Proviso West holds on to capture win over York

337617.jpg

Proviso West holds on to capture win over York

Friday, Dec. 10, 2010
11:00 PM

By George Wilcox
YourSeason.com
Stopping York scorer Will Sullivan is unlikely for an entire game, but Proviso West succeeded by shutting down the senior guard for a half.

Sullivan scored a career-high 34 points, but 27 of them came in the second half as 13th-ranked Proviso West remained undefeated with an 84-75 victory Friday night in the West Suburban Silver.

The 6-foot-3 Sullivan surpassed his previous career high of 33 points from last season on the game's final basket, a layup with 25 seconds remaining. But Sullivan had only seven points in the first half on 2-of-5 shooting.

He had one basket in the first quarter, a layup with 5:44 remaining. Sullivan shot 13-of-21 from the floor, including four three-pointers, and made all four of his free-throw attempts.

"It was tough. If I'm not bringing the ball up, I've got to get the offense going," Sullivan said. "If it's not me (scoring), everyone else has to get their shots."

Cody Kliethermes had 11 points for visiting York on 3-of-6 shooting beyond the three-point arc.

Proviso West's Ryan Woods drew the defensive assignment against Sullivan for most of the game.

The Panthers (6-0, 2-0) used a balance attack led by Nicholas Dixon (24 points, five rebounds) and Nicholas Frazier (23 points, 10 rebounds), who each established new season highs. Tyrone McDonald added 15 points and Woods had 10.

McDonald scored Proviso West's first 12 points.The Panthers limited Sullivan to four points in the opening quarter and used a seven-point run to take a 23-18 lead to end the quarter.

"Our focus was on (Sullivan)," Dixon said. "That was our No. 1 priority. We know he's their main guy."

Sullivan's 16-foot jumper to open the fourth quarter pulled the Dukes (4-2, 1-1) to within 58-55, but the Panthers answered with a 7-0 run capped by Dixon's steal and dunk. Dixon did not miss any of his seven shot attempts in the second half after scoring six points in the first half.

"I thought I had to be aggressive," Dixon said. "Playing the point guard role, I've got to get my team involved."

Frazier did much of his damage by shooting 9-of-13 at the free throw line. He made his first eight foul shots before missing his first attempt in the fourth quarter.

"This is a great confidence booster. York can win any given night," Frazier said. "This is a great feeling because we have another big game tomorrow at East Aurora. This will get us momentum for that."

Proviso West scored its most points of the season since beating Lincoln Park 80-75 in the season opener Nov. 22. The most points York has allowed this season was 54 in wins over Morton Nov. 24 and Hinsdale Central Dec. 4.

Joe Maddon has no choice but to ignore noise and put his faith in young Cubs lineup

Joe Maddon has no choice but to ignore noise and put his faith in young Cubs lineup

LOS ANGELES – Right around the time Theo Epstein was asked when the Cubs might consider sending Kyle Schwarber down to Triple-A Iowa, Ian Happ became the new shiny object for fans and the Chicago media.

In less than 200 at-bats, Schwarber went from World Series legend to dropping from the leadoff spot to being a platoon player to getting shipped away in a fantasy-baseball trade for pitching. 

Unless the Cubs moved Javier Baez, because Gold Glove-caliber middle infielders on a 25-homer, 90-RBI pace just fall from trees. Not to mention someone already proven on the biggest stages as a National League Championship Series co-MVP and World Baseball Classic star.

Even Happ is coming back down to earth as the league adjusts to him. Still, Cubs manager Joe Maddon has no choice but to block out the noise, trust all this young talent and believe in the players who delivered last October.    

“The best I can do is talk to the player himself, which I’ve done with ‘Schwarbs,’” Maddon said before Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium, staying upbeat and in character after back-to-back shutouts. “That’s just the nature of the industry. That’s a part of it that makes it so much fun, too, for the fan, the fact that they can interact and throw out their conjecture like that. 

“Internally, it has nothing to do with how we react to anything. And you have to talk to the player, because he’s always feeling these outside sources pressing down on him. He really shouldn’t, but they’re human beings. 

“How do you prevent that from really infiltrating? It’s just conversation with the guys themselves. That’s about it. You ask the player to really not pay attention and listen to that. 

