Bulls

5 Questions with...Daily Herald's Barry Rozner

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5 Questions with...Daily Herald's Barry Rozner

CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyone's favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guestan award-winning sports writer, columnist, author and radio host who has never been shy to express his opinions, even if they might upset some teams, players and fans from time to time ... he most recently received a major honor with his induction into Northern Illinois University's Northern Star Hall of Fame this past February ... if you don't catch him in the press box, you can check out his stellar columns in the Daily Herald and on the radio every Sunday from 9:00 AM 12:00 PM on 670 The Score ... get ready for 5 Questions with ... BARRY ROZNER!

BIO: A former vendor at all of Chicago's ballparks and stadiums during his college years, Barry Rozner has been a sports columnist for the Daily Herald since 1997, following a decade covering the Cubs first as a feature writer and then as the beat writer.

Rozner has won Peter Lisagor and Associated Press writing awards for his work as a columnist and sports writer, and includes among his national scoops the story that Phil Jackson would be named coach of the Bulls in 1989. In 2007, he was named "Sportswriter of the Year" by the Pitch & Hit Club of Chicago.

A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Rozner has written several books, including "Second to Home" with Ryne Sandberg, and "Where's Harry?" with Steve Stone. He's a frequent co-host on 670 The Score (WSCR-AM) and, in 2010, he began co-hosting the popular "Hit and Run" show with Matt Spiegel.

Rozner was honored by the Little City Foundation in 1998, and sits on the board of the James P. Lang Scholarship Foundation, which awards college scholarships to children of single parent homes.

Having finally given up the violence of hockey for the aggravation of golf, Rozner lives a mostly healthy existence with his family in the Northwest suburbs.

1) CSNChicago.com: Barry, with the NFL lockout upon us, many fans out there are hoping for a resolution by this summer at the latest. What specific aspect of this lockout concerns you most that may prevent the regular season from starting on time come this fall?

Rozner: Even if the players don't get their injunction, I'm not really all that concerned right now. The NFL's never been more popular and I don't think the owners really want to kill the golden goose. If it's August and the owners haven't come off their "billion-off-the-top" demand -- on top of the billion they already take off the top -- then it's time to worry. My belief all along has been that there will be at least a 16-game schedule in 2011. No amount of rhetoric or posturing is going to change my mind on that. I do think players skipping the draft is a foolish idea by the NFLPA and its already backfired on them from a public relations standpoint.

2) CSNChicago.com: As a journalist who covered the Bulls six-title championship run in the 90s, is it a big stretch to say this current off-the-charts talented Bulls team has the potential to also make a multiple-title run this decade? Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and even Michael Jordan himself stated this team can do it. Your thoughts?

Rozner: History suggests those predictions are hyperbolic at the very least. In the last 30 years, only the Isiah Thomas Pistons have won titles with a team featuring a point guard as by far its best player. The NBA has also traditionally been a league of steps, and the Bulls haven't taken the first step yet by winning a playoff series. However, all the free-agent movement of the last year has created a new NBA, where perhaps the Bulls can skip some of those steps. Derrick Rose will win a title in Chicago, maybe even a few. He won't rest until it happens and I'm convinced Rose will get there. Age is on their side and it's the enemy of teams like Boston. But it sounds crazy to talk about five or six titles at this point in their development.

3) CSNChicago.com: The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks also have their sights set on a multiple title run themselves. In your opinion, what would you say are the top three key things that need to happen come mid-April to get this years squad on yet another solid track to playoff success?

Rozner: Health is absolutely No. 1. If they can dress their best roster, they're going to be a nightmare to play in the playoffs. Except for Detroit, every team in the West will fear them. If Roberto Luongo even hears the word "Blackhawks,'' he'll have to change his pants, girdle, garter, socks and skates. Second is effort. Jonathan Toews is always there, but there have been too many times this year when too many guys didn't show up. Third is defensive responsibility from the forwards. It doesn't work if the guys up front aren't maintaining puck possession, avoiding turnovers at the blue line and getting back to help. Not that you asked, but it's exciting to see the progress of Nick Leddy and the addition of Chris Campoli on defense.

4) CSNChicago.com: Congratulations on being inducted into NIUs Northern Star Hall of Fame last month. What did that honor mean to you personally and what advice do you have for aspiring young sports journalists out there hoping for a similar successful career in the media?

Rozner: It's humbling to be honored by your university. I don't know what else to say. Very proud, very surprised and very grateful. As for anyone who wants to get into this business, it's obviously evolving and I don't know what it's going to look like in the years to come, but if this is your dream then you should chase it. There are too many people in this world who will tell you what you can't do. Ignore them. Chase the dream and you can still succeed in journalism -- or succeed at anything -- if you're good and you're willing to work hard.

