CSN's final top 20 basketball rankings

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CSN's final top 20 basketball rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (33-1)

Results: Defeated Evanston 59-34, Bloom 45-35 and Proviso East 50-48

Hoops Talk: Jabari Parker and Steve Taylor help cement the 2011-12 Wolverines on the list of the best high school basketball teams in Illinois history.

2 Proviso East (32-1)

Results: Defeated West Aurora 62-51, Rockford Auburn 55-45; Lost to Simeon 50-48

Hoops Talk: The Pirates fall short in a state championship game that completely lived up to the hype. Guard Paris Lee and forward Sterling Brown return in 12-13.

3 North Chicago (25-7)

Results: Defeated Marshall 91-81, Springfield Lanphier 74-67; Lost to Peoria 72-64

Hoops Talk: It was a magical run for North Chicago, who now faces a future without prolific scorer -- and future ISU Redbird -- Aaron Simpson.

4 Bloom (30-4)

Results: Defeated Edwardsville 53-41; Lost to Simeon 45-35 and Rockford Auburn 57-46

Hoops Talk: Bloom reached state for the first time since 2000. Now the challenge will be replacing nine seniors, including guard Donald Moore.

5 Hillcrest (27-6)

Results: Defeated DuSable 47-44; Lost to Peoria 60-50; Defeated Springfield Lanphier 72-67

Hoops Talk: Jalen Loving had 17 points and 13 rebounds against Lanphier. Guard Jovan Mooring will be one of the key building blocks next season.

6 Warren (26-4)

Results: Lost to Rockford Auburn 49-43

Hoops Talk: What a career for Chuck Ramsey. The head coach accumulated 403 wins over 19 seasons.

7 Marshall (24-8)

Results: Lost to North Chicago 91-81

Hoops Talk: Korbin McClain and Milton Doyle depart, but keep an eye on guard Derrick Miles, along with forwards Tony Lewis and Citron Miller.

8 West Aurora (25-6)

Results: Lost to Proviso East 62-51

Hoops Talk: Juwan Starks and the Blackhawks gave East a run, but could not keep up in the closing minutes. Jontrell Walker will only be a junior in 12-13.

9 Plainfield East (27-2)
Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: Ten seniors, including Brian Bennett, will move on. Roger Tating, Kentwan Steptore, Justin Kubal and Kevin Fervil will have to step up.
10 Marist (26-6)
Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: This year was only the beginning. Look for more heroics next season with L.J. McIntosh at the controls.
11 Bogan (26-4)
Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: Six seniors should return for the Bengals, but Donrell Whitaker (class of 2014) and Luwane Pipkins (2015) could make bigger headlines.

12 Elgin (26-4)

Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: It will be guard Arie Williams team next season. The Maroons will graduate a gifted athlete in Kory Brown.

13 Evanston (21-11)

Results: Lost to Simeon 59-34

Hoops Talk: Great second half of the season for the Wildkits. Evanston will lose 10 seniors, including 6-foot-4 Leonard Garron and 5-foot-10 Josh Irving.

14 Downers Grove South (23-6)

Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: Another 20 win season for the Mustangs. Who will step up in the absence of Jerron Wilbut and Jamall Millison?

15 Huntley (26-4)

Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: The sky is the limit for the Red Raiders. 6-foot-6 Amanze Egekeze will only be a junior next year.

16 Curie (25-3)

Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: Cliff Alexander and Marcellus Davis will help keep the competition at bay in Chicagos Red-Central conference.

17 Andrew (24-3)

Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: High expectations a rarity for this program -- will be in place for the Bolts next year. Forward Jubril Adekoya will be one of the areas best.

18 Seton (27-5)

Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: A fine season for the Sting, who will try to keep Brother Rice and Leo at bay in the Catholic South next year.

19 Whitney Young (16-10)

Results: No games played

Hoops Talk: Three potential D-I players could grace the Dolphins lineup next year: Tommy Hamilton, Jahlil Okafor and Paul White.

20 Du Sable (16-10)

Results: Lost to Hillcrest 47-44

Hoops Talk: Cinderella almost made it to Peoria. They could make another run next year. Big man Chris Galbreath (class of 2013) can play.

Looming & Lurking: St. Ignatius, Metea Valley, New Trier, St. Joseph, Wheaton St. Francis, Mundelein, St. Viator, Oak Park, Homewood-Flossmoor, Niles North, De La Salle, North Shore Country Day, Dunbar, Aurora Central Catholic, Providence-St. Mel, Lakes, Grayslake Central, Ridgewood, Orr, Farragut, Yorkville.

