CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (26-1)

Results: Defeated Orr 61-51, Curie 53-49 and De La Salle 59-51

This Week: No games scheduled.

Hoops Talk: Public League championship? Check. High-profile win at the City-Suburban Showdown? Check. IHSA championship?
2 Proviso East (24-0)

Results: Defeated Leyden 93-48, Downers Grove South 65-62 and Warren 73-66

This Week: Wednesday vs. Oak Park-River Forest, Saturday at Marquette University HS

Hoops Talk: Simeon might be the number one team, but the Pirates might as well be 1A. East jumped out to an 11-2 run over No. 4 Warren and never looked back.

3 Curie (24-2)

Results: Defeated Bogan 50-47; Lost to Simeon 53-49

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: Devin Foster scored 19 points against Simeon but Cliff Alexander was very quiet, scoring only four points. Curie will still be a force in the IHSA.

4 Warren (21-3)

Results: Defeated Lake Zurich 60-38, Libertyville 81-42; Lost to Proviso East 73-66

This Week: Wednesday at North Chicago

Hoops Talk: The Blue Devils need to bounce back for Wednesdays North Suburban Championship against Illinois State-bound Aaron Simpson and North Chicago.

5 Plainfield East (24-1)

Results: Defeated St. Charles East 79-69 and Plainfield South 64-45

This Week: Thursday at Oswego East

Hoops Talk: The Bengals, behind Dee Brown, Brian Bennett and Jawan Straughter, help bring East their first conference championship in any sport.

6 Andrew (21-1)

Results: Defeated Sandburg 53-43 and Thornridge 58-31

This Week: Tuesday vs. Thornwood, Thursday vs. Lincoln-Way West

Hoops Talk: 21 wins, most in school history, is nice. But Tuesdays game, which will decide the Southwest Suburban-Red, would be the biggest win of the year.
7 Bogan (23-3)

Results: Lost to Curie 50-47

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Bengals will be one of the toughest outs in the IHSA playoffs. Devonte Smith and Devaughn Johnson are two of the top players in the city.

8 Huntley (24-2)

Results: Defeated Jacobs 57-45, Cary-Grove 50-30 and Barrington 38-31

This Week: Friday vs. Grayslake Central

Hoops Talk: The Red Raiders, Fox Valley-Valley champs, have a star in Amanze Egekeze, but theyre also one of the best defending teams in the area.

9 Downers Grove South (19-5)

Results: Lost to Proviso East 65-62

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: Jamall Millison and Jerron Wilbut had great games, but Proviso Easts starting five proved to be too much on Friday night.

10 Elgin (21-3)

Results: Defeated Immaculate Conception 41-40 and Streamwood 67-28

This Week: Tuesday vs. Geneva

Hoops Talk: Kory Brown hit the game-winning free throw with two seconds left against I-C. Saturdays win over Streamwood marked five straight wins for Elgin.

11 Hillcrest (21-4)

Results: Defeated Tinley Park 67-55 and T.F. South 68-46

This Week: Friday at Lemont

Hoops Talk: Jalen Loving blocked six shots against T.F. South. A win Friday would give the Hawks the South Suburban-Blue conference title.

12 St. Ignatius (20-4)

Results: Defeated Loyola; Lost to Notre Dame 45-44

This Week: Wednesday at De La Salle, Friday vs. Mount Carmel

Hoops Talk: The mid-week battle at 35th & Michigan will go a long way in determining the Catholic North champ. Iggy would be in great shape with a win.

13 Bloom (23-3)
Results: Defeated Crete-Monee 57-49 and Thornton 58-47

This Week: Friday vs. Kankakee

Hoops Talk: Lejavius Johnson and Donald Moore led the Blazing Trojans this week. Bloom can claim the Southland title with a win Friday.

14 Orr (19-4)

Results: Lost to Simeon 61-51

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Spartans put together some nice runs against Simeon. Marquise Pryor, Deshawn King and company are looking forward to the state playoffs.

15 Marshall (20-7)

Results: No games played

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Commandos made it downstate four of the last five seasons. A late-season surge could help make that five out of six.

16 New Trier (20-5)

Results: Defeated Maine South 63-58 and St. Rita 59-41

This Week: Tuesday at Niles North

Hoops Talk: Connor Boehm was a force this week, racking up 23 points against Maine South and 16 more (along with 11 rebounds) against St. Rita.

17 West Aurora (21-4)

Results: Defeated Naperville North 64-53 and West Chicago 57-42

This Week: Wednesday at Glenbard East

Hoops Talk: Juwan Starks lit up Naperville North early and often Friday,and his efforts put the Blackhawks in a position to claim a share of the DVC title.

