Chicago Cubs

Boyce reflects on 32-1 season

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Boyce reflects on 32-1 season

Donnie Boyce has had some time to reflect on his first year as head basketball coach at his alma mater, Proviso East, and his team's 50-48 loss to Simeon in the Class 4A championship game.So he finished 32-1. If you had it to do over again, what would you do? What did you learn as a rookie coach? How will it affect you as a second-year coach?"I'm already planning for next year," Boyce said. "I will assign an assistant coach to every three or four players to work with them over the summer. I want to build a trust with the staff. I want to allow each player to have a buffer to go through. As a player, I felt more comfortable going to an assistant coach rather than the head coach. I think it will help our team chemistry to grow."Boyce predicts his 2012-13 team will have a chance to go back to Peoria and be competitive in the Class 4A tournament. Two returning starters, Sterling Brown and Paris Lee, will be the team leaders. And he will have help from a 24-4 sophomore class, including 6-foot-4 Jesse Shaw and point guard Malik Carter, brother of this year's star, Keith Carter.But Boyce still can't help but look back on the state final and reflect on what might have been. He admits it took a week after the game before he could bring himself to look at the film. But he only watched it once."At the end of the game, some calls could have gone our way but didn't," he said. "We missed a lot of shots we normally make, Keith Carter particularly. He normally makes shots but he didn't. We also missed so many easy layups."Their length had a lot to do with that. If we finished stronger at the basket, it could have been a difference. I wanted the game to be in the 70-80 range. But we didn't attack as much as possible. They did a good job of controlling the tempo. I felt we had control of the game except for the last three or four minutes of the fourth quarter."But it wasn't the end of the world. In the championship game, we were in position to win. That's all you can ask for as a coach, that the players execute the game plan and have a chance to win late in the game. Simeon made some free throws or we could have been 33-0."If he had it to do over again, however, Boyce admits he would have substituted another shooter and played more zone defense. He should have switched Sterling Brown on Simeon's Steve Taylor, he said, but he didn't do it because Sterling had such a good rhythm going on offense and he wanted the youngster to have more energy left for the final push."In hindsight, you can always look back and think of things you might have done," Boyce said. "I thought all year, for the first time, we were able to handle any pressure that was handed our way. But for a minute or two in the fourth quarter, for the first time, we got gun shy and didn't pull the trigger on three-point shots and played tight for a stretch."But I liked our chances. We had a good game plan and we executed it. It came down to who makes the most plays and they made more than we did. Their experience was the difference. When I thought we had them rattled, they kept their composure. The tough games they played all year paid off for them. We went ahead by five points and had the ball going into the fourth quarter. Then Sterling missed a layup. I thought he got fouled. If we make it, we put a lot more pressure on them."So it's over. Wait til next year. What did Boyce learn as a rookie that will make him a better coach in 2012-13? How does he characterize his first season as the boss of one of the state's most storied and successful programs?"I had a lot of ups and downs. I made a lot of mistakes," he said. "But when you have as uch talent as we had, they made up for a lot of mistakes. The guards (Keith Carter, Paris Lee, Paris Burns) did a great job of playing together and sacrificing their game for the betterment of the team."It was a remarkable season. I couldn't have imagined in my first year going 32-0 and being four minutes from a perfect season. It was like baking a cake. I like strawberry shortcake. We put all the ingredients together and added the icing. The only thing we didn't do was put a cherry on the top."Grateful for the opportunity to return to the Maywood school that launched him on his path to success as a basketball player on Proviso East's state championship team in 1991, Boyce said he wants to thank school board president Chris Welch and athletic director Milton Patch for "showing a lot of faith and trust in bringing me in." Patch told him: "Run the program the way you feel like." Boyce couldn't ask for more support than that. "What I learned most as a rookie head coach is to not think as a player but think more as a coach," Boyce said. "There was a progression as a coach. I let my frustrations as a player affect me early in the season. I rode officials too much. But I got only one technical all year. It was a learning experience for me, a game within a game you have to play with the referees. And I learned to have more input with my coaching staff during games."

