Simeon's late push knocks off Farragut

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Simeon's late push knocks off Farragut

By Michael O'Brien
Yourseason.com

Simeon coach Robert Smith smiled and didnt deny that his team probably doesnt hit the boards too hard after Jabari Parker shoots.

Its because they think its going in, thats all, said Smith.

Friday against Farragut, Parkers smooth jumper didnt fall quite as often as usual and it helped keep the Admirals in the game until a fourth-quarter run that gave the top-ranked Wolverines a 50-43 win at North Park.

Parker finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and shot 8-for-19 from the field, but only two of those makes were jumpers.

The game was tied at the half and Simeon (3-0) led by three after three quarters. The Wolverines held Farragut to just one basket in the final 2:16, during which Kendrick Nunn and Reggie Norris each scored key baskets for Simeon. Up until that point, the Wolverines had relied on Parker and Steve Taylor (15 points, 14 rebounds) for almost all of the scoring.

Thats their role, Smith said of Taylor and Parker. But other guys have to step up.

Farragut senior Rashaun Stimage was a force with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Stimage is one of the best players in the state, by far, said Smith.

Lavell Boyd scored 11 for No. 21 Farragut (2-3) and David Scott scored six and

grabbed nine rebounds while doing a nice job defending Taylor and Parker in

the paint.

David Scott is a tough guy, Farragut coach William Nelson said. He gets

out there and roughs it up a little.

Farragut point guard John Carter was the primary reason the Admirals were able to keep pace with the nations top-ranked team. He handled the Simeon pressure with poise, and used his speed to keep the Wolverines off-balance.

I tried my best, Stimage said. It wasnt enough. We played a good game. I lost in the supersectional to them last year and wanted my revenge.

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs both drop series openers

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Theories on why Cubs haven’t played up to their defensive potential yet

Theories on why Cubs haven’t played up to their defensive potential yet

“That’s what we’re supposed to look like,” Joe Maddon said Monday night after a 6-4 loss where the San Francisco Giants scored the first six runs and Wrigley Field got loudest for the David Ross “Dancing with the Stars” look-in on the big video board, at least until a late flurry from the Cubs.

But for a manager always looking for the silver linings, Maddon could replay Addison Russell’s diving stop to his right and strong throw from deep in the hole at shortstop to take a hit away from Christian Arroyo. Or Albert Almora’s spectacular flying catch near the warning track in center field. Or Anthony Rizzo stealing another hit from Brandon Belt with a diving backhanded play near the first-base line.

The highlight reel became a reminder of how the Cubs won 103 games and the World Series last year – and made you wonder why the 2017 team hasn’t played the same consistently excellent defense with largely the same group of personnel.

“Concentration?” Jason Heyward said, quickly dismissing the theory a defensive decline could boil down to focus or effort. “No shot. No shot. It is what it is when it comes to people asking questions about last year having effects, this and that. But this is a new season.

“The standard is still high. What’s our excuse? We played later than anybody? That may buy you some time, but then what?

“The goals stay the same. We just got to find new ways to do it when you have a different team.”

FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver’s statistical website, framed the question this way after the Cubs allowed the lowest batting average on balls in play ever last season, an analysis that goes all the way back to 1871: “Have the Cubs Forgotten How to Field?”

Even if the Cubs don’t set records and make history, they should still be better than 23rd in the majors in defensive efficiency, with 37 errors through 43 games. The Cubs have already allowed 28 unearned runs after giving up 45 all last season.

“We just got to stay on it and keep focusing and not let the miscues go to our head,” Ben Zobrist said. “We just have to keep working hard and staying focused in the field. A lot of that’s the rhythm of the game. I blame a lot of that on the early parts of the season and the weather and a lot of difficult things that we’ve been going through.

“If we’re not hitting the ball well, too, we’re a young team still, and you can carry that into the field. You don’t want to let that happen, but it’s part of the game. You got to learn to move beyond miscues and just focus on the next play.”

Heyward, a four-time Gold Glove winner, missed two weeks with a sprained right finger and has already started nine times in center field (after doing that 21 times all last season). Zobrist has morphed back into a super-utility guy, starting 16 games at second base and 15 in two different outfield spots.

[MORE CUBS: Have the Cubs found their new leadoff hitter in Ben Zobrist?]

Maddon has tried to drill the idea of making the routine play into Javier Baez’s head, so that the uber-talented second baseman can allow his natural athleticism and instincts to take over during those dazzling moments.

The Cubs are basically hoping Kyle Schwarber keeps the ball in front of him in left and setting the bar at: Don’t crash into your center fielder. Like Schwarber and Almora, catcher Willson Contreras hasn’t played a full season in The Show yet, and the Cubs are now hoping Ian Happ can become a Zobrist-type defender all over the field.

“I’m seeing our guys playing in a lot of different places,” Heyward said. “It’s not just been penciling in every day who’s going to center field or right field or left field. We did shake things up some last year, but we did it kind of later in the season. We had guys settle in, playing every day. This year, I feel like we’re having guys in different spots.

“It’s May whatever, (but) it seems like we haven’t really had a chance to settle in yet. Not that we’re procrastinating by any means, but it’s just been a lot of moving pieces.”

The Giants won World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 with a formula that incorporated lights-out pitching, airtight defense and just enough clutch pitching. The Cubs are now a 22-21 team trying to figure it out again.

“Defense comes and goes, just like pitching,” said Kris Bryant, the reigning National League MVP, in part, because of his defensive versatility. “I feel like if you look at last year, it’s kind of hard to compare, just because it was so good. We spoiled everybody last year. Now we’re a complete letdown this year.”

Bryant paused and said: “Just kidding. Different years, things regress, things progress, and that’s just how it goes sometimes.”