Bulls

Andriano contemplates 4th title, retirement

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Andriano contemplates 4th title, retirement

Montini coach Chris Andriano would like to win a fourth consecutive state championship in 2012, putting his program in a class with Driscoll, Joliet Catholic, Providence and Mount Carmel as the only schools in the history of the state playoff to win four or more in a row.

Whether he wins or not, however, it could be his last season.

"I have told the school president (Jim Segredo) and the athletic director (Bob Landi) that next year might be my last year," Andriano said as he closed the book on his 33rd season at the Lombard school.

"I will be 60 years old on Dec. 7. I have completed 33 years as head coach. I am looking at retirement. I'm getting to the point where there is time for someone else to run the show. Next year might be it.

"I have four grandchildren and I like to fish in Canada. This job gets tougher every year. My health is good. But this is a year-round job now. Now it is the college recruiting season. Three college coaches came in today.

"When I started, it was a simpler job. Life was simpler. Football was a simpler game. The off-season wasn't as complicated with recruiting and workouts and weight room and conditioning and planning things out.

"If we weren't winning, life would be simpler. But it's a great problem to have. There's a bigger buildup when you're in the limelight. If you win three state titles in a row, you reach a special category in Illinois high school football. How many teams have done that? You're in a pretty select group. And everyone is gunning for you."

It was a never-to-be-forgotten season, the stuff that dreams and legends are made of...beating Joliet Catholic 70-45 for the state title with a team featuring the best quarterback (John Rhode) and the best player (wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp) that he has produced.

"When you win three state titles in a row, that's off the charts for me," Andriano said. "We've had some good teams but to win three in a row is more special than anything else we've done here.

"Four years ago, I had a great team, maybe my best team, four Division I players, but we lost to Driscoll in Week 9 and lost to Wheaton St. Francis in the quarterfinals. I'm coaching players whose fathers played here. We have a connection with families that goes back to when I first started here. There is great loyalty here."

How do you top it?

"Next year we will have another great group of kids," Andriano said. "Who will be the quarterback? Who will replace Westerkamp? We will have five starters back on offense and three on defense. Every year different kids emerge. It will be another good, solid team."

Andriano will build his 2012 team around versatile Joe Borsellino, who played quarterback, wide receiver, running back and defensive back this season but will be a primary receiver next season. Other standouts will be 6-5, 280-pound guard Tate Briggs, quarterbackwide receiver Mark Gorogianis, 6-3, 255-pound defensive end Fred Beaugard and running back Demetri Taylor.

The coach's game plan calls for Gorogianis to replace Westerkamp at wide receiver. He was Rhode's backup this season at quarterback but Andriano would like to keep him at wide receiver. That means sophomore Jimmy Barron will have to earn the starting spot at quarterback.

"Experience-wise, right now, Gorogianis is our best kid at quarterback," Andriano said. "Barron has to prove he can run the offense and make the right decisions. It's all about decision-making."

Westerkamp can't be replaced, of course. He set state records for pass receiving yardage and touchdowns in a career. "He is the best the state has ever seen at his position, strong and physical, a great blocker, a do-everything type. There is no doubt that he can be a dominant player at Nebraska--and he has a shot at making it in the NFL," Andriano said. "One play in the state championship game that I am more proud of him than of anything else he has accomplished is he ran down Joliet Catholic's Malin Jones after he intercepted a pass. A lot of kids wouldn't have come back to make that tackle. Jordan has great heart. He's a great competitor."

Rhode, the transfer from Marian Catholic who missed the first month of the season with a broken thumb, came on so strong and was so impressive that Andriano insists he has the tools to be a Big 10 quarterback. Unfortunately, he didn't get any exposure last year and most colleges have filled their quarterback slots for next year.

"He has great arm strength and touch to make all the throws," Andriano said. "He sees defenses, reads them, knows our offense, can check down and can throw it away. He will take off and run. He is so smart with the ball. He has zip on the ball. He puts the ball in positions where the receiver can get it and defenders can't. There never has been a quarterback that smart before."

While Andriano contemplates retirement, he admits that a third state championship has only provided him with a greater appreciation for the kids in his program.