5) CSNChicago.com: Your Hit and Run with Spiegel & Rozner radio show on 670 The Score (Sundays from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM) is always a great listen, especially when you and Spiegs disagree on certain issues. With that said, tell us about the single, biggest sports-related disagreement you continue to have to this day ... and, in general, how often does Spiegel think hes right?

Rozner: I can't think of one of those really nasty fights where we wound up yelling at each other on The Score. We disagree on a lot of things, like old school vs. new school, stats vs. hunch and use of the bullpen. Spiegel hates the specialized bullpen roles. But it's a Sunday morning show and we go heavy on the information and the entertainment and try to give people an easy listen as they're shaking off their hangovers and driving the kids all over creation.

Now, you could have asked, "What do you and Dan Bernstein fight about most?'' That's easy: numbers in baseball. We've had some crazy arguments over new-age stats vs. scouting. He wouldn't want you to know this, but the truth is he's much more reasonable about it than he lets on and he's willing to grant me that some of his stats don't always tell the real story. But don't tell anyone I told you that, especially him.

BONUS QUESTION! CSNChicago.com: Anything you would like to plug Barry? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.

Rozner: Im easy to find at dailyherald.com, the Score, on Facebook and sometimes just rummaging through dumpsters. If I can be serious for a moment, I help with a lot of different charities, but have a particular soft spot for anything that involves children or any of the cancer charities. This is a really tough time for most charities because the economy is so dreadful, but if you can give at all, every little bit helps.

Rozner LINKS:

Daily HeraldBarry Rozner section

670 The ScoreHit and Run with Spiegel and Rozner

Barry Rozner on Facebook

Bulls are unlocking something with Zach LaVine: 'He was terrific'

Bulls are unlocking something with Zach LaVine: 'He was terrific'

MINNEAPOLIS—The applause was thunderous on the welcome back for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, two Timberwolves draft picks sent away when the chance to acquire Jimmy Butler came along.

But some of the air was taken out the Target Center due to the absence of Jimmy Butler, who’ll miss the next several weeks after deciding to have surgery on his right meniscus following an injury Friday night.

So while there was no rematch of the thrilling contest the two teams had in Chicago, some things were very much the same.

Lauri Markkanen’s struggles continued.

LaVine showed more flashes of his complete game and Dunn had a couple moments of his own.

And on the other side, Tom Thibodeau kept his starters in the game with victory secured and his team up 20 points in the Timberwolves’ 122-104 win over the Bulls Saturday night.

The Timberwolves broke the game open in the fourth quarter with some key shot-making from veteran Jamal Crawford, as he was one point short of the Timberwolves having four 20-point scorers on the night.

Jeff Teague, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins combined for 70 points in their first game of many without Butler.

LaVine was a main reason the Bulls stayed afloat in the first 36 minutes, finishing with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds in his first game back in front of the Minneapolis crowd he spent his first few years playing for.

Going head-up with his former teammate Wiggins for a stretch, the two seemed to relish their practice matchups. Wiggins was doing a lot of pure scoring while LaVine seemed to enjoy probing the defense and making plays for teammates, taking more of a ballhandling role as opposed to floating around the perimeter for 3-point attempts.

“He’s doing a much better job not settling for tough shots,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s attacking the basket much better than he was. You can just see him getting his legs, getting more comfortable. It was good to see him as a playmaker, he was terrific.”

Perhaps the Bulls are unlocking something with LaVine, getting him the ball in different places and on the move, where he made some nifty passes in traffic, exercising patience and maturity.

“I liked it. Hopefully we get a little bit more of it,” LaVine said. “But it’s working. Should’ve stuck to it.”

They didn’t, as the Bulls didn’t look as organized as they have previously. Dunn looked extremely motivated and aggressive but it seemed to work against him at times as Teague took advantage of Dunn being too quick for his own good. So hyped up, Dunn blew a breakaway dunk in the first half, but luckily Nwaba was right behind him for a putback.

That type of energy was expected for Dunn and LaVine, maybe even moreso for Dunn considering his underwhelming rookie year where he didn’t get much chance to play as a top-five pick.

Dunn finished with 10 points on four of 12 shooting while Cameron Payne scored 11  in 19 minutes, but the decision making from both point guards left plenty to be desired—which is to be expected given the lack of veterans on the floor.

Their starting unit again struggled as Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez again sat as the evaluation of the younger players continued.

Cristiano Felicio had a better outing than his foul-plagued game against Philadelphia, scoring 11 points but had his hands full on the other end. David Nwaba impressed for the second straight game as a starter, getting in the open floor to force the action, scoring 14 with nine rebounds in 34 minutes.

“The second quarter, I thought, was one of our better quarters of the year,” Hoiberg said. “As bad as we played in the first quarter, I thought we were down 20. We just didn’t sustain it. Against a great team like that, it’s gonna cost you.”