18 De La Salle (15-6)

Results: Defeated Hales 57-38; Lost to Simeon 59-51

This Week: Wednesday vs. St. Ignatius

Hoops Talk: The Meteors could not recover from a 22-6 opening run by Simeon. On a positive note, Alvin Ellis returned this week after an ankle sprain.

19 Seton (22-4)

Results: Defeated Hope Academy 97-75 and St. Francis de Sales 89-66

This Week: IHSA Class 2A Regionals

Hoops Talk: The Sting rang up six threes in a 35-point third quarter against Hope Academy.

20 Lemont (22-2)

Results: Defeated T.F. South 59-55 and Reavis 63-41

This Week: Tuesday vs. Glenbard South, Friday vs. Hillcrest

Hoops Talk: Can Juozas Balciunas and the Indians give the Hawks a run? A win would give them a share of the South Suburban-Blue.

Looming & Lurking: St. Rita, Hope Academy, Whitney Young, Metea Valley, Farragut, Mundelein, North Chicago, Riverside-Brookfield, St Viator, Oak Park-River Forest, Herscher, Immaculate Conception, York, Marist, St. Joseph

Todd Frazier's late single lifts White Sox over Mariners

Todd Frazier's late single lifts White Sox over Mariners

The White Sox offense showed a bunch of late life on Thursday night.

Todd Frazier had two hits with runners in scoring position, including the game-winner, as the White Sox topped the Seattle Mariners 7-6 at U.S. Cellular Field. Frazier’s one-out single in the ninth inning off Nick Vincent scored Adam Eaton as the White Sox won for the fourth time in five games. Frazier’s game-winning hit was his first since June 2015 and the fifth of his career. It and a game-tying, two-out, two-run single in the seventh helped Frazier shake off a game in which he struck out three times in his first three at-bats.

“You learn something,” Frazier said. “You take the last at-bat and throw it away and just keep on going. Unfortunately, it took me three times to do that. To come up clutch today felt pretty good.”

Frazier leads the club in home runs and RBIs.

Similar to his teammates, however, Frazier has lefty plenty of chances for more damage on the table. He entered Thursday hitting .159 with runners in scoring position for a team that ranks 18th with runners in scoring position (.255).

While Frazier struck out with runners on the corners in the first inning, he succeeded in his next two tries. He picked up Jose Abreu in the seventh after the slugger struck out against Steve Cishek. Frazier sat on a slider and ripped a 2-0 pitch into left field to drive in Eaton and Tim Anderson, whose one-out RBI double made it a 6-4 game.

Then in the ninth, Frazier came through again. Eaton’s bloop single to center got things going before Anderson bunted him over. Vincent walked Abreu to get to Frazier, who singled to left again.

Frazier was previously 17-for-17 with five doubles, four homers and 42 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

“These are the best ones,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You can't rely just on the homer. There's more to his game than that. You have to be able to knock in runs when you're not hitting them over the fence. He can use the other side of the field. I think he can level it out somewhat and get some hits. Just put it in play more because you don't know know what's going to happen.”

[MORE: Rick Hahn denies rift in White Sox front office, holds off on plans for 2017]

David Robertson found that out in the top of the ninth inning when his outing was delayed for several minutes by a trio of fans who ran onto the field. Robertson worked around the delay and a one-out walk to keep the score tied at 6.

Down 2-0, the White Sox scored three times in the first inning to briefly take the lead.

Abreu and Avisail Garcia both singled in runs and Dioner Navarro had a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

White Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo pitched well after a slow start and then ran into bad luck in the sixth inning. What looked to be a surefire double play ball kicked off Ranaudo’s glove and combined with an Anderson throwing error led to a three-run inning that put Seattle ahead 6-3.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Ranaudo allowed six earned runs in 5.1 innings.

The White Sox were 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

“That’s just part of it,” Robertson said. “I guess that happens some times.

“Everybody played hard. They didn’t give up at all tonight. We pitched well enough to win and had timely hitting. A few things went our way, a couple errors that really ended up giving us a few runs. A few things went our way and it was great to pick up a win.”

Jay Cutler, Dowell Loggains face deepest test yet in Bears' third preseason game

Jay Cutler, Dowell Loggains face deepest test yet in Bears' third preseason game

Third preseason games come with added significance simply because it is the one practice game in which the starters play the closest to a full game prior to the start of the regular season. But for the Bears, Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs is potentially far more important for another reason.

The Kansas City game looms as something of a new tipping point in the one relationship that must function above all others for immediate success of the franchise:

The working relationship/bond between offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterback Jay Cutler.

