Last year's Final Four darling does it again

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Last year's Final Four darling does it again

From Comcast SportsNet
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Shaka Smart and Co. pulled off the first major surprise of the NCAA tournament. Yep, VCU is back again. Bradford Burgess hit a key 3-pointer with 1:33 left and the 12th-seeded Rams held off Wichita State 62-59 on Thursday night. Smart was one of the tournament's biggest stars last year when he coached VCU to victories over Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas, making the Rams just the third No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four. The run ended when they lost to Butler in Houston. This VCU team moves on to a matchup with fourth-seeded Indiana (26-8), which advanced to Saturday's game with a 79-66 victory over New Mexico State at the Rose Garden. "We have different guys doing different things than last year's team," Burgess said. "We want to make our own mark on this year's tournament." Still, there are already similarities to last year's run. Just take a look at the last few frantic minutes of this one. With 12 seconds left and the Rams clinging to a 62-59 lead, Smart was so animated during a timeout that he swooped down on his team at midcourt and started strategizing. The intense huddle was eventually brushed back to near the bench by the referees, but the Rams (29-6) came out of the timeout and buckled down defensively, hurrying Wichita State center Garrett Stutz's errant 3-point attempt before the final buzzer. "Our guys did a good job executing our defensive plan," Smart said of those final seconds. "They didn't get a good look at a 3, and that's what won it for us." The Rams led by as many as 13 in the second half, but Wichita State (26-6) closed to 54-53 on Stutz's layup with 5:39 left. Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer for the Rams, and Joe Ragland answered with his own for the Shockers. Toure Murry made a 3 that gave Wichita State the lead, but Burgess came back with his big shot to give the Rams a 60-59 edge. Darius Theus then tacked on a runner before Stutz's last-chance attempt was off. "I was kind of the last option on top, and VCU read the play well," Stutz said. "By the time I got the ball I knew there wasn't enough time to go for a two. Couldn't have been more than 2 or 3 seconds left." Said VCU guard Rob Brandenberg: "Everybody was on the same page that last (defensive) play." Burgess finished with 16 points, and Theus and Daniels had 10 points apiece for the Rams, who edged Drexel 59-56 in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament final to make it to the NCAAs. Because of their unexpected run last season, the Rams were expected to give the Shockers trouble. Even President Barack Obama picked them to advance. Ragland finished with 15 points after getting off to a slow start. "They obviously pressured the ball and the first half we didn't handle it as well as we should have," Ragland said. "The second half we handled it pretty well and had a chance to win the game." Wichita State was ranked No. 18 in the final The Associated Press poll. The Shockers won the regular-season title in the Missouri Valley Conference, but lost to Illinois State in the semifinals of the conference tournament. It was the first NCAA tournament appearance for Wichita State since 2006, when it advanced to the regional semifinals. There were lots of missed shots on both sides early, but Rob Brandenberg hit a 3-pointer to put VCU in front 17-13 midway through the first half. Wichita State put together an 11-0 run to make it 24-21 with 5:27 left. Carl Hall capped the surge with a layup. Treveon Graham broke the VCU scoring drought with a jumper and Burgess added a 3-pointer, sparking a 13-1 run that lifted the Rams to a 34-25 lead at the break. Burgess scored 13 points during a dominating first half, except for an errant 3-pointer that fell far short of the basket. Virginia Commonwealth stretched the lead to 41-29 after Brandenberg's layup. His jumper a short time later gave the Rams a 46-33 lead, but Ben Smith had a layup before David Kyles scored five quick points to trim VCU's lead to 46-40. Ragland, who was quiet most of the first half, made a 3-pointer with 7:23 left and Stutz tapped in a shot to get Wichita State within one at 54-53. "They came at us with kind of a dose of our own medicine and pressed us," Smart said. "I thought it gave us troubles for part of the second half but we hung in there and made all the big plays in the end."

Fashion Statement: Kevin White shows team spirit with socks at Bears practice

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Fashion Statement: Kevin White shows team spirit with socks at Bears practice

OTA's are underway at Halas Hall and there seems to be a new battle taking place on the Bears offense - whose sock game is stronger? Wide receiver Kevin White and running back Ka'Deem Carey made fashion statements Wednesday, sporting customized socks to display their Chicago Bears pride.

White's pair of socks took a page out of the Bears' fight song, while Carey's featured the Chicago skyline.

