Westinghouse basketball is back

952959.png

Westinghouse basketball is back

You remember Westinghouse. The one-time West Side candy factory was a state and national power for 30 years, from the day Mark Aguirre transferred from Austin in 1976 to the day the old school closed in 2007. Now there are signs that Westinghouse is back.

The old school on West Franklin Boulevard in Garfield Park produced such coaches as Frank Lollino, Roy Condotti, Frank Griseto, Chris Head and Quitman Dillard and sent four players to the NBA--Aguirre, Eddie Johnson, Hersey Hawkins and Kiwane Garris.

Others starred in college and went on to play professionally overseas, including Skip Dillard, Bernard Randolph, Michael Jenkins, Melvin Bradley, Larry Roby, Wayne Montgomery, Len Moffett, David Greer, Mark Miller, Damion Dantzler, Jimmy Sanders, Jamaal Brown, Jamarcus Ellis, Darius Glover, Martell Bailey and Cedrick Banks.

In those years, Westinghouse battled Marshall, Crane, Manley, Farragut, Simeon, King, Phillips, Collins, Carver and Morgan Park for supremacy in the Chicago Public League. The Warriors won a state championship in 2002, finished second in 2000 and third in 1981, 1992 and 1996.
   
Last year, after returning to the Red-West for the first time since the school was reconstituted, Westinghouse was 16-9 and lost to Marshall in the regional. With all 15 varsity players returning, fourth-year coach Garland Williams had high expectations for 2012-13.

"We expect to do well this season. We want to be in the top spot in the Red-West. We are mentally prepared to play the good teams," Williams said. "We remind our kids every day about the rich tradition of Westinghouse basketball. They see the trophies and banners in the gym. We ask alumni to come back to talk to the kids."

Westinghouse got off to a good start, beating Galesburg, East Moline and Bartonville Limestone at Thanksgiving. With games against Marshall and Whitney Young this week and Orr and North Lawndale next week, the Warriors hoped to make a statement.

On Wednesday, they won their seventh game in a row by edging Marshall 60-58 as Dewan White scored with 2.4 seconds to play. White, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored 13 of his season-high 19 points in the second half to hold off a furious rally by Marshall, which rallied from a 15-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie at 58 with 10 seconds remaining.

On Friday, Westinghouse will try to make another statement when it challenges Whitney Young and Jahlil Okafor.

The lineup features White (14 ppg), 6-foot-1 senior point guard Ricky Battles (18 ppg), 6-foot senior Darius Mason (10 ppg), 6-foot-6 senior Darrell Gant (10 ppg) and 6-foot-1, senior Ramone Taylor (8 ppg). Battles and Mason each scored nine points against Marshall, Gant had 10 points and eight rebounds and junior guard DeQuanis Jackson scored 10.

"We don't have great size so the key to our success is to play defense, create turnovers and score points off our defense," Williams said.

A graduate of Flower Vocational, the 42-year-old Williams learned a lot about the Red-West while hanging out with his pals, Marshall coach Henry Cotton and former Westinghouse coach Chris Head. He coached at Flower before it closed, then assisted Vince Carter at Von Steuben and coached at Raby before being hired at Westinghouse.

Dewan White also knew a lot about Westinghouse and the Red-West before he enrolled. His father and mother are graduates. His father competed in football and track. His mother participated in basketball, track, volleyball and swimming. But he preferred baseball.

"My first passion was baseball. I wanted to be the next Sammy Sosa or Paul Konerko," young Dewan said. "But then I started playing basketball and saw my basketball skills were better than baseball."

As an eighth grader, he played on an AAU team coached by Proviso East's Donnie Boyce that went to the national finals. "I realized that's what I wanted to do in high school," he said.

He already knew about Westinghouse's tradition. His father took him to games as a second and third grader. He saw Chris Head's state championship team in 2002 and Quitman Dillard's 28-4 teams in 2004 and 2005. He played on Head's Illinois Hawks AAU team in the summer.

