Thibodeau on Lovie: Unfortunate part of the business

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Thibodeau on Lovie: Unfortunate part of the business

The overlapping NBA and NFL seasons never allowed Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau to meet Lovie Smith, but he has admired from afar the work the former Bears coach has done.
Smith was fired Monday morning after nine seasons in Chicago.
"I think he's a great coach and I'm saddened to hear it. He had a great run, and I thought they got the most out of the team," Thibodeau said, "but it's anunfortunatepart of the business and you hate to see it. Chicago native Doc Rivers knows Lovie, always spoken veryhighlyof him so I watch their teams play and they always play hard. It's sad."
Two NBA coaches -- Mike Brown (Los Angeles Lakers) and Avery Johnson (Brooklyn) -- have already been shown the door two months into the NBA season, and Thibodeau said that speaks volumes to how organizations operate as businesses and someone must take the fall when things go poorly.

"It's pro sports," he said. "It's unfortunate. As I said, Lovie has proven to be a terrific coach and he seems like a great guy. So you hate to see anyone lose their job, but that's the nature of the beast I guess."
Hinrich (knee) out vs. Bobcats
Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich is out of the lineup this afternoon against the Bobcats. He suffered a knee injury last weekend and could not get ready to go, despite sitting out Sunday's practice to rest.
Thibodeau said his starting point guard felt better yesterday and again today, but will sit out as Nate Robinson gets the start in his place.

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer to pitch in Futures Game

White Sox prospect Carson Fulmer to pitch in Futures Game

Two days after the best start of his young career, Carson Fulmer earned an invitation to the All-Star Futures Game.

The club’s top prospect will play for the U.S. team in the July 10 contest at Petco Park, the White Sox announced on Tuesday. Fulmer, who pitches at Double-A Birmingham, struck out seven in seven scoreless innings on Sunday night.

The 2015 first-round pick has struggled with command this season and has a 5.88 ERA and 44 walks in 75 innings. But Fulmer --- who has 75 strikeouts in 2016 --- has improved those figures of late, striking out 39 and walking 10 in his last 29 innings. He has a 4.34 ERA in that span, which accounts for his last five starts.

The White Sox selected Fulmer with the eighth overall pick of the 2015 draft. He had a 1.96 ERA in 23 innings between the franchise’s Rookie League team and Single-A Winston-Salem. 

White Sox: Jose Abreu feels good, locked in at plate

White Sox: Jose Abreu feels good, locked in at plate

Jose Abreu said Tuesday he’s healthy and finally feels like he’s locked in at the plate.

After the slowest start of his career, the White Sox first baseman thinks he has rediscovered the approach that helped him become one of two players in baseball history to begin their careers with consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons.

With 12 games left before the All-Star break, Abreu only has a .755 OPS, which is 119 points lower than his career mark. But those figures and Abreu’s RBI count are on the rise in a month in which he has hit .310/.357/.563 with five homers and driven in 20.

“Everybody knows that this is a very difficult sport and I just started slow like I did last year, too,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “And I’ve been battling to try to get in a groove again, but it’s just work. I’ve been very confident in myself and I think that’s why I finally can say I’m feeling good at home plate and the results are there right now.”

The White Sox have played 76 games this season with Abreu having appeared in 74.

He missed Friday’s game to rest his sore legs. Both he and manager Robin Ventura said it was mandatory as Abreu — who is hitting .262/.320/.435 with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs in 328 plate appearances — had some tightness in his right leg and his left was worse.

At this point last season, Abreu was hitting .291/.342/.488 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 307 plate appearances.

After he was off Friday and Monday, Abreu said his legs are in good shape.

“Physically, I feel good,” Abreu said. “I had a little soreness in my legs a few days ago, but right now I’m feeling very good and that’s good. I think the offday yesterday was good for me, too.”

Though they have much ground to make up, Abreu likes where the White Sox are as a team. He likes that even though they have faced many obstacles, they’re still in the middle of the pack.

“We’re a .500 team right now and I think that’s not all bad because we started the season very hot and then we suddenly struggled and badly the last two months probably,” Abreu said. “Right now we’re 38-38 and that’s good because we’ve been in good and bad stretches and have been able to survive.”

Illini make final five for five-star recruit Jeremiah Tilmon

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Illini make final five for five-star recruit Jeremiah Tilmon

John Groce is no stranger to making the final cut for highly rated recruits. But actually getting them to play in an Illinois uniform is a different story.

Well, the Illini are once again among the final choices for a top-ranked prospect, with Class of 2017 center Jeremiah Tilmon including the orange and blue in his final five.

The 6-foot-10 Tilmon is ranked as a five-star recruit by Rivals, the No. 24 player in the country in the Class of 2017. An Illinois native, he's attending high school in Indiana, the same state from which Groce wooed Jalen Coleman-Lands.

Michigan State, North Carolina and Kansas are powerhouse programs, and Illinois hasn't fared too well against those types in the past, notably losing out to Kansas for the services of Cliff Alexander and watching Jalen Brunson choose Villanova.

But other Big Ten schools offered Tilmon and didn't make the final cut: Indiana, Iowa and Purdue, per Rivals.