Parker joining winning ways in Durham

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Parker joining winning ways in Durham

Most years the No. 3 ranked player in a recruiting class choosing to attend Duke would be a simple case of the rich getting richer. In 2013, that will be the case and then some after Simeon star Jabari Parker pledged his commitment to Mike Krzyzewski the Blue Devils yesterday afternoon.
After a National Championship in 2009-10, Krzyzewskis Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010-11 and were stunned last season in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, a second-round loss to fifteenth-seeded Lehigh, 75-70. But Krzyzewskis last two recruiting classes, capped off by Parkers announcement, have proved that the lasting impression recruits see is the Hall of Famers ability to win rather than the recent bumps in the road.
Joining Parker, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 3 player in the 2013 class, in Durham next fall are four-star shooting guard Matt Jones and four-star small forward Semi Ojeleye. The consensus top-40 recruits make up what is likely the second best class in the country, behind Kentuckys unprecedented 2013 class of four players ranked in the top-20, including three in the top-10.
RELATED: Duke fans welcome home Jabari Parker
The 2013 class which could challenge Dukes 2009 class (Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins) and 2011 class (Quinn Cook, Austin Rivers, Marshall Plumlee)as Coach Ks best in recent memory should form the backbone for Krzyzewskis foreseeable future, but they wont be alone.
It was only fitting that, on the week of Parkers commitment, the Blue Devils moved to No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA TodayCoaches Polls. After previously-ranked No. 1 Indiana fell in overtime to Butler, the Blue Devils (9-0) received 62 of 65 first-place votes in the AP Top 25. Led by Mason Plumlee, who at this point looks to be the frontrunner for Player of the Year, Duke has already topped No. 3 Kentucky, VCU, No. 2 Louisville and No. 4 Ohio State in its non-conference slate.
So while the Blue Devils appear to be on their way to their 23rd ACC regular season championship and 18th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the outlook for Parker is to the future.
He noted in his 1-on-1 with CSNChicago.com that the ability to play right away, based on what Duke was losing after this current season, was one of the main reasons for his decision.
Seniors forwards Ryan Kelly and Plumlee, and shooting guard Seth Curry will depart before Parker arrives, opening up three spots in the starting lineup. Its almost a certainty the Simeon star will fill Kellys starting role as a face-up forward, with plenty of athleticism and ability to get to the basket to boot.
The aforementioned seniors do make up three of Dukes top four leading scorers, but Krzyzewskis roster will allow the 65-year-old to reload instead of having to rebuild.
2012 McDonalds All-American Amile Jefferson has averaged less than 10 minutes per game behind Plumlee, but likely will enter the starting lineup as a more polished sophomore alongside Parker.
RELATED: Rivals' 2013 Top 150 features three Blue Devils
Point guard Quinn Cook, currently a sophomore, will give Krzyzewski an upperclassman leading the offense and 6-foot-4 shooting guard Rasheed Sulamoin a freshman connecting on better than 40 percent of his 3-pointers means the Blue Devils could have as many as four McDonalds All-Americans in the lineup next year. If 2013 recruit Jones beats out will-be senior Tyler Thornton at small forward, theres a chance all five will have All-American status. Depth, as always, will be plentiful on the Blue Devils' bench.
Theres no telling how long Parker will remain at Duke. He may be a one-and-done freshman phenom in the same mold as Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant or his fellow Simeon star Derrick Rose.
But as it stands, Parker picked the best spot for him to both see immediate playing time and win on a talented roster. He said his decision was not just about basketball, but that the "business" attitude on campus is one he can see himself succeeding in. His attitude and knack for winning help that cause, but he'll have plenty of reinforcement around him in Durham in case he needs it.

Reports: Dolphins assistant Jeremiah Washburn to be Bears' new O-line coach

Reports: Dolphins assistant Jeremiah Washburn to be Bears' new O-line coach

The Bears have reportedly found a new offensive line coach.

According to multiple reports Monday, Jeremiah Washburn will become the team's new offensive line coach, replacing Dave Magazu.

Washburn worked as an assistant offensive line coach this past season with the Miami Dolphins under Adam Gase, the Bears' former offensive coordinator.

Prior to his season in South Florida, he spent seven seasons with the Detroit Lions, working three of them as the team's offensive line coach after three as an assistant offensive line coach.

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This past season, the Bears ranked 17th in the NFL in rushing with 1,735 yards as a team. Only eight teams allowed fewer sacks than the Bears, who saw quarterbacks dropped by opposing defenses just 28 times. Bears quarterbacks were hit 73 teams, also a top-10 mark in the league.

The Bears also committed a good number of holding penalties, 1.68 per game, which was only bested by seven teams.

Magazu was a longtime member of John Fox's staffs in Chicago, Denver and Carolina.

Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Blackhawks' rough weekend 'a little bit of a wake-up call'

Patrick Kane was summing up the Blackhawks' weekend, one that didn't go well in terms of points.

"Good way to kind of judge ourselves, where we're at," he said Sunday night. "Might be a little bit of a wake-up call to see how good we really are."

Well, in a way, it is. You can't really compare Friday's loss to Washington and Sunday's loss to Minnesota on performance; the Blackhawks didn't show up for the first game and were much better in the second. Nevertheless, it was the same result in each. The Blackhawks' lengthy hold on first place in the Western Conference ended, with the Wild taking over following Sunday's 3-2 victory.

It's not a sound-the-alarm situation, but the Blackhawks are certainly cognizant of the missed opportunity last weekend and that they came up short against the league's best.

Artem Anisimov agreed with Kane's assessment.

"We just need to play better. All four lines need to play better in all areas of the ice. Just be better in the little things," Anisimov said. "Back check, put stick in the right position, box the guy out, short shifts. All little things need to be better."

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Many of the little things that were absent against the Capitals were back against the Wild. But coach Joel Quenneville wasn't happy with mistakes made on goals allowed, especially the first two. And while Kane and the second line were a consistent scoring threat against the Wild, the other three lines weren't. It's a problem that's plagued the Blackhawks a good deal this season, even when they were stringing together victories.

There is no reason to think that, because of this weekend's results, the Blackhawks are going to falter against strong teams. They've done well against others already this season. They beat Montreal earlier this season, when the Canadiens were healthy and steamrolling everyone. They beat the New York Rangers when the Rangers and former Blackhawks backup goaltender Antti Raanta were on their respective hot streaks.

Still, Kane's analysis is correct: This should get the Blackhawks' attention. The Wild have beaten the Blackhawks in eight consecutive regular-season games now and will face them three more times this season. They have two more meetings with the Edmonton Oilers, who beat them soundly in November.

The Blackhawks' long reign atop the Western Conference standings is over. They’re currently second in the Central Division, with an eight-point cushion over the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks have done fairly well this season. But this weekend was a reminder that they can be better.

"The game (on Friday) was kind of like a shock to the system thinking maybe you're one of the top teams in the league, or being able to compete with one of the top teams, and we obviously got thoroughly outplayed. We came back (Sunday night). It was pretty even in chances. We might've even had more so, just kind of didn't pull it out," Kane said. "But (when) you've played two of the better teams in the league and lose, there's got to be room for improvement, right?"