layoff from the game because of a foot injury.

MORE: Parker to announce college decision next week

After Saturdays game, we took a couple of days and just went kind of light in practice, then we went hard two days, explained coach Smith. Were just trying to get them in a good rhythm offensively and defensively and get them into a flow. I didnt think we were in a great rhythm in the first game and it kind of threw us for a loop.

After the game in Texas, Simeon then travels to Memphis, Tenn. for a game on Saturday in the Penny Hardaway Classic before returning home and facing off against Carver on Monday. Smith doesnt feel the travel will affect his team negatively and says the trip will be about much more than just basketball.

Going out of town to play isnt an issue. These kids play AAU basketball, so theyre out of town all the time, says Smith. And actually, on this trip, we have to go to the JFK Museum in Dallas for a history project. So its not just about the games. Well implement school stuff in there with it, too.

One of the coaches is a teacher so hell have the kids for two hours in the morning everyday and theyll take all of their schoolwork with them and get it done. Well have laptops and things like that for them to use, so well still have school even though were on the road.

As for Parker, who is set to announce next week where hell attend college after graduation from high school, hes been taking advantage of the Wolverines' layoff and has been working hard to get himself back into game shape. Coach Smith has approached playing his star with caution and will continue to closely monitor Jabari to make sure hes not overworking himself so as not to risk re-injury.

Were just trying to get him back into rhythm first before we get him into actual contact. Against Milton, he made a couple of plays where we wondered if he should really be out there or not because we didnt want him to get hurt again, said the coach. So we just want to get him back into rhythm, and get his timing and his stroke down.

WATCH: DRIVE Simeon basketball

Last week, Parker spent nearly all of the teams practice time on the sidelines doing those very things; from working out with a weighted rope, to finishing plays at the rim with a weighted ball. But this week, he resumed full practices including a full-court scrimmage on Sunday and he says both he and the team are looking forward to the Dallas and Memphis trip.

Were looking forward to the competition and getting acclimated with each other, said Parker. I think we can build as a team when were on the road and playing a team in their home town because that creates a bond. So Im just looking forward to us being a family.

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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.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

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."