Time for Beckman, Illinois to dig deep

901755.png

Time for Beckman, Illinois to dig deep

CHAMPAIGN With big losses to Louisiana Tech and Penn State coming in back-to-back weeks, Illinois football fans, players and coaches are certainly feeling an unwelcome feeling of dj vu. Coach Tim Beckman addressed the losses at his weekly press conference on Monday, expressing his concern for the team and Illini Nation as a whole.

These last two weeks have been real, real tough. No question about it, he said. Our intentions are to continue to get better.

To get better, Beckman and the Illini will draw upon their personal experience. For the coach, that means remembering the lessons he learned in his first year at Toledo, when the Rockets went through a three-game skid and had to regroup.

We made it through doing the same thing were doing now: communicate with the football players, talk about it, and find the reasons why were losing, Beckman said. We have great kids and they understand. They want to win as bad as anybody.

The players are going to have to draw upon what they learned during their six-game losing streak during the final half of the 2011 season. The Illini are going to have to use that negative experience in a positive way to avoid a similar situation in the 2012 season.

Safety Supo Sanni, who played last week for the first time since Illinois loss to Arizona State, said the team would learn from last season but not let the memory of the 2011 campaign get them down.

Last year is in the past, this is a totally different year. We have new players, a totally different scheme, new coaches so last year is not in my thought process, Sanni said. The thing to do is just go out every weekend to the best of our ability.

As a senior leader, Sanni said it was tough for him to sit out, but he used the time to help younger players like Earnest Thomas grow as a player. He said the two watched film together and spoke in practice to help Thomas improve as a player and to help both of them improve as a secondary unit.

The practice time combined with Sannis familiarity with Wisconsin allowed the senior safety to feel comfortable about his assignment for the upcoming weekend.

Weve been going through every day, attacking practice with game day mentality. That will help tremendously, Sanni said. We know what Wisconsin is going to do theyre going to line up and try to run the ball.

This isnt anything new to us, this week we just have to play physical, get healthy and do the things we need to do to get a win at Wisconsin.

Having quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase fully healthy will help the Illinois offense make the plays they need to in order to get a win.

One of the keys to the game, according to Beckman, will be the running game. With his ankle back at full strength, Scheelhaase expects to be a major factor in the Illini ground attack. He also expects his added contribution to open up other areas for success.

I felt good about running when I did a couple days ago and I really felt like I was starting to get my legs back underneath me, Scheelhaase said. This will benefit the team in a great way, not just on designed quarterback run, but when things start to break down being able to get loose and get out of the pocket. Those are some things I was able to on Saturday, and when I can do that it puts more pressure on the defense and when you can put more pressure on the defense from the quarterback position that helps the offense in the best way.

Before the Penn State game the talk around the Illinois locker room was about 12-1-12, the date of the Big Ten Championship game. After the loss, players and coaches altered their talking points, insisting their focus is solely on the game in front of them at this point and improving for that game.

Were not thinking about any tough stretches in the season, or really anything down the road. All were thinking about is going to Madison and doing what we need to do during the week to prepared and get a win, Scheelhaase said.

The preparation of the Illini comes down to Beckman, however, and hes not taking the responsibility lightly. Especially after his teams disappointing Big Ten opener last Saturday.

This has to be a process, we have to continue to push ourselves, Beckman said. No one likes to lose; theres not a young man in the locker room a player, or trainer, or manager, or coach that likes to lose. Weve got to continue to strive to get ourselves better, to find what the problems are and fix them.

Illinois Notebook

-- Linebacker Mason Monheim earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after his performance against Penn State in which he came up with a career-high 11 tackles and forcing a fumble. So far this season he has 28 tackles, which ranks third on the team, and two forced fumbles, which has him tied for best in the conference.
 
Im sure Mason would say hed rather get the honor with a W, Beckman said. I was proud of Monheim and freshman Mike Svetina, they played hard. And I was proud of the way they took the challenge of coming in and playing as true freshmen.

-- Sannis return last week was a boost to an ailing Illinois secondary and Beckman was very happy to announce that the senior would be able to start at Wisconsin this Saturday. Sanni was pleased as well, and said he felt great.
 
Im healthy, 100 percent. Ready to lead our secondary and be a vocal leader on the team so we can get back to where we need to be, he said. It felt great being back on the field, it felt normal. But the best part was being out there with my brothers, my family.

-- The Illinois secondary got another boost when Thomas was not dealt a suspension after being ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the endzone on Penn State tight end Matt Lehman.
 
Beckman confirmed that he spoke with the Big Ten office and Thomass hit was judged to be unintentional, meaning he will not face further punishment for the hit.

-- Beckman did deliver bad news for the defense on Monday, however. The coach confirmed that sophomore defensive lineman Jake Howe will miss the rest of the season with a broken arm. He did not specify whether the McHenry product would seek a medical redshirt or not.

Its been a snowball effect thats happened to us in these last two games. I think weve competed, the kids have fought, but weve got to not be giving up big plays and we have to be successful on offense.

The mental aspect is the hardest part to correct, theres no question.

Fire showing patience with emotional Dax McCarty

Fire showing patience with emotional Dax McCarty

The Chicago Fire opened its preseason on Monday, but much of the focus was on a player that wasn’t there: Dax McCarty.

The Fire traded for the midfielder from the New York Red Bulls last week and he is in camp with the U.S. national team.

Leaving New York hasn’t been easy for McCarty. He tweeted a lengthy thank you note to Red Bull fans on Sunday and still hasn’t mentioned anything about the Fire publically.

Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic visited McCarty at national team camp last week to make introductions.

