Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

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Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Lo Wood was supposed to anchor Notre Dame's cornerbacks this season as one of the only players at his position with any semblance of experience at it. In late August, Wood tore his Achilles tendon doing nothing more than backpedaling in practice.

When the injury occurred, it wasn't an overstatement to hypothesize Notre Dame's secondary was going to be a massive weak link in 2012. KeiVarae Russell wound up holding his own opposite Bennett Jackson's solid play -- good enough, at least, for Notre Dame to reach the BCS Championship with a bunch of greenhorns at cornerback.

"Once I found out I was out for the season, I was quiet for an hour wondering, like, dang, this could be a great season," Wood said. "And it turned out to be one. It's crazy how it happened."

Crazy would've been the word used to describe someone who thought Notre Dame could go 12-0 without Wood (of course, that could've been said for someone who thought the same thing of the Irish with Wood). Watching the Irish steadily work their way to No. 1 has helped soften the blow a bit for Wood, but the redshirt junior-to-be still described the last few months as "tough."

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Having to stand on the sidelines for practice was the most difficult aspect of missing the entire season, explained Wood.

"That's the hardest part, because all you want to do is be with the team and get better at the same time," he said. "Knowing you can't better yourself while you're own brothers are getting better too, it's really hard."

Wood's been a source of knowledge for Russell, who's still new to the position despite having about five months under his belt working at it. While the two may go against each other in the coming months for a starting spot alongside Jackson, Wood said he's been impressed by Russell's fortitude going into his uncharted waters.

"He came in and stood his ground, he didn't get pushed over or anything," Wood said.

If all goes according to plan, Wood will join his teammates for workouts later in January, and he anticipates being ready for spring practice in a few months. For now, Wood's relishing his first chance to go on the road with Notre Dame all year, having spent plenty of weeks watching from his home in South Bend.

And while he's not healthy enough to play, his injury has healed to the point where he could sprint on to the field to celebrate a National Championship.

"Oh yeah," Wood smiled. "It's pretty much healthy enough to do that."

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

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Photo at top: Loyola Academy assistant coach Paul Pryma extends his hand toward a Steinmetz High School player during pregame introductions on Feb. 21. (Andres Waters/MEDILL)

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

By Andres Waters
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

After Loyola Academy held off rival New Trier 43-40 to win the 2017 Zion-Benton regional championship, Ramblers head coach Tom Livatino had a special message for his players.

"That's the best celebration that I have ever been a part of," Livatino said. "Because everybody was completely about love. You guys love each other and we all can tell. I'm really, really proud just to be one of our coaches."

While the speech was a powerful way for Livatino to tell the players of his appreciation, he and other high school coaches engage in something much bigger to show players how proud they are: college recruiting.

In addition to time spent planning and practicing, coaches also sacrifice countless hours each week helping their players find opportunities to play at the next level.

"It's a really long part of the process, but to be honest, it's a part of the job that I absolutely love," Livatino said. "We demand so much of our players in every aspect. And, from a basketball standpoint, the least I could do is everything in my power to help them out."

Less than 48 hours after the Ramblers completed their season with a loss to Evanston Township in the Waukegan Sectional semifinal, Livatino was back in his office holding individual meetings with each player.

Starting with the 10 departing seniors, Livatino discussed the factors that go into choosing a college for high school athletes.

His conversations with the two players who already committed, senior guards Ramar Evans and Matt Lynch, focused on how they felt about their next steps. With the others, Livatino asked whether they wanted to play at the next level and, if so, which schools they wanted to attend that shared an interest in them. The conversations held with the Ramblers' juniors are very similar.

"I wasn't just looking for basketball, I was looking for a fit academically and socially," said Lynch, who committed to Division III St. Norbert College. "[Livatino] said St. Norbert would be the best fit for me. It fit everything I was looking for."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

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Photo at top: La Rue Martin poses for a photo at a National Basketball Retired Players Association event. (Photo courtesy of La Rue Martin)

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

By Elan Kane
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

LaRue Martin Jr. thought his future was set. The Portland Trail Blazers had drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1972 NBA draft. Money and fame awaited.

Fifteen years later, he started work as a UPS driver, struggling to find uniform pants that fit his 6-foot-11 frame.

"There is life after sports," Martin said. "Period."

It's been 45 years since the draft and Martin, a former Loyola University star, is now the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. He is labeled by many as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, but he is fine with that designation.

"I don't believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that," Martin said. "I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I'm the type of person I can't dwell off the negatives. I can't. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well."

Martin averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game in just four seasons with the Trail Blazers. He blames his low numbers on his lack of playing time, but many believe he was just not good enough.

"He didn't get playing time because he [stunk]," said Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan, who has covered the NBA for decades. "[Former No. 1 overall draft pick Michael] Olowokandi didn't do much but I think he did more than that."

Martin is used to the criticism.

"As a young man, reading the papers all the time, that bothered me, I must admit that," Martin said. "But I hold my head up high now because I've been very successful in the corporate world."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.