“But, again, with all the tablets and the different sources available to follow what’s going on, it’s almost inevitable they’re going to hear or read something. So you got to stay positive with them. And we have to have that conversation with them to maintain their confidence.”

The Sunday lineup constructed to face Clayton Kershaw featured eight position players between the ages of 22 and 27: Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Happ, Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras, Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr.

A team built around offensive firepower woke up that morning ranked eighth and ninth in the NL in runs scored (231) and OPS (.736). A .222 batting average with runners in scoring position placed the Cubs 15th out of the NL’s 15 teams. “The best explanation I can offer is that we’re hitting young,” Maddon said. “You look at the end of last season and how well a lot of the guys that are struggling right now performed under those circumstances. I believe we’re going to come back and do that.

“In the meantime, they need our support. They need our conversations, so nobody’s left in the dark or wondering what everybody’s thinking about around here. They need openness. And if you get that, they’ll come back.” 

[MORE: The learning curve for Ian Happ]

The Cubs have bigger problems, like an inconsistent rotation that has kept this team hovering around .500 and prevented any real sense of momentum. This is still largely the same group of hitters that beat Johnny Cueto, outlasted Madison Bumgarner, eliminated Kershaw and wore down Corey Kluber during last year’s World Series run.

“They’ll get it together,” Maddon said. “We haven’t even come close to hitting that real offensive ‘go’ moment. We haven’t been there and we’re still paddling pretty well. That moment’s coming. 

“Whether it’s Happ making adjustments, Contreras making adjustments, Addison making adjustments, these guys were pretty good at the end of last season in some really difficult moments, so they’ll be back.”

The learning curve for Ian Happ and how long Cubs will stick with the rookie

The learning curve for Ian Happ and how long Cubs will stick with the rookie

LOS ANGELES – The Cubs tried to downplay expectations at first with a top prospect, framing Ian Happ’s promotion from Triple-A Iowa as a short-term solution for a roster facing multiple injury issues.  

And then Happ blasted a two-run homer off Carlos Martinez – an All-Star/Opening Day starter for the Cardinals – in his big-league debut on May 13 and kept hitting to the point where he made it an easy decision for the Cubs to keep him around.

After the initial burst – seven extra-base hits in his first eight games – the Cubs have watched Happ go 2-for-16 with eight strikeouts in his last five games against the pitching-rich Giants and Dodgers.

How much patience will the Cubs have with a rookie learning on the job? And what is manager Joe Maddon looking to see now?

“How he reacts to bad moments,” Maddon said before Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium, where the Cubs had been held scoreless for 18 straight innings. “If a guy starts kind of losing his mind a little bit, then you might have to back off of him. But if he’s able to handle the adversity well, then you kind of stay with it.

“I expect them all to struggle at different times. He’s probably done as good of a job adjusting over the last couple days to the way we’ve been pitched at as well as anybody.

“I have no preconceived notions of how long to stick with somebody or not. I think it’s up to the player and how you react to the bad moments.

“Because everybody looks good when they’re going good. How do you look when you’re going badly? That’s what really sets a guy apart. So far, I think he’s handled it really well, and he looked good at second base, too. The arm strength really plays there.”

This hasn’t changed Happ’s stone-faced expression or stopped him from making an impression with his athleticism on the bases and that ability to move between the infield and multiple outfield spots.  

[MORE: With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base]

Happ is also a good student who analyzes video and notices how teams have gone from challenging him with off-speed stuff during his first week in The Show to firing more elevated fastballs in the second week.  

“With all the information that’s disseminated these days, the league adjusts to you quickly, and it’s your job to adjust back,” Happ said. “It’s just always being on top of the way that you’re being pitched and constantly making adjustments to continue improving.”

As Maddon likes to say, all the shiny new toys and Big Data breakthroughs have favored pitching and defense, making it harder than ever for young hitters. 

“Obviously, the ability to scout the other team and break him down is much greater than it ever was,” Maddon said. “Back in the day, it was like a dude back there with a chew goes back to his room tonight and he recaps his notes that he took during the course of the day: ‘Down and away, up and in. Play him with a step to the pull side.’ That was the advance scouting reports. Now it’s broken down to the point where you actually have pertinent information.

“My point is Happ shows up on the scene. They start jumping in there and they probably could gather some intel from the past. And all of a sudden, they got a much better game plan. Now it’s up to him to adjust.”