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs both drop series openers

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs both drop series openers

Here are some of Monday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Preview: Cubs look to bounce back vs. Giants tonight on CSN

White Sox fall to Diamondbacks in series opener

Cubs can't complete another miracle comeback against Giants bullpen

Should Blackhawks' next assistant coach be Joel Quenneville's choice?

How Bears are using veteran videos to school rookies on NFL way

Luis Robert the latest high-end acquisition for White Sox

For Joe Maddon, Cubs winning World Series came down to Giant comeback in SF and avoiding Johnny Cueto in elimination game

Carlos Rodon 'getting closer' but still without time frame for return

Have the Cubs found their new leadoff hitter in Ben Zobrist?

MMQB's Peter King's thoughts on Trubisky, Howard, White and the Bears offense

Theories on why Cubs haven’t played up to their defensive potential yet

Theories on why Cubs haven’t played up to their defensive potential yet

“That’s what we’re supposed to look like,” Joe Maddon said Monday night after a 6-4 loss where the San Francisco Giants scored the first six runs and Wrigley Field got loudest for the David Ross “Dancing with the Stars” look-in on the big video board, at least until a late flurry from the Cubs.

But for a manager always looking for the silver linings, Maddon could replay Addison Russell’s diving stop to his right and strong throw from deep in the hole at shortstop to take a hit away from Christian Arroyo. Or Albert Almora’s spectacular flying catch near the warning track in center field. Or Anthony Rizzo stealing another hit from Brandon Belt with a diving backhanded play near the first-base line.

The highlight reel became a reminder of how the Cubs won 103 games and the World Series last year – and made you wonder why the 2017 team hasn’t played the same consistently excellent defense with largely the same group of personnel.

“Concentration?” Jason Heyward said, quickly dismissing the theory a defensive decline could boil down to focus or effort. “No shot. No shot. It is what it is when it comes to people asking questions about last year having effects, this and that. But this is a new season.

“The standard is still high. What’s our excuse? We played later than anybody? That may buy you some time, but then what?

“The goals stay the same. We just got to find new ways to do it when you have a different team.”

FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver’s statistical website, framed the question this way after the Cubs allowed the lowest batting average on balls in play ever last season, an analysis that goes all the way back to 1871: “Have the Cubs Forgotten How to Field?”

Even if the Cubs don’t set records and make history, they should still be better than 23rd in the majors in defensive efficiency, with 37 errors through 43 games. The Cubs have already allowed 28 unearned runs after giving up 45 all last season.

“We just got to stay on it and keep focusing and not let the miscues go to our head,” Ben Zobrist said. “We just have to keep working hard and staying focused in the field. A lot of that’s the rhythm of the game. I blame a lot of that on the early parts of the season and the weather and a lot of difficult things that we’ve been going through.

“If we’re not hitting the ball well, too, we’re a young team still, and you can carry that into the field. You don’t want to let that happen, but it’s part of the game. You got to learn to move beyond miscues and just focus on the next play.”

Heyward, a four-time Gold Glove winner, missed two weeks with a sprained right finger and has already started nine times in center field (after doing that 21 times all last season). Zobrist has morphed back into a super-utility guy, starting 16 games at second base and 15 in two different outfield spots.

[MORE CUBS: Have the Cubs found their new leadoff hitter in Ben Zobrist?]

Maddon has tried to drill the idea of making the routine play into Javier Baez’s head, so that the uber-talented second baseman can allow his natural athleticism and instincts to take over during those dazzling moments.

The Cubs are basically hoping Kyle Schwarber keeps the ball in front of him in left and setting the bar at: Don’t crash into your center fielder. Like Schwarber and Almora, catcher Willson Contreras hasn’t played a full season in The Show yet, and the Cubs are now hoping Ian Happ can become a Zobrist-type defender all over the field.

“I’m seeing our guys playing in a lot of different places,” Heyward said. “It’s not just been penciling in every day who’s going to center field or right field or left field. We did shake things up some last year, but we did it kind of later in the season. We had guys settle in, playing every day. This year, I feel like we’re having guys in different spots.

“It’s May whatever, (but) it seems like we haven’t really had a chance to settle in yet. Not that we’re procrastinating by any means, but it’s just been a lot of moving pieces.”

The Giants won World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 with a formula that incorporated lights-out pitching, airtight defense and just enough clutch pitching. The Cubs are now a 22-21 team trying to figure it out again.

“Defense comes and goes, just like pitching,” said Kris Bryant, the reigning National League MVP, in part, because of his defensive versatility. “I feel like if you look at last year, it’s kind of hard to compare, just because it was so good. We spoiled everybody last year. Now we’re a complete letdown this year.”

Bryant paused and said: “Just kidding. Different years, things regress, things progress, and that’s just how it goes sometimes.”