“We obviously knew that this had to come as a surprise to him,” Rodriguez said on Monday. “A captain of another team, he had just gotten married. There’s never a good time to have unexpected change hit you.”

Getting McCarty on board with what the club is building is going to be key for the team’s success in 2017. Integrating McCarty and the other high-profile offseason additions, fellow midfielder Juninho and striker Nemanja Nikolic, into what Paunovic wants to implement will play a big role in how the Fire start the season. In order to do so effectively means making McCarty happy with his new team.

“For sure he’s a very, very emotional guy,” Paunovic said. “I like the way he expressed how he feels at this point. We all have to empathize with that and respect his time and the situation that he is going through.”

As poor as the timing of McCarty being traded two days after getting married was, it could be to the Fire’s benefit that McCarty is with the national team now and can have some time to process the change before arriving in preseason camp with the Fire in Florida in February.

“We are waiting for him here with open arms and waiting for him to come back, to handle all this situation, to go through that, then come here clear with desire that he played so far, with the same passion, with the same effort on and off the field and for sure with leadership that he will bring to our locker room,” Paunovic said.

For now, both Rodriguez and Paunovic are preaching patience. Rodriguez said McCarty was the top target of the Fire and said the move was six months in the making.

“We respected his need to breathe and to have time to go through his emotions, to spend time with his wife,” Rodriguez said. “I think everything will come in its due course and when his time with the national team camp ends we’ll give him a little time that he might need to recover from that camp and to attend to some personal matters and we’ll embrace him when he comes.

“For those of us that are married we know that happy wife equals happy life so we have work to do with Dax and his wife and his family and having them feel comfortable about Chicago. They were looking to put down roots in New York. Whether it’s unexpected like that or it’s someone like Nemanja Nikolic who chose us and chose to come here, we still have to work with him and his family and acclimating them. Our approach and our attitude is the same, although the circumstances are different. We have to be empathetic to the sensitivity that Dax and his wife are going through.”

CSN to carry expanded, live SoxFest 2017 opening night coverage

soxfest_friday.jpg

CSN to carry expanded, live SoxFest 2017 opening night coverage

4:00 PM on CSN & CSNChicago.com -- LIVE SoxFest 2017 “Opening Ceremonies” coverage - hosted by Chuck Garfien & CSNChicago.com White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes,

featuring live interviews with numerous White Sox players, coaches, and front office execs!

5:00 PM on CSN -- Special SoxFest 2017 edition of “SportsTalk Live” - hosted by David Kaplan featuring special White Sox guests!

Complete SoxFest coverage throughout the weekend on CSNChicago.com’s ‘WhiteSoxTalk’ section via reports from Garfien, Hayes, CSN White Sox beat reporter Siera Santos, and White Sox digital reporters JJ Stankevitz & Paul Roumeliotis, which will include even more player/coaches/front office interviews, along with panel discussion highlights and much more!

Social media highlights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to include the latest Convention news, live streaming segments, and special CSN prize giveaway details! 

Chicago, IL (January 24, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago White Sox, is ready to start up the 2017 MLB season in a big way with expanded, live Opening Night coverage from “SoxFest 2017,” which will be held downtown this weekend (January 27-29) at the Hilton Chicago.

On Friday, January 27 beginning at 4:00 PM CT on CSN & CSNChicago.com, viewers can look forward to every thrill-packed moment of “SoxFest 2017’s” Opening Ceremonies featuring introductions of White Sox players/coaches/broadcasters/front office executives, plus video montages, and much more.  CSN’s “SoxFest 2017” Opening Ceremonies coverage will be hosted by White Sox Pre/Post Game Live host Chuck Garfien and CSNChicago.com White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes, which will feature live interviews with White Sox players, coaches, and team VIP’s.

Immediately following the Opening Ceremonies coverage at 5:00 PM, CSN’s “SoxFest” coverage continues with live player/coaches/team exec interviews from the annual fan convention, along with detailed 2017 White Sox discussion, on SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado (hosted by David Kaplan).

Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive SoxFest coverage on CSNChicago.com’s WhiteSoxTalk section (csnchicago.com/white-sox) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more to be provided via Garfien, Hayes, CSN White Sox beat reporter Siera Santos, CSNChicago.com White Sox digital baseball reporters JJ Stankevitz & Paul Roumeliotis, along the CSN’s team of behind-the-scenes White Sox experts. 

From a social media standpoint, fans can follow “SoxFest” updates all weekend long via Twitter from Garfien (@ChuckGarfien), Hayes (@CSNHayes), Santos (@SieraSantos), and Stankevitz-Roumeliotis/WhiteSoxTalk (@CSNWhiteSox). Twitter and Facebook followers will also be able to gain access to the latest fan convention news, live streaming, and information on special prizes to be given away at CSN’s “SoxFest” booth.

In addition, fans are urged to follow @CSNChicago on Instagram & Snapchat for enhanced, exclusive content featuring real-time sights and sounds to experience all the exciting weekend festivities.  Plus, fans can also get interactive with CSN’s “SoxFest” coverage throughout the weekend by utilizing the social media hashtag #WhiteSoxTalk.

Fans are also urged to stop by CSN’s “SoxFest” booth this weekend for autograph signings featuring scheduled appearances by CSN White Sox announcers Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Steve Stone, and Jason Benetti, along with special, exclusive “player experiences,” where fans can meet White Sox stars for autographs, take selfies, and much more!  Fans in attendance need to follow CSN’s White Sox Twitter handle (@CSNWhiteSox) for full details about the player experience opportunities. In addition, fans can even pick up special CSN White Sox-themed giveaways throughout “SoxFest” weekend (while supplies last).