Noah, Bulls tangle with Cavaliers on CSN

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Noah, Bulls tangle with Cavaliers on CSN

Center Joakim Noah took the role of an extended offensive role in the Bulls season opener, scoring a game-high 23 points in Chicagos 93-87 win over Sacramento Wednesday at the United Center. Hell face a stiff test tonight when the Bulls travel to Cleveland to take on Kyrie Iriving, Anderson Varejao and the Cavaliers on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

Varejao, who missed the Cavaliers final 41 games last season with a broken wrist, showed no ill-effects in the home opener against the Wizards, scoring nine points, grabbing 23 rebounds and handing out nine assists in a 94-84 win. Varejao also blocked two shots in 37 minutes, which should make for an enticing matchup with Noah.

The Bulls center was aggressive on Wednesday against the Kings frontcourt duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson. Along with his 6-of-12 shooting, Noah also made 11-of-12 free throws, while Cousins played just 25 minutes with four fouls. Varejao also picked up four fouls in Wednesday nights matchup with Washington, and his aggressive defensive play could play right into the hands of Noah and Carlos Boozer, who got to the line five times himself.

Defensively, the Bulls held the Kings to 40.5 percent shooting on Wednesday. Specifically, point guards Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks were a combined 6-of-18 from the field as Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson were impressive in Game 1 of the Derrick Rose-less era. But theyll get their first true test tonight against Kyrie Irving, the 2011 No. 1 overall pick who scored 29 points on Opening Night.

Irving missed two of the three matchups against the Bulls his rookie season, but hes one of the up-and-coming bright stars in the NBA who showed no ill effects of having four teeth pulled earlier this week. Irving was the one of two Cavaliers to score more than 12 points on Wednesday, so the defensive plan is simple: shut down Irving, shut down the Cavs. The two veteran point guards in the Bulls backcourt should do the job.

The other key matchups also will be veterans against youngsters, as Boozer matches up against Tristan Thompson, last years No. 4 overall pick. Boozers jump shot was working Wednesday, as he made 5-of-8 shots from the outside that freed up the paint later in the game, where he made his other three field goals. Tonight will also mark Taj Gibson's first game since agreeing to a four-year, 38 million contract extension with the Bulls. It's a sure bet the sixth man will want to assert himself two days after shoring up his future in Chicago.

13-year veteran Richard Hamilton, who scored 19 points in the opener, will match up on rookie Dion Waiters, who added 17 of his own against the Wizards. Hamilton showed spark on the offensive end, but had trouble against Tyreke Evans drives (8-13 FG, 4-4 FT). Like Evans, Waiters wants to get to the basket early and often. Stout defense inside may be the key if Hamilton has problems keeping up.

The veteran-youth disparity between these two teams should play into the Bulls hands. The youthful Cavaliers turned the ball over 20 times in their Wednesday win, while Chicago forced Sacramento into 19 miscues themselves.

Expect a defensive battle tonight against two Central division foes. The Bulls travel on the road for the first time in 2012, but enter Cleveland riding a six-game winning streak. Luol Deng (3-13 FG against Sacramento) should find his touch while stiff defense against a Cavalier team shallow on the bench could cause problems for the young Cavaliers.

Raiders' move to Las Vegas approved by NFL owners: When's Bears' first trip to Sin City?

Raiders' move to Las Vegas approved by NFL owners: When's Bears' first trip to Sin City?

The Oakland Raiders won't be the Oaklnad Raiders for much longer.

NFL owners approved by a 31-1 vote Monday the Raiders' move to Las Vegas, meaning Sin City will soon have its own NFL team.

With the Raiders playing in the AFC, the move doesn't affect the Bears much. But there eventually will be a road trip to Nevada.

When's the first time the Bears could play in Vegas?

Now, that's contingent on a couple things.

First, the NFL needs to keep its current scheduling model, which pits certain divisions against one another every few seasons.

Second, will the Raiders even be playing in Vegas by 2019?