"We came up to the Red-West for the first time last year. We wanted to show we could compete," White said. "The Sun-Times picked us to finish last in the conference. We had to get used to tougher competition. It was a maturing process. We knew we could play but we had to think the game, not make crucial mistakes in the clutch.

"We have been together since freshman, since the first practice. We have a lot of chemistry. We are more mature than last year. We know what is expected of us. We know each other's games. This is a big statement for us this week, a great opportunity to see how good we are. This is what we have been waiting for since our freshman year."

White and his teammates also are looking forward to competing in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. They'll meet Downers Grove South in an opening round game on Dec. 22.

"I've been going to Proviso West with my father since third grade," White said. "Morton won when I was in eighth grade. I saw Jon Scheyer score 52 points against Proviso West. It's one of the best tournaments in the nation."

But Westinghouse has a target on its back, like the teams of yesteryear with Aguirre, Johnson, Hawkins, Garris and Banks.

"No one noticed us when we started. We were 33-1 as freshmen but nobody noticed because we were in the Metro Green Division," White said. "As sophomores, we were 18-5 and finished second in the Blue Division. People started to notice.

"We improved over the summer. We got to the final four in the summer league tournament. We lost to Curie by eight points in the semifinals. We showed we can play against the big names."

Now they still have some showing to do.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

PHOENIX — When the 2014 season concluded, with all its drama, poor play and internal dysfunction, Bears Chairman George McCaskey passed along the unvarnished mood of Bears matriarch and owner Virginia McCaskey:
 
"She's pissed off," George McCaskey declared.
 
The 2016 season ended worse record-wise (3-13) than 2014 (5-11) but Bears ownership sees arrows pointing up, not down as they appeared after 2014, occasioning the jettisoning of the general manager and coaching staff.
 
"[Virginia] sees the progress, but like any Bears fan, she wants results," George McCaskey said, chuckling at the recollection of relaying his mother's mood. "That's the quote that won't go away."
 
"Progress" and "results" are vague terms, and sometimes relative. But Bears ownership is not setting a public fail-safe point for either general manager Ryan Pace or head coach John Fox to remain in place, although no scenario could presumably consider four wins actual "progress" from three.
 
"We want to continue to see progress, see the building blocks but there isn't any sort of particular threshold," McCaskey confirmed. "We're not on any particular timetable that somebody else is wanting to set for us. We're wanting to see continued progress toward our goal of sustained success."
 
"Sustained success" is not beyond the scope of possibility, assuming that a talent core can be established and includes a quarterback, which the personnel department under Pace believe it is on the brink of putting in place, whether around Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez or a player to be drafted or traded for later.

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]
 
GM Phil Emery adopted the buzz phrase of "multiple championships," but current leadership does sound less grandiose and more grounded. And where Emery drafts proved disastrous, the Pace administration has had clear hits, injuries notwithstanding, as recently as the 2016 class, which McCaskey mentioned in the context of Pace building the roster exactly the way ownership prefers.
 
"We have confidence in Ryan and John," McCaskey said. "We want to build through the draft. Ryan said that in his interview when he said he was interested in coming to the Bears and we like how he's stuck to that plan. We saw it last year when we had three rookies on the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team; Cody Whitehair, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Howard.
 
"And that's what we need to keep doing; keep building through the draft. I told Ryan he should get ripped this time of year every year for not being more active in free agency and that's because we're developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys."
 
McCaskey supported the actions, or lack of same, by Pace in the pursuit of max-dollar free agents this offseason. The Bears dropped out of sweepstakes for cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Tony Jefferson, among others, when prices spiked far beyond the parameters set by the Pace staff.
 
"I've been very impressed with [Pace] as a leader, as an evaluator of talent," McCaskey said. "And one of the things I've been most impressed by with him is the discipline he's shown just as recently as this free agency period. He didn't want to overpay guys. Too often, I think, you overpay guys who don't come through for you and then you have a big hole in your salary cap and you're behind the 8-ball. So I like the discipline he has shown, the restraint he has shown in free agency."