Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia

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Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIAWhen Kyle Korver first entered the NBA back in 2003 as a second-round draft pick from a small college in Nebraska, he joined a 76ers team led by superstar guard Allen Iverson. He appeared to initially struggle with the speed and athleticism of the game, but found his niche as a prolific spot-up shooter by his second season, and although he experienced four coaches in his four-plus seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, the sharpshooter was respected for his gradual all-around improvement and averaged a career-high 14.4 points per game in 2006-07, his fourth professional campaign.

Korver arrived in Philadelphia a couple years too late for the Sixers 2001 run to the NBA Finals, but he did get a taste of the playoffs in his second seasonlosing to current teammate Rip Hamiltons Pistons in 2005before getting traded to Utah early in the 2007-08 season. Another team removed from the Sixers now, Korver still reflects fondly on his tenure with his first team, though its a very different squad from the one he left, as only All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala and two youngsterscurrent reserve mainstays Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, a second-year player out of high school and a rookie with only one college season under his belt, respectivelyremain.

Its always good to be back in Philly, Korver told CSNChicago.com before the Bulls Friday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center, an arena thats changed its name since Korvers stint in town. Your first team you play with for a few years, you assume youre going to be there forever, the rest of your career and then, the reality of the business sets infree agency, trades. But its good to be back here. Theres still a lot of good people in the Sixers organization, a lot of the same people who were here when I was here and its good to see everybody.

They were the young guys when I was here. Now, theyre the leaders and I think, obviously the team has grown. Theyve grown as playersAndres an All-Star this year, Lou Williams has grown into an unbelievable scorerthings that you saw they could be and theyre happening now. Theyre really good guys, theyre really hard workers, so Im happy for them.

Iguodala, known as a student of the gameparticularly on the defensive end, as some observers believe hes the NBAs top perimeter defenderassessed Korvers development since leaving Philadelphia in a positive light.

Hes had a lot more NBA experience. Being with him in Philly, he was a younger guy. Now, hes a little bit older, hes one of the vets, so hes seen a lot. Hes seen the different coverages teams are going to throw at him. Defensively, they say hes a liability throughout his career, so hes been able to see what teams throw at him on both ends, said Iguodala. Hes been able to adjust and thats a big part of his career. When somethings thrown at you and they say you have a weakness, how do you adjust? And I think hes been able to do a great job of adjusting to that and keeping himself a threat on the court, and not being a liability on defense.

With Kyle Hendricks back in the mix, Cubs set rotation for Crosstown series with White Sox

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USA TODAY

With Kyle Hendricks back in the mix, Cubs set rotation for Crosstown series with White Sox

Kyle Hendricks is finally making his return to the Cubs' starting rotation.

Hendricks, last year's ERA champ who's been on the disabled list since June 5 with tendinitis in his right hand, will start Monday's series-opener with the White Sox at Wrigley Field, the first game of this season's Crosstown series.

Hendricks' return should provide a big boost to a rotation that struggled to find consistency during the Cubs' sub-.500 first half. Combined with the acquisition of Jose Quintana and the better-of-late pitching of Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, Hendricks' return should make for a formidable starting five as the Cubs enter what could be a knock-down, drag-out, months-long race for the National League Central crown.

Hendricks' 2017 hasn't looked much like his 2016 — something that could be said for many Cubs players during this slow-to-get-going quest for a World Series repeat — with the righty boasting a 4.09 ERA in his first 11 starts. After finishing third in NL Cy Young voting last season, he surely won't come close to that this time around, but the Cubs are hoping simply for a return to normalcy, which would go a long way in stabilizing that starting staff, the inconsistency of which was likely the team's biggest problem through the season's first three months.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

That rotation lines up like this moving forward: After Hendricks pitches against the White Sox on Monday, it will be John Lackey in the second game on the North Side, with Arrieta and Lester pitching the two Crosstown games Wednesday and Thursday on the South Side. Quintana won't pitch against his former team, throwing Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals and then, presumably, the first of next weekend's three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers.

With Hendricks returning to strengthen the rotation, the bullpen also gets a boost with Mike Montgomery returning to the relief corps. He'll be available out of the 'pen as soon as Saturday, manager Joe Maddon said before the Cubs' second game against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. The bullpen also received the addition of Felix Pena, called up from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday, with infielder Tommy La Stella sent down. The bullpen could use an immediate influx of assistance after Friday's nightmarish eighth inning, in which Carl Edwards Jr., Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm combined to yield nine runs.

Between Kris Bryant returning to the Cubs' lineup Saturday, Hendricks returning to the rotation Monday and the team's recent six-game winning streak that has them a game out of first place, things are starting to look a little more like they were expected to look for the defending champs.

34 Days to Kickoff: Chicago Christian

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34 Days to Kickoff: Chicago Christian

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Chicago Christian

Head coach: Nick Cook

Assistant coaches: Dan Chiarito (OC), Tom O'Connor (ST), Sean O'Connor (OL/DL and sophomore head coach), Zach Kuipers (RB/DL), Andy Boss (WR/DB)

How they fared in 2016: 3-6 (2-3 Metro Suburban Red Conference), failed to qualify for the 2016 IHSA state playoff field.

[MORE: 35 Days to Kickoff - Grayslake North]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 vs. Chicago Bulls Prep

Sept. 2 @ Crossroads Christian Academy

Sept. 8 @ Wheaton Academy

Sept. 15 vs. IC Catholic Prep

Sept. 23 @ Walther Christian

Sept. 29 vs. Ridgewood

Oct. 6 @ Elmwood Park

Oct. 13 vs. Aurora Central Catholic

Oct. 20 vs. Guerin Prep

Biggest storyline: Can the Knights land a state playoff bid in 2017?

Names to watch this season: senior QB/DB Henry Light, junior WR/DB Jonathan Griffin

Biggest holes to fill: The Knights will need to reload on both the offensive and defensive line with just one starter back in senior Izaak Tanis (6-foot-2, 245 pounds).

EDGY's early take: The Knights bring back a nice core of returning starters this season and is a group with experience in the skills department. If Chicago Christian can get its line play to develop sooner, rather than later, they could find themselves battling for a state playoff spot in 2017.