Comcast SportsNet's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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Comcast SportsNet's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (23-1)

Results: Defeated Douglass 98-31, Hyde Park 65-44 and Marshall 73-62
This Week: Public League Semifinals vs. Orr, Saturday vs. De La Salle (City-Suburban Showdown)
Hoops Talk: Kendrick Nunn, Jaleni Neely and Jaylon Tate didnt play Sunday (disciplinary reasons). Simeon might needs all hands on deck against Orr.

2 Proviso East (21-0)

Results: Defeated Morton 64-53 and Willowbrook 97-70
This Week: Tuesday vs. Leyden, Friday vs. Downers Grove South
Hoops Talk: The Pirates had four starters in double figures Saturday against Willowbrook: Paris Lee (18), Paris Burns (16), Sterling Brown (15) and Keith Carter (14).

3 Curie (23-1)

Results: Defeated Amundsen 90-34, Crane 68-29 and Morgan Park 65-35
This Week: Wednesdays Public League semifinals vs. Bogan
Hoops Talk: So much is said about the Condors offense but the D has game too: 22 turnovers forced against Crane, 16 of them in the first half.

4 Warren (19-2)

Results: Defeated Zion-Benton 72-58 and Glenbrook North 41-32
This Week: Tuesday at Lake Zurich, Friday at Libertyville, Saturday vs. Proviso East (City-Suburban Showdown)
Hoops Talk: Saturday tilt against Proviso East should be the crown jewel of the three-game City-Suburban Showdown at Proviso West.

5 Plainfield East (22-1)

Results: Defeated Plainfield North 76-48 and Romeoville 69-36
This Week: Tuesday at St. Charles East, Friday vs. Plainfield South
Hoops Talk: The Bengals have a chance to win their first Southwest Prairie conference title Friday night with a win against defending champion Plainfield South.

6 Andrew (19-1)

Results: Defeated Bradley 73-46 and Lincoln-Way North 60-34
This Week: Tuesday vs. Sandburg, Friday at Thornridge
Hoops Talk: Deep team with one of the more underrated centers in the area, Tyler Hook. Bolts cant look past this weeks games to the Thornwood clash on Feb. 21.
7 Bogan (23-2)

Results: Defeated Uplift 90-65, North Lawndale 83-67 and Taft 71-41
This Week: Wednesdays Public League semifinals vs. Curie
Hoops Talk: Ronnell Bucker, DeVaughn Johnson, Luwane Pipkins and Devonte Smith will pose a serious threat to Curie.

8 Downers Grove South (19-4)

Results: Defeated Leyden 60-33
This Week: Friday at Proviso East
Hoops Talk: The Mustangs, who lost to the Pirates on January 19th at DGS, will be looking for revenge. The West Suburban Gold title will be on the line.

9 Huntley (21-2)

Results: Defeated Crystal Lake South 52-31 and Dundee-Crown 41-40
This Week: Tuesday at Jacobs, Friday at Cary-Grove
Hoops Talk: Bryce Onlys jumper with five seconds left gave the Red Raiders a thrilling win over Dundee-Crown, their third win over the Chargers this season.

10 Elgin (19-3)

Results: Defeated DeKalb 50-48, Batavia 65-51 and Larkin 64-51
This Week: Wednesday vs. Immaculate Conception, Friday at Streamwood
Hoops Talk: Huge gain for the Maroons, as senior Dennis Moore returns from a broken right hand. He had 14 points Friday at Larkin.

11 St. Ignatius (19-3)

Results: Defeated Brother Rice 59-51 and Gordon Tech 48-41
This Week: Friday at Loyola, Sunday vs. Notre Dame (at Gordon Tech)
Hoops Talk: Coach Rick Kehoe has benefitted from some great senior leadership this year, especially from guard Brian Howard.

12 Hillcrest (19-4)

Results: Defeated De La Salle 62-48
This Week: Tuesday vs. Tinley Park, Friday vs. T.F. South
Hoops Talk: Balance was the key as the Hawks takes down the Meteors. Jovan Morring, Jalen Loving, Kyle Oden and Jayone Troutman all reached double figures.

