CSN to celebrate 'Bulls Day presented by AT&T U-Verse' on Wednesday, Oct. 24

CSN to celebrate 'Bulls Day presented by AT&T U-Verse' on Wednesday, Oct. 24

COMCAST SPORTSNET TO CELEBRATE BULLS DAY presented by AT&T U-verse ON WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24

Network preps for the start of the 2012-13 Chicago Bulls season with a full day of Bulls-themed programming,
including live in-studio appearances from Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton, Taj Gibson, Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, John Paxson & more!

CSNChicago.com to feature full-blown Bulls content including exclusive, live-streamed features, live interactive Q&A with Bulls center Nazr Mohammed,
plus - BullsTalk content featured throughout the day via Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam

Plus Fans are urged to visit CSNChicago.com or watch Comcast SportsNet starting at 5:30 PM for details on how to win four tickets to the homeseason opener on Oct. 31 courtesy of the Chicago Bulls!

Chicago, IL (October 23, 2012) To celebrate the start of the upcoming 2012-13 Chicago Bulls season, Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the two-time defending regular season NBA Eastern Conference champs, is celebrating the start of the new season in a big way with BULLS DAY presented by AT&T U-verse on Wednesday, October 24.

Bulls Day presented by AT&T U-verse on Comcast SportsNet is highlighted by the Chicago Tribune Live & SportsNet Central live, in-studio appearances of Bulls players Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton, Taj Gibson, Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, along with Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson, plus - the Luvabulls & Benny the Bull! In addition, fans can look forward to a Bulls Classic telecast from last season featuring a standout performance by Derrick Rose and CSNChicago.com will provide numerous digital offerings throughout the day, including live-streamed features, a live interactive Q&A with Bulls center Nazr Mohammed and much more!

Plus Fans are urged to visit CSNChicago.com during the day or watch Comcast SportsNet starting at 5:30 PM for details on how they can win four tickets to the homeseason opener on Wed, Oct. 31 vs. Sacramento (courtesy of the Chicago Bulls). Winner will announced during GMC SportsNet Central at 10:00 PM.

REMINDER: The 2012-13 Chicago Bulls regular season on Comcast SportsNet gets underway on Friday, November 2 as the Bulls visit the Central Division rival Cleveland Cavaliers at 6:30 PM (NOTE: Expanded coverage gets underway on Chicago Tribune Live presented by Captain Morgan at 5:00 PM; McDonalds Bulls Pre-Game Live begins at 6:00 PM). Kia Bulls Post Game Live immediately follows the game featuring Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus post-game press conference (to also be streamed on CSNChicago.com), along with live locker room player interviews and complete post-game analysis. ALSO Comcast SportsNet will air a special Opening Night edition of Kia Bulls Post Game Live immediately following the Bulls homeseason opener on Wednesday, October 31 vs. Sacramento (approx. 9:30 PM).

Note the following on-aironline highlights from Bulls Day presented by AT&T U-verse on Comcast SportsNet coming up this Wednesday, October 24:

CHICAGO TRIBUNE LIVE presented by Captain Morgan (5:30 PM)

- It will be a star-studded Bulls edition of CTL as host David Kaplan and Tribune writers will be joined by array of Bulls onoff-court representatives including Bulls Executive Vice President Basketball Operations John Paxson, along with team members Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson for a complete 2012-13 NBABulls season preview analysis.

SPORTSNET CENTRAL presented by AT&T U-Verse (6:30 PM)

- Hosts Mark Schanowski & Gail Fischer will be joined on set by Bulls guard Richard Rip Hamilton during the telecast to discuss team expectations for the upcoming season and how his role will change with Kirk Hinrich handling the point guard responsibilities during Derrick Roses absence. NOTE: The 10:00 PM & 10:30 PM editions of GMC SportsNet Central, along with the midnight edition of SportsNet Central presented by CLR, will also feature a heavy Bulls Day focus.

BULLS CLASSIC: BULLS at MILWAUKEE (from March 7, 2012) (7:00 PM)

- In one of his most impressive performances from last season, Derrick Rose poured in 30 huge points, including an incredible, game-winning buzzer-beater that stunned the crowd in Milwaukee. Rose also dished out 11 assists in the win with teammate Joakim Noah contributing with a double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds). It was the Bulls eighth-straight win at that point in the season, raising their season record to 33-8.

