York's Cohn reaches another level

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York's Cohn reaches another level

It's a wonder what a 47-point game can do for your resume. Before York's David Cohn scored 47 points against Hinsdale Central on Jan. 27, the 6-foot-2 junior guard had received scholarship offers from Illinois State, Colorado State. Valparaiso, Illinois-Chicago, Wright State and Drake.

In a 75-64 victory over Hinsdale Central, Cohn established a school single-game scoring record by accounting for his team's first 26 points, converting seven of eight three-point attempts and making 13 of 17 shots from the field and 14 of 17 free throws.

"I have seen 50-point games but not on jump shots," said York coach Tom Kleinschmidt, a former two-time All-Stater at Gordon Tech who was an All-American at DePaul. "I have never seen a shooting display like that."

Cohn, who averages 20 points per game, never expected it.

"In the pre-game warm-ups, it was brutal. I don't think I made a shot. I air-balled one. I thought to myself: 'Oh, this will be one of those nights.' I didn't take my first shot until two or three minutes into the game. It went in, from the top of the key. OK, I said to myself, when you make the first shot it is kind of comforting.

"Then I made three more threes in the first quarter. From there on, I was in a zone. In the spring, I scored 63 points in a game. I had 13 or 14 threes. But I felt I was in more of a zone against Hinsdale Central. There was more defense being played. There was more tension on me. But I still got the shots to fall."

All of a sudden, major Division I programs are expressing interest...Stanford, Penn State, Oregon, Nebraska. Look for others to dial his number. With another year to improve and get exposure, Cohn figures to command the attention of more and more Division I coaches.

But Cohn is trying to keep a level head about all of this. "It's flattering. It's nice to know that schools pay attention. But it won't change anything about me. In the end, I'll find my place in college basketball. I don't necessarily want to play at the highest level. I want to play where I can get the best of both worlds, academics and basketball, where it feels right, a program I can make an impact in, where I can play as a freshman," he said.

However, he admits Stanford "would be a great place to play." And he admits that Notre Dame, which hasn't expressed any interest yet, is his "dream school." Several family members have attended Notre Dame and the Irish have been David's favorite college for football and basketball.

"If they offered, that would be an immediate decision for me," he said. "I watch every game on TV. I know every play they run.

"Opportunity has knocked. It's pretty crazy what one game can do. It's great that they think so much of me. But colleges look for consistency. If my shooting stroke stays consistent, hopefully I'll have other games like that and we'll keep winning. All this means is I have more options to weigh when I make a final decision."

York and Cohn are on a hot streak as they look ahead to the Class 4A sectional at Schaumburg. The Dukes are 18-7 but have won 13 games in a row after trouncing Glenbard West 68-41 last Friday. They'll meet Oak Park on Tuesday in a West Suburban Silver showdown. This weekend, they'll play Downers Grove North and St. Charles North.

Against Glenbard West, Cohn scored 29 points and had five assists. After starting 5-7, York has been overpowering in recent games, winning by margins of 18, 25, 15, 20, 13, 11, 21, 16, 9 and 27 points.

"We weren't going to give up from the start. We just had to come together as a team," Cohn said. "Early, no one was on the same page. There was a lack of communication. We wanted to do our own thing. We thought we were better than we were. But no one panicked when we were 5-7. No one even got negative. The light bulb came on for every single one of us. Each player began to make plays. Everyone filled their roles."

It finally dawned on Kleinschmidt what was wrong. The first-year coach was hired in June and didn't have time to implement his system. He was starting two sophomores, a junior and two seniors who played a total of 15 minutes all of last year. And they had to play nine games on the road during a 10-game stretch. His game plan was in desperate need of an overhaul.

"I knew I had some talent. I had some pieces but they were unproven pieces," Kleinschmidt said. "Cohn was Robin to Will Sullivan's Batman last year. He had to learn that he has a target on his back, that opponents will double and triple team him.

"I had to change my system in midstream. I found out we can press some teams. I found out we can't pressure. I had to see what I had, what worked and what didn't. We tried to run but we turned the ball over too much. We had to play different defenses. We had to change the tempo. I'm learning more about the kids and the staff and the school every day.