13 Bloom (21-3)

Results: Defeated Rich South 59-52
This Week: Friday at Crete-Monee
Hoops Talk: Donald Moore continues to impress, scoring 22 points against the Stars. Bloom will now look to beat C-M for the third time this season.

14 Orr (19-3)

Results: Defeated Power House 73-52, Farragut 54-43 and Foreman 62-60 (OT)
This Week: Wednesdays Public League semifinals vs. (SimeonMarshall)
Hoops Talk: Devante Jones hit a three to send Sundays game against Foreman to OT. The defense and free throw shooting were enough in the extra session.

15 Marshall (20-7)

Results: Defeated Lincoln Park 45-42 and Whitney Young 69-67; Lost to Simeon 73-62
This Week: No games scheduled this week
Hoops Talk: The Commandos could not dig themselves out of a 14-0 hole against Simeon. They should still be a force in the IHSA playoffs.

16 St. Rita (14-8)

Results: Defeated Providence 70-64 and Hales 71-69
This Week: Friday at St. Joseph, Saturday vs. New Trier (City-Suburban Showdown)
Hoops Talk: Dont let the record fool you. The Mustangs losses have dominated in-state foes and have challenged talented teams from outside Illinois.

17 New Trier (18-5)

Results: Lost to Evanston 55-52 (OT)
This Week: Friday at Maine South, Saturday vs. St. Rita (City-Suburban Showdown)
Hoops Talk: The Trevians have lost three straight. The slate doesnt get much easier this week, especially with Saturdays City-Suburban tilt on the horizon.

18 De La Salle (14-5)

Results: Lost to Hillcrest 62-48
This Week: Friday at Hales, Saturday vs. Simeon (City-Suburban Showdown)
Hoops Talk: The Meteors are currently in a five-game stretch where four of those opponents are ranked in the CSN Top 20.

19 Hope Academy (21-2)

Results: Defeated Ida Crown 72-59 and Northside Prep 58-48
This Week: Tuesday at Seton, Thursday vs. Raby, Friday at Holy Trinity
Hoops Talk: Torrance Johnson and company continue to keep the Eagles on the upswing. Tuesdays game at Seton should be entertaining.

20 Lemont (20-2)

Results: Defeated T.F. North 47-42
This Week: Tuesday at T.F. South, Friday vs. Reavis
Hoops Talk: Mike Wisz came off the bench to hit six three-pointers in the Indians victory over T.F. North

Looming & Lurking: Whitney Young, Metea Valley, Farragut, West Aurora, Naperville North, Seton, Mundelein, Homewood-Flossmoor, Notre Dame, North Chicago, Riverside-Brookfield, Crete-Monee, St. Viator, Oak Park, Herscher, Immaculate Conception, York

From ‘When It Happens’ to ‘Where It Happens,’ Cubs mining next generation of talent

From ‘When It Happens’ to ‘Where It Happens,’ Cubs mining next generation of talent

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs turned Theo Epstein’s “Baseball is Better” speech from his first Wrigley Field press conference into a marketing pitch that might distract fans for a moment from an awful big-league product.          

The 2017 “That’s Cub” ad campaign actually uses what started organically years ago within the farm system, two words that recognized a great at-bat or a heads-up play or a defensive stop.    

Business vs. baseball is no longer the dominant storyline it had been during the early phases of the Wrigleyvile rebuild. Business and baseball are booming for what’s become Major League Baseball’s version of the Golden State Warriors.

It’s just interesting that a franchise valued at north of $2 billion has found so much inspiration on the back fields of this spring-training complex, where staffers you wouldn’t recognize get to work before dawn and players you’ve never heard of dream about their big break.

It’s not just drafting Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. And trading for Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Addison Russell. And hiring a manager obsessed with T-shirts. Baseball operations became a marketing department, selling prospects to Cub fans, the Chicago media and the gurus putting together the rankings – and trying to get buy-in from players who all think they belong in The Show.