"Three state titles is about the hard work and talent we have," he said. "The freshman started in the weight room today (Monday). Everybody else is off until after Christmas. Then next year's team will start working out. When you go 14 weeks with games and get all that extra practice with younger kids, it is a big plus. It gives us plenty of time to work on strength and speed when we get back in January. These kids are committed."

Observations from Bulls' blowout loss to Warriors: Curry, Bell, records and a road-weary Markkanen

Observations from Bulls' blowout loss to Warriors: Curry, Bell, records and a road-weary Markkanen

Don’t tug on Curry’s cape: There’s an old saying in the NBA: “Send a limo for (insert player here) to the game tonight. I want to make sure he arrives safely.”

Translation: I’m gonna light him up tonight.

That’s what two-time MVP Stephen Curry did to Kris Dunn in the second quarter Friday, when a slim lead turned into a huge, expected deficit for the Bulls. Curry scored 26 of his game-high 33 points in the quarter, complete with heat checks and celebratory struts that have become commonplace with Curry’s performances.

Whether it was backdoor layups or 30-footers, Curry made Oracle Arena his playground—and Dunn his victim in what could best be described as an old-school baptism Dunn isn’t sure to forget.

Dunn likely set off Curry’s ire with Curry drawing two quick fouls in the first quarter and some aggressive physical defense that is traditionally the book on Curry, if there is such a book.

But when Curry returned in the second quarter, he took advantage of the ultimate green light as All-Star teammates Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were out. He performed his theatrics with relative ease, hitting four of 11 triples and shooting 10 of 18 overall in just 27 minutes of work.

It wasn’t just Curry, as Klay Thompson was even more efficient, scoring 29 on 12 of 17 shootng and hitting five of his nine triples. Nick Young was seven of 12 in 19 minutes for 17 points as the Warriors shot 58 percent and committed just 11 turnovers.

Curry, who can give them away at times, only had two turnovers and it helped lead to an easy win.

“You try to make it a little more difficult,” Dunn said. “He’s a phenomenal shooter, everybody knows that. Once he gets on a roll like that it’s hard but you’ve just got to make it difficult for him.”

Had it been necessary, Curry could’ve gone for a 60-point performance, having 31 at the half. Dunn, enduring a night he won’t sure forget, scored six points with four assists on two of 11 shooting in 25 minutes.

“The turnovers, the lack of awareness,” Hoiberg said. “It is hopefully something he’ll grow from and learn from and find a way to fight through when he’s not playing well. Absolutely. You learn form the good things, learn from the bad things. There’s plenty of bad we can learn from tonight.”

The great ones go through baptisms, especially the point guards considering they’re on an island in this talent-rich stretch of the NBA. Dunn has a chance to be special on defense as he progresses through the years, but if Friday was any lesson, being able to give it back is probably the best remedy—because just taking his medicine can’t feel good.

The Bell rung

Whether it was a bored championship team finding an easy way to motivate itself or wanting to troll the Bulls for sport, the Warriors found an easy storyline to exploit in the insertion of rookie Jordan Bell.

It’s easy to remember the Bulls drafted Bell in the second round for the Warriors in exchange for $3.5 million to go into the Bulls coffers the night they decided to go with a full-scale rebuild.

Bell was rewarded with a start after inconsistent playing time in the absence of Green and made his presence felt from the moment his name was called in the introductions, with a “money sign” as a way to remind the team that drafted him of what it was missing.

"I just wanted to see how cash considerations was playing over there,” he said after the game.

He then proceeded to give the Bulls nightmares all over the floor with his athleticism and shot-blocking, swatting away six shots—including a chasedown block of Denzel Valentine everyone in Oracle Arena could see coming from the moment Valentine started his ground-bound trot downcourt.

It was likely something he’d been envisioning since Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Bell he would be starting two days ago.

“At first I was thinking of things to troll the other team but as I got closer to the game, I was like let me focus on the game,” Bell said. “Then when I saw we won the game, I started trolling a little bit.”
Before the trolling, there was the teasing in the form of production. The eye-popping alley-oop from Zaza Pachulia and even the wild play of fouling Justin Holiday on a corner jumper that almost looked violent.

He was clearly pumped for the opportunity to play against a team that didn’t give him a second thought and his veteran teammates took every opportunity to press his buttons.