Take a look for yourself.

Fans seem to be split over whose sock game takes the prize, but if both pairs of socks keep White and Carey at the top of their game, they should share bragging rights. 

2016 NBA Mock Draft: Mark Schanowski makes his picks

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2016 NBA Mock Draft: Mark Schanowski makes his picks

1. 76’ERS - Ben Simmons, F (LSU)

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown has a relationship with the Simmons family from his years coaching in Australia. Plus, the versatile 6-10 forward might be the only player in this draft with superstar potential, making it an easy choice for the 76’ers.

2. LAKERS – Brandon Ingram, F (Duke)

Los Angeles needs scoring punch in the frontcourt, and the 6-foot-9 Ingram has been compared to Kevin Durant by some scouts. He should fit in well with the up-tempo style preferred by new head coach Luke Walton.

3. CELTICS – Dragan Bender, F (Croatia)

Danny Ainge will be looking to use this pick in a trade for an All-Star caliber veteran (like Jimmy Butler). If not, the 7-foot Bender is the likely choice as this year’s version of Kristaps Porzingis.

4. SUNS - Jaylen Brown, SF-SG (California)

Brown has the most potential of the wing prospects available. Tremendous athleticism and ability to attack the rim. Still needs to improve his outside shooting after just one season at Cal.

5. TIMBERWOLVES - Buddy Hield, SG-SF (Oklahoma)

Tom Thibodeau gets his first chance to “buy the groceries” as head of basketball operations. Hield will provide some much-needed outside shooting to complement the talents of 2015-16 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns.

6. PELICANS - Jamal Murray, G (Kentucky)

Murray might be the best pure shooter in this draft and the Pelicans will be in the market for a shooting guard with Eric Gordon likely leaving in free agency.

7. NUGGETS - Kris Dunn, PG (Providence)

Look for a trade at this point, maybe involving a team like the Bulls looking for a point guard. Nuggets have three picks in first round and might try to move up to draft either Hield or Murray.

8. KINGS - Demetrius Jackson, PG (Notre Dame) 

Dysfunctional Kings looking for a fresh start with Dave Joerger taking over as head coach. Rajon Rondo could leave in free agency, and Jackson could be a future star in the mold of Kyle Lowry.

9. RAPTORS - Marquesse Chriss, F (Washington)

Toronto has been looking to upgrade the power forward spot for the last two years. Chriss is one of the youngest players in the draft, with the highest ceiling among the PF’s still on the board.

10. BUCKS - Jakob Poeltl, C (Utah)

Milwaukee could use another big man to complement their collection of athletic wing players. Free agent Greg Monroe is likely available in a trade after a disappointing first season in the beer city.

11. MAGIC - Deyonta Davis, PF-C (Michigan St.)

With defensive-minded Frank Vogel installed as the new head coach, the Magic will be looking for a shot-blocking presence inside. Davis is raw after limited playing time in his only college season, but should be a plus defender right away.

12. JAZZ - Denzel Valentine, SG-SF (Michigan St.)

Utah has done a good job of building a talented, young roster and a smart, four-year collegian like Valentine should fit right in. A very skilled passer with high basketball I.Q., he should eventually become a solid NBA three-point shooter.

13. SUNS - Henry Ellenson, PF, (Marquette)

With their second pick in round one, the Suns can go for a stretch PF like Ellenson, who also can score in the post. Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere also a possibility here.

14. BULLS - Wade Baldwin, PG, (Vanderbilt)

Tremendous athlete, who measured at 6-foot-4 with shoes at the draft combine, with an amazing 6-11 wing span. Should be an NBA-ready defender right away, and the Bulls can groom him to take over at point guard in 2017-18 after Derrick Rose most likely leaves in free agency.

15. NUGGETS - Skal Labissiere, PF-C (Kentucky)

With three picks in round one, the Nuggets can afford to take a chance on the painfully thin seven footer. Labissiere has an excellent shooting touch, with should complement Denver’s other young bigs, Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic.

16. CELTICS - Timothe Luwawu, SF (France)

Again, don’t be surprised if Ainge packages this pick in a trade on draft night, but Luwawu is an intriguing prospect with excellent defensive skills. Also, a personal favorite of our Bulls’ analyst Kendall Gill.

