TEAM Englewood's Johnny Roland makes right call

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TEAM Englewood's Johnny Roland makes right call

Lorenzo Donegan was at home and cutting the grass in his front lawn when he received a telephone call from Johnny Roland, whom he had coached at Crane and had transferred to Englewood.

"I had resigned (at Crane) and thought I was done with coaching," said Donegan, who has been a Chicago firefighter for 24 years.

But Roland was insistent. "Why not come to Englewood and help coach?" he asked Donegan.

"It was a challenge," Donegan said. "I heard about the shared gym (with Urban Prep) and only 90 minutes of practice time. But it is a new program. The kids want to win. It was a change for me to start my own program.

"The sophomores are good. There is great chemistry and they are unbeaten in the conference. And there are some good freshmen, too. I want to stay and see how they develop. We can go to the Red Division after this season and they can keep us in the Red. My blood is flowing again, my competitive juices. It's hard to walk out on the kids now. It's all about the kids."

TEAM Englewood is 16-4 after last Friday's 70-66 loss to Little Village. Earlier, the Eagles defeated their chief Blue Division rival, Jones, 67-62. They will meet Urban Prep on Monday night in their final tune-up for the Public League playoff and a February 16th match with North Lawndale.

"We are a leg up to move to the Red Division. Our vision has to go to the Red Division," Donegan said. "How good is this team? As good as it wants to be. The big thing is the commitment by the kids. We have set high schools. We challenge them all the time. And they have answered it."

Who is TEAM Englewood? The school has been open for five years. It occupies the old Englewood High School building, which includes a refurbished gymnasium. The school shares the building with Urban Prep. It has an enrollment of 520 students.

Donegan, 54, knows how to win. This is his first full year at the helm. A graduate of Westinghouse in 1976, he wasn't good enough to make a basketball team at a time when Eddie Johnson was the star and Mark Aguirre was walking in the door from Austin.

"(Westinghouse coaches) Frank Lollino and Roy Condotti were my gym teachers. They were great influences on me," he said. "I always wanted to be a basketball coach. That was my mission in life."

Donegan coached softball for 20 years in Washington Park's Sunday League. He also was the sophomore basketball coach at Crane and Hubbard. Two of the most talented players he helped to develop were Sherron Collins and Othyus Jeffers. He also coached Johnny Roland.

At Englewood, Donegan interviewed with Bo Delaney, the dean of students and former basketball coach at Manley--and Roland's stepfather.

"When I heard they were looking for another sophomore coach, I called and asked (Donegan) to help us out," Roland said. "I was a freshman at Crane and he coached me on the sophomore team. I loved him. He was a great coach. He pushed me hard every day in practice.

"Why is he a good coach? Because he pushes his players all the time in a positive way. He helps us on and off the court. And he keeps our heads in the books. There is a lot of trouble in Englewood. We have to deal with gangs all the time. He encourages us to stay in the gym and off the streets."

According to Donegan, Roland "makes us go. He is a complete point guard. I have seen a lot of point guards this year and he is among the top 10. Illinois State is talking to him. He has a lack of exposure because we are in the Blue Division but he is a diamond in the rough. More colleges should be looking at him."

Roland, a 5-foot-11 senior, averages 17 points and 8 assists per game. Shartone Moore, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, averages 14 points and 10 rebounds. Other starters are 6-foot-1 junior Jonathan Owens (12 ppg, 8 rpg), 6-foot-3 senior DeAngelo Rocquemore (15 ppg, 10 rpg) and 5-foot-10 sophomore Ashten Hilliard (12 ppg, 5 rpg).

Primary reserves are 6-foot-2 senior Malek Johnson (8 ppg, 4 rpg) and 5-foot-7 senior Montrell McLaurin (6 ppg, 3 assists).

Against Jones, Owens had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists and Moore contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds. "Moore has great potential, a great upside. His potential hasn't been reached," Donegan said.

Roland doesn't believe his potential has been reached, either. He has been playing basketball since he was 5 years old, with his three older brothers on the court across the alley from their home, two-on-two, HORSE. Oldest brother Luther, who played for Bo Delaney at Manley, usually won.

But playing on the playground and playing in the Public League are two different things. Roland prides himself on being a complete point guard. He utilizes his speed and his instincts and his senior leadership. He hopes the whole package is enough to earn a college scholarship.

He has offers from Texas-Pan American and Oklahoma State-Panhandle, a Division II school, and he also has interest from Alabama-Birmingham, Illinois State and Roosevelt. He would like to attend UAB, a big-time program in a big-time conference, Conference USA.

"One of my friends, (former Hubbard point guard) Aaron Johnson, went there. He just graduated and now he is playing overseas," Roland said. "He had a lot of nice things to say about the program. I hope to hear from them."

Meanwhile, he hopes to complete a 20-victory season and help to talk TEAM Englewood to the Red Division.

"We're very excited about going to the Red Division," the coach said. "But we have to mature. The kids have to know that every game is a war. They have to seal the deal. We don't want to go up to the Red for one year and come back down. We have a bulls-eye on us now. We have to be more focused and make a name for ourselves."

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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