Nwaba, along with Bobby Portis, was a big reason why the Timberwolves couldn’t run away from the Bulls until well into the fourth quarter, even after taking a double-digit lead in the first quarter and sending Hoiberg scrambling for early timeouts.

“You can expect it because you haven’t played with that group before,” LaVine said. “We’re gonna get that chemistry down. We (only) had a couple practices with that lineup.”

Whether it’s the lineup change or just the rookie blues, the year has clearly caught up with Markkanen, who only made one field goal in 32 minutes.

“Gotta get some extra shots up. I see myself thinking too much,” Markkanen said. “That’s how it is. Of course it’s frustrating to not make shots but it is what it is. Gotta work through it.”

Markkanen has gone one-for-eight in each game coming from the All-Star break and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

“He’s shooting the heck out of the ball in practice,” Hoiberg said. “He’s struggling right now with his confidence, no question about it. As a shooter, you gotta keep looking to be aggressive, take the open ones. It takes one game to get that confidence back.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night:

1. Blackhawks squander two leads.

For the 13th time in their past 16 games, the Blackhawks scored the first goal of the game. They had won their previous three instances when doing so, but couldn't seal the deal this time and fell to 5-6-2 in those 13 games.

What strung even more is that the Blackhawks held two one-goal leads and couldn't hang on to either of them. They have the seventh-worst win percentage (.571) when scoring the first goal this season with a 20-10-5 record.

2. Vinnie Hinostroza continues to produce offensively.

If you're trying to look for a rare bright spot on the Blackhawks roster this season, here's one. Hinostroza registered a secondary assist on David Kampf's goal for his fifth point in six games, and was on the ice for 16 shot attempts for and seven against during 5-on-5 play for a team-leading shot attempt differential of plus-9 (also known as Corsi).

For the season, Hinostroza has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 32 games and he's doing so while averaging only 13:27 of ice time. His point-per-game average is up to 0.63, which is tied with Jonathan Toews for third on the team; only Patrick Kane (0.92) and Nick Schmaltz (0.71) are producing at a higher rate.

Hinostroza deserves more minutes, but at the same time his ability to produce on any of the four lines has allowed Joel Quenneville to put him in a bottom six role for balance.

"I like his speed," Quenneville said recently on why Hinostroza has been so effective. "I think with the puck, he's been good with it as well. More strength, on it, managing it, better decisions with it, and good plays off it. He definitely brings you energy and some speed, he can catch people with that quickness."

3. Ryan Hartman's benching.

Hartman was part of the fourth line that contributed to the Blackhawks' first goal of the game, and he was on his way to having a strong one. But that changed quickly after he took an ill-advised penalty in the first period.

Already leading 1-0, the Blackhawks had a 2-on-1 opportunity developing involving Hinostroza and David Kampf but Hartman was whistled for high-sticking at 17:06 behind the play. The Blue Jackets converted on the power play, and that was the end of Hartman's night.

He took only five shifts and finished with a season-low 4:16 of ice time, with Quenneville using it as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

4. Tomas Jurco building confidence back up.

It's been a tough season mentally for Jurco. He started the season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs after failing to make the team out of camp, and compiled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. 

It earned him a call-up on Jan. 8, with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman praising the way he progressed: "He looks like he's totally different, in terms of his composure and ability to make plays. That's why we brought him up here."

The problem? He was a healthy scratch for five straight games and went two weeks without seeing game action with the Blackhawks. Not exactly the best way to keep someone's confidence building. And since then, he's been fighting for a spot in the lineup.

For the last three games, Jurco has been given a shot on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane and he cashed in for his first goal of the season tonight and first since March 27, 2017. It's also the second straight game he's recorded a point.

While he may not be worth much if the Blackhawks were to deal him ahead of Monday's deadline, perhaps a change of scenery to a team that believes in him as a fit will bring out the best of his abilities. The Blackhawks tried and it just hasn't worked out.

5. Blue line observation.

This is more of a big-picture takeaway, but the Blackhawks have gotten only 20 goals from their defensemen this season. The Blue Jackets have gotten a combined 19 from just Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Last season the Blackhawks had 30 total.

The Blackhawks just haven't gotten the offensive production needed from their back end and it's so important as it helps alleviate some of the pressure off the forwards.

I asked Quenneville about this after Friday's game and here's what he had to say: "Whether you score or not, you need the D to be part of your attack, be it off the rush, in zone. But I think the whole game, the whole league is four-man rush game, five-man attacks, coming at you, night-in, night-out, wave after wave.

"But you need to get your D involved in your support on the attack and you need them on the offensive zone off the point. You need some shooters on the back end that can get them through as well. I think offensive production from the back end in today’s game really enhances your offense and your possession game."