"I didn't panic. I stuck with the people I had. I knew they could play but they were inexperienced. And I learned something about myself, too. I learned about patience. My wife says I'm not the most patient person. As a player, you had control. You went out and did it. But you can't do it as a coach. I can put them in position but they have to execute."

Early on, the Dukes were doing lots of reps in practice but not getting positive results in games. Now, according to Kleinschmidt, they are at the stage that they are getting so many reps in practice and games that it is becoming a habit. Nobody complains after going through one of Kleinschmidt's three-hour workouts.

"It took them a while to get ready for basketball after getting their heads kicked in. We lost to Hinsdale Central by 33, Oak Park by 19 and West Aurora by 25. After that, a lot of kids would have quit. But these kids were ready to fight. They weren't ready to pack it in."

York isn't a one-man team, of course. Kleinschmidt has trouble spelling his point guard's last name but he acknowledges that 5-foot-10 senior Jake Rzeszutko (11 ppg, 4 assists) is a three-sport athlete "who is as tough as nails."

He also counts on 6-foot-7 sophomore Frankie Toohey (6 ppg, 6 rpg), 5-foot-11 senior Matt DiFrancesca (11 ppg, 4 rpg), 6-foot-4 sophomore Chris Klos (6 ppg, 6 rpg), 6-foot-5 senior Mike Despinich and 6-foot-7 junior Justin Kurash.

Against Glenbard West, Cohn got plenty of support. DiFrancesca had 12 points and five assists, Rzeszutko had 10 points and four assists and Despinich had 10 points and five rebounds.

"I wouldn't want anything more for my first team," Kleinschmidt said. "It will keep me coaching. I thoroughly enjoy it. If I had started 5-7 in high school, there would have been a lot of finger-pointing. Nobody likes to lose. But these kids are competitors. They don't quit."

White Sox draft pick Zack Collins wins Johnny Bench Award

White Sox draft pick Zack Collins wins Johnny Bench Award

This June just keeps getting better and better for Zack Collins.

Collins was selected by the White Sox with the No. 10 pick in the MLB Draft, made it to the College World Series with the University of Miami, signed his first professional contract and now he is the Johnny Bench Award winner.

The Johnny Bench Award was created in 2000 and is given to the top college catcher in Division 1. Previous winners include Buster Posey and Kurt Suzuki.

Collins already had a haul of first-team All-America honors from Baseball America, D1Baseball, the NCBWA, Perfect Game and Rawlings.

Collins hit .363 with 16 home runs, 59 RBIs and a .668 slugging percentage. He also led the nation with 78 walks this season for the Hurricanes, which went 0-2 at the College World Series. Collins started 62 of 64 Miami games and made 59 of those starts at catcher.

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

Quick note here because we are all eager to get back to our twitter feeds and wild speculation. Even though the Bulls will only have approximately $24 million in cap space, there is one situation in which they can sign a Tier 1 max player AND re-sign E’twaun Moore.

This all hinges on the deal (and discount) that Moore would give the Bulls. The Bulls have Early-Bird rights with Moore; that means they can potentially sign him to a deal and not eat into their cap space. There are a lot of rules into how this works and I won’t bore you with details, but the bottom line is that the Bulls can offer a 3-year deal for approx. $21 million or a 4-year deal for appox $28 million. If Moore accepts this contract, the Bulls just to have account for his ‘cap hold’ of $980,431 in free agency until the actual deal is signed. 

This potential deal would leave the Bulls approximately $23 million to spend, well above the $22.2 million it would take to land a Tier 1 (0-6 year NBA player) in free agency. This includes restricted free agent Harrison Barnes. Again, this only works if Moore doesn’t want to test free agency, or doesn’t receive a better offer in free agency. If Moore wants more money, the Bulls have to use their cap space to sign him to a larger deal.

One important key to any restricted free agent like Barnes, the Warriors will have 3 days to match any offer sheet that Barnes signs. Barnes can’t sign an offer sheet until July 7th, so the Warriors effectively will have until at least July 10th to make that decision. This prevents any team like the Bulls ‘swooping’ in and landing Barnes while Kevin Durant conducts his meetings in the Hamptons.

Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks: ‘Big-boy games are totally different'

Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks: ‘Big-boy games are totally different'

NEW YORK – The Cubs didn’t overreact to getting swept in last year’s National League Championship Series, but the New York Mets did expose some underlying issues while a deep playoff run created a sense of urgency in Wrigleyville.

The Cubs spent like crazy on the free-agent market (almost $290 million) and wore T-shirts around spring training that literally put targets on their chests, knowing the look would go viral on social media and spark love/hate responses.

Making a statement? Sending a message? That’s so last year, when the Cubs were a team still trying to find an identity and learn how to win. The Mets are now the ones feeling the season-on-the-brink anxiety, desperate for offense and crossing their fingers that all those talented young pitchers stay healthy.

Maybe this becomes a turning point for the defending NL champs, beating the Cubs 4-3 on Thursday night at Citi Field to kick off a marquee four-game series in front of 40,122 and a national TV audience. Not that John Lackey – the playoff-tested veteran the Cubs signed to lengthen their rotation for October – felt any added significance in facing the Mets.

“None,” Lackey said. “It’s June, who cares? Big-boy games are totally different.”

Yes, Lackey was “pretty surprised” and a little miffed that manager Joe Maddon pulled him with a runner on and one out in the seventh inning and the Cubs holding a 3-1 lead. Joel Peralta failed this bullpen audition, walking Alejandro De Aza (.158 average) and giving up an RBI single to just-promoted-from-Triple-A Las Vegas rookie Brandon Nimmo.

Neil Walker put the pressure on highlight-reel defender Javier Baez, who fielded a chopper at second base, didn’t have a play at home plate and made the split-second decision to throw toward backpedaling third baseman Kris Bryant. The Mets showed last October that little things matter in big-boy games, and the throwing error from a Gold Glove-caliber player suddenly gave them a 4-3 lead.  

“Getting beat’s one thing,” Lackey said. “But when you feel like you kind of gave one away – or let one go – that’s a different kind of loss.”

The Mets (41-37) might not have must-win games in July, but they needed some good news in “Panic City.” Steven Matz, who set off alarm bells this week with the disclosure he’s been pitching with a bone spur in his left elbow, managed to work into the sixth inning and throw 104 pitches, giving up homers to Bryant and Baez but limiting the damage to only three runs.

Yoenis Cespedes, who revived a lifeless lineup after last summer’s trade-deadline blockbuster, energized the Mets again with a big swing in the sixth inning, drilling a Lackey pitch 441 feet out to left field and onto the third deck, creating a 110-mph exit velocity with his 19th home run.

“New year, different team, different circumstances,” said Jake Arrieta, who lost Game 2 here last October, watching Daniel Murphy reach so far down for a curveball that his left knee almost scraped the dirt, driving it out for a momentum-shifting, first-inning, two-run homer. “We’ll probably relive some memories that weren’t very exciting.

“You never want to lose one step from a World Series. But, again, we had a team that was very young with a lot of rookies contributing. We gained a lot of valuable experience from those games, regardless of the outcome. And we’re obviously better for it this season with some new pieces. We look forward to ending in a little different fashion this year.”

The Cubs (51-27) still don’t have the answer for Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who finished off all four NLCS wins last October and is now 27-for-27 in save chances this season. Miguel Montero led off the ninth inning with a pinch-hit walk and Ben Zobrist followed with a double into right field before those all-or-nothing contact issues resurfaced.

Familia responded by striking out Bryant swinging – all six pitches were marked as sinkers clocked between 97 and 98 mph – and intentionally walking Anthony Rizzo to load the bases. Maybe this exposure will pay off in the playoffs, but Familia struck out Willson Contreras swinging and got Javier Baez to pop out to end the game. The Citi Field sound system started playing Ace Frehley’s “(I’m Back, Back in the) New York Groove.” Not that the Cubs were having flashbacks.

“We know the feeling of getting eliminated, getting swept, but I think we’re onto bigger and better things,” Bryant said. “We’re ready for it. Different year, different players here, different attitude.”