CHICAGO BULLS SEASON PREVIEW SPECIAL presented by AT&T U-verse (9:30 PM)

- Hosted by Comcast SportsNets Bulls PrePost Game Live tandem of Mark Schanowski & former NBABullsFighting Illini star Kendall Gill, the Chicago Bulls Season Preview Special presented by AT&T U-verse will feature interviews with Bulls playerscoaches, along with a review of all the off-season transactions from the around the league and how these moves impact the Bulls this season.

CSNCHICAGO.COM (ALL DAY)

The Bulls will have a complete take over of CSNChicago.com on Oct. 24, providing a full interactive experience for fans. Note the following highlights:
Live stream showcasing the Bulls visit to the Comcast SportsNet newsroom starting at 4:30 PM
Bulls Day takeover of CSNChicago.com home page BullsTalk content featured throughout the day via Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam (and via Twitter @CSNBullsInsider & @BullsTalkCSN); fans urged to utilize the BullsTalk hashtag throughout the day
Bulls Talk Live Live fan Q&A with Bulls center Nazr Mohammed via live stream on CSNChicago.com
Twitter takeover Q&A with Bulls players via CSNs main Twitter account @CSNChicago
Behind-the-scenes videos of Bulls interviews will be posted on CSNChicago.com during the CSN visit
Photo galleries and much more

Illini's Malcolm Hill breaks backboard with practice dunk

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Illini's Malcolm Hill breaks backboard with practice dunk

One of John Groce's goals for his team this offseason was to improve the Illini's strength.

Things seem to be going nicely.

Malcolm Hill broke a backboard in the Illini's practice gym on Monday, and there's photo evidence to prove it.

Take a look at these tweets from Hill and Illinois strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher.

Hill was already the team's best player in numerous facets. He led the Illini with 18.1 points and 3.3 assists per game and ranked second with 6.6 rebounds per game.

Now he's shattering glass with some mean slams. It could be a crazy senior year for Hill.

Bullpen's ridiculous performance bails out Cubs in win over Dodgers

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Bullpen's ridiculous performance bails out Cubs in win over Dodgers

The Cubs' MLB-leading starting rotation has gotten plenty of buzz this season, but the bullpen had their breakout game on Memorial Day.

With Jason Hammel limited to only two innings because of hamstring cramping, the bullpen stepped up big time, tossing seven perfect frames in the Cubs' 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of 41,470 fans at Wrigley Field.

Hammel allowed just a bloop single with two outs in the first inning on a ball that fell between Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward in shallow right field, wind-aided and sun-aided base hit for Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

Hammel walked the next hitter and that was it.

No other Dodger reached base after Adrian Gonzalez walked with two outs in the first inning. 

Hammel and four relievers combined to set down 25 straight to end the game, the first time a Cubs pitching staff has done that since May 15, 1960.

Travis Wood was the standout performer from the bullpen, coming in on short notice in the third inning and tossing four perfect innings with four strikeouts, throwing just 43 pitches.

When Maddon sat down for his standard postgame press conference, he said the Chicago media should really be talking to Wood first.

"Oh my God," Maddon said. "I'm really trying to decide when to take him out of that game. ... My goodness. You throw like 20 pitches after two innings.

"He was so pitch-efficient, he permitted us to do what we did. It comes down to that. Pure and simple. Forty-three pitches in four innings. He was spectacular."

Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon followed Wood in order, each throwing an inning and combining for four strikeouts and only 36 pitches.

"The rest of the guys came in and they were very efficient 'cause they saw Travis go out there and do it," Maddon said. "So then here comes Grimmer and here comes Stroppy and here comes Ronny. 

"They all were really, really efficient. Good pitches, good location, good stuff. But Travis set the tone for the whole day."

"I love our bullpen," said David Ross, who caught the whole game. "Those guys are very impressive to me."

Wood picked up his third victory of the season on a day where he entered the game just seconds after sitting on the couch in the Cubs clubhouse. When he saw Hammel go down, he knew he might be needed, so he dashed out to the dugout and sure enough, he got the call to go into the game.