Minor-league field coordinator Tim Cossins gets credit for “When It Happens,” a theme that didn’t simply revolve around 1908 and the championship drought. Jason McLeod, the senior vice president who oversees scouting and player development, suggested pairing the W flag with that phrase, and it became this ubiquitous idea around the team.   

“We tied everything into it,” McLeod said Sunday at Sloan Park. “When that time comes, when it happens, can you lay the bunt down? When it happens, can you execute a pitch? Can you go in and pinch-run, steal the base when the time comes?

“The big ‘When It Happens’ is when we win, of course, but for us in (player development), it was about everything that we’re going to be asked to do in that moment: Are you going to be ready when it happens?”

Now what? The defending World Series champs are going with: “Where It Happens.”

A bullet point from Epstein’s bio in this year’s media guide references how his first three first-round draft picks with the Cubs “combined to set up the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series when Schwarber singled and (Albert) Almora pinch-ran, moved to second on Bryant’s deep fly to center, and scored on Ben Zobrist’s double.”

“We’re never going to forget about the importance of young players,” Epstein said. “There’s definitely a lot of talented, interesting prospects still in the system and sometimes they get a little overshadowed because of the star young players we have at the big-league level and how quickly some of those guys moved through the system. But there’s a lot of talent there.

“We’re going to lean on young players beyond our prospects, not just in trades, but also to provide organizational depth and also to serve as the next generation, the next infusion of talent at the appropriate time.

“But it’s a process. There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs in development for all these guys. And we have a ton of faith in our player development operation to help these guys along the way.”

So Ian Happ will start the season one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa and see if some combination of injuries and his switch-hitting skills and defensive versatility gets him to the North Side at some point. Or used as a trade chip for pitching, the way third baseman Jeimer Candelario and catcher Victor Caratini appear to be blocked.

Joe Maddon already compared Eloy Jimenez – who can’t legally buy a beer in Wrigleyville yet – to a young Miguel Cabrera or Edgar Martinez. The Cubs are practically begging for someone like Eddie Butler to pitch his way into the 2018 rotation.

By Monday morning, when the full squad reconvenes after a weekend trip to Las Vegas, the Cubs could start making cuts and shaping their Opening Night roster. But the Cubs are going to need so much more than the 25 players who will be introduced next Sunday at Busch Stadium. Maddon used 26 pitchers and 149 different lineups last season. This is “Where It Happens.”

“If this particular group of youngsters were in a different organization that had a greater need right now, you’d probably hear a lot more about these guys,” Maddon said. “But the fact that they’re stuck behind a Bryant and a Russell and a Javy (Baez) and a Rizzo and a (Willson) Contreras and a Schwarber, et cetera, et cetera, it becomes more difficult to really push or project upon these guys.

“But I think these young guys have gone about their business really well. If it’s bothering them or if they’re concerned about that, they’re not showing that. I think they’ve put their best foot forward.”

Honda Road Ahead: Bulls continue playoff push against Cavaliers, Hawks

Honda Road Ahead: Bulls continue playoff push against Cavaliers, Hawks

Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill and Will Perdue break down the Bulls' upcoming schedule in the latest edition of the Bulls Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

TNT Bulls are back this week as the team heads into a crucial stretch. 

Currently, the Bulls sit half a game back of the Miami Heat for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and with just eight games remaining on the schedule, each contest is essentially a must-win. 

So, yes, Thursday would be a great time for Jimmy Butler and company to summon their TNT alter ego. The Bulls have sealed 18 straight victories when playing on TNT Thursday, an improbable feat considering those games are usually reserved for two of the NBA's best. 

To continue that run, they'll have to down Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are also fighting for playoff positioning -- albeit at the top of the conference. Good thing the Bulls have a tendency to get up for big games. 

"The Bulls play up and down to their competition," Bulls Pregame and Postgame analyst Kendall Gill said. "They've been doing that the whole season." 

After Cleveland, the Bulls get set to battle another playoff squad, the Atlanta Hawks. 

Watch the video above to see Schanowski, Gill and Perdue break down the matchups.