The two-plus quarters that Cutler is expected to play will be the longest yet trial by fire for his trust in Loggains. The latter has been a coordinator previously in his career, but with less time and success in the position that most of Cutler’s previous list of coordinators.

And few of those relationships survived, let alone flourished once Cutler lost faith or belief in their messages, whether under an avalanche of sacks, poor play selection or design, or whatever.

Cutler put up the best season of his eight-year career in 2015 with Loggains as his position coach. Adam Gase was the coordinator, Gase came in with credibility from having worked with Peyton Manning in Denver. The credibility traced to not necessarily what Gase might have taught Manning, but rather because of what Gase undoubtedly LEARNED from Manning.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Saturday’s test will be far short of the ones the regular season holds, when Loggains’ offense has been scouted and schemed for. But after a stretch of “quizzes” for Cutler-Loggains, this is a “test.”

Buy-in with Loggains?

Loggains has traction with Cutler – for now. Cutler was consistent in his compliments of Loggains last year, but it was Gase ultimately in his ear on game days. Indeed, the entire offense believed in Gase: “When I’m in the huddle…and we get a play call,” offensive lineman Kyle Long said at the time, “there’s never a time where we look at each other and think, ‘Oh [darn].’”

The NFL reality is that Loggains, who has stressed an even stronger commitment to running the football (Long and associates love that), has to earn, or re-earn that gut-level trust.

Most of all, from Cutler.

The lurching start to the preseason – the Bears’ 22-0 home loss to Denver, in which the offense with Cutler netted 13 yards in 10 plays, two of them ending in sacks of Cutler – was test No. 1. The Cutler-Loggains relationship appeared to emerge intact.

“We talked,” Cutler said. “We talked a lot about that game. I think the major point for us was, ‘Let’s not panic. Let’s not hit the fire alarm and put guys in a panic.’

“Because it was the first preseason game and we watched the film and a lot of the stuff that went wrong was because of mistakes… . So it was a matter of just kind of cleaning that stuff up and just going back to work. Which I thought we did a really good job of offensively [at New England]. Hopefully we can do that this week, too.”

Tough warm-ups

NFL schedule-makers did Loggains and the Bears no favors. Their first three preseason opponents – Denver, New England, Kansas City – were all top-10 run defenses. Meaning: The Bears are working to establish Loggains’ run-based offense right into the teeth of three of the NFL’s best at stopping that.

[RELATED: Rookie class making much-needed impact from Bears]

The Bears want to run. But just consider: What if they can’t run against a monster Chiefs front that includes Jaye Howard and Dontari Poe and which held the Bears to 3.3 yards per carry, tied for their second-lowest of 2015, in their meeting last season?

Which then tasks Loggains with getting the offense to the right solutions, and those traditionally have not been – and should not be – solely found in Cutler’s right arm. The Bears streamlined and simplified Cutler’s decision-making last year, by design, and it was the right strategy, minimizing a Cutler weakness.

But now Loggains is front-and-center in those decisions. And Cutler has never appeared to suffer from an excess of patience through his career, even the new, more mature Cutler.

And not only WHAT Loggains tells Cutler, but also HOW he tells him, will matter. Gase was generally quiet; that worked. Loggains is very expressive, which Cutler said he now appreciates.

“He sets the tone every day,” Cutler said. “There’s never a gray area. He sets the tone, sets the standard, and if you don’t live up to that, meet those expectations, he’s going to be vocal, he’s going to let you know.

“As a player, that’s all you can ask for: A coach telling you how to do it, and when you don’t do it, you expect him to push you and help you achieve those goals.”

Preseason game No. 3 will be the biggest test yet for the synchronicity that is there now but needs to stand up to inevitable failures.

Illinois lands Huntley DE Olalere Oladipo

Illinois lands Huntley DE Olalere Oladipo

Illinois added another important in-state piece as Huntley three-star ranked defensive end Olalere Oladipo (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) announced his college decision Thursday night to the Fighting Illini.

"Illinois has a great staff, is close to home," according to Oladipo. "Illinois felt like a nice fit for me."

Oladipo is also the second verbal commitment Illinois added Thursday as the Fighting Illini added a commitment from Miami (Fla.) Central four-star ranked wide receiver Carmoni Green (6-foot-1, 178 pounds).

Oladipo is now the sixth in-state verbal commitment for the Fighting Illini Class of 2017. Oladipo joins St. Rita OLB Marc Mondesir, Auburn OT Verderian Lowe, Marian Catholic QB Cameron Thomas, Chicago Brother Rice WR Ricky Smalling and Bolingbrook ATH Kendall Smith.

Illinois now has 11 known verbal commitments total in the Class of 2017.