Maddon and the Cubs always claim Wood has a rubber arm, and he needed only 15 or so pitches to warm up before his four perfect innings. 

"[I was just focusing on] each hitter at a time and try to get the outs," Wood said. "Those are freak situations that happen - a guy gets hurt or in Hamm's case, it was just a cramp.

"So you're just out there to get outs for as long as they want you to. And then take it from there."

The Cubs got on the board in the fifth inning when Zobrist led off with a single and wound up on third after Dodgers right field Yasiel Puig booted the ball.

Heyward plated Zobrist on a 60-foot chopper down the first-base line, reaching safely for an infield single. He then came around to score the game's final run on Anthony Rizzo's double to right field two batters later.

The Cubs have won six straight games and have allowed just one hit to the Dodgers in their last 18 head-to-head innings dating back to last season.

Now the Dodgers have to contend with Jake Arrieta - who no-hit them on national TV the last time he faced them - Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

Cubs breathing a sigh of relief after Jason Hammel's leg cramp

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Cubs breathing a sigh of relief after Jason Hammel's leg cramp

Before anybody really knew what happened, Jason Hammel was sitting on the ground behind the pitcher's mound at Wrigley Field surrounded by Cubs trainers and coaches.

The veteran starting pitcher had just come out to warm up for the top of the third inning after he and Ben Zobrist struck out to strand the bases loaded for the Cubs in the bottom of the second.

He eventually got up and tried to throw a few more warmup pitches, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Chris Bosio ultimately decided to roll with Travis Wood, removing Hammel from the game after only 39 pitches.

Two innings later, the Cubs announced Hammel was being evaluated for right hamstring cramping.

After the game, Joe Maddon sounded optimistic about Hammel's status.

"It seems to have just been a cramp," Maddon said. "We just couldn't wait for it to settle down. You just don't know in that particular moment if it is a cramp. 

"We thought it was a cramp, but you just can't stand out there for 15 minutes and wait for it to dissolve or whatever. So we had to move it along at that point."

Maddon said the Cubs feel Hammel should be ready to go for his next start in five days.

Hammel - who said he's never dealt with a cramp like that before - iced and massaged his leg after being removed from the game and took an anti-inflammatory. 

But he felt good enough to joke after the game about how he gave up the only hit before the Cubs bullpen combined for seven perfect innings of relief.

"I blew the no-hitter!" Hammel said. "It makes me feel really small. I obviously wanted to stay in there. It just sucks. Something like that where it's on and off.

"I felt like after I stretched it and it was down on the ground and I threw the first pitch, I felt fine. Then the next pitch, it was back. It would've taken us six hours to get through the game if I stayed in there."

After two shutout innings Monday, Hammel now has a 2.09 ERA and 1.16 WHIP on the season and has been a revelation in helping the Cubs to the best starting rotation in baseball slotting behind Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey.

Hammel was pitching at an All-Star level (2.89 ERA) before running into a leg injury in early July last season. He was never the same after, posting a 5.03 ERA in his final 15 starts.

Over the winter, the 33-year-old Hammel responded by shedding some weight and rededicating himself to a training regimen designed to help take some pressure off his lower body.

After the hamstring/calf issue last July, Maddon had a quick hook with Hammel, who expressed his frustration at various points throughout the end of last year. 

But after the cramp popped up Monday, Hammel saw the big picture and wasn't upset with Maddon, who wanted to play it safe with the Cubs thinking World Series or bust.

"Made the right move," said Hammel, who bounced the ball on the mound in frustration after being removed from the game. "We're all stubborn when we're out there. We want to compete and finish what we started. But the end game is basically to make sure we're staying healthy and it doesn't really do any good to push it there. 

"I honestly felt like I drank the equivalent of Lake Michigan last night. Once it starts to get pretty humid and hot here, I always hydrate really well. I drank so much water last night. I really don't understand why I cramped. We'll figure it out."

If Hammel is forced to miss any time, Maddon said he would turn to Wood or Trevor Cahill for a spot start.

When asked if he feels ready for a spot start, Wood responded simply:

"I feel so. I'm always ready to take the ball."