Time for Some Bull?

Time for Some Bull?

Friday, Jan. 29, 2010
1:35 AM

Having a sports addiction is never an easy thing, but at least it doesnt require me to have to apologize to my wife and take a trip to Hatiesburg. Well, make that I dont have to go Mississippi, the basement maybe, and on second thought, Im always apologizing to the wife, so I guess I have more in common with Tiger than I thought. What it means is, as one door closes, another opens, and it never stops! For me, with the Super Bowl coming up, football is over, and baseball is not here yet, so I need something to fill the void. My primary focus has been on football, followed by hockey. Now hockey is going to be the focus, followed by? I have three options: pro basketball, college basketball or golf. Golf and college basketball still have a little time before they will become national obsessions (hoops for a month, golf for a week) so I guess Ill try pro basketball.

Ive been a pro basketball fan all of my life, but sometimes its a hard road. Either the teams I root for are bad, or the style of ball being played is not to my liking. I cant count how many times I talk to guys at the bar who say that theyre not fans of the NBA, but prefer college hoops instead. I almost never hear that about football. (Then again, I dont live in the south.) But pro basketball is always there, so I always watch. It just takes until now for me to really pay attention. Just like a game. The old saying is that you dont have to watch a game until the final two minutes. The season is the same way. Pick it up at the halfway point and ride it home. Once again, its a league of have and have nots. Unlike football, where most fans can watch any two teams play, and watch a bad home team religiously, thats not the case with basketball. The only Nets action being watched is on a cable highlights show. Who cares? There are 8 teams that people watch, and the rest. Actually, that might be a high number: Celtics, Cavs, Lakers, thats more like it. Memphis is a nice story? Where? 10 games over .500 would put you on a pace to win 50 games, the usual barometer of a good team. 7 do right now. Out of 30.

That being said its now the NBAs time to try to take some spotlight. And, it shouldnt be for Gilbert Arenas gun show. Here in Chicago, the Bulls have been greatly overshadowed by the resurgent Hawks. In this town, right now, the Hawks are a runaway freight train. Ask any bar owner. My observation of the mood of the town towards any of its teams is part of my job everyday. Do people want to talk about them? Do conversations about them get eye rolls? (Like the Bears dual coordinator searches!) Do people want to watch them on TV? (Thus staying at the bar, eating and drinking!) The Hawks are that team in town right now. I know the Bulls attendance is leading the league again, but I dont see that kind of devout following at the bar. Going to a Bulls game is a lot of fun, I can attest to that, but sometimes watching a game on TV can take some effort.

Well, guess whos watch-a-bull again? Thats right, your Chicago Bulls! After another slow start and the yearly will they or wont they fire the coach on a holiday, the Bulls are back. This even though they never left, go figure. There are two main themes to this 2009-10 season. The Bulls are positioning themselves for the big free-agent market after this season to add a marquee player and the development of last years 1 draft pick Derrick Rose, who will combine with said player to re-lead the Bulls to greatness. As always, Ill believe the free-agent part when I see it. There will be serious competition for the free-agents and having the money to pay them wont guarantee their arrival. But this Derrick Rose thing? I think they might have something there. He started the year injured and tentative, but for over a month now, hes been out of his mind. So much so that he was named a reserve on this years all-star team. The 1st Bulls All-Star since M.J.!

This is the time to get on-board and find out where the Bulls are headed. With the lack of good teams in general and the East specifically, I dont think its out of question for the Bulls to make a run to the 5th seed. This only happens with Rose continuing to assert his game, that and a few others making shots. Rose is averaging 23.3 points a game this month to go along with 6.5 assists. But numbers in any sport dont tell the whole story and neither do these. He is taking over games and is the best athlete on the floor. If you need convincing go to YouTube, and watch his dunk over Goran Dragic last Friday in Phoenix. Are you kidding me? (As an aside: if you listen to the CSN feed, I thought Stacey Kings head was going to explode!)

So as the thermometer continues to plummet, and baseball seems, and is, far away, tune in the Bulls, if for no other reason to watch a local who is turning into a superstar before our very eyes.

Take it from your friendly bartender, its safe to watch again, preferably @ 33 W Kinzie.

Fast Break Morning Update: Jonathan Toews powers Blackhawks past Canucks

Fast Break Morning Update: Jonathan Toews powers Blackhawks past Canucks

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.