17. GRIZZLIES - Domantas Sabonis, PF-C (Gonzaga)

The son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis has a polished low post game, and the frame to withstand physical NBA play in the paint. He gives the Grizzlies a young big to develop behind Marc Gasol, who is coming back from a broken foot.

18. PISTONS - Malachi Richardson, G, (Syracuse)

Detroit could use another reliable guard off the bench to play behind Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Richardson burst on to NBA scouts’ radar after a strong showing in the NCAA tournament.

19. NUGGETS - Taurean Prince, F, (Baylor)

It’s unlikely Denver will keep all three of its first round picks, but if they do, an athletic forward like Prince is a good value pick at this point.

20. PACERS- Tyler Ulis, PG, (Kentucky)

Larry Bird made no secret of the fact he wants his team to play at a faster tempo and score more points. Having a speedy guard like Ulis to run the second unit would fit in well with Bird’s master plan.

21. HAWKS - Cheick Diallo, PF-C (Kansas)

With Al Horford heading into free agency, the Hawks need to add some depth to the frontcourt. Diallo didn’t play much in his one season at Kansas, but showed a lot of potential at the NBA draft combine.

22. HORNETS - Malik Beasley, SG-SF (Florida St.)

Charlotte needs to fortify the wing spots with Nic Batum, Courtney Lee and Marvin Williams all free agents. Beasley is coming off a strong season in the ACC and scouts like his aggressiveness on the offensive end.

23. CELTICS - Furkan Korkmaz, SG-SF (Turkey)

Ainge completes his international trifecta by taking this sharp-shooting wing player in the mold of Orlando’s first round pick from a year ago, Mario Hezonja. Korkmaz has good athleticism and could develop into a streaky perimeter scorer.

24. 76’ERS- DeAndre Bembry, SG-SF (St. Joseph’s)

The Sixers could go in a number of directions with so many needs, so why not take a local Philly product like Bembry. He showed very well at draft combine, and has the versatility to play both wing spots off the bench.

25. CLIPPERS - Brice Johnson, F, (North Carolina)

Coming off a strong NCAA tournament, Johnson would give the Clippers a talented forward to add to their bench. Doc Rivers is still looking for more consistency on that second unit.

26. 76’ERS - Dejounte Murray, G (Washington)

Probably would have been better served to spend another year in college, but could develop as a combo guard in Philly.

27. RAPTORS - Damian Jones, C (Vanderbilt)

With Bismack Biyombo ready to cash in after a strong playoff run, the Raptors need a center to back up Jonas Valanciunas. Jones has good size and showed well against SEC competition.

28. SUNS - Caris LeVert, SG (Michigan)

Phoenix coach Earl Watson wants to play fast, and if the Suns keep this pick, LeVert is a guy worth taking a chance on. He probably would have been a lottery pick if not for injuries in his last two years at Michigan.

29. SPURS - Thon Maker, PF-C (Australia)

The international man of mystery in this year’s draft. Intriguing size at 7-foot-1, but NBA scouts aren’t sure what position he’ll play. The Spurs can let him develop overseas for a couple years before bringing him over.

30. WARRIORS - Ante Zizic, C (Croatia)

Another draft and stash candidate for the loaded Warriors. Golden State could use another center if Festus Ezeli is allowed to leave in free agency.

92 Days to Kickoff: Sandburg

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92 Days to Kickoff: Sandburg

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26.

School: Sandburg Eagles

Head coach: Scott Peters

Assistant coaches: Marty Balle (LB), Kevin Clark (DL), Larry Sheppard (DB/Co-defensive coordinator), Matt Barrett (assistant DL), Bill Mulchrone (assistant LB), Kevin Fahey (OC), Jim Zimmer (OL), Tom Lally (QB), Shane Meyer (WR), Jon Bergin (RB), Mark Lenkiewicz (assistant OL), Darren Monnet (K)

How they fared in 2015: 6-4 (5-2) Southwest Suburban Blue. The Eagles made the Class 8A playoff field, but lost to Palatine in the opening round.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Eagles reload with a new head coach?

Names to watch this season: LB Pat Brucki, DE Mike Murphy, DT Malik Skates

Biggest holes to fill: The Eagles need to replace 11 graduated starters on offense this season. 

EDGY's early take: Peters takes over a Sandburg program that has been winning games but hasn't made a deep state playoff run since the early 2000s. The Eagles bring back just three starters and will need to get up to speed in a hurry this fall, but this school always has talent in the building.