Illini still winless in Big Ten play after Ohio State romp

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Illini still winless in Big Ten play after Ohio State romp

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The combination of Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller was more than enough for No. 6 Ohio State.
Hyde rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns and Miller burnished his Heisman credentials by passing for two scores and running for another in the Buckeyes' 52-22 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) maintained the upper hand in the Leaders Division heading into a bye week. They have games remaining at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and against rival Michigan at home a week later.
Miller carried 18 times for 73 yards, and completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards.
It was the sixth consecutive loss for the Illini (2-7, 0-5) and their 11th consecutive Big Ten loss.
Little went right for the Illini and first-year coach Tim Beckman, a former assistant to Ohio State's Urban Meyer when Meyer was the head coach at Bowling Green from 2001-2002.
Beckman was also a former Ohio State assistant under Jim Tressel, forced out in the wake of a memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that ultimately led to Meyer taking over the Buckeyes last November.
After racing to quick touchdowns with short drives while outscoring the visitors 24-0 in the second quarter, the Buckeyes stretched their lead to 38-6 in the third quarter by taking their time, going 73 yards on 11 plays, capped by Miller's 2-yard scramble.
Miller tossed TD passes of 51 yards to Rod Smith and 37 yards to wide receiver Corey Brown.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, dogged all day by Ohio State's aggressive front line, completed 19 of 34 passes for just 91 yards with one interception. He also led the Illini in rushing with 15 carries for 36 yards. But there wasn't much else going on for the Illini, who finished with only 170 total yards.
Ahead 7-6 after a quarter, they blew the game open with four scoring drives.
Drew Basil's 31-yard field goal made it 10-6 before a short Illinois punt gave the Buckeyes decent field position at their 36. Five plays later, Hyde's second short TD run of the day made it 17-6.
Illinois, which settled for Nick Immekus field goals after first downs at the Ohio State 29- and 10-yard lines in the first quarter, wasn't able to get anything going on offense as Scheelhaase was continually harassed and forced to run wide before picking his options.
After another punt, Miller's pass was nearly intercepted before Hyde gained 10 yards. Miller then rolled right and then looked back to the left sideline where backup running back Rod Smith was several yards behind safety Supo Sanni. Smith pulled in the pass to complete the 51-yard score.
An 18-yard punt and a penalty put the Buckeyes right back in control at midfield. On consecutive plays, Miller juked and spun for 11 yards, Hyde picked up 11, Miller found tight end Nick Vannett for 14 yards, Miller scrambled for 11 more and Hyde then collected his third score of the day on a sweep around right end.
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How Cubs reached the breaking point with Kyle Schwarber

How Cubs reached the breaking point with Kyle Schwarber

MIAMI – Theo Epstein scoffed at the possibility of sending a World Series hero down to the minors on May 16, writing the headline with this money quote: “If anyone wants to sell their Kyle Schwarber stock, we’re buying.”

If the Cubs aren’t dumping their Schwarber stock, they’re definitely reassessing their investment strategy, trying to figure out how such a dangerous postseason hitter had become one of the least productive players in the majors.

The overall portfolio hasn’t changed that much since the team president’s vote of confidence, Schwarber batting .179 for the defending champs then and .171 when the Cubs finally made the decision to demote him to Triple-A Iowa. That 18-19 team is now 36-35 and still waiting for that hot streak. 

What took so long?

“The honest answer is we believe in him so much,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday. “He’s never struggled like this. We kept thinking that he was going to come out of it. We got to a point where we felt like mentally he probably needed a break before he could come out of this. 

“The honest answer is patience. We’ve got a guy who’s never really struggled. He was the best hitter in college baseball. He blew through the minor leagues. Last year in the World Series, he performed. We just felt like he was going to turn himself around.

“It just got to a place where we felt like the right way for this to come together was to allow him to get away from the team, to take a deep breath and be able to work on some things in a lower-pressure environment.”   

The Cubs plan to give Schwarber a few days off before he reports to Iowa, an idea that would have seemed unthinkable after watching his shocking recovery from knee surgery and legendary performance (.971 OPS) against the Cleveland Indians in last year’s World Series.

But preparing for one opponent and running on adrenaline through 20 plate appearances is completely different from handling the great expectations and newfound level of fame and doing it for an entire 162-game season.   

This might actually be the most normal part of Schwarber’s career after his meteoric rise from No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft to breakout star in the 2015 playoffs to injured and untouchable during last year’s trade talks with the New York Yankees. 

“There’s been a long and illustrious list of guys that have gone through this,” manager Joe Maddon said. “When a guy’s good, he’s good. Sometimes – especially when they’re this young – you just got to hit that reset button. It’s hard for a young player who’s never really struggled before to struggle on this stage and work his way through it.

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“There’s no scarlet letter attached to this. It’s just the way it happens sometimes. You have to do what you think is best. We think this is best for him right now. We know he’s going to be back.” 

When? The Cubs say they don’t have a certain number of Pacific Coast League at-bats in mind for a guy who’s played only 17 career games at the Triple-A level.

Maddon pointed out how Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee needed minor-league sabbaticals/refresher courses before becoming Cy Young Award winners and two of the best pitchers of their generation.

New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto – another college hitter the Cubs closely scouted before taking Schwarber in the 2014 draft – has gone from the 2015 World Series to Triple-A Las Vegas for parts of last season to potential All-Star this year.

The Cubs fully expect their Schwarber stock to rebound – whether or not the turnaround happens in time to impact the 2017 bottom line.    

“I’m still sticking by him,” Maddon said. “But at some point, you have to be pragmatic. You have to do what’s best for everybody. We thought at this point that we weren’t going to necessarily get him back to where we need him to be just by continuing this same path.

“It’s not a matter of us not sticking with him anymore. We just thought this was the best way to go to really get him well, so that we could utilize the best side of Kyle moving forward.”

Bulls trade All-Star Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves

Bulls trade All-Star Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves

After weeks and months of rumors and innuendo, the Bulls finally pulled the trigger on a trade involving Jimmy Butler, trading their franchise player to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night.

Butler and the Bulls’ 16th pick will be headed to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick, according to sources. Butler will be reunited with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who is the head coach and president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves.

And the Bulls get to jump start their rebuilding process, apparently with young pieces to implement Fred Hoiberg’s system and a draft pick to come.

The Bulls have long been fond of Dunn, the Timberwolves’ first-round draft pick in 2016 who struggled in his rookie season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 assists after being the fifth pick in the 2016 draft.

 LaVine was a two-time slam dunk champion before tearing his left ACL against the Pistons in February, and it will be months before he’s able to hit the floor. He was averaging 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists before his injury and was part of a young trio that included Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

The question will come as to why the Bulls had to throw in their first-round pick in a deep draft, but perhaps it was an indication of their wont to trade Butler, who made the All-NBA Third Team and repeatedly elevated his game in his six seasons as a Bull.

Butler’s name had been bandied about through the trade market last year at the draft and this year at the trade deadline, with the Bulls feeling like they could only get so good with Butler being the player he developed into combined with the direction the franchise was going in, focusing on youth over proven veterans.

It’s seemingly step one in a longer process for the Bulls but after being in basketball purgatory for the last two seasons, they’ve chosen a path and for that path to be traveled, it had to be without their three-time All-Star.