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

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USA TODAY

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs are going to destroy Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse. The rivalry has fundamentally shifted to the point where the St. Louis Cardinals are hanging around the National League’s wild-card race in a transition year and it would have been a massive failure if the defending World Series champs didn’t win this division. But there will be some symbolism to popping champagne bottles and spraying beer all over that room.

“We intend to clinch there,” Ben Zobrist said after Jose Quintana’s complete-game masterpiece in Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “And I think for a lot of the guys that have been around here for a long time, it’s going to be very satisfying.”

Quintana has only been a Cub since the Brewers failed to close a deal with the White Sox and team president Theo Epstein swooped in to make a signature trade during the All-Star break. Quintana hasn’t yet pitched in the playoffs, but this is close enough, the Cubs winning back-to-back 10-inning games against the Brewers and shaking off a walk-off loss before the lefty faced off against Chase Anderson in front of a sellout crowd of 42,212.

Quintana gave the Cubs more data points to consider as they prepare for a probable first-round series against the Washington Nationals. The magic number to eliminate both the Brewers and Cardinals is two, with Milwaukee off on Monday and the Cubs playing a rivalry game in St. Louis that night, meaning the party goggles won’t come out until Tuesday at the earliest.

“It’s the playoffs already for this team,” said Zobrist, who again looked like a World Series MVP in the seventh inning of a 1-0 game when he launched Anderson’s first-pitch fastball into the second deck in right field for a two-run, breathing-room homer. “We’re already thinking that way.

“We’re in postseason mode right now. And we intend to continue that for the next month.”

While there are valid concerns about Jon Lester’s nosedive in performance since coming off the disabled list and the state of Jake Arrieta’s right hamstring, the focus should also be on how Quintana (7-3, 3.50 ERA in 13 starts as a Cub) could be an October game-changer for this rotation.

“Once he got over here, he was really jacked up about having a chance to play in the playoffs,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s showing you that right now. Games like that, to me, could be kind of career-altering for a pitcher.

“When you pitch a complete-game shutout on the road under these circumstances, that definitely does something for your interior. It definitely fluffs it up a little bit.”

“It’s exciting to be here,” said Quintana, who allowed only three singles, piled up 10 strikeouts against one walk and hit 93 mph on his 116th and final pitch in the ninth inning. “I just try to help my team and it’s really special when you get that opportunity. It’s about winning and I have a huge opportunity here.”

In all phases of the game – dominant starting pitching, an offense that created different ways to score runs, multiple bullpen contributors and an airtight defense that committed zero errors in 39 innings – Maddon saw what he was looking for: “We reacted in a playoff manner for these four games. Our mental intensity could not be beat.”

That drifting, in-and-out focus had been part of the background when the Cubs shocked the baseball world with the Quintana trade in the middle of July. Concentration won’t be an issue at Busch Stadium. And this hangover will be real.

“It will be nice to do it there, I’ll just say that,” said Zobrist, who understands the Cubs-Cardinals dynamic as someone who grew up in downstate Illinois. “But we got to win the games.

“As John Lackey said it before (this) series: ‘This is not a small series, boys.’ We knew it was a big one here in Milwaukee. And it will be another big one in St. Louis.”

Bulls reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Bulls reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade's Bulls career is set to end just over a year after it began.

According to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson, the Bulls and Wade have reached an agreement on a buyout.

CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill confirmed the report.

Wade signed a two-year, $47.5 million deal with the Bulls last July and averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 60 games with the Bulls. This summer, Wade exercised his player option for the second year of the contract, worth $23.8 million.

Wade picked up his option just two days before the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler on draft night and went into rebuild mode. According to Goodwill, Dwyane Wade is giving back $8.5 million.

The Bulls will go into next year without any of the 'Three Alphas' the team had last year Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo.

The news comes a day before Bulls Media Day, which will be live on CSN at 2:30 p.m., and on the same day the team agreed to a two-year deal with Nikolia Mirotic.

Wojnarowski also reported Cleveland, San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City are the contenders to sign Wade.