A new stadium needs to be built, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday that the Raiders will stay in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, potentially getting to Vegas for the 2019 season — when the Bears could play there in the team's inaugural campaign in the desert. But a new stadium might not be done by then, keeping the Raiders in Vegas another season. Or, maybe the Raiders could play where UNLV plays.

Whether it's two years down the road or more, there will one day be a Bears road trip to Vegas, one it's fairly certain Chicago fans will be interested in joining.

Archie Miller a good hire at Indiana, but his promotion to the big time comes with big-time expectations

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USA TODAY

Archie Miller a good hire at Indiana, but his promotion to the big time comes with big-time expectations

Archie Miller is the new Indiana head basketball coach, and while that gives Indiana the big splash it wanted for Tom Crean's successor, it remains to be seen whether it will please the Indiana fan base and its monster-sized expectations.

Miller is a great get for the Hoosiers, a guy who's taken the Dayton Flyers to four straight NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2014, a round the Hoosiers themselves haven't reached in 15 years. Miller has Big Ten experience, a former Thad Matta assistant at Ohio State, and he has experience recruiting in Big Ten Country.

He's been in line for a promotion from the A-10 to a major-conference program for a couple years now, and he was one of the biggest names at that level that Indiana or any other major-conference program looking for a new coach could have snagged.

But weren't Indiana fans expecting Steve Alford to come back to Bloomington?

Keeping in line with the enormous expectations this fan base always seems to have for this program, the internet was hoping athletics director Fred Glass could woo the former Indiana star back to his alma mater, pry him away from the most tradition-rich program in the country to spearhead a rebuilding effort for the team that finished tied for 10th in the Big Ten standings this season.

Those hopes seemed pretty unrealistic from the beginning — though it is difficult to argue with the immense financial attractiveness any Big Ten program has — but a perfect example of the kind of expectations that await Miller.

Marquette is plenty of distance up the college-basketball ladder from Dayton, but it was Crean, too, who made a career leap to the Hoosiers almost a decade ago. Crean's nine-year tenure featured some program-saving digging out from the horrendous spot Kelvin Sampson left things in. It also featured two outright Big Ten championships and three seasons of 27 or more wins. But all that couldn't keep the crushing expectations off Crean's shoulders, and one season after he won a conference title in one of the toughest conference's in college hoops, he was out.

Crean's kind of success wasn't good enough at Indiana. Will Miller's be?

Of course there was inconsistency that accompanied Crean's winning. The Hoosiers were just two wins above .500 this season, the same thing that was true a season after Indiana earned a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament. The two winningest seasons during Crean's tenure were followed by years in which Indiana didn't make the NCAA tournament. Not the kind of trajectory a program expecting a national championship wants to see, hence his firing.

But that goes to show how tough the task is in Bloomington, not necessarily when it comes to building a winner but when it comes to pleasing the folks in this basketball-loving state.

That's Miller's job now, and there likely won't be too long of a honeymoon period. Miller won at the lower levels of college basketball, winning 102 games over the past four seasons, but the Big Ten is a different animal. Another former Matta assistant, John Groce, found that out over his five seasons at Illinois. After getting hired off a Sweet Sixteen run at Ohio, Groce made the NCAA tournament just once in his five seasons in Champaign, the reason for the Big Ten's other coaching change this offseason.

Miller comes to Indiana with a better resume than Groce brought to Illinois — the A-10 is a much better league on an annual basis than the MAC, and Miller did more consistent winning over a longer stretch — but with a similar challenge ahead of him. Illini fans soured on Groce relatively quick, with questions about his job status lingering for a couple of years before he was fired earlier this month. Certainly Crean was never free from questions about his job status during his time in Bloomington, not even getting them to go away with a Big Ten championship last season. Will Hoosier fans treat Miller any differently if a deep tournament run doesn't come in one of Miller's first few seasons?

Of course, that all comes with the territory of being a college basketball coach, and Miller knows that well from his time as a major-conference assistant and with his brother the head coach at Arizona. But now he has to live it every day.

Miller is a great hire by Glass. It's time to find out if Indiana and its sky-high expectations make for a great landing spot for Miller.