Caravan put on a clinic; rout Seton

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Caravan put on a clinic; rout Seton

Friday, Feb. 11, 2011
11:00 p.m.

By Pat DiSabato
YourSeason.com

Before the start of every game, Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty stresses to his players to go out and do what they do best.

That is, share the basketball.

The No. 23 Caravan put on a clinic on distributing the rock Friday night against Seton. Four different players reached double digits in scoring as host Mount Carmel eased to a 78-51 victory in a Catholic League South contest.

Alex Austin earned leading scorer honors, finishing with 22 points, including four three-pointers. Illinois-bound Tracy Abrams followed with 19, while Wyn Bradley and Malcolm Hill-Bey contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively for the Caravan (18-5, 8-1).

The win was No. 697 in Flahertys outstanding career.

We dont want to be a one-man team, even as good as Tracy is, Flaherty said. We played hard tonight.

Thats about the only positive Flaherty had to say about his teams performance.

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and most of the near-capacity crowd had to come away impressed, even the Seton fans who made the trek from South Holland.

No sooner had the Stings Chris Coulter (14 points) nail a three-pointer for a quick 3-2 lead, Mount Carmel countered with an 8-0 run to take a 10-3 advantage. Abrams converted a three-point play and Austin hit his first bomb from beyond the arc to ignite the run.

The Caravan would establish a double-digit advantage for the remainder of the evening. It led 42-26 at the half.

That didnt satisfy Flaherty, who saw room for improvement everywhere.

We were sloppy and our shot selection was a little carefree, he said. We got lazy in the second half and didnt get out to guard their shooters. We didnt play as well as we could.

Mount Carmel converted 30 of 55 field-goal attempts, including 8-of-18 shots from three-point land. Seton struggled, finishing 15-of-42 from the field. The Sting (17-7, 6-3) was a solid 7-of-18 from beyond the stripe, with Coulter drilling four treys and Kamal Shasi (13 points) two.

But the Sting never could establish an inside game. Russell Robinson, a 6-foot-8 junior, was held to six points.

We played pretty good, Abrams said. But we have to do a better job of finishing and cutting down on our mistakes.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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