“I remember Klay said something, like they don’t want you JB,” he said. “Everybody kept reminding me of it today.”

And it will be a topic of conversation for the immediate future, especially as the Bulls are in the search for young, athletic talent they can build around.

One for the books

The 49-point drubbing was third-worst in franchise history and the Bulls are now the owners of the NBA’s worst record at 3-14, along with having the worst point differential at -12.9 points per game.

The second and third quarters were embarrassing, as the Warriors outscored the Bulls 81-34 in easy fashion. Usually in those occurrences, Hoiberg will make an opening statement to the media about the effort lacking before taking questions.

Friday was no different.

“From Day 1, going back into September, the biggest thing we talked about as a team was fighting through the tough times, handling adversity. Well…we went out and had a great start. Actually had a lead after the first quarter. They go on a run and we’ve seen this before, we put our heads down, we don’t’ fight through it, we start separating and lose trust in each other. That can’t continue to happen. We gotta find a way to battle through the tough times. Quit putting our heads down, find a way to toughen up and stay in the game.”

Hoiberg was asked what kind of effect this can have on a team if these type of beatdowns continue and he didn’t mince words—a shift of sorts from his usual straight-faced demeanor.

“Tonight, they got it going, we didn’t handle it well,” he said. “We stopped getting back. They were getting whatever they wanted. You’ve got to find a way to fight through that. If we don’t learn that soon, we’re going to keep getting our asses kicked.”

Robin Lopez said it’s a collective issue and one that needs to be fixed. Perhaps in a clear moment of self-awareness, Dunn said he can see when the Bulls stop competing.

“You can definitely see it. I think it’s the youth,” Dunn said. “We’re not used to that. In the NBA, people can put up points very quickly. It comes with the territory.”

He’s still a rookie, folks

Lauri Markkanen showed some signs of the west-coast swing getting to him in the fatigue department, struggling in his third straight game Friday.

The Bulls have made it a priority to get Markkanen better shots and cleaner opportunities but they were in short order as he was four of 16 from the field in 27 minutes.

There wasn’t much quality to go around anyways as the Bulls shot 35 percent and fell behind by as many as 49. After scoring 26 with 13 rebounds against Phoenix last Sunday, he’s averaged 10 points on nine of 42 shooting (21 percent).

“Today they didn’t fall in the second half—actually, in the first half either,” Markkanen said. “I’ve just got to work more. I’ve had a couple nights now where I don’t make shots. But I did have good looks, though, they just didn’t fall tonight.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

(Reminder: Use #AskEdzo on social media and your questions may be answered by Eddie Olczyk, who will be in studio along with Adam Burish, Brian Campbell and Pat Boyle).

1. Another fast start coming?

The Blackhawks had one of their best starts of the season Wednesday in Tampa Bay, and the numbers favor Chicago to dictate the pace of play early again.

The Panthers are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the fewest goals scored in the first period (13), and have taken a lead into the second period only four times (3-1-0) in 21 games. They are 2-7-1 in the 10 games they've trailed after the opening frame.

The Blackhawks, on the other hand, are tied for fourth when it comes to first-period goals (22) — albeit, five of them came on Opening Night against Pittsburgh — but they are just 4-2-2 in eight games when leading after one period. In fact, they took a 2-0 lead into the second in their most recent game against the Lightning and lost in overtime 3-2.

So while a fast start could certainly be in the cards, the finish must also be there.

2. Take advantage on special teams.

The Panthers are one of two teams ranked among the bottom six in both power play percentage (26th at 16.0) and penalty kill percentage (30th at 73.2).

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are coming in hot in both areas. They're 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) on the man advantage in their last four games, and own the fourth-best penalty kill unit (84.8 percent).

This is the area to exploit for the Blackhawks going into the matchup, and it could decide the game.

3. Feed Lance Bouma!

In his seventh season, Bouma has faced every NHL team at least five times in his career, with the exception of Vegas (pointless in one game this season).

Bouma is not known for his offensive prowess (72 points in 325 career games), but it's a different story when he plays Florida.

In six career games against the Panthers, Bouma has one goal, six assists and a career-high plus-8 rating. That one goal also happens to be one of his six career game winners.

Florida is the only team Bouma is averaging at least a point-per-game against for his career, so you know